The current political parties in the United States have taken many forms over time and did not assume their current shape until the 1960s. Republicans and Democrats switched back and forth on their ideologies for over a century before becoming what we knew them to be in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Such changes are a completely expected trend.
However, the Republican party in 2022 is no longer your grandparents’ GOP. Beginning in 2016, the Republican party of the late 20th century began to disappear rapidly. Former President Donald Trump established control over the party’s entire ideology and used his influence to push out the 20th century Republicans and what they stood for in favor of his brand, the “MAGA Republican.”
The former fundamental small government Republican principles, which included decreasing taxes and not interfering in business, was quickly overtaken by a focus on social conservatism, including opposition to abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.
Although religious conservatives in the United States have had increasing influence over the Republican party since the 1970s, their influence in the past six years has grown exponentially. Their power is seen in recent events such as the conservative majority of the Supreme Court overturning Roe. v. Wade. Additionally, the majority of Republicans in the United States House of Representatives refused to vote for the Respect for Marriage Act, and some MAGA Republicans now threaten to dissolve the fundamental concept of separation of church and state, embracing the idea of Christian nationalism.
Such extreme actions and words demonstrate a drastic shift from the 20th century Republican platform. Even though many pre-MAGA Republicans stated they were pro-life, there appeared to be no credible threat to Roe. In fact, all current Supreme Court Justices stated in their confirmation hearings that they believed Roe to be the established law of the land. Further, SCOTUS ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015, and now, considering the overturning of Roe v. Wade, that ruling could be threatened.
Three Trump appointees joining the Supreme Court as associate justices have tilted the scales to favor the conservatives. The new conservative majority will most likely continue to establish MAGA Republican ideology into our body of law through cases such as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overruled Roe. v. Wade.
Many other aspiring Republican leaders have jumped on the MAGA bandwagon in an attempt to increase their power easily. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, an avid Trump supporter, has been in a battle with Disney, a major corporation with a significant presence in his state, where he has taken away their self-governing power and increased their taxes due to their opposition to the Florida law that restricts teaching on LGBTQ+ issues. Such an retaliation is the antithesis of the pre-MAGA fiscal Republican ideology.
Further, Florida Senator Rick Scott recently raised a proposal to increase income taxes on low-income Americans. Although Scott ultimately retracted that portion of the proposal, his initial stance on taxation regardless of income indicates how much the Republican party has changed in the MAGA years, and how the traditional fiscal conservatives are being pushed out.
While some of the fiscal Republicans remain in office and continue to work hard in defense of the pre-MAGA Republican agenda by supporting bipartisan legislation, they are largely outshined by election deniers and Trump-endorsed candidates.
Representative Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, just lost her primary to the Trump backed candidate in Wyoming, known as Cheney territory, after taking a stand against former President Trump and fighting to preserve our democracy.
It’s a notable example of just how great the influence of MAGA Republicans in fact is. GOP establishment figures like the Cheneys are being pushed out by MAGA candidates. The traditional Republicans still in the spotlight are few and far between, and when they are, their tenure is threatened.
Although there have historically been drastic changes in this country’s political parties, never has one man commanded such a degree of influence over a party. Who knows if we will see a return to the age of fiscal conservatism, or if MAGA is here to stay, but regardless, this new Republican party is transforming our history with each passing day.