It’s not often you can predict a death with precision. But this is one time: The Republican Party will breathe its last on Wednesday.
First published in May 2021.
That’s when Cong. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) will be removed from the caucus’ leadership. Her crime: telling the truth.
This is why the GOP is on the brink of death. The House Republican leadership is officially banning the truth Wednesday. The Republican National Committee already has let the party pass on with its chairman, Ronna McDaniel (nee Romney), who long ago pledged fealty to a different philosophy. Well, not a philosophy really. A man.
To coin a phrase, “They can’t handle the truth!”
The truth is (spoiler alert!) that Joseph Robinette Biden won the election last November, was sworn into office on Jan. 20 and is performing his duties as leader of the country and commander-in-chief. Yes, it’s true. And no phony recount in Arizona is going to change it.
But that is not the reality for the soon-to-be-late Republican Party. It now is (and you’ve heard this before many times) a cult. The Republican Party is being reborn, shedding its previous name of the Grand Old Party (GOP) and replacing and rebranding itself as the Cult of Trump (COT).
The Republican Party had a set of values it lived by and an ideology that led its thinking for many decades. The COT has neither. It has … Donald John Trump. Whatever Trump says, the party backs. Even his lies.
If you do not pledge fealty to Trump and his lie that he actually won the 2020 election, you are effectively blackballed from the party. Gone, Kaput. Ironically, you are “cancelled” – yes, the same “cancelling” that many in the COT have pointed fingers at