The GOP Civil War is Over
Speaking to a town hall in Berlin in April 2019, former President Barack Obama issued a warning to Democrats back home. “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States … we start sometimes creating what’s called a circular firing squad.”
Obama was right about the political danger, but he was wrong about which party was at risk. This time, it’s not Democrats who formed a circular firing squad, it’s Republicans. They’ve been firing on each other and eating their own. In other words, they’ve been acting like Democrats used to. And, I must admit, it’s been fun to watch!
For a few short weeks, there was a Civil Warunderway inside the Republican Party, Republicans fighting Republicans, over the party’s future. What’s the best way to bounce back in 2022 and 2024? Stick with Donald Trump? Or dump Trump and move on?
It was intense for a while. A small, brave band of Republicans – led by Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Mitt Romney of Utah – argued that the sooner Republicans moved on from Trump with new leaders and a new message, the better. While sycophants Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Ron Johnson insisted Republicans could only win by hugging Trump close.
However, as intense as it was, the GOP Civil War didn’t last long. In fact, it’s already over. Republicans surrendered, and Trump won. Loyalists like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (how much Kool-Aid can he drink?) began making pilgrimages to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ring. Even former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who slammed Trump one day, begged for a meeting with him the next (Trump turned her down). Virtually every Republican who voted to impeach Trump has been censured by their state party. And at this weekend’s annual Conservative Political Action Committee gathering, Trump’s expected to seize the Republican Party throne and maybe even announce his own plans to run for re-election in 2024.
In effect, there is no Republican Party anymore. They might as well change the name. It’s now the Trump Party. Which stands for – well, which stands for what he stands for: only Donald Trump – the man, the myth, the big lie – and nothing else.
Which means, assuming he’s not behind bars (every day, a growing possibility), every Republican running for any office in 2022 and 2024 will be forced to defend Donald Trump. One hundred percent. Everything from his disastrous COVID-19 response to the loss of millions of jobs, to the bloated deficit, to the bloody attack on the Capitol on January 6. While Democrats can campaign on getting COVID-19 behind us, rebuilding the economy, creating jobs, and tackling climate change.
To those who love history, mark this moment. For Republicans to blow this opportunity to move beyond Donald Trump will go down as one of the dumbest mistakes in the history of American politics. For all the obvious reasons. Let’s start with basic math.
His supporters insist Trump’s the winning ticket. Where’s the evidence? Yes, he won in 2016. But in 2018, with Trump as head of the party, Republicans got walloped, losing 40 seats in the House. In 2020, with Trump at the head of the ticket, Republicans again got crushed, losing the House, Senate, and White House.
It’s actually worse than it looks. Trump not only lost to Joe Biden he lost by over 7 million votes. Biden carried the Electoral College 306 to 232, the same margin Trump won by in 2016 – which he dubbed “a landslide.” In 2020, Trump not only lost the key swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, he lost the longtime red states of Arizona and Georgia – both of which now have two Democratic senators. So much for the myth that Trump’s election magic. He’s not.
Funny. America’s business leaders recognize that, even if so many Republican politicians don’t. The Washington Post reports on four investors who are exploring buying up Trump’s hotels, golf courses, and office buildings because they’re all losing money. “The first thing you do is you take the Trump name off them,” one investor told the Post. Why? Because he’s fatally wounded his brand. Both his business brand and his political brand.
The GOP Civil War’s over. Republicans have decided to stick with Trump. And nothing could be better for Democrats. Nothing turns Democrats out to vote more than running against Donald Trump. It was fun to beat Donald Trump once. It’ll be even more fun, to crush him again.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: email@example.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
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