Fractured: The GOP Must Escape Trump’s Grip.
Representative Paul Mitchell has left the Republican party. Paul cited his GOP colleague’s effort to overturn the election as his reasoning for leaving the GOP. His fear is that democracy “will be damaged long-term if they collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and stop the steal rallies”. However, the statement made by the Representative from Michigan appears as a safe political maneuver because he is not running for re-election. While some within the GOP has rebuked Trump’s behavior most were either retired from office or not running for re-election. The most notable opponent was Mitt Romney (R-UT) when he supported Donald Trump’s impeachment. However, if we go back to 2015 Donald Trump when Trump was a candidate he did face fierce opposition from the GOP. Unfortunately, that is not the case today.
Donald Trump rode the wave of populism and crashed it right into the GOP. The consequences of such are that he completely shaped the party in his image. The party of small government and Christian values turned into the party of fringe conspiracy theories, populist nationalism, xenophobia, and pseudo-news. However, the Republicans in congress got drunk off of Trump’s rhetoric because it increased their campaign donations and support in their communities. Fox News enjoyed high ratings as they pushed Trump’s toxic narrative into the mainstream, social media failed to correct Trump’s behavior and the GOP allowed Trump to attack political opponents, attack the rule of law and attack our democratic norms. Unfortunately, there are consequences for such actions (or inaction) and the roosters are coming home to roost.
The GOP was already struggling to adapt their platform to an increasingly diversifying country and a dwindling white voter base. However, the party now has to abandon its traditional values to satisfy Trump’s base, white supremacy groups, and QAnon. These fringe external forces have penetrated the GOP and found a safe place to manifest their goals, strengthen their base, and increase their political power. As we’ve seen before, if a politician in the Republican party does not toe the line with Trump, they will be attacked by the president on Twitter.
Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia, refused to call a legislative session to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. Brian detailed this phone conversation to the press and when he refused, Trump attacked.
“I will easily & quickly win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permits a simple signature verification. Has not been done and will show large scale discrepancies,” Trump tweeted. “Why are these two ‘Republicans’ saying no? If we win Georgia, everything else falls in place!”
Brian Kemp responded to the President’s Tweets in his own tweet.
“As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia. #gapol,” Kemp wrote.
This was not all of the developments in Georgia, a video on a social media platform called Parler went viral. In this video the protestors indicate that the supporters of Donald Trump are going to boycott Georgia’s run-off elections, potentially endangering the campaign of Republican Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler. A protestor was quoted saying, “For any Republicans not explicitly helping Trump to ‘stop the steal,’ we will make sure you are never elected ever again.”
The GOP refused to take leadership during the pandemic that has, at the time of this writing, has killed over 300k Americans. The GOP refused to hold the President accountable when he spread false information to the public via Fox News and his Twitter. As he called Covid-19 “The Democrat’s new hoax”, the virus was spreading throughout the country. As the President said “just like a miracle the virus will disappear”, the virus was disrupting the economy and families throughout the United States. However, Trump’s rhetoric had already gripped the GOP long before the virus reaches our shores and it was only in their interest to repeat his narrative. The GOP did not want to upset his base for fear of losing donors and votes in their election.
While supporting Trumps’ narrative has saved the Republicans in Congress from a crushing defeat in the 2020 elections, it remains to be seen if they can keep Trump’s base of supporters. To do so, they must continue the out-going president’s divisive rhetoric, refuse to compromise on any legislation, and continue to push false conspiracy theories. This is not a sustainable strategy not only for campaigning but it is also not healthy for our country.
QAnon theorists now hold seats in Washington, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado claimed a seat in the House of Representatives in their respective state. QAnon is a fringe conspiracy group of the far-right that believes the ‘deep state’ is out to harm Donald Trump because he is fighting against an alleged ring of pedophiles and satanic worshippers that eat babies.
Trumpism and QAnon demand no compromise with those that have opposing views, even if the opposing view is from those within the Republican party. As we’ve seen in the Parler video, Trump’s base has threatened to destroy the GOP if they do not do everything in their power to help Donald Trump steal the election. Long-established Republicans are placed in a position to compromise their constitutional values to appease Trump’s populist base. The GOP has now been infiltrated by a sector of voters radicalized by Trump and QAnon. Fox News, a traditional Conservative outlet has been forced to condemn some of Trumps’ claims of election fraud rhetoric. While Trump still has a voice on the platform, he is now met with resistance from the outlet. Fox News must now face the consequences as Trump and his base seek other pseudo-news stations such as OANN. On social media, we’ve seen Trumps’ base attack the news station for not toeing the line with Donald Trump.
Even Mitch McConnel, the Republican powerhouse from Kentucky was not immune to the backlash he received when he finally recognized Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winner of the 2020 election. He was criticized in a series of tweets and from conservatives on Parler. He was called a ‘Rino’ and his loyalty to the US was called into question because his wife is of Chinese decent. These are the consequences that the GOP have unleashed on itself and the US. A torrent of instability, racism, xenophobia and ‘us vs them’ mentality..
In a democracy, it is a function within the institution to challenge elections. It is a safeguard to ensure that the integrity of elections stays intact. However, democratic institutions had to endure a wave of relentless lawsuits from the Trump administration, as of this writing, Trump only won one case and lost fifty-eight others. Trump challenged results in four key battleground states that went to President-elect Joe Biden and only in heavily racially diverse counties. The president called millions of ballots to be discarded based on no evidence of voter fraud. Texas has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the popular vote in four states that went to Biden. Over one-hundred Republican congressman joined the lawsuit from Texas but the Supreme Court denied a hearing for the case.
The party that once stood for small government, small businesses and constitutional values is currently in disarray and has been reshaped into the image of Trumpism. If the GOP is going to maintain what relevancy it has in modern politics the party needs to do what parties in the past have always done and that is to be a guardrail of democracy.
The established GOP needs to unite in political unity to resist QAnon and Trump’s base. Political parties typically are considered a guardrail of democracy because they tend to keep radicalized candidates from ever receiving nominations. The moderates within the party would create a unified front to keep the extreme candidate in question at bay. We saw this in action as Trump was relentlessly attacked by established Republicans and even Fox News during his primary run in 2016.
The road to redemption will not be easy for the GOP as they are infiltrated by these fringe groups. The party needs reform and the reform needs to come from holding traditional values while excepting that this is no longer the 1950’s. In a world of the idealist, we need the realism and pragmaticism of the Republican party to create an effective legislative policy to move the United States forward. If the GOP does not rebuke these violent tendencies within its party then this type of disintegration within the party itself will continue. If QAnon and Trumpism win more seats in the House, the country will suffer. At the very least, the Republican party needs to unite against QAnon and distance itself from Trump’s base. Trump destroys everything he touches and the GOP is not immune from his destructive nature.
The GOP needs to take responsibility for creating this mess and work with the rest of the political parties to fix it. For our countries sake.