What has happened to the Grand Old Party and its abdication of leadership to Donald Trump’s personality cult over good public policy?
With a chance to broaden its message to a whole new group of voters, particularly women and people of color, that would continue to make them a nationally competitive party with ideas and values. But they chose a far more narrow path with only loyalty to Trump as the single binding feature.
If Trump had won the presidency last year, continued loyalty might be understandable. But he didn’t, and his demand that only those who will repeat his lie — that he was robbed of his win by voter fraud — will get his support is getting some pushback and his support group is getting smaller.
The logic of Republican leaders seems to be that they need Trump, his ability to raise money, and his followers to win back the House and Senate in 2022. Trump’s payoff may be the Republican nomination for president in 2024, although I remain skeptical that he will actually run. But he still wants the power and loyalty associated with being president.
However, the facts tell a different story. All 50 states certified their election and Trump didn’t win. Over 50 lawsuits were filed and none were successful. Even Trump’s own Attorney General Bill Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Trump cost Republicans the House, Senate and presidency. He has demanded that no commission be formed to investigate what happened at the Jan. 6 insurrection that was designed to stop the count of the electoral votes by force. It was a riot, not a “normal tourist visit” in a whitewash attempt by one of his supporters. We all saw it live. Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have followed Trump’s lead, although over 30 Republican House members did not.
Then Trump demanded that all those who voted to impeach him pay a price. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) was removed from her position of House Republican leadership for daring to tell the truth. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) is being investigated for sex with a minor and still has the support from leadership.
If you’re a female and want to run for Congress, what lesson did you learn? Cheney was cast aside for telling the truth and was replaced by a woman who repeats Trump’s lies. Then the “old boys club” protects Congressman Gaetz. Parallel to that, Republican-controlled legislatures have continued to pass legislation to make it as difficult as possible for people of color to vote. The message here is that Republicans in power believe the only way they can win is by making it as difficult as possible for people of color to cast their ballot. Wouldn’t that suggest changing some of your policies to attract new voters and expand your base, rather than anger them by trying to sabotage their right to vote?
The so called “audit” in Arizona is really an attempt to find, or create, an error that can be used for political purposes. That should scare you because a group with no state election experience or legal training now has control of 2.1 million ballots from Arizona’s largest county. It certainly seems to scare Washington Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has years of election experience and who continues to put running a fair and honest election above party loyalty.
In Arizona, four of the five Maricopa County board of supervisors are Republican and Chair Jack Sellers said “it’s time to be done with this craziness” when responding to questions about the Legislature’s audit. The board had previously investigated and upheld the integrity of the November election on three occasions. Even though his predecessor ran the last election, Stephen Richer, the current top election official said: “We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer.”
Last year we saw former national Republican Chair Michael Steele support the Lincoln Project, which ran some of the most effective anti-Trump adds in the presidential race. Chris Vance, former Washington state Republican party chair, suggested that Trump keep the Republican party he has created, and Vance and others will start a new Republican party that has actual governing policy concepts deeper than fealty to one person.
Moderate policy-oriented Republicans are headed in a different direction than Trump. Will Republicans dump Trump after they get what they need from him in 2022? What will be the soul of the Republican party? Lies about a stolen election, or truth and honesty?
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.