The North Carolina Republican Party unanimously voted to censure Senator Richard Burr for voting to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. Senator Ben Sasse faces censure from the Nebraska GOP and Utah Republicans are circulating a petition to censure Mitt Romney. The Wyoming GOP censured Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney’s daughter, for voting to impeach. Representative Adam Kinzinger’s family sent a public letter disowning for being part of the “Devil’s army” because he voted to impeach. It’s Donald Trump’s party now.
And Trump knows it. Yesterday, he issued a blistering attack on Mitch McConnell, calling him a “political hack” and vowing to primary any of the Senators McConnell supports. McConnell voted to acquit Trump but laid the blame on him for the Capitol attack after the impeachment trial. Trump is rallying the base against the Reagan conservatives who have dominated the party for most of the past 40 years.
When word of the movement to censure him reached Sasse, he fired back, “I still believe, as you used to, that politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude.” Burr released a statement with a similar sentiment saying, “My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation.” Clearly, they believe their party is devolving into a cult of personality.
While Senator Thom Tillis issued a mush mouth statement of support for Burr, he refused to condemn the actions of the GOP leadership. That’s the legacy of Trump. Nobody is held accountable for bad behavior in the Republican Party because they are scared of their misinformed, conspiracy-addled base.
Republican leaders with lesser morals are learning from Trump. On Sean Hannity’s propaganda show, Greg Abbott, the Republican Governor of Texas, blamed clean energy for the blackout that is freezing people in his state. In fact, the deregulation of the energy sector and it’s resistance to any government intervention left natural gas distribution systems unable to function in the extremely cold weather. In other words, Abbot just lied, or, as Republican would say, he offered up alternative facts for those people living in the alternative reality.
The civil war that’s shaping up in the GOP could be bloody. On one side are Reagan-era Republicans who want less government, lower taxes and fewer regulations. On the other are the paranoid populists, the anti-government, anti-corporate White nationalists who live in world shaped by the lies on Fox News and Newsmax. The populists are ascendant and primary season might be brutal for the Reagan wing of the party.
On the other side of the aisle, Biden is catching a little flack for things he’s saying about school re-openings, but he’s also pushing an economic relief package that has broad support. He’s ramping up vaccinations and the country is now at 1.7 million per day on average. His popularity is still rising. He’s delivering the unity he promised, even if Congress is still divided.
While Republicans fight for the soul of their party, Democrats are quietly doing what they do well—running government. In times of crisis, people see the results. The energy debacle in Texas, a state dominated by the GOP, mirrors and amplifies the failure of the national party to address the pandemic, even if the Fox News crowd will never know it.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >