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Trump’s GOP is already dying 

For Donald Trump, last week must have seemed like a final, crowning victory over his lingering Republican critics. On Friday the Republican National Committee made official what Trump had already decreed weeks ago, electing Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lana Trump, as party co-chair.  

Lana Trump is nominally co-chair alongside former North Carolina Republican Party Chair Michael Whatley. Both received former President Trump’s endorsement for the role. In practice, the power dynamic is more like when the Roman emperor granted his family a shared consulship with an irrelevant senator. In case any Republican was confused about where true power rested, Trump began her tenure atop the RNC with a sweeping purge of the unfaithful.  

Donald Trump’s MAGA ideology can now claim the House Speakership and formal control of the RNC. With Mitch McConnell stepping down from his role as Senate minority leader, Trump will likely soon control that post as well.  

But even at the pinnacle of its institutional power, the MAGA movement is already buckling at the joints. 

Trump’s GOP is a paradox. The former president now enjoys an unprecedented level of control over the Republican national apparatus. He can freely raid the RNC’s dwindling campaign coffers for legal defense money and appoint family members to key positions while personally directing House Republicans’ disastrous investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden. Trump’s total dominance of the Republican Party is a remarkable thing to behold. 

On the other hand, Republicans’ willingness to bow to Trump on every issue is making their party staggeringly unpopular with voters — and not just the rank and file. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck stunned Capitol Hill on Tuesday by announcing that he’d simply had enough of Trumpism and would resign in just over a week. In an interview with CNN, Buck slammed Congress as “dysfunctional” and remarked that many of his constituents were sick of Trump. 

It isn’t just Buck who’s had enough of Trump’s constant demands for loyalty and submission. Some of the party’s biggest fundraisers are already sitting on the electoral sidelines rather than raise or donate a penny to Trump. Now Newsweek reports that Lara Trump’s RNC takeover is driving even lifelong RNC financiers out of the party.  

With Trump about to turn the RNC into his personal ATM and donors abandoning the party in droves, Republicans could enter the heat of the 2024 campaign season unable to compete in a host of critical swing races. That’s going to be a real problem, because GOP candidates have a lot of ground to make up if they want to hold onto their jobs. 

Polling from January finds that American voters actually oppose most of Trump’s far-right policies. Somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of Republican voters now say they would not vote for Trump under any circumstances. Trump’s popularity among women has fallen by 5 percent according to a new Quinnipiac poll, in no small part due to his repeated verbal attacks on his rape victim, writer E. Jean Carroll. Problems like that take a lot of campaign money to solve — money that will instead be redirected into the pockets of Trump’s criminal defense attorneys. 

One RNC donor, Peter Henlein, voiced many Republicans’ outrage at the new arrangement in a post on X. “After a lifetime of donating to every GOP nominee and multiple down ballot candidates every cycle…I’m out,” Henlein wrote. “I donated to help win elections, not to maintain the lifestyle of a billionaire.” 

The MAGA movement’s final purity purge may prove to be one too many. It’s worth asking how competitive a national party can be when its platform excludes everyone from Mitt Romney in the moderate wing to Ken Buck on the hard right, from conservative establishment royalty like Liz Cheney to anti-government insurgent Marjorie Taylor Greene. It’s getting awfully hard to be a Republican in good standing, and even the former faithful are starting to feel the burn. 

Republicans have built themselves a party whose sole purpose is to appease and gratify Donald Trump. In the process, they’re quickly losing appeal to anyone else in America, including some of the party’s most faithful warriors. Buck and Romney may be the first Republican leaders to walk out of Congress before being tossed, but they won’t be the last.  

The MAGA movement, once so skilled at enforcing loyalty, is cracking. What’s left of the Republican Party is cracking with it. The sooner it shatters, the better. 

Max Burns is a veteran Democratic strategist and founder of Third Degree Strategies.    

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