The Republican Party Is Rapidly Becoming A Dark, Forbidding Place For Trump; He'll Fight For Control
A new poll for Politico by Morning Consult, asked registered voters how important are a long series of issues-- that Fox and the GOP are always yammering about-- for the next Congress:
There’s not much agreement between voters identifying as Democrats and voters identifying as Republicans, but these are the issues the GOP will be wasting everyone’s time investigating for the next two years— Fox TV programming. There was more— a question about how important a priority other issues the 2 parties campaigned on should be for Congress. This is the percentage of registered voters who want each issue to be treated as a priority:
Healthcare reform- 73%
Climate Change- 62%
Reducing inequality- 59%
Infrastructure spending- 67%
Immigration reform- 71%
Federal budget deficit- 80%
Gun control- 59%
Regulating Big Tech- 53%
Stimulating the economy- 78%
Eliminating the filibuster- 48% (17% oppose)
Legalizing marijuana- 43% (19% oppose)
Student debt relief- 47% (30% oppose)
Extending the Trump tax cuts- 46% (28% oppose)
Cutting funding for Ukraine- 41% (32% oppose)
Increasing border security- 69% (9% oppose)
Raising the debt limit- 34% (30% oppose)
Cutting Medicare and Social Security- 13% (73% oppose)
Cutting welfare spending- 45% (28% oppose)
Repealing Obamacare- 38% (36% oppose)
Don’t Say “Gay” legislation- 52% (30% oppose)
Banning abortion nationwide (15 weeks)- 37% (43% oppose)
Banning abortion nationwide (6 weeks)- 29% (50% oppose)
Eliminating 87,000 IRS jobs- 43% (25% oppose)
Repealing legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices- 45% (30% oppose)
Expect Congress to be a real shitshow— especially with Marjorie Traitor Greene and the rest of the GOP carckpot caucus controlling every move Kevin McCarthy is allowed to make.
And the fight for the Republican Party presidential nomination is not going to make anything go more smoothly on Capitol Hill. Tom Marino and Lou Barletta were very right-wing congressmen from Pennsylvania— not even remotely moderate— and yesterday they told the Times Leader that they’re over Trump and over his MAGA movement. Barletta, who ran for Senate this year as was undercut by Trump's backing of Dr. Oz, told them that he was "one of the first elected officials in the country to endorse Donald Trump for president seven years ago; I also co-chaired his 2016 campaign in Pennsylvania and I was one of his most loyal supporters in Congress. However, I will not be supporting him for president in 2024." Marino, who’s always been just as much a far right goon, said much the same thing: “I will campaign against him. Trump has no idea what loyalty means. More importantly, he is not a good person. Trump severely lacks character. Our country deserves mature leadership.”
Not unrelated is a report that Trump is flipping out because Republican officials and operatives are telling him— some publicly— to stay away from the Georgia Senate runoff. Trump is threatening to go nuclear if DeSantis campaigns for Herschel Walker in the state. After all, in terms of politics, Trump completely invented Walker. Rolling Stone reported Sunday that Trump “vehemently argued to aides and confidants that his presence in the runoff would be a net positive for Walker, and he has accused pundits and Republicans who say he shouldn’t go to Georgia are unintelligent Trump haters.” (One is left to wonder if Walker has a perspective on this.)
HuffPo reported this morning that more and more evangelical bigwigs are fed up with Trump and abandoning him. Maybe not as important but still worth considering, Trump’s final Attorney General, Bill Barr wrote an essay for Common Sense today, urging new leadership for the party and warning that Trump Will Burn Down The GOP. Barr laid it all out on the line in a way that is going to make Trump hit the ceiling today. He began by explaining why he didn’t support Trump in 2016 and, in fact, “supported, in succession, every alternative to Donald Trump. I did not see him as our party’s standard-bearer. He was not my idea of a president. I could see that he was grossly self-centered, lacked self-control, and almost always took his natural pugnacity too far. While he could be compelling, I found myself cringing at his frequently juvenile, bombastic, and petulant style… [I]t is now clear he lacks the qualities essential to achieving the kind of unity and broad election victory in 2024 so necessary if we are to right our listing republic. It is time for new leadership.”
