After Ryan suggested that the conservative movement was more than loyal to the defeated president, Trump called the former House Speaker a “RINO” and a loser. And then Trump, the rare Republican who criticized Reagan himself, went after Fred Ryan, the chairman of the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
“Ronald Reagan wouldn’t be happy to see the Reagan Library run by the Washington Post chief Fred Ryan.” Trump wrote. “How the hell did that happen? No wonder they consistently have RINO speakers like Karl Rove and Paul Ryan. You are doing nothing for our emerging Republican Party! “
A year before the midterm elections and with the earliest stages of the 2024 primaries already underway, Trump is still in the back seat, driving the Republican Party at every turn. And every sign suggests the GOP is still with Trump – and has little interest in the kind of introspection that Ryan and traditionalists like him are begging for.
Even the Reagan Library’s “Time for Choosing” series – named after Reagan’s famous 1964 speech – will likely come with a high dose of Trumpism. Ryan is followed by a number of speakers who are more sympathetic to the twice accused former president: Mike Pence, the former vice president; Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State; Nikki Haley, former United States Ambassador; and Sens. Tim Scott from South Carolina and Tom Cotton from Arkansas. Aside from Ryan, all of them are potential presidential candidates in 2024. And the response Ryan received from Trump will remind them of the need to calibrate their remarks for Trump and his base.
Two of the upcoming speakers, Pence and Haley, have already paid for their lack of total loyalty, and the field is so respectful of Trump that most would probably not challenging him when it runs again in 2024.
In Ryan’s case, he wasn’t just critical of Trump. It is that the direction conservatives are supposed to go is out of fashion in the modern GOP. A The vast majority of Republicans still believe in Trump’s lie that the election was rigged. The party has refused to do the kind of autopsies that both parties traditionally did after losing elections – party leaders were unwilling to have a public discussion about what role Trump might have played.
Many Republican voters saw no reason either. In response to the question in a CBS News poll Whether the GOP’s strategy for 2022 should be to prioritize the party’s message – informing the public of guidelines and ideas – or efforts to change electoral law, 47 percent of Republicans prioritized changing electoral rules over ideas.
This despite the fact that the party continues to lose market share nationally. Republican presidential candidates have only won the referendum once since the 1990s.
Ryan – once one of the GOP’s brightest stars – is well aware of the party’s diminished position after stumbling upon Mitt Romney’s lost ticket in 2012. Without naming Trump, he said at the Reagan Library that it was “terrible to see a presidency such a dishonorable and shameful end. So we conservatives are once again at a crossroads. “
“If the conservative cause hangs on a personality’s populist appeal or second-rate imitation, then we’re going nowhere,” he said, adding that Republican voters “would be unimpressed by the sight of yes men and” flatterers flock to Mar -a-Lago. “
This is a prediction shared by some other establishment-minded Republicans, many of whom are finding solace – and relatively quickly – in previous examples of the evolving party. At the suggestion of William F. Buckley in the 1960s, the party reformed and distanced itself from racists and “Kooks”. In the 1970s, Richard Nixon’s resignation – and the turmoil within the party that followed – gave place to Reagan just six years later.
Georgia’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, a Trump critic who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a second term, recently said that his “gut tells me that an overwhelming majority of Republicans will realize in the next few years that there is a new way forward.”
After all, Trump’s influence in the party was not predetermined. It was only about five years since he lost the Iowa Congregation to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and if Trump doesn’t run again in 2024 – or if he is overthrown by a criminal investigation – his hold on the GOP may change over time Loosen up time.
“It can be relatively quick,” said Tom Campbell, a former Republican Congressman from California and a staff member of the Reagan administration started collecting registrations for his new party last year, the Common Sense Party. “A lot of people didn’t know about Donald Trump before he ran for president.”
But so far, the prospect of the party breaking with Trump is undetectable. In a springtime infidelity cleanup, Republicans have criticized GOP lawmakers who are critical of Trump and removed one of his harshest critics, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, from her post in the leadership of the House.
In the past, successful efforts to change the party’s direction have “really got the party’s intellectual class … articulating an intellectual vision,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who co-founded anti-Trump-Lincoln Project was prior to resigning in December.
Today he said, “That is missing. The William F. Buckleys of the world have been replaced by the diamonds and silks of the world … All of the brain’s confidence has essentially disappeared.”
Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.