I can’t stop watching Republicans and conservatives react to McCarthy going down in flames and Trump solidifying his position as front runner. Conservative pundits continue to blame Democrats for the Speakerless House and fantasizing about how they’ll regret their actions. On the Trump front, anti-Trump PACs are folding up shop resigned to running with the twice impeached and, quite possibly, convicted felon to top their ticket. Once responsible GOP leaders are pledging to support him if he’s the nominee. It’s a party in disarray, but not necessarily one that can’t win in 2024.
Among the pundits, Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast has been predicting Democrats will rue the day that they let McCarthy sink. In his telling they should have been happy with a Speaker who couldn’t be trusted to negotiate in good faith, lied profusely, and kowtowed to Trump because the alternative might be worse. This morning he Tweeted, “After Dems helped push Kevin McCarthy out of his speakership, it would interesting if they/we end up with a Speaker Jim Jordan—a man endorsed by Matt Gaetz and Donald Trump. Congrats?”
Democrats, for their part, will take their chances. The likelihood of Jim Jordan uniting the GOP House and causing more pain for Democrats seems pretty remote. The GOP House caucus is at war with itself. The more likely scenario is Jordan and his right flank forcing votes on deeply unpopular cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare, giving Democrats even more fodder in 2024. They are following the mantra, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake,” or as James Carville put it, “When your enemy is drowning, throw them an anvil.”
In the GOP presidential primary, the anti-Trump money brokers seem resigned to his nomination. Axios reports that billionaires are pausing their financial support of Ron DeSantis, the candidate seen as the best bet to topple Trump. Anti-Trump PACs are halting ads in early primary states. And previously anti-Trump elected officials are either endorsing him or pledging to support him if he’s the nominee.
The GOP is a party that doesn’t learn from its mistakes. The Matt Lewises of the world believe if Democrats will just keep propping up Republican bad actors that they will get a better outcome than if they let them fall. Elected officials like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp who pledge to support Trump if he’s the nominee just empower people with no respect for the Constitution, democracy, or the rule of law. And conservatives and Republicans who refuse to call out people like Kemp are enabling the Trumpists to solidify their power within the party.
A lot of anti-Trump conservatives dismiss talk of dictatorship and authoritarianism as fear mongering and hyperbole. But what if it’s not? What if Trump means what he’s saying about going after his political opponents? He’s already pardoned a whole lot of really bad actors like Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, and Mike Flynn and nobody in the GOP called him out. More importantly, nobody in the conservative movement criticized Republicans for staying silent.
Now, groups of pro-Trump “intellectuals” from the Claremont Institute and Hillside College are calling to suspend democracy. Trump is pledging to send troops into cities to stop the exaggerated crime wave. Steve Bannon wants a “rebirth” of the nation.
History says to take what people say at face value. Trump told us he would not accept the results of a defeat and conservatives told us he was just blustering. Then, January 6 happened. Why shouldn’t we believe him now?
The Republican Party is on fire. One faction seems to believe if they just keep accommodating their extremist elements that they’ll get control of the party again. The other faction is pouring gasoline and striking matches hoping that their Phoenix will rise from the ashes. The former faction is delusional and is only empowering the latter.
Democrats, for their part, need to wage a strong campaign, making the case for their record on passing the infrastructure bill, keeping unemployment low, passing gun restrictions, and strong economic growth. However, conservatives need to step up and take Trump seriously. Instead of bashing Democrats for not propping up the likes of Kevin McCarthy, they should be putting pressure on governors like Brian Kemp to back off of pledges to support Donald Trump. It’s time for conservatives to hold their own accountable and quit expecting Democrats to step and save the country.