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The Post-Trump Era: Exploring the Future of the MAGA Movement

This might not be a popular sentiment at the moment, but there is a very real chance that former President Donald Trump will not be the next president. By some weird turn of events, he could potentially lose in the primary and not be the GOP nominee. Or, he could win the primary and then lose to President Joe Biden in the general election, assuming he is still running.

If this happens, it will have an immense effect on the future of the Republican Party. But it will even have more of an impact on the MAGA movement. The question is, what will happen to the “America First” faction of the conservative movement?

Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy recently made an appearance on Fox News in which he touted his populist bonafides and noted that the MAGA movement is bigger than Trump:

Entrepreneur and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said Thursday that former President Donald Trump was “excellent” while in office, but the “America First” movement does not belong to the 45th president.

“The truth is, I do think President Trump was an excellent president,” Ramaswamy told Fox News. “I agree with him on a lot of policies, but I am running in this race to lead us forward and take the America First agenda to the next level.”

“So, America First, it doesn’t belong to Trump,” he added. “It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the people of this country. That’s the character with which I’m running this race, and I think that’s probably gonna make it very difficult for other candidates to attack me.”

“It is true that I’m taking our America First agenda further than Trump did,” according to Ramaswamy. “It is clear that the wall was insufficient for the southern border. They’re building tunnels underneath that wall, cartel financed. I’ve said that I would use the military to secure that southern border.”

“I won’t just put a good person on top of the Department of Education. I’ve said that I would shut it down. I would end affirmative action that was created by executive order. I’ve said I would take a pen and draw a line through it.”

In the event of a Trump loss in the primary or the general, there are several questions to consider. To begin with, what impact would this have on the momentum and energy of the MAGA movement? On the one hand, the former president will likely claim the election was stolen again. However, I do not think that as many people will believe this claim as they did in 2020. It could cause members of the base to finally move on from Trump.

However, if this scenario does not occur, and Trump accepts his loss, then he could remain a significant figurehead of the movement. But we should expect to see even more leaders like Ramaswamy and others rise up to fill some of the void that the former president will leave.

This leads to the next question: Will there be a clear successor to the movement if Trump is no longer as prominent on the stage? I don’t think there would be any one leader setting the agenda. But as stated previously, there will be several leaders, some of whom are already out in the ether and others who will come later. These will likely be younger individuals who espouse Trump’s principles and his penchant for using media to elevate their platforms. For better or worse, we can expect more Lauren Boeberts and Marjorie Taylor Greenes to emerge.

Thirdly, when these leaders come up, will they work as a cohesive movement, or will MAGA break up into smaller subgroups? The Republican Party is already rife with infighting. One only needs to look at the vitriol being exchanged between Team Trump and Team DeSantis to see how various factions might emerge. Both men could be classified as “America First.” But their camps are locked in a bitter power struggle at the moment. This could continue if Trump is no longer at the helm and others rise up to vie for influence. Of course, a severe rift in the movement could wind up killing it at some point.

It is also important to look at the potential role MAGA will have in the Republican Party. The populist, anti-establishment movement has managed to make some inroads in influencing the GOP. But, contrary to what many might believe, the establishment still remains firmly in control. The McCarthys and McConnells still must take MAGA’s influence into account when making decisions, but they are still running the show.

Still, if the MAGA movement manages to stay together as a somewhat cohesive unit, it could not only continue to exert considerable influence on the party, but could even become more dominant. This will be especially true if it is able to blame a Trump loss on the establishment and use it to make the case for more support from the base. Ultimately, the movement’s ability to remain relevant will depend largely on its leaders. If they can achieve a level of unity and minimize division, it will continue to influence and dominate the GOP’s trajectory for years to come.

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