While all parties go through reckonings after losing power, the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections and, for the first time since Herbert Hoover, ceded the White House, Senate and House in a single term.
That’s got to hurt.
I have no doubt Republicans are already looking to take Congress back in the midterms. Dems hold the houses by a hair, and the president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections. Even so, I bet the Republican establishment right now wishes it had never heard the name “Donald Trump.”
The base, however, may not let them forget.
But 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.” …
… Some party leaders fret that as of now, they cannot win with Mr. Trump, and they cannot win without him. Right-wing voters have signaled that they will abandon the party if it turns on Mr. Trump, and more traditional Republicans will sour if it sticks by him.
It’s obvious to me that the Republican Party would be best off in the long run if it let Trumpism go and resigned itself to being in the wilderness for awhile. For one, the big donors have turned against Trumpism. It’s possible they would return in time, but for now they are clearly signalling they want the pre-Trump GOP back.
It’s also the case that the Trump base has revealed itself to be a tad, um, unstable, and not necessarily interested in the serious issue of protecting the wealth of the wealthy, which has been dear to the hearts of Republicans since McKinley. The GOP has long had to pull the scam of firing up the base with culture war issues — fighting racial integration, women’s lib, affirmative action, gay marriage, etc. — and pushing different issues in government policies — deregulation; tax cuts for the wealthy. But QAnon is like an alien life form that keeps mutating out of control. There is no guarantee that it won’t work against the Republican Party in the future.
… it would be a foolhardy prophet indeed who looked at the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and assumed that this time, under this pressure, the conservative coalition will finally break apart, sending the Republican Party deep into the wilderness and reshaping American ideological debates along new lines.
But breaking points do come, and the violent endgame of the Trump presidency has exposed a new divide in the conservative coalition — not a normal ideological division or an argument about strategy or tactics, but a split between reality and fantasy that may be uniquely hard for either self-interest or statesmanship to bridge.
The other problem for Republicans is that while it might be best for the party to move away from Trumpism, a whole lot of individual elected officials owe their relatively new careers to Trumpism. Will the likes of Josh Hawley or Marjorie Taylor Greene be willing to step away from the brink?
Of course, I’m also hoping that Democrats will use its majority to jump on election reform, and fast. No more voter suppression. And if they can do something about political gerrymandering that would be peachy.
It’s also the case that we haven’t yet gone through all of the fallout from the January 6 insurrection. Facts are still coming out. Today we learned that the FBI was given a stark warning about what would happen —
A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.
Yet, obviously, preparations were not made. Requests for National Guard were denied six times while the riot was happening. It appears that people in the Pentagon and in Homeland Security made a deliberate decision to let the insurrection take place. Possibly that’s not true, but that’s what it looks like. We need to know. It’s all still very muddy right now.
And there could still be more violence from Trump supporters, which would dig the hole for Republicans much deeper.
Oh, and Chad Wolf resigned in the middle of overseeing security for the inauguration. Way to go.
But back to the Republicans — This afternoon, the New York Times published a story by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman saying that Mitch McConnell is pleased about impeachment.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Interesting. And Liz Cheney says she will vote to impeach Trump. So these signs point to a break between the old guard and Trump. I can also see the possibility that the Trumpers could form a third party that would spllit the right-wing vote for awhile. We’ll see.