It’s war in the Republican Party in the United States. Party leader Mitch McConnell wants to get rid of Donald Trump, the former president is dragging the group leader through the mud. Meanwhile, extremism is thriving.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican faction leader in the US Senate, is a “stiff, gruff and never-smiling political conman” with no personality. Nor does he have any political insight, skills or wisdom. That’s the snappy message of former President Trump, delivered after McConnell blamed him for the violence in and around the Capitol on January 6. With McConnell at the helm, Republicans “ won’t win anymore, ” Trump said.
Law and order
With Republicans losing power in Washington, a verbal civil war has broken out in the party. The stakes: what it means to be a Republican? Do you stand for traditionally conservative ideas about small government and law and order, or do you support the last Republican president at all costs, even when he tells lies and stirs things up in such a way that violence is used?
The rift is so deep that the group that considers conservative politics more important than Trump has considered starting its own party. The idea has already been dismissed as unfeasible by the likes of Liz Cheney, a prominent anti-Trump Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick. Trump himself would also think about having his own ‘patriot party’.
His grip has loosened. In his second impeachment, more Republicans than ever turned against him. Party leader McConnell tries to get rid of Trump. McConnell has hitched a ride on his success for years, partly because Trump appointed conservative judges. But he’s fed up with the party losing the majority in the Senate, Trump made lies about the election results so big that radical supporters stormed the Capitol, and wealthy donors left.
McConnell voted against impeachment for legal reasons – and avoided so deftly that he pissed off Trump fans – but then ruled harshly. He suggested that Trump could be prosecuted. In The Wall Street Journal he said he will from now on oppose pro-Trump candidates if their provocative style threatens to lead to loss.
At the same time, Trump is also the man who drew more votes last November than any other sitting president in US history. Most Republican voters, 81 percent, still rate him positively, a Politico poll found. Important figures from the party leadership also remain loyal to him. Senator Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy, group chairman in the House of Representatives, went to his beachfront resort to confer. “Trump-plus,” Graham told Fox News, “is the way back” for the party.
He was wondering whether McConnell is still a Republican. One of the senators who voted in favor of Trump’s conviction, Richard Burr, could well be defeated next year by daughter-in-law Lara Trump, Graham predicted. “I think she represents the future of the Republican Party.”
Many local chapters are also wholeheartedly behind Trump. Twelve Congressmen who voted against impeachment have already faced an official rebuke from their department. “We didn’t send him there to vote with his conscience,” lamented the chairman of the Republican Party in Washington County, Pennsylvania, of Senator Pat Toomey of that state. Toomey voted for conviction. He should have supported Trump, was the message from this Dave Bell.
There was no such official reprimand for Marjorie Taylor-Green, a Trump-aided conspiracy thinker who reached Congress and found support for the murder of political opponents. The Grand Old Party has become a party, warned conservative commentator Charlie Sykes, who is “willing to resign himself to sedition, violence, extremism and anti-democratic authoritarianism.”
Daniel Cox, pollster for the conservative American Enterprise Institute, finds anti-democratic sentiments among Republican voters. It is “really disturbing,” says Cox, with a significant portion saying that violence is sometimes permissible to achieve political ends. A majority of 56 percent said they agreed that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so quickly that we may have to use force to save it.”
The battle over Trump’s position misses the point, he thinks. Trump made national issues of strife over cultural topics – an athlete who refuses to stand up for the national anthem in protest of police brutality against black citizens, for example. Trump then used the anger about it to his advantage.
Senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, named as future presidential candidates, are now offering the same thing: fact-free Republican politics that is not about solutions, but about resisting cultural change. Cox: “Whether Trump gets a role or not, that has unfortunately become the discussion about the future of the Republican Party. But there are plenty of Republicans willing to take over and follow in its footsteps. ”
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