A ‘Party of Trump’ GOP is the Answer to Democrat Prayers
All doubt about whether Donald Trump would continue to play an outsized role in the GOP after his defeat and the January 6 insurrection have been answered. With no anti-Trump Republican leader and weak leadership in the House and Senate, it’s Trump’s party now. At least until criminal prosecution, business failures, or something else distracts him, he will remain the head of the one-time ‘Party of Lincoln.’
Nothing better could happen to Democrats. Even before inciting the insurrection and anticipated criminal legal proceedings, Trump was easy to hate. His swagger, racism, lying, and incompetence made him an imminent threat to the country's future. Trump made the GOP radioactive to many younger voters and drove them, in large numbers, not only to the Democratic party but to its left wing. The further a pendulum swings right, the more powerful a leftward swing follows.
A simple agenda of opposing Biden and ridiculing him
Compounding the problems facing the Republican party is its absence of a credible agenda offering a counterpoint to the Biden administration. If the party could develop one, it might find new support among moderate Democrats wary of President Biden’s vision of an expanded role for government. Instead, Republicans, with no guidance from Trump except to oppose everything Biden, are offering nothing.
And because Trump destroyed Republican leadership on issues like a balanced budget, free trade, education, and health care, Congressional Republicans are floundering to find issues that might resonate with voters beyond those already (for now) in the GOP camp. Prospective party members are offered agendas that include voting rights proposals characterized as voter suppression, a return to the Trump border security practices, and support for a tax system most observers see as unfair.
Trump’s record at the White House is another problem. Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, may have died because of his chaotic pandemic response. As the pandemic spread, Trump focused first on a re-election bid that included claims of voting fraud before people voted, suggested that his opponent was senile and guilty of crimes committed with his son. His tweets and Facebook postings also paint the picture of a deranged narcissist disengaged from the crisis the rest of the country faced.
If Trump is a model for future GOP presidents, the party should worry
The perception that Trump is the GOP is reinforced by the parade of 2024 hopefuls that continue to believe that the Trump formula of appealing to fear, racism, greed, and anger can win a national majority if only pursued hard enough. Are the disloyal (to America) Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), Ted Cruz (R-TX), or Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) the future of the party? If you are a Democrat and want the Democratic agenda to succeed, you hope so. Running against any one of this trio is likely to incentivize voting at least as much as in 2020.
When Trump falls, expect a vacuum, not a successor
If reports of pending criminal prosecutions of Trump, the Trump Organization, and at least three of his children are accurate, news channels will soon be filled with tales of grift, tax evasion, and possibly sedition in connection with January 6. That could be followed by a financial crisis at the Trump Organization, perhaps one ending in bankruptcy. Wait, isn’t Trump a multi-billionaire? Was that a lie?
Voters of both parties, including many in the ‘Trump base,’ will soon tire of a new cascade of ‘fake news’ claims, Trump’s remaining on the national stage will further sink the GOP. The party does not have a Plan B.
Liz Cheney is right that the Republican party cannot win in 2022 and beyond with Trump. She is probably wrong if she is suggesting the party can win without him. It may be impossible for the party to rebuild from the destruction of credibility that Trump brought to the GOP. That would be a gift to the Democrats.
For the rest of Biden’s first term, and most likely beyond, Democrats will be able to appeal to progressives based on its agenda and to non-progressives as the non-Trump party. It can’t get much better than that.
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