Do We Spend Too Much Time On The Republican Civil War?
In 2018, when Jim Renacci gave up his northern Ohio House seat (OH-16, south of Cleveland, carefully skirting Akron and Canton) former football star Anthony Gonzalez beat Trumpist freak state Rep. Christina Hagan in the GOP primary. He was backed by the DC GOP establishment and she was backed by Gym Jordan and other elements of American fascism. After the condescending remark that "legislating isn't quite as easy as catching a football," she was cooked. He beat her 53-41%. The incompetent remnants of a once-vibrant Ohio Democratic Party has long ago forgotten how to challenge Republicans and they didn't seem aware there was a potentially flippable open seat in a "blue wave" cycle. Their candidate, Susan Palmer, raised just $367,275 to Gonzalez's $1,920,541. Neither the Ohio Democratic Party nor the DCCC spent a nickel to help her. The only outside "support" she got was from the Sierra Club, which spent $10 on the race. Gonzalez won the R+8 district 170,029 (56.7%) to 129,681 (43.3%). In his 2020 reelection, the DCCC and Ohio party again completely ignored OH-16 and the Democratic candidate, Arthur Godfrey raised $60,294 to Gonzalez's $2,338,195. Gonzalez beat him 247,335 (63.2%) to 144,071 (36.8%). Trump won that day as well-- but didn't do nearly as well as Gonzalez in the district, beating Biden 57-42%.
The Ohio Democratic Party is gearing up to show what they're worth again next year. Gonzalez voted to impeach Trump, throwing the local GOP into a full fledged civil war, with county party committees censuring and rebuking Gonzalez and with several Republicans, including former failed congressional primary candidate (OH-11) Jonah Schulz and ex-Trump aide Max Miller, from a super-rich Cleveland family, beginning primary challenges.
Over the weekend, CNN reported that "grassroots organizations once aligned with the congressman have taken back their endorsements... It's clear on the ground here in Gonzalez's district that the Trump Republicans are winning this fight. And Gonzalez could bear the brunt... Top party officials tell CNN that Gonzalez could lose his seat over that decision with a number of candidates actively considering a primary challenge... Some top Republicans have even begun whispering that state Republicans could use the 2022 redistricting process, where Ohio is expected to lose a congressional district, to exact revenge on the congressman, effectively drawing him out of his district or making it much harder for him to get back to Congress."
An extremist is likely to win the Republican Party, but would they close the general? We'll likely never know because of the colossal lameness of the Ohio Democratic Party, tied nationally for incompetence with the Florida Democratic Party.
So where are mainstream Republicans going to go now that there party has been pulled out from under them and turned into a fascist/QAnon party? David Siders tried tackling that for Politico this morning. Is there really room for them inside an already too big Democratic tent? Not if Democrats want to keep progressives, many of whom feel the part already leans way too corporate and way too far in the direction of maintaining the status quo. Progressives hooked up with the Democratic Party because it is the lesser evil and sometime willing to act as a vehicle of change. Accepting millions of disgruntled, anti-Trump conservative Republicans isn't going to work.
"If," wrote Siders, "the Republicans’ reasons for leaving the GOP are obvious-- primarily, disdain for former President Donald Trump and his stranglehold on the party-- the sobering reality confronting them on the other side is that there’s really no place to go... Those who want to fight to recapture the GOP from within are vastly outnumbered. Building a third party from scratch requires gigantic sums of money and overcoming a thicket of daunting state laws designed in large part by the two major parties."
Joe Walsh, a very right wing former Illinois congressman who detests Trump told Siders that he and other conservatives are "kind of in the wilderness." Last week we covered the high profile departure of Arkansas state Senator Jim Hendren from the Republican Party. This morning Siders noted that "divorce from the party made a splash in dissident circles because, unlike former officials who’ve left the GOP, he was the rare example of one currently holding office. And Hendren is trying to bring people along with him. Last week, Hendren announced the formation of a group, Common Ground Arkansas, to 'provide a home' for people disaffected with existing party politics. It isn’t a third party, he said, though eventually 'it may come to that.' Republicans nationally are having similar conversations. Earlier this month, Evan McMullin, who ran against Trump as an independent in 2016, and more than 100 other Republicans and former Republican officials and strategists held a widely publicized meeting at which they discussed the prospect of a third party or organizing as a faction within the GOP. Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security who started a group of administration officials and other Republicans working against Trump’s reelection last year, said he and McMullin, with whom he is coordinating, are not 'dead set on a third party.' Rather, he said, 'What we are dead set on is that something dramatic needs to happen, and there needs to be a very, very clear break from what the GOP has been for the last four years.'"
One big problem for anti-Trump Republicans and former Republicans is that, among conservatives, the power still rests with the former president. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is holding at about 80 percent, with a majority of Republicans hoping he continues to play a major role in the party. Politicians who have crossed him, including Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have been censured by party officials in their home states.
In the opposition movement, Walsh said, “We’re primarily talking about strategists and consultants and former Republicans, conservative thinkers who are unhappy, obviously, with the Trump-y party. … But there’s no grassroots.”
He said, “Until we develop some sort of constituency, I mean, real voters, it’s just going to be all of us meeting and writing papers and articles, and that’s about it.”
Walsh thinks Republicans who are leaving the party should “plant our flag right now and start a viable third party,” understanding it will take eight to 12 years to grow its membership and accepting Democrats will win elections in the meantime. But he acknowledged “most of us don’t have great options.”
...[T]he constellation of groups that sprung up in opposition to Trump last year-- and that are now morphing into their post-Trump iterations-- will be trying to establish themselves as something that outlasts the 2020 election. Daniel Barker, a former Arizona Court of Appeals judge who started a PAC of Republicans supporting Biden during last year’s campaign, said his goal of removing some of Trump’s most loyal House members in Arizona may involve supporting Republicans or independents-- “whoever best represents the center-right.”
In most cases, Barker said, “Politically, it makes significantly more sense to me to stay within the party, because if you can win the party, like Trump has done, you’ve got all the structure that goes with it.”
However, he added, “To be candid, it’s how much can you stomach? When you’ve got [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell using a procedural point of questionable value to vote against impeachment, you have people believing the big election lie, it’s just hard to keep associating yourself with that group. That’s the difficulty.”
That’s the conclusion that Hendren came to in Arkansas. He acknowledged that “when you go from being the president pro tem in the majority party to a caucus of one, there’s going to be a corresponding change in your ability to influence legislation.” And he said, “If my No. 1 goal in life was to win a statewide office, I’d have stayed a Republican.”
But Hendren, who is considering running for governor in 2022 as an independent, said, “To me, it’s about beginning the process of building something that gives my adult kids … some hope that there’s some normalcy and a place for them to fit in politically, because for them, they just don’t see it.”
He said, “‘I do think there’s a tremendous hunger for a center lane and a return to decency.”
Decency? Trump voters? Who are you kidding? Yourself? I don't think so. All the polling of Republicans that I've been seeing consistently shows that they don't want their public officials to cooperate with the Democrats even if that means harming the country-- the cutting off your nose to spite your face strategy controls the GOP grassroots today. Primaries against the 10 Republican House members who voted for impeachment are probably going to be pretty definitive-- and across the board. This brand new John Oliver video is American conservatism? Believe me, there is not a hint of decency.