Conservatives are dying out, with the rise of libertarianism and the Trump administration as their main antagonists.
But they’re not dying out by design.
The Republican establishment is more vulnerable to attacks by the right-wingers who are trying to push a conservative agenda in the United States, and its members are more vulnerable in states with strong GOP voting records than in those with weak Republican voting records.
A number of key Senate Republicans have lost re-election bids in states Trump carried by double digits.
And many of those who remain in office are vulnerable.
The political landscape is shifting away from the Republican Party, and many conservatives are looking to their own party for answers.
“There is an erosion of confidence in the Republican party,” says Paul Sperry, an expert on American politics at the University of California, Irvine.
“It’s not that the Republican brand is dead.
But the GOP brand is in jeopardy.”
Sperriers concerns are echoed by other experts.
“I think the Republican leadership has a lot of issues to work on,” says Richard Cohen, the president of the centrist Center for American Progress.
But he says his group has “a great deal of confidence” that the party’s governing coalition is “strong enough to survive the coming year and beyond.”
Cohen and others point to a number of recent legislative victories by conservative legislators, including a law that made it harder for businesses to discriminate against LGBT people in their employment practices, and a bill that prevented the Trump Administration from interfering with the courts in the Trump-Vermont divorce case.
A few years ago, Cohen says, “the Republican Party would have been a bit nervous about taking on this.
The fact that it’s the same thing they’ve been doing since Donald Trump came into office is an indication of the kind of confidence the Republican establishment has in itself.”
GOP leadership, Cohen adds, “is very reluctant to give a clear vision of how to proceed in a polarized Congress, and so they’re in a bind.”
And while Trump and other Republican leaders have been less outspoken about their own positions on immigration and other issues, they’ve gone on record attacking Democrats.
The Senate has passed two immigration bills that Republicans say would effectively make it harder to come into the country, and the House passed another that would make it more difficult to deport immigrants.
But those bills would have to be reconciled in the Senate, and some Democrats say they won’t support them because they don’t support Trump’s agenda.
That has Republicans increasingly concerned.
“The question is whether they’ll even be able to bring it up in the next Congress,” says Matt Schlapp, a former GOP strategist and now the head of the conservative American Action Network.
“When you’re dealing with a president who wants to make life more difficult for people who are undocumented, that’s not going to sit well.”
For now, Republican leaders appear to be doing what they can to try to avoid a confrontation with the Trump supporters.
On the House floor, they held up two pieces of legislation they say would help immigrants, including the RAISE Act, which would give legal status to some undocumented immigrants.
“We need to make sure that the bill we pass to help the undocumented immigrants is not a bill to put at risk the safety of the American people,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, in a statement that was released after the vote.
He said he’d support it if it passed.
The measure, however, was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate, which has shown little appetite for passing any kind of amnesty bill.
“That was a bipartisan bill,” says Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania.
“What the president wants to do is make it easier for him to deport people.
And that’s what’s happening with the RAIZE Act.
That’s a bill we’re not willing to support.
And I would hope that he’s going to find another way to help undocumented immigrants.”
The White House, meanwhile, is trying to use its control over the legislative process to pressure Congress to pass a bipartisan amnesty bill in the coming days.
Ryan, speaking on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, said the president “will veto any bill that we do not pass.”
But the White House is hoping to exploit the legislative stalemate, according to people familiar with the situation.
“They’ve been able to put pressure on the Congress to take up something that is going to give them a veto power,” says former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was the longest-serving House Democrat.
“But they don, and we will see what happens.”
Trump’s team has been careful to not criticize the Republican leaders who are pushing their agenda.
Ryan has not spoken publicly about his plans to block the RAOSE Act, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “there is no timetable” for the House to pass it.
“If we pass something that will do more to help American families, then we will,” she said.
The White Trump administration has not gone to Congress to oppose legislation that it