Where To Now For The GOP?

Where To Now For The GOP?

“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person,” Liz Cheney told House Republicans, as they voted to oust her from the party leadership Wednesday.

“You have plenty of others to choose from,” she added.

A drama weeks in the making was over in the blink of an eye, apparently. A voice vote “sounded like a roughly three-to-one margin for removing Cheney,” The Intelligencer wrote. Her ouster “happened so quickly” that some GOPers “were still showing up as she was removed,” the same linked article noted.

Members didn’t go on the record. But Cheney did. Again.

For the second time this week (and the umpteenth time this year), the (former) GOP conference chair lambasted Donald Trump and his supporters on Capitol Hill. “We cannot let [him] drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy,” she chided, before warning Republicans that continuing “down that path” could “potentially [destroy] our country.”

Speaking to the media after the vote, Cheney appeared to take things up another notch, promising to “do everything I can to ensure that [Trump] never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.” Trump fired back, calling Cheney a “horrible human being.”

It’s difficult to overstate how perilous this situation is for the Republican party. This is an existential crisis. House GOPers are engaged in a bizarre kind of mass, political suicide that’s hard to understand, let alone rationalize.

Trump was an aspiring authoritarian, yes, but he never had anything close to the kind of military buy-in needed to establish a real autocratic regime. If he did, the events of January 6 wouldn’t have been necessary. Real autocrats don’t lose elections. If they hold them at all, they fix them ahead of time and if, by some fluke, the outcome is unfavorable, they nullify it.

The point is, Trump isn’t coming back anytime before January 20, 2025. He’s not going to ride into D.C. on a tank wearing a red MAGA beret and mismatched battle fatigues. And even if he manages to win another term, there won’t be any military tribunals or any real “purges,” in the authoritarian sense of the word. So, that’s not it. House Republicans might find the prospect of being shouted at by burly, gun-toting constituents at town halls uncomfortable, but they’re not worried about any firing squads.

The only risk from rebuking Trump is the prospect of losing his base, but I struggle to understand how a party with almost nothing in the way of an agenda can possibly govern effectively or, perhaps more poignantly, enjoy the spoils of power.

Mitch McConnell was aghast last month when corporate America gave an unequivocal thumbs down to Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters. While those efforts are ongoing in multiple states, success (i.e., winning elections through belabored efforts to make it harder for some people to vote) would come at a heavy cost.

Companies can sell “Black Lives Matter.” They can sell “Save The Polar Bears.” But Nike can’t sell “Disfranchisement: Just Do It.” Pepsi can’t sell “Gatorade: QAnon Edition.” And JPMorgan isn’t going to be opening any “whites only” branches.

So, where is the money going to come from if, by some miracle, the GOP manages to win back Congress and the White House on some Frankenstein coalition comprised of conspiracy theorists, would-be libertarians and bottom-tier billionaires who never made quite enough money to stop being irritated by the prospect of having to give some of it back?

Sure, Republicans will still be able to fundraise, and lobbyists will be lobbyists, but from a 30,000-foot perspective, and considering societal trends (which corporations are keen to exploit for profits), it’s hard to understand were, exactly, Republicans plan to go from here.

NY Magazine wrote Wednesday that “Cheney’s desire to keep defending the integrity of the election was an irritant to [GOP] goals, which were laid out in an email from House Republican whip Steve Scalise minutes after the meeting with the subject line ‘Staying focused on fighting the socialist agenda.'”

Fair enough, I suppose, but is that amorphous talking point not getting old? What even is “the socialist agenda?” Higher taxes on people making $400,000 or more per year? Higher capital gains levies on households making at least $1 million? Free child care and community college? Do Republicans actually believe they can convince Trump’s base that those types of proposals are bad? How many people at a typical 2016 Trump rally do you imagine made $1 million or more in 2015? Who among Trump’s hard core supporters sent back their last stimulus check because they didn’t need it and wanted to send Janet Yellen a message about the perils of fiscal largesse and the dangers of Joe Biden’s “socialist agenda?”

That’s not to say that fear of socialism isn’t an effective scare tactic, but it takes a special kind of demagogue to convince the people who benefit from Democratic policy initiatives to vote against their own self interest. Kevin McCarthy ain’t that guy.

It seems to me that the only way out of this for establishment Republicans is to simply disavow the party, wash their hands of Trump and, assuming he refuses to stop calling himself a Republican, start a new party on the assumption that the likes of Scalise and McCarthy wouldn’t risk being stranded on an political island with Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz. Even if Ted Cruz would.

Speaking to the press Wednesday, Cheney ally Adam Kinzinger described her removal. “There were no speeches. It was just Kevin standing up and then the vote happened,” he said, calling it a “sad day” for the party. “Truth cannot coexist with lies,” he told reporters.


 

12 thoughts on “Where To Now For The GOP?

  1. I make the same kinds of arguments you make here, I invoke the generational transition, the different attitudes of millennials and Gen Z vs aging boomers, etc. But the fact is that Americans have been voting against their own interests for decades, and the Republicans, even though they stand for nothing except maintaining power, have been very good at playing the bare-knuckle game. Gerrymandering, controlling state legislatures, exploiting the built-in biases of the US Constitution, appealing to racism, abortion rhetoric, fear of socialism, “keep the government out of my medicare,” etc. Yes, logically, the Republican party should finish imploding somewhere around November 2022. But here we are, worrying that the Republicans will retake the house.

