Personalities come and go in politics; interests persist. The interests that made the GOP what it was pre-Trump have not vanished, however much turnover and tumult the party has seen these last four years. The Republican party in the Trump era is a party of the rich, the religious, and the rejected — the non-elite citizenry who are superfluous to the needs of Wall Street and the woke. The rich have ruled the party since long before Trump gave the rejected a leader. And the religious, for all that they lose out to the GOP’s corporate interests, have for decades been indoctrinated to accept tokenism and to fear populism: the American elite magnanimously agrees not to obliterate ‘religious liberty’, but in return you must not collaborate with those populist rejects, with all their un-Christian nationalism. Trump shattered the coalition’s old hierarchy and formulas in 2016. The Republican party since then has not been the party of Trump, however, but a cyborg: half-Trump, half-GOP machine of old.
Jeff Sessions, the first and for a long time the only Republican of national standing to support Trump in 2016, has no place in this party. Corporate America will not support an economic nationalist and an immigration restrictionist. The rejected are divided and confused by the claims that every Republican now makes to being a pro-Trump populist, while Trump himself pillories his former ally. The religious have at present no independent leadership or voice, certainly none that would be prepared to stand up for Jeff Sessions. With the elements of the party’s coalition disposed in these ways, the former senator had little to work with, and nothing that could propel him back into office.