Last week, a group of more than 120 conservative operatives, activists and former officials held a Zoom meeting to discuss the future of American conservatism. More than 40 percent of those on the call were reportedly in favor of forming a center-right party that would reject Trumpism.
Former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security Miles Taylor, who attended the meeting, conceded that third parties usually struggle to make a meaningful impact, but suggested that a center-right party would have a real constituency in the United States.
"Even if a lot of folks in the Republican Party still support Donald Trump, it's clear that the brand has taken an enormous repetitional hit. We feel like there's definitely an opportunity here to recapture folks who felt disaffected by the way 2020 went."Evan McMullin, who co-hosted the Zoom call, said that Senate Republicans' unwillingness to hold Trump accountable for the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol showed that a new party is necessary and that the GOP is "rotten to the core."
A former GOP official said said that the concept could work "in theory," but argued that it would be almost impossible to upend the two-party system. "That's not to say we can't hope that the Republican Party makes some changes in the next two, four, six years," the official added.
"Oh, spare me. That's not going to happen," said Chuck Clay, a former Georgia state senator and GOP chair. He noted that launching a third party would split the conservative vote and help the Democrats win, and suggested that healing internal divisions on the right is the best way forward.Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, who is pro-Trump, dismissed the idea as a "stupid fantasy," agreeing with Clay that forming another party would only help liberals. He added that conservative operatives should focus on winning over the grassroots.
"The grassroots is what has influence over the party and the grassroots loves Trump," O'Connell said.
Polling suggests that O'Connell is right. As The Hill noted, a recent CBS/YouGov poll found that a strong majority of Republican-leaning voters would join a new, Trump-led party.
Thought most Senate Republicans voted to acquit Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection against the U.S. government, a slew of them has publicly distanced themselves from the commander-in-chief, suggesting that conservatives need a new leader in 2022 midterm elections and beyond.