April 12, 2024

may destroy the GOP

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Trump may destroy the GOP
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON — The Republican nomination is almost unattainable anywhere in a competitive primary race without paying fealty to the former president, a man who tried to overturn the results of a free and fair election. Anyone who watched the events of January 6 in real time or viewed the footage leading up to the insurrection, saw Donald Trump in action.
          There is no question that he egged on the insurrectionists. Yet Republicans across the country continue to embrace and pay homage to him. Bestselling author J.D. Vance (“Hillbilly Elegy”), a former Trump critic, just kicked off his bid for the Senate in Ohio with an apology tour explaining how wrong he was about Trump, that he was a good president who made good decisions and took a lot of flak.
          For now, Trump is the party, and Republicans might as well be in Siberia if they make a principled stand against him and his authoritarian hold on the GOP.
          If you can’t stop the Trump cult, join it; that’s the message on the Republican side.
          Now Vance is getting a lot of flak. But he’s made a calculation that it’s worth it. Without Trump supporters in a Republican primary, he would be toast. That is the realpolitik reality. It is also a reality that places the continued existence of the Republican Party in danger.
          This could be good news for Democrats. If Trump endorses the cronies and loyalists the GOP base loves, but the rest of the electorate can’t stomach, we could be in for a replay of the 2014 midterms when Tea Party extremists tanked GOP chances to take control of the Senate.
          The poster boy for that election was Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican who opined that in a “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body finds ways to shut down to prevent pregnancy. His ridiculous and ill-informed remark helped elect Democrat Claire McCaskill to the U.S. Senate from a red state.
          There were two other Republicans in key Senate races in Nevada and Delaware who made comments considered over the top at the time, helping elect Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid who had been considered all but certain to lose.
          Today, if Republicans want to take back the Senate, they will need to keep all five seats held by retiring Republicans, plus pick up an additional Democratic-held seat – a tall order and an impossible order if a Trump-endorsed candidate in a GOP primary is too far to the Trumpian right to win in the general election.
          The five seats held by retiring Republicans are in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, and Alabama. Democrats have a good chance to win in Pennsylvania plus North Carolina and Missouri. Alabama is out of reach, and probably Ohio too. Much is riding on the candidates who emerge from next year’s primaries, and if Democrats pick up three or more seats, it will go a long way toward countering the Trump cult.
          Meanwhile, the ex-President’s company and chief financial officer have been indicted for tax fraud, which Trump is calling a witch hunt. The case should damage Trump’s prospects for a future presidential run, but a president who survived two impeachments and continues to incite his supporters is not to be under-estimated. So, the Southern District of New York better have the goods on the Trump organization, or the ex-president will wear the indictments as a badge of honor, and that could alter the entire dynamic in the 2022 elections.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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