The November 2020 election was undoubtedly one to remember. It’s impact last much longer than results day – Donald Trump’s continuous dismissal of the legitimate election entrenched and exacerbated pre-existing divisions amongst the American populace who desperately seek the answers each of them hope to find.
The fall out of the election acted as a catalyst for the January 6th insurrection on the United States Capitol building, a direct response to the words of Donald Trump who in his last days of office desperately grasped on the fleeting power soon to be removed from him. Trumps involvement in this monumental event drew criticism from several of his own party members, who backed impeachment proceedings undertaken by House Democrats – something that he would not forget.
Trumps feelings of betrayal soon turned to revenge with talks of establishing a ‘MAGA’ or ‘Patriot Party. The Washington Post reports that in the immediate days following his successors inauguration, the former President entertained ideas of directly challenging those Republican politicians that had crossed his path regarding the fall out of the Capitol insurrection, this would be done via the described Patriot Party. It must be stated that at first glance such a party would be staffed by ‘Yes men’ people who have pledged their unwavering support for the former President, however on further analysis it appears to be something bigger.
It must be noted that in recent weeks those closest to the further President have stated he no longer actively endorses the formation of a third party to challenge the Republican party, opting instead to back those who have stuck with him throughout his turbulent presidency. However, just because the figurehead is not actively promoting the concept, it doesn’t mean it has gone away. Instead, a seemingly de-centralised movement of ‘Q-anoners’ and militia members from various right-wing organisations are pushing for its conception. It is obvious that the United States desperately needs a political overhaul with the inclusion of third parties, but this is not the way. The legitimisation of a party that provides white supremacists and far right conspiracy theorists a place to call home is no way to challenge the status quo.
Whilst Trump may not now openly advocate for a third party to challenge Republican hegemony on the right, there has been a noticeable shift in rhetoric from some of the ‘Old Guard’ of the GOP. Mitch McConnell serves as a key example of those breaking rank with the new norm of Trumpism and denouncing the former President in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots. The former Senate Majority leader had become increasingly vocal following the riot and subsequent arrests, however he did stop short of conviction and legitimate accountability instead appeasing his party colleagues and electoral base – he is a politician after all. What this does show is that signs of fractures are beginning to emerge in the Republican party post- Trump, what’s left to be seen is how it will adapt.
This isn’t to say that the GOP’s stalwart figureheads have control over their party, and there is substantial evidence to suggest that a Patriot Party-esque element already exists in mainstream Republican politics. The election of Marjorie Taylor-Greene to the house of representatives was one of the lesser known disasters of the 2020 election saga. Taylor-Greene has since disavowed many of the opinions she expressed prior to her election, yet comments such as a post implying support for executing speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, were made as recently as 2019. Alongside these remarks, Taylor-Greene has endorsed numerous far-right conspiracy theories such as the belief that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, and has argued that, during 9/11, no plane struck the Pentagon. Though she has since distanced herself from these beliefs, such distancing is effectively meaningless. Her election indicates that spreading lies and whipping up a fascist fervour to get votes is an effective means to gain support from the Republican support base, and moreover, a route in to public office.
Realistically, the Patriot Party, or the idea of a Patriot Party does not threaten the establishment like its supporters would have you believe. With the election of figures like Taylor-Greene, though, it bears questioning whether the Republican Party does not already contain the components for a Patriot Party-style wing to emerge internally. Any development of formal political organisation for the far right, beyond the currently existing fascist militias in the Proud Boys, or ethno-nationalist activist group ‘American Identity Movement‘ is undoubtedly a bad thing. These fringe groups are threatening enough on their own, but the election of Marjorie Taylor Greene or the founding of a Patriot Party is something else altogether. The very existence of formal, concrete representation for the far right risks legitimising the harmful rhetoric of a portion of the population that seek to undermine and attack democracy. What must be watched is the effect that this rhetoric has, instead of allowing for democratic representation it instead has the capability to turn to a hateful echo chamber.
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