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Donald Trump (Photo: Screen capture)

Former President Donald Trump still has an iron grip on the Republican Party -- but he's nonetheless 76 years old, which means he's closer to the end of his life than the beginning.

The Bulwark's Jonathan Last argues that the Republican Party is very likely to go through a massive power struggle if and when Trump dies, and he's skeptical that heir apparent Ron DeSantis will be the one who will take over the mantle.

"Once he departs, there will be a scramble to take over the Republican party," he writes. "The largest consequence of the Trump years is that the GOP has become an authoritarian institution. It is not a political party in any way recognizable within the American tradition. Instead, it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of one man."

The Republican Party faced an identity crisis in 1988, when President Ronald Reagan stepped down even as he was idolized by the GOP base.

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However, Last sees little reason to believe that the party will behave after Trump as it did after Reagan.

"It seems unlikely that the GOP can revert to being a traditional political party," he argues. "Ergo, the post-Trump succession will look less like the 1988 Republican party search for a post-Reagan identity and more like The Death of Stalin."

In this sort of everything-goes knife fight, Last believes that "crazy Kari Lake," the conspiracy theory-touting GOP Arizona gubernatorial nominee, has an edge over DeSantis.

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