Op-Ed: Will the GOP finally do something about its Trump problem?
On election night, Donald Trump used his post-truth social media platform, Truth Social, to spread the word. With his first statement he celebrated the defeat of Republican Joe O’Dea in the race for the US Senate in Colorado. “Joe O’Dea lost BIG!” Trump crowed. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!” O’Dea had distanced himself from Trump during the campaign (and Trump attacked him for it).
Shortly thereafter, Republican Doug Bolduc lost his bid for the New Hampshire Senate by almost 10 points. In the primary, Bolduc welcomed Trump’s nonsense about the stolen 2020 election, and in return Trump had backed him. But days after securing the nomination, Bolduc reversed course and admitted the election had not been stolen. A few weeks later, he backed down on a QAnon-friendly podcast.
Trump didn’t see it that way. Trump explained that Bolduc lost because he “repudiated his long-standing stance on voter fraud after his big major win… Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won easily.” Bolduc squeaked through his area code with 1,867 votes.
Trump would prefer the GOP to lose a seat in the Colorado Senate when the alternative is to elect a conservative Republican who isn’t a Trump spittoe. Also, he believes, or at least wants Republicans to believe that if only Bolduc had shown unwavering loyalty to the stolen election lie, he would have won in New Hampshire.
It’s really, really hard to articulate how stupid that is. Not faulty. Not wrong. But really, really like – hey, let’s stick a fork in the toaster and see what happens! – that’s stupid.
The former president’s irritated post-election attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin drew the most attention, but these digs rather illustrate the problem Trump poses for the GOP.
Not only does Trump not care about what’s good for the party (if it’s not also good for him), he also wants the GOP to adopt policies and messages that hurt Republican candidates positively. Trump has infected the right with a series of self-destructive habits – including defending the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, promoting voter fraud myths, dismissing early voting as somehow illegitimate and thinking it’s good politics to be offensive be.
That’s been clear for a long time. If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had picked Senate candidates for the 2022 midterm election without interference from Trump, the GOP would have won several seats it lost.
The problem is that members of Trump’s faction in the party don’t care. They would rather be the leaders of a new minority party than risk that status by seeking majority power. That’s why they’re trying to scapegoat McConnell, even though McConnell-leaning PACs have spent almost a quarter billion dollars saving various MAGA races while Trump mostly sat on his dragon hoard and refused to help his handpicked candidates.
Even more absurd: Many Trump boosters attack McConnell and at the same time denigrate anyone who calls Trump a false Republican or even criticizes him transgressor by Ronald Reagan’sCommandment 11: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.
consequently worldviewTrump is not to blame for this political slaughter. The fault lies with the Republican “establishment” itself – which has purged and pilloried Trump for years – for not doing enough. But the GOP had a historically disastrous halftime, not because George W. Bush failed to hold a rally for the crackpots, but because voters refused to go along with the crackpot banner.
This double standard of loyalty has been the engine of Republican dysfunction throughout the Trump era. Trump’s henchmen have internalized his one-sided narcissism: party loyalty for you, not for me. You have to be polite to Trump, but his rude rudeness is delightful and hilarious.
This too has been evident for a long time. What makes this moment different is that after years of sowing noxious weeds, the harvest is here. It does not bode well for Republicans who knew Trump’s various antics and misdeeds were unjustifiable but only now criticize them when a price is demanded for their political power.
But it’s still better than the alternative. Given the structure of the GOP primary, Trump could still win the nomination. Given the numerous precedents of Republicans confronting Trump just to beat a cowardly retreat, there’s no way to know if they’ll finally be able to throw this Jonah (no relative) off their cursed ship overboard. But it’s more possible today more than ever and finally politically necessary.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-11-15/midterms-trump-republicans Op-Ed: Will the GOP finally do something about its Trump problem?