Prior to the election, I think many people believed that former President Donald Trump was going to be the future of the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. Oftentimes in conversations with my conservative friends, I raised the point that Donald Trump could not be the only future that the Republican Party saw in mind. Even if he were to win the presidency for a second term, he would only be able to represent the party for another four years.

Now that former President Trump has left office, where does the Republican Party go from here?

President Joe Biden’s age and his unpopularity will more than likely lead to a single-term presidency, with him stepping down prior to the 2024 election. As a result, the election will be wide open for both parties. Many people have felt that former President Trump will attempt to run for a second term, but the Capitol riots in January have left a huge stain on his popularity amongst moderates. Even some diehard conservatives in the Republican Party have begun to distance themselves from the former president as a result of the riots.

As of now, there are two key figures that will more than likely shape the future of the GOP. First is Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations under President Trump. Her strong conservative stance on foreign policy and her service under President Trump is going to be working in her favor. Haley not only has experience working domestically, but also working with foreign nations. She has even begun the slow process of separating the party from President Trump and claimed it to be a mistake to have followed him with blind loyalty.

Even though many inside the Republican Party have attacked her for this, Nikki Haley’s actions show an attitude of ruthlessness. She is arguably one of the first Republicans to realize that President Trump carried them to one term of a Republican presidency, but he can no longer be their key talking point by the time the next presidential election comes around.

Along with the former ambassador is current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been a leading figure in the Republican Party. Governor DeSantis was a key ally of President Trump fully supportive of the president’s claims of election fraud in 2020. Just as the Democratic Party sees Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York as a leading figure in their party, the Republican Party looks at Governor DeSantis in the same light. Even more crucial to the Republican Party’s hopes for the presidency is that he is the governor of one of the most important states in the electoral college.

DeSantis has been a popular governor, despite criticisms of his handling of the pandemic, and could easily carry Florida in a presidential election. Even though Florida alone would not carry him, his resemblance to President Trump and his more formal approach to politics would allow him to carry other swing states.

The predictions of these two figures leading the Republican Party would only work as long as conservatives are able to move past former President Trump. There has been an increase in discontent with the Republican Party as a result of this distancing from Trump. Some Republicans have called for a separate party dedicated solely to Trump, which would be the downfall of the conservative movement in the United States. As popular as he was, there is no way that his supporters would alone carry him back to the White House.

Miguel Arceo is a student athlete at Sebring High School.