Politics has the drawback of being a zero-sum game. Because there are only so many votes in the world, every vote you receive is a vote the opposition does not receive. Because of this, the following headlines were essentially all used when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago: The Hill yelled, “FBI search cements Trump’s hold on GOP.” According to the Washington Post, “Trump’s dominance in the GOP comes into view, frightening some in the party.”
Other stories made the same conclusion but linked Liz Cheney’s loss in the Wyoming primary to Trump’s tight control of the party. The New York Times’ analysis was entitled “What Liz Cheney’s Lopsided Loss Says About the State of the G.O.P.” A New York magazine article titled “Liz Cheney and the Demise of Anti-Trump Republicanism” characterized Cheney’s resignation as the end of the “ancien régime of conservative Republicanism as we knew it not so very long ago.”
It was only Wednesday, too.
Suffice it to say that political experts and experts agree that Trump has established an unheard-of lock on Republican supporters despite — or even because of — all the controversies surrounding the former president. But the question of whom voters is not being raised. Even though Liz Cheney only received slightly less than 30% of the Republican vote in a strongly red state, the pundits don’t appear to be focusing on the fact that Cheney herself lost, not her supporters. They supported the leading Trump opponent in the Republican Party, a woman who declared after losing that she would “do whatever it takes” to prevent Trump from being elected president. Now, where do those voters’ votes go?
People who questioned Trump’s orthodoxy were yelled down in town halls, according to television coverage of House elections where the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump were on the ballot. Lawn signs promoting candidates who did not sufficiently submit to the Master were stolen by Trump supporters. According to The New York Times, “Republican Party critics are still being expelled, and the process has become so thorough that Mr. Trump is no longer directly involved in the majority of it. Those who deviate from the new orthodoxy are censured or expelled by allies in local and state parties, as well as at groups with ties to the Republican Party.”
That doesn’t sound like asking them to support Republicans when there isn’t a candidate who has received Trump’s endorsement or who at the very least supports Trump. The issue with eliminating any Republican voter or candidate who isn’t committed to Donald Trump is that demographics already demonstrate that the party will need those individuals “moving forward,” as the cliche goes.
The issue with throwing out any Republican who isn’t committed to Donald Trump is that demographics already indicate that the party will require those individuals “going forward.”
This applies to candidates who have considered challenging Trump in the Republican primary in 2024, should Trump decide to run for president once more. Numerous articles have discussed potential Trump rivals, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who swore devotion to Mar-a-Lago after the FBI searched his Palm Beach residence. Last weekend, DeSantis spoke at an event for Turning Point USA and slammed the FBI, telling the gathering of young Trumpazoids in attendance that “they’re enforcing the law based on who they like and who they don’t like.” When it occurs, “That is not a republic; perhaps it is a banana republic.”
Republican political strategist at the rally, according to The Hill: “If Trump decides to run, all chance for DeSantis to defeat him in a primary from the right has been entirely eliminated. Now that our supporters want vengeance, I predict that they will decide that electing Trump to the White House again is the greatest way to exact their vengeance.”
The so-called “impeachment 10,” the Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol assassination, are among those the Republican Party is trying everything in its power to drive from its ranks.
Yes, once again on Wednesday, MSNBC’s Maddowblog writer Steve Benen reported that “It would also be a mistake to minimize Trump’s influence, as the Impeachment 10 members can attest. This is especially true given that the former president, motivated by a small-minded sense of vengeance, is determined to ruin the careers of specific members of his party. The fact that a significant portion of their radicalized political party would not put up with their heresy was what counted; it would overshadow all other aspects of their public service careers.”
Cheney’s loss wasn’t only the setback of a Republican who opposed Trump. It was a setback for the group of Republican leaders once referred to as “movement conservatives,” who had shaped the party in their own image as being in favor of tax reduction and national security and opposed to anything “liberal,” particularly abortion and government handouts. In a nutshell, it was Newt Gingrich’s political party. But what is Newt’s opinion today? According to Gingrich, who was questioned by The Hill for a piece on how the FBI investigation had tightened Trump’s grip on the party, “Almost everyone on the Republican side, with the exception of never-Trumpers, believes that the FBI is dishonest. They believe the Jan. 6 committee is a phony committee that is being exploited by false news, and they believe Trump is being targeted for martyrdom. He won’t face a significant challenger in the primary if they continue in this manner.”
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With fewer than three months until the midterm elections, Democrats will have a lot to run on. Although they have achieved lower gas costs, passed the “Inflation Reduction Act,” and overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision, they have thus far been only too pleased to make Trump the main problem. Given that numerous of his backed candidates seem to be failing, Trump has done his part to assist them. John Fetterman is leading Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate primary. Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance are roughly tied or slightly apart in Ohio. Hedge fund mate Sen. Mark Kelly is losing ground against Blake Masters in Arizona, and Sen. Raphael Warnock’s opponent in Georgia, Herschel Walker, keeps running into obstacles.
James Carville, a prominent Democratic consultant, told The Hill “The Republican Party’s primary election problem is the incredibly ignorant voters they attract. Additionally, extremely stupid people demand extremely stupid leaders. The Republican Party is currently in that position.” Carville said when asked about Walker’s candidacy in Georgia: “Man, that guy had a helmet that didn’t fit him well. He is incorrect. He is not at all correct.”
It’s very obvious that Trump will run as a one-issue candidate in 2024, and that doesn’t seem like a very large “if” at this point: From him, the 2020 election was “taken.” Stop there. As he stands before grand juries in Washington, D.C., and Fulton County, Georgia, not to mention the ongoing tale playing out before the Jan. 6 select committee in Congress, the search of Mar-a-Lago is just gravy, and there will undoubtedly be more gravy to come.
It appears that Trump’s supporters are ready to support him. According to a poll done by Monmouth University last month, a startling 61 percent of Republicans think that January 6 was a “legitimate protest.” 58 percent of respondents told pollsters they thought Joe Biden only won the 2020 election through “voter fraud.”
If Trump runs in 2024, he will only run on the platform that the election in 2020 was “stolen.” Where would those voters go when he is gone? That was already in the past.
But the question still stands: Where will these voters go if Trump loses the 2024 presidential election and is unable to do so again, or if he is found guilty of a felony that forbids him from holding any more federal office? Although it’s unclear whether a law passed by Congress can prevent someone from becoming president, it’s pretty much beyond question that if Trump were to run and lose in 2024, he would be far too old to run again in 2028. At least one federal statute for which Trump is under investigation supposedly carries that penalty.
How much influence will Trump’s legacy have on the Republican Party in the future when he isn’t on the ballot — and he only has one more chance to accomplish that? Can Trump continue to rule the Republican Party even after leaving office? The idea of “owning the libs” will undoubtedly continue to inspire the Republican base, but now that Trump has patented that particular political ploy, will it also be effective with other candidates?
It might seem almost too scrumptious to think about, but it’s possible that for the past six years, the term “Trump” has been the magical potion that has numbed the populace, and that once he is gone, it will lose its twisted potency. The big question for our political future may be whether Republicans will show up to vote when their preferred medication is no longer accessible. You’re welcome to make your own assumptions about the solution, but for the time being, the lesser “leaders” of the Republican Party aren’t giving life after Trump much thought. That might be their biggest error ever.
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