Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump now have competing visions for the GOP's future: political journalist

Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump now have competing visions for the GOP's future: political journalist
President Donald J. Trump honors Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during the federal judicial confirmation milestones event, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Throughout most of Donald Trump's presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a Trump enabler — siding with the president on everything from the Ukraine scandal to Supreme Court nominees to corporate tax cuts for the ultra-rich. But with Trump having been voted out of office, McConnell is now acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect and is speaking out against fellow Republicans who refuse to accept the Electoral College results. Journalist Mike Allen, in an article published by Axios on January 4, describes the ways in which McConnell and Trump have competing interests during this lame duck period.

In his article, headlined "McConnell Party v. Trump Party," Allen observes, "The Republican battle lines being formed in President Trump's final days — his loyalists vs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell''s establishment — will shape American politics for the next four years…. This power struggle will help define everything from the future of conservatism and right-wing media, including Fox News, to President-elect Biden's ability to win Republican cooperation in office. More broadly and more importantly, the outcome will determine if Trumpism — and its norm-smashing tactics — come to permanently define one of America's two major political parties."

Allen goes on to outline the differences between the "Trump camp" and McConnell's GOP "establishment" allies.

"The Trump camp includes House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, the 12 senators and 140+ House members who plan a futile fight Wednesday against certification of Biden's victory," Allen explains. "That group includes GOP 2024 hopefuls, including Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. With Trump out of office, McConnell will be the GOP's de facto leader, backed by Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and other establishment types who don't have to worry about primary challenges from the right, where Trump has shown he's willing to play a decisive role."

Allen cites former House Speaker Paul Ryan as an example of someone who is firmly in the McConnell camp philosophically even though he has kept a low profile in recent months. The Wisconsin Republican, who was Romney's running mate in 2012's presidential election, recently slammed Trumpistas who are refusing to accept the Electoral College results — saying, "It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections."

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