Saturday, January 02, 2021


Axios's Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen call Donald Trump "the GOP arsonist," which is conventional wisdom now:
President Trump is torching his own party and its leaders on his way out of power — and tossing gas on the fire with a public call for mass protest next week and a vote to overturn his defeat.

... Trump is demanding Republicans fully and unequivocally embrace him — or face his wrath. This is self-inflicted, self-focused — and dangerous for a Republican Party clinging to waning Washington power.
Republicans have "waning Washington power"? For now, maybe. But they control the Supreme Court. They might still control the Senate after the Georgia runoffs. Even if they don't, they'll need a net gain of one seat in the Senate and six in the House to flip Congress in 2022.

But VandeHei and Allen insist that Trump is doing serious damage to the party:
Look at Trump just this week:

He's trying to burn down the party's chances in Tuesday's Georgia runoffs, raising doubts for Republican voters by tweeting yesterday that the state's elections are "both illegal and invalid, and that would include the two current Senatorial Elections."
This might be enough to tip the runoffs to the Democrats, but we don't know that yet -- although Democrats appear to be doing somewhat better in early voting, turnout is high across the board. Most Republicans are still likely to vote Republican.
He's trying to burn down Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — who won on the back of Trump's primary endorsement — because Kemp wouldn't interfere in the state's presidential results....

He's trying to burn down Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), tweeting on New Year's Day that he wants South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to primary him.
This is the key to what's going on. In future elections, Trump might take down a few Republicans he perceives as enemies. But in many states and districts, that doesn't mean he'll elect Democrats.

Remember the Tea Party? It ended the career of a certain number of Republicans who were perceived as insufficiently dogmatic -- but it never came close to ending Republicans' long-term stranglehold on our national politics. A few Republicans lost -- but many of them lost to other Republicans in primaries, and those Republicans went on to be elected. And most pre-Tea Party Republicans either survived or avoided challenges.

Trump is the new Tea Party. Just like the teabaggers, he's remaining affiliated with the GOP. He's not starting a new party. He's not encouraging a third-party vote. Even if Trump keeps this up for years and continues to be heeded by his voter base, it's quite possible that he won't weaken the GOP -- he'll just change the mix of Republicans in office to an even crazier one, just the way the Tea Party did.
He's trying to burn down the party's credibility by stoking protests during Wednesday's congressional certification of President-elect Biden's Electoral College victory.
But where's the evidence that this is harming the party? Where's the public outrage at the GOP? Where are the "responsible" Republicans who stuck it out for four years but now say they can no longer justify party membership, because they now consider belong to the party either morally unjustifiable or dangerous to their political careers?
He's trying to burn down Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who congratulated President-elect Biden on his victory.
McConnell just won another six-year term. He'll be fine.

In a healthy democracy, what Trump is doing would be damaging to his party. But this is modern America -- it isn't particularly damaging.

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