For many, supporting Trump was an act of defiance—a protest. The more over the top he was, the more they savored the horrified reaction of the elites, especially the media. Arguments that Trump wasn’t presidential missed the point. Trump’s supporters wanted a disrupter. His voters felt that the left was taking a wrecking ball to the country, and they wanted to strike back with their own.
I worried that no one could govern effectively in constant wrecking-ball mode. Still, I hoped that Trump would rise to the seriousness of the office and the moment. So once he became the GOP's nominee, I supported him.
Unfortunately, after he was elected, Trump brought his wrecking-ball style to the task of governing the nation. He did not temper his disruptiveness and penchant for chaos. While his basic policy judgments were usually sound, his impulsiveness meant that things were almost always about to fly off the rails. When he became fixated on bad ideas or wanted to take things too far, it took his senior staff and cabinet secretaries an ungodly amount of maneuvering to keep him on track.
…Despite the persistent advice from his advisers that he address the loss of support in the suburbs, he focused almost exclusively on energizing his base, and he did this by putting out a steady diet of red meat designed to arouse the passions of those who already supported him. The theory was that this would lead to such a massive turnout of his supporters that it would swamp whatever his feeble opponent could generate.
There were two basic problems with this strategy. First, Trump’s base did not need to be whipped up, they were already galvanized. Second, Trump pandered to his base in a way that reinforced and intensified the alienation of many suburban voters in the battleground states.
As a result of this strategy, Trump succeeded in driving a record turnout of his own supporters. But he also generated a more massive turnout for Joe Biden. The millions of voters who flocked to the polls to pull the Democratic lever set historic records and swamped the Trump voters. They did not come to vote for Biden; they came to vote against Trump.
Fraud did not prevent Trump’s second term. Trump himself was the reason.
Looking ahead to the presidential election of 2024, I believe the defining feature of our political landscape continues to be the sharp leftward lurch of the Democratic party. That opens up a historic opportunity for the GOP— the opportunity to revive something like the old Reagan coalition: a combination of Republican-leaning, college-educated suburbanites; culturally conservative working-class voters; and even some classical liberals who are repulsed by the left’s authoritarianism.
Forging this coalition requires more than bombastic rhetoric. It requires a substantive, strategic, and disciplined president capable of executing a plan to achieve the durable reforms needed to set the country back on a sane course.
…It is painfully clear from his track record in both the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms that Donald Trump is neither capable of forging this winning coalition or delivering the decisive and durable victory required. Indeed, among the current crop of potential nominees, Trump is the person least able to unite the party and the one most likely to lose the general election.
Trump’s extraordinarily divisive actions since losing in 2020 are not those of someone capable of leading a party, much less a country. Right after his defeat, he treacherously sabotaged GOP efforts to hold the Georgia Senate seats. The GOP’s poor performance in the recent midterms was due largely to Trump’s mischief. He fueled internal fights within state parties. He attacked popular Republican governors in Maryland, New Hampshire, and Arizona to dissuade them from running for Senate seats they could have won. He supported weak candidates for key Senate and House seats based solely on their agreeing with his “stolen election” claims. And after foisting these candidates on the GOP, he failed to provide them adequate financial support, largely sitting on a massive war-chest of cash raised from small dollar donors.
It seems to me that Trump isn’t really interested in broadening his appeal. Instead he is content to focus on intensifying his personal hold over a faction within the party— a group that is probably no larger than a quarter of the GOP, but which allows Trump to use it as leverage to extort and bully the rest of the party into submission. The threat is simple: unless the rest of the party goes along with him, he will burn the whole house down by leading “his people” out of the GOP. Trump’s willingness to destroy the party if he does not get his way is not based on principle, but on his own supreme narcissism. His egoism makes him unable to think of a political party as anything but an extension of himself— a cult of personality.
Tell that to Marjorie Traitor Greene, who has a lot more sway over the Republican Party base than William Barr, now a totally loathed figure in MAGA world, ever did.