After its stunning losses in Tuesday's midterm elections, Republican Party politicians, advocates, and media elites are casting blame in multiple directions. The voters could not have been more clear in its rebuke of Republican's recent brand of MAGA politics, especially in the battleground states.
As I stated in my previous post, "every secretary of state (those officials who certify state elections) as well as every governor (those officials who confirm those certifications) who ran as an election denier in a swing state has lost his or her election. Every single one."
With Democrats retaining control of the Senate and Republicans probably winning the House by the narrowest of majorities in almost a century, it was an extraordinary message from the electorate that if the GOP continues on its current course, it will be facing election defeats for the foreseeable future.
Charlies Sykes from the Bulwark commented that "Until last week, Republicans laughed off this sort of thing because they had convinced themselves that nothing mattered. Republicans actually believed that there would be no consequences for being anti-Democratic. They thought the voters would not hold them accountable."
The voters have certainly held them accountable, and the party must now determine the path forward. As expected, the accusations and recriminations have been abounding from every corner of the party's apparatus, and the GOP is at war with itself. It has met the enemy, and no one is safe.
However, with the criticism so fierce and the targets so many, the upcoming conflict appears less like a civil war between two factions and more like a turf war between rival gangs. Less 1860s America and more 1920s Chicago when organized crime gangsters fought street battles over control of the city's neighborhoods.
As we've learned from history, one faction will eventually emerge victorious or a smaller collection of factions will coalesce around a certain wing of the party, but the fight for control is going to be ugly. As Al Capone and his rival gangsters learned during their quest for territory and power, few will emerge unscathed. The attacks were violent, the retribution was swift, and Chicago society's public enemies tore themselves apart until only one was left standing.
Even Josh Hawley, the senator from Missouri who notoriously raised his fist in solidarity with the protestors just before they stormed the Capitol, tweeted that "The old party is dead. Time to bury it. Build something new."
As if a living and breathing example of irony, Hawley will go down as one of the architects of the GOP's demise, and will most likely be one of the first to go. He is up for re-election in 2024 along with another 2020 denier, Ted Cruz. Although both senators are from deeply red states, their chances of returning to the Senate are now slim at best unless they spend the next two years on a goodwill tour.
The infighting that's about to envelop the Republican party will take many forms because nobody is quite sure what exactly cost the party at the ballot box. Was it the MAGA election deniers, the divineness of Trumpism, the anti-democratic coup attempt, the storming of the US Capitol, the overturning of 50 years of precedent and taking away a woman's fundamental right to choose, the adoption of Christian nationalism by elements of the party, the QAnon conspiracy theories? Or a combination of all of these forces? Hard to tell.
I have to admit (quite sarcastically) that as a lifelong independent, I'm surprised the Republicans did so poorly.
So, Republicans are casting blame where ever they can find it. The juiciest target right now is Trump. For more on the mounting backlash against the former president, read my article on the "Mad King" below.
We all know that Donald Trump is not capable of admitting defeat and has an even greater aversion to allowing someone else to steal the spotlight. The chances of him going quietly into the night are not likely.
Fortunately for America, this is not 2020, and he is no longer the president. From his loss in November to his insurrection in January, Trump still wielded enormous power to destroy our democracy. The brave actions of a handful of officials saved this nation, and he can now only destroy one thing: the Republican party.
Ron DeSantis is the clear frontrunner to Trump, especially after his victory for Republicans in Florida. By winning the state by 20 points, putting together a coalition of voters including Hispanics, and gerrymandering the districts as a gift to congressional Republicans, DeSantis turned Florida from a swing state into a conservative stronghold. Needless to say, his star is on the rise.
Although DeSantis's personality pales in comparison to Trump's bluster, he adheres to many of the tenants of the MAGA world, namely the cultural issues that animate the base. But as opposed to the chaotic, off-the-cuff style of leadership that Trump exhibits, DeSantis has masterfully used the political machine to enact change in Florida that will give Republicans power for decades to come. And that is music to the rest of country's GOP ears.
DeSantis is Trump's greatest challenge, and Trump knows it. Therefore, he's already started attacking the governor, calling him mediocre, reveling that his endorsement was the only one that mattered, and claiming that he sent federal agents into Florida in 2018 to stop DeSantis's election from being stolen. What?
And here it begins.
Everyone knows by now that Trump acts only in his own self-interest, so if that means burning down the entire Republican party to stroke his fragile ego, so be it. Hawley may be exactly right about burying the Republican party; just not exactly the way he intended.
If Kevin McCarthy does indeed take over as Speaker of the House with a slim one or two seat majority, he is going to be hard-pressed to follow either the more extremist wing of his caucus or the moderates in vulnerable swing districts. His ability to govern will be seriously hampered because the reality of appeasing both sides and never accumulating enough votes to pass anything will be ever present. House Republicans may spend the next two years simply spinning their wheels on inquiries and investigations without any meaningful legislative progress. And that will not bode well for their chances in 2024.
The big question is which way the Republicans in the House of Representatives will lean. With the complete thumping of Trump-associated candidates, will that extremist wing be somewhat silenced or proud to take up the mantel of their fallen leader? Or will the party realize that it needs to return to the center to win independents in national elections and attempt to muffle the crazies on the right. Only time will tell if the powerful lessons from this election will be learned.
The Republican party chose dishonor when they followed Trump into the abyss. But now, they also have defeat. Will they rise from the ashes and unite behind a new vision or realize there's no honor among thieves and start backstabbing one another. We will know soon enough.
Trump is scheduled to announce his 2024 presidential campaign tomorrow, so the war officially begins.
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