It’s no secret the GOP is experiencing a fissure between its establishment roots and right-wing flank. The decades-long battle has intensified during the Trump years.
UCA political scientist Dr. Heather Yates contends that when electoral consequences, a.k.a. political losses, start to mount, there could be a major reckoning for the Republican Party. The loss of the presidency and two Georgia U.S. Senate seats has heightened the GOP’s public divisions.
“There seems to be very few points of reconciliation between what that moderate sector of the party and the more radicalized of recent [times] wing of the party, and so at this point in time, there’s going to be some real electoral consequences if the Republicans cannot find areas of policy or even ideology, for this matter, where they can unite and create a united front for the electoral landscape,” Yates said in an interview with Talk Business & Politics.
She said the current conflict in the GOP is “intensifying.” Republicans are likely to see a united front at the U.S. Capitol this week as the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump takes place. However for weeks since the November election, there has been a glaring rift between GOPers who accepted the results and those who bought into conspiracy theories and efforts to overturn the Presidential election.
“History tells us that when this occurs inside of a party that there is an inevitable split. So, then the question becomes which faction of the party splits off and do they join another party, or do they break off and try a run at a third party?” she said.
Trump supporters have publicly discussed forming a third party called the Patriot Party.
Democrats have been experiencing similar pressures from the left flank of its traditional party base. The 2016 rise of independent Bernie Sanders, who seriously challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination, is an example of this. In Congress, there are liberal representatives who want to pull the party further to the left.
Yates said President Joe Biden’s ability to harness the left wing of the Democratic Party is preventing a more raucous drift like the one on display with Republicans.
“Right now, there is communication between the two factions. Communication meaning that Biden pulled Bernie Sanders and his supporters into the fold during the campaign, so he’s opened up access of communication to influence policy platforms,” she noted.
“The progressives would like to see him go further to the left, but right now, Biden is attempting to temper that section of the party by pulling them into the negotiations, and letting them, or inviting them actually, to have influence on public policy. That is tempering or quelling the agitation inside the party,” Yates said.
Dr. Yates also offered thoughts on the state legislature and the 2022 Arkansas governor’s race. You can watch her full interview in the video below.