The Republican Party is undergoing a soul search. Their choices lie between embracing the most loathed, divisive, and morally bankrupt man to ever lead their party, or potential electoral oblivion. They must make the right choice, Jack Mountney argues.

Donald Trump has undoubtedly corrupted the Republican Party with his high crimes and misdemeanours, his savage politics, his cruelty, his lies and his conspiracy theories. Senate Republicans lacked the nerve to convict Trump of blatantly impeachable crimes, and are seemingly drones to this morally deprived man. The question is not whether there is a war over the soul of the party but whether the Republican party has a soul worth fighting for. 

Trump revealed there would be substantial payback for Mitch McConnell and other Republican lawmakers for taking him out of the limelight. In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr Trump flirted with running again in 2024 and took jabs at the Biden White House. But he saved his power punches for his own side, targeting Republicans who voted to impeach him and criticised those who blamed him for the Capitol Hill insurrection in January. 

Despite the recent bipartisan vote at his impeachment trial, where he escaped conviction, Trump claims the Republican Party is "united" with "the only division between a handful of Washington DC establishment political hacks, and everybody else all over the country." His post-election manoeuvres have at a bare minimum, rocked Americans' faith in their democracy.

There is no denying that Republicans would be better off without him. Polls suggest the vast majority of Americans wanted him convicted and barred from holding future office. But he has a vice-like grip over the party's rank and file. A recent survey by the American Enterprise Institute found that 79% of Republicans view Mr Trump favourably; two-thirds agreed with his disproven belief that Joe Biden's win was illegitimate. The base of the Republican Party has been radicalised by Trump to a troubling degree by restricting and distorting their view of the world, patterns of thinking and value systems. The Republican Party is now a home for Q-Anon-blinded conspiracy nuts whose entire personality revolves around 'MAGA' and just parroting the rhetoric of the former President.

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Numerous Republican speakers and panels have indulged and promoted Trump's shameless lie that the election was stolen from him due to widespread voter fraud. Such claims have repeatedly been proved false. Mail-in voting surged because of the coronavirus pandemic but state officials, including Republicans, reported no significant irregularities. The former president and his allies lost more than 60 legal challenges, including those weighed by Trump-appointed judges. Trump's own attorney general, William Barr, dismissed the fraud allegations. 

 For Biden and the Democrats, they could not have hoped for a more perfect outcome. A defeated one-term president who failed to crack 47% of the popular vote, left office with just 39% approval, most Americans loathe him, and a majority believe he incited an insurrection against the United States. This is the gift that will keep giving. Courtesy of the Supreme Court, Trump's tax returns will soon be exposed across America. Expect more of his shady business dealings to be exposed, More payoffs, cheats and cons, as well as civil and criminal prosecutions.

Trump is not interested in appealing to the nation as a whole, anyway. He is only interested in appealing to the base that worships him. All of this is making it nearly impossible for senior Republicans to mount a strong opposition to Biden's ambitious plans for COVID relief followed by major investments in infrastructure and jobs.

For decades the Republican leadership has given grotesque politics a thin layer of respectability. But Mr Trump is a monster they could not contain. Many believe that without his Twitter megaphone and inevitable upcoming lawsuits Mr Trump might give up. Teasing the voters with a 2024 run suggests this is a forlorn hope. The lack of unity, leadership, strategy, clarity or a coherent message will be the toughest challenges Trump has to overcome if the Republican Party wants to progress forward in the right direction.

Republicans may come to their senses. US demographics point to a more younger and diverse population, while Trumpism festers in shrinking parts of the electorate. Donald Trump aims to be a force within the party. Republicans have a good chance at retaking both the House and the Senate in 2022. Failure in two years' time might spell the end of the Trump insurgency. A victory might spark its rebirth. 

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