Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has written a new column explaining how the delusions of President Donald Trump and his supporters could finally break the Republican Party.
Douthat begins by acknowledging that predictions of the GOP's demise have been made for decades and they have consistently failed.
However, he thinks the Trump-incited riots at the United States Capitol last week may be the tipping point that could finally snap the GOP coalition in half, if for no other reason than Trump and his biggest fans have completely refused to accept anything resembling reality.
"Even before Jan. 6, the difficulty of balancing normal Republican politics with an insistence that Mike Pence could magically overturn a clear election outcome helped cost the party two Senate seats in Georgia," he writes. "A week later, it seems the party could easily break harder, and fall further."
The biggest points of conflict will come if non-Trump Republicans try to repudiate the president, which will only further anger and inflame his base against them.
"Maybe this leads to more empty acts of violence, further radicalizing the center right against the right, or maybe it just leads to Republican primaries producing a lot more candidates like Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, to the point where a big chunk of the House G.O.P. occupies not just a different tactical reality from the party's elite but a completely different universe," he writes. "Either way, under these conditions that party could really collapse or really break."
Douthat concludes by saying that just one week ago he could confidently say the Republican Party was in solid shape heading into 2022 -- but he's now seen that go up in smoke.
"I woke up last Wednesday thinking that the G.O.P. had survived the Trump era, its power reduced but relatively stable, with some faint chance to redeem itself — by carefully shepherding it supporters back toward reality, while integrating elements of populism into the reality-based conservatism that our misgoverned country needs," he writes. "A week later, that hope seems like as much of a fantasy as QAnon."