A new center-right party?

With the Republican Party now a cult ruled by Trump, some conservatives hope so, but I’m very skeptical.

News of such an effort comes as no surprise. More than 120 former elected Republicans, former officials of the Reagan and two Bush administrations, ex-ambassadors, and GOP strategists participated in a ZOOM meeting last week to discuss forming a center-right party “which would run on a platform of ‘principled conservatism,’ including adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law,” Reuters reported on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Read story here.

It’s a heartwarming idea, but it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances, given that previous third party efforts have fizzled out and Evan McMullin, one of the organizers, got nowhere in 2016 with his own independent candidacy, finishing behind Trump and Clinton in his home state of Utah and getting less than 1% of the vote nationally.

Where are they going to get a voter base? McMullin acknowledged that problem when he said, “Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy.” As Reuters pointed out, “more than half of the Republicans in Congress – eight senators and 139 House representatives – voted to block certification of Biden’s election victory just hours after the Capitol siege. Most Republican senators have also indicated they will not support the conviction of Trump in this week’s Senate impeachment trial.”

The problem isn’t just Trump and a few wild-eyed supporters; the entire Republican Party is a violent, anti-democracy mob. This country badly needs a principled conservative party to give Democrats some healthy competition. But the support for such a party doesn’t exist. If it did Trump wouldn’t have been elected in 2016, wouldn’t have gotten 74 million votes in 2020, and wouldn’t be protected by Republicans in Congress.

The sad reality is that the American conservative movement is now just a coffee club.

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