After the Storming of the Capitol Building, a cascade of social media companies rushed to ban then-president Trump’s account to prevent him from fueling the insurrectional frenzy. However, his tenacious grip on the GOP electorate and attempts to establish his social network might make him a lingering presence over the American political scenario.
Notoriously, in the wake of the events of 6th January, almost every social media and online forums restricted or banned accounts linked to Trump, often permanently. Facebook reportedly went to the extent of banning his voice. Similarly, the “free speech” app Parler – an alternative to mainstream social platforms – was struck down by Google, Apple and Amazon hosting services after it refused to tackle the spread of violent rhetoric on its platform.
These sudden countermeasures sparked a wave of conservative outrage on the alleged politically loaded censorship by big tech corporations. Note that this complaint does not come only from the extreme (albeit numerous) right. Still, the censorship operated by Silicon Valley has raised concerns from the opposite side of the political spectrum, with left-leaning columnists arguing that it should be up to a democratically elected Congress to legislate on the (few) limits to free speech, akin to the First Amendment. Nevertheless, these efforts by social media companies are part of a more significant corporate backlash against Trumpism, now associated with the riot and generally labelled as bad for business. For instance, a growing number of individuals previously involved in the Trump administration have found it difficult to find a new employment after the end of the Presidency and claimed they had their careers hindered by their association with the former US President. Again, one of the few die-hard Trump-supporters among prominent entrepreneurs, MyPillow’s CEO Lundell, has suffered a boycott against his pillow-producing firm, and has been dropped by a range of third-party stores.
The Republican Party establishment, too, continues to be in shambles, both communicatively and politically. On the one hand, it is ravaged by incessant scandals, for example, involving Ted Cruz’s escape from his home state during the power shortage last February and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz’s minor sex trafficking allegations. On the other hand, the Party is arguably relying on opposing whatever the incumbent President does, without a definite political project. The recent exodus from the GOP –5 senators out of 50 already announced they would not run in the next elections – reinforces the feeling that the Party is undergoing an exceptionally troubling period, although this has historically had ambiguous effects in electoral competitions. After a resounding defeat that swept the GOP from every branch of the federal government, the scandals, and the rising consensus for Biden’s actions, it is likely that the 2022 Midterm Elections will crush the conservative hopes to regain control of any of the chamber of Congress.
Nevertheless, to many Republicans, the key lies with the 2024 Presidential Elections. In the last 4 years, the GOP has been almost indistinguishable from a personalistic party. Thus the lack of a new, clear-cut guidance in the short-term was unavoidable. For most voters, Trump is the only feasible leader to win any electoral contest. The Republican electoral base is mostly convinced that the 2020 Election was rigged, and Trump should have won. Several local politicians exploit this fear to pass voting restrictions – largely harming minorities, which are more inclined to vote for the Democratic Party – paving the way for an even more radicalized electorate. Trump is undoubtedly willing to mock any institutional constraint to political power (for instance, he set up an Oval Office replica in his Mar-a-Lago mansion).
Thus, to jumpstart the new electoral effort, he might shape his social media company, funneling crowds of far-right voters into an echo chamber of unprecedented dimensions and weight.
It is not clear whether he will be able to achieve this goal, as the proposal of creating his “Patriot Party” seems to be abandoned, and this might be just as impossible. Regardless of his actions, he should be able to comfortably win the 2024 Republican Primaries, aided by the fact that Primary Elections tend to attract the more extreme views within the Party. Conversely, a return to Internet relevance could be as pivotal in the Presidential race as it was to his 2016 success. What is possibly even more relevant for the future of the Republican Party is that this time Trump seems to rely only on his closest and most faithful allies, openly denouncing those who have turned their backs to him in the closing days of the Presidency, as the then-Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the former VP Pence. Although in the past months they and many other influential Republicans have voiced their contempt of Trump and his followers, it would seem that it will not be the GOP establishment to purge its members from Trumpism, but the contrary, with a centuries-old Party morphing into the extension of Trump’s character for good, unable to let him go.
Author: Ludovico Campagnolo
Trump erased from social media:
Former Trump admins struggling to find new employment:
Scandals in the Republican Party:
GOP senators’ exodus:
Trump’s influence on GOP electorate:
Republicans who despise Trumpism:
Trump’s attempt to create a new platform:
Long-term strategy, run for the 2024 Presidential Elections with the most faithful allies:
The Oval Office in Mar-a-Lago:
Usually Primaries are more partisan: