WASHINGTON – A group of disgruntled Republicans who oppose Donald Trump are demanding that their party moderate its views or face the prospect of a third-party challenge.
“The GOP is becoming a political pariah in its the quest by Republican extremists to subvert democracy,” said Miles Taylor, a former Trump administration official who is organizing a public letter to be signed by more than 100 prominent Republicans.
Taylor – also known as “Anonymous,” the administration official who wrote a critical book about Trump – said the Republican Party “must re-embrace conservative principles, truth, and decency.”
According to people who have seen it, the letter, to be published Thursday, calls on Republicans to “either re-imagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative” – i.e., a third party.
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The demand comes as House Republicans voted Wednesday to purge Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from her party leadership position. Cheney has criticized Trump and urged fellow Republicans not to echo his lies about alleged election fraud in 2020.
Cheney’s demotion shows that, if anything, Trump’s hold on the GOP is strengthening.
Taylor said his group of Republicans isn’t holding their breath for a more moderate Republican Party in the era of Trump.
That is “why we are laying out a more principled vision for the future of our Union, one that can unite Americans around shared ideals while defending our sacred institutions,” he said.
The signers of the letter include moderates who have have long had problems with the increasingly conservative Republican Party. They include former governors Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.
There are also former GOP members of Congress who criticized Trump’s influence on the party, including ex-U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock and Denver Riggleman of Virginia.
Riggleman said many people don’t want to start a third party, but want the Republicans to reform themselves. He described the letter as “a call to action for making the party better or possibly doing something else.”
“The objective is to create a common sense coalition and policy driven movement that pushes back against disinformation like the the Big Lie” about the 2020 election, Riggleman said.
The American political system makes it very difficult for third parties to succeed.
For one thing, they are often fueled by specific individual leaders, rather than a group, as is the case now.
Even then, Ross Perot’s “Reform Party” did not last. Nor did the Progressive Party that nominated ex-President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Roosevelt split the vote with Republican President William Howard Taft, enabling Democrat Woodrow Wilson to become president.
In past months, Trump himself has discussed the idea of leading a third party if Republicans refused to follow his lead. He has since said that a new party is no longer necessary.
Trump allies mocked the idea that their Republican enemies could mount a third party, noting that many “Never Trumpers” are voting Democratic anyway.
“These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller.