During an interview with Politico on June 21st, grassroots leader Amy Kremer issued a statement that would have been unthinkable just a year before. Following the controversy surrounding the Alabama Senate primaries, the 52-year-old founding member of Women for America First openly criticized Donald Trump.
Despite being one of his most ardent early supporters, Kremer now warns the former president that "bad advice" from his inner circle is making him "disconnected from his voter base."
These statements were just the latest expression of an ongoing feud between Trump and the Conservative leaders who helped him build his political coalition. So far, most of these disagreements seem confined to the recent Alabama Senate primaries, but they may point to deeper divisions within the group.
The Alabama Primaries and the Can of Worms beneath Them
Alongside the equivalent processes in Georgia and Illinois, the Alabama primaries have been closely scrutinized by the media. According to political analysts, these elections offer clear insight into the ongoing shifts in power between the major parties – and within them.
In the case of Alabama, the race pitted experienced incumbent Mo Brooks against one of her former aides, Katie Britt. Initially, Donald Trump had included Brooks as one of the 17 candidates around the country he endorsed – a privilege widely believed to signify deep political alignment with the former president.
However, after a close contest in May led to a run-off, Brooks' lead seemed to stall, while Trump's support cooled off.
Over the past eight years, Trump's nominees and decisions have held great sway within the G.O.P. This time, his last-minute change of heart was met with open resistance from some of his closest allies.
Particularly scathing were the implications of "disloyalty": Trump's change of heart was attributed initially to Brooks' poor performance at a series of fundraising events between April and early June. As a result, Trump may have chosen to support a more promising, younger figure.
Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul, several Representatives from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas, alongside influential commentators such as Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, chose to continue supporting Brooks.
Is the MAGA Coalition in Peril?
The "Make America Great Again" movement began gathering momentum before the 2016 presidential election. Originally designed as a campaign slogan, it soon represented a broader movement encompassing members from different Conservative factions, such as the Tea Party caucus, the Evangelical sector, and other right-leaning grassroots organizations.
Many key figures of these previous movements openly endorsed Donald Trump's campaign and helped it build momentum. Amy Kremer, who had started as a founding leader of the Tea Party and the Women for America First movements, was among them.
Many of these early supporters continued to rally around Trump throughout his presidency, allowing him to consolidate himself as the de-facto head of the Republican Party. Both Kremer and Brooks also helped organize the "Stop the Steal" movement, defending it during the ensuing controversies at great personal cost.
What This Rift May Mean in the Future
Despite its current dominance, the MAGA campaign was only possible thanks to the foundation left behind by the Tea Party caucus. The original leaders consisted of a mixture of libertarian groups, fiscal conservatives, small-government advocates and conservatives. These groups (and their leaders) may now be ready to look beyond Donald Trump's larger-than-life persona.
In the words of Kremer herself, "We were here long before President Trump came along, and we're going to be here long afterwards."
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