The Republican Party is folding in on itself right now and it may take some time before it can recover. The agent of this collapse is the soon to be former president of the United States. His election four years ago opened the chasm between a main street party and a populist Trump base. Because of the events of the past week that chasm is now more gaping than the Grand Canyon. Any Republican who aspires to national office must walk a tightrope over it.

On one side is about two thirds of Republican voters and most elected officials. It is the old Reagan coalition with some additions by demographics and ideology. This wing wants Republicans elected wherever they can be and has a relatively big tent. They look for converts, not heretics. They are conservative on economics and national security and moderate on certain social issues. They are suburban and white collar. Generally well educated, their family situation is conventional by modern American standards. This is, of course, painting with a wide brush. Their support of the president is waning and they cannot be ignored.

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The remaining rump third of the Republican Party are the still loyal supporters of the president. They are obsessed with social media. On such, images of the president in consultation with Jesus Christ or in comic book heroic poses are regular fare. It is an amalgamation of old Wallace voters, Perot voters, and the president’s recent add ons. They have no strict ideological boundaries except populism and tend to follow any direction the president leads. They are from many areas and also from various job, demographic, and educational categories. Two things unite them: A hatred for what and whom they perceive to be enemies of the president and a near total loyalty to the president himself.

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Their support for the president is steadfast and they cannot be ignored.

An example of that loyalty was seen on Monday night. Various news outlets reported that, at the request of the Democrat mayor of DC, the president declared Washington, DC, in a state of national emergency. This freed up funding and coordination from the feds to be used during the Biden inauguration. A normal action. Nothing dramatic about it if you read the news story past the first sentence.

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But as soon as that happened Trump supporting social media heralded an upcoming coup to save the nation and keep Trump in power. They were thrilled by a military or political coup that would have begun a Civil War, constitutional crisis, or resulted in the cessation of the democratic process in this nation. Such is the informational gullibility and resentment of republican government that is standard issue to some on the populist Right today. And there lies the deepest part of the chasm and the treacherous tightrope over it.