Tuesday, January 12, 2021


If The New York Times is right, these are dark days for the GOP.
The Republican Party is entering a period of political powerlessness in Washington badly fractured from within, lacking a unifying message and set of principles and missing a clear bench of national leaders — a party with internal divisions and outside obstacles so significant that it may not easily weather the splintering underway.

... the most acute danger for the health of the party, and its electoral prospects to retake the House and Senate in 2022, is the growing chasm between the pro-Trump voter base and the many Republican leaders and strategists who want to reorient for a post-Trump era.

“Have you heard what some of these folks waving MAGA flags are saying about Republicans?” said Representative Peter Meijer, Republican of Michigan, whose first days in Congress this month were marked by evacuations to escape from a mob. “They don’t identify themselves as Republicans.”
What to do? On the Times op-ed page, Bret Stephens says impeachment would be good for Republicans.
If the party doesn’t now turn against him, it will be tainted and crippled for years to come....

Republicans in Congress spent four years prostrate to the lower mind. What, other than the judges who helped affirm the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election, do they have to show for it? The president, whom they fear, despises them merely for failing to steal the election for him. They are verbally assaulted at airports by the same angry losers whose paranoid fantasies they did so much to stoke. And Republicans will continue to live in political fear of Trump if Congress doesn’t bar him from holding office ever again.

Now they have a chance to make a break — not clean, but at least constructive — with the proven loser in the White House. Not many Republicans deserve this shot at redemption, but they still ought to take it. The G.O.P. came back after Watergate only after its party leaders — Howard Baker, George H.W. Bush, Barry Goldwater — broke unequivocally with Richard Nixon.
But nearly 40% of Republicans had turned against Nixon by the time of his resignation. Even now, Trump has 71% job approval among Republicans, according to a newly released Quinnipiac poll.
Only 19% disapprove.

Republicans can't abandon Trump or Trumpism. Then again, they probably won't need to.

As the GOP has gone from Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan, then Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, then the Bush/Cheney war-and-torture regime, then the Tea Party, then Donald Trump, there's been one constant: The party has continued to have the support of a solid majority of white voters. No matter how extreme the Republican Party becomes, white America still believes it's the party of normality, stability, and patriotism, while the Democratic Party is the party of sedition, anti-Americanism, and chaos. (The mainstream media, which continues to be obsessed with noble white men who have dirt under their fingernails and denounce Nancy Pelosi in rural diners, compounds this problem.)

The GOP never pays a price for embracing extremism. It's lost a few white suburbanites, but it's gained an equal number of blue-collar whites. The Georgia runoffs preceded the Capitol riot, but they followed two months in which Trump took a sledgehammer to democracy every day -- and yet the Democrats barely won. Even after the riots, I imagine the results would have been exactly the same. Nothing ever motivates white America to say, Maybe it's the Republicans who are the dangerous extremists.

We know that if the GOP abandons Trump and Trumpism, it could lose a lot of voters. It's likely to lose far fewer voters if it remains loyal to Trump. Maybe the embrace can't be a bear hug, but Republicans will continue to say that attempts to punish Trump are excessive. They'll whatabout the Capitol riot by pointing to violence in last summer's racial justice protests (even though those protests didn't threaten to overturn the U.S. government). They might not remain fervent Trump supporters, but they won't throw him under the bus.

Throwing him under the bus is what would doom them. Allowing their party to become more and more infested with paranoia, conspiratorialism, and rage won't lose them votes.

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