  2. Come now H, you know the answers to these questions! The “Socialist Agenda” is anything the Democrats do spun into the most negative way possible. Fox News has been playing this game and brainwashing it’s hundreds of millions of viewers for decades. I lost my Mother to that channel a long time ago, her entire day revolves around watching it’s various incendiary programming and many like her are cult devotees. What is the end game they seek? Power. They want power to be able to do whatever the hell they want. Where will they get the money? Ever hear of dark money? There are always ways for corps to get their dollars to the GOP without publicly admitting to it. When you have power you leverage that to implement legislation or start a freaking war that will benefit Corps A, B, C etc. and then they will of course figure out how to donate to your campaign and party because they are monetarily incentivized to do so. When you lie constantly and your base watches a channel dedicated to making politics a war for the soul of the nation you can do and say whatever the hell you want because they will always support you. What are they going to do, vote for the “enemy of the country” and their “socialist agenda”? As far as how they win the elections now? 47 states are currently working on voter suppression laws of all sorts, the only lesson the Republicans learned from Trump is that they need to make sure he can’t lose the election again. So the next 4 years will be dedicated to how do they make it so that only his voters can actually vote.

    The Conservative movement is a movement of Nihilistic power grabs. It doesn’t care about anything other than power and control. They speak in Christian proverbs while they lie, cheat, and steal their way through life. Matt Gaetz won’t face consequences, Roy Blunt didn’t face consequences, Brett Kavanaugh didn’t face consequences, and likely Donald Trump will never face consequences. They have the brain washing power of Fox News to ensure that hundreds of millions of people will always support them.

    Welcome to the downfall of the next great empire. Grab your popcorn, it’s going to be quite a show!

    1. I really appreciate your voice in reply to H. The republicans will keep up the divisive rhetoric as long as they maintain some level of power. And even with their lower ratings, Fox continues to strive for greater levels of untruth and deception. They are what they are, I reckon.

      Cheney, like her father, a Reagan republican, provides a clear political contrast. She’s currently a strong alternative voice, but not the only one. And, lo and behold, she’s not deluded! She makes a clear, simple, and rational argument. She must realize, as I imagine her father counsels her, that the ex-president’s ability to impact daily reality, already weakened by Twitter and Facebook, is likely to suffer the distraction of his legal liabilities, which are forthcoming. If this holds true, his diminished political capacity may redirect the discussion about who runs the party of Lincoln.

      In the meantime, in 2022, there’s a chance the maga folks and traditional repubs will be split and weakened, possibly leaving the door open for democrats to hold the majority.

  3. The only risk from rebuking Trump is the prospect of losing his base, but I struggle to understand how a party with almost nothing in the way of an agenda can possibly govern effectively or, perhaps more poignantly, enjoy the spoils of power.

    ?!?

    Their agenda is “oppose everything liberals support and drink their tears”. It’s a surprisingly popular platform when you consider liberals support free child care & community college…

    As to the spoils of power, 2 things. First, politicians, outside of the Presidential race, are dirt cheap. A few tens of millions seem enough to corrupt, sorry, successfully lobby a majority of the House. I’ve always been surprised by that. So, yeah, Congresspeople are easy enough to purchase for almost anyone, certainly lower tier billionaires. Second, if you win, no matter how despicable you are, you end up with ‘friends’. They might not be loyal or even pretend to be sincere (ask Tim Cook about his friendship with DJT) but, apparently, the electorate is dumb enough, it makes no difference.

    1. I was once a manager of a “Center” at an academic institution and every year we who had such positions went through the same song and dance to get the attention of the legislature to keep or enhance our funding. We had a group leader for this effort and in our monthly meeting with this agenda item one year we were talking about how to approach our key legislators. I at the time I was also a bit of an unrestrained smart ass and without thinking I asked our leader, who knew such things, how much money would be required to “buy” a representative in our legislature. Without hesitation he said that for $5000 I could guarantee myself regular access to a basic rep and at least one favorable legislative vote. Around that time I broke with my tradition and gave a $100 to the campaign of our local mayor (town of 35K pop). That got my name on a short list in the local paper of “major donors.” I had already found I could influence this guy fairly easily and when I went to the kickoff rally for that campaign he offered me the job or campaign manager or treasurer. Not my thing, but it’s no wonder local politics is so corrupt. Dishonesty is just cheap locally.

  4. corporations will do whatever they think is best for shareholders and the bottom line. it’s that simple. corporate America doesn’t want the streets on fire. they don’t want to get boycotted by consumers. and there’s only so much overt insanity they’re willing to cope with. you can’t buy influence with congress if there is no congress (e.g., if an angry mob burns down the building) and lower taxes aren’t much use if everybody is dead from a virus or the stores are boarded up because citizens are fighting each other for racial supremacy in the streets. i can promise you that no CEO hopped on a Zoom call last summer and said “You know what? Things are going great. I think everything is headed in the right direction. I couldn’t be happier.”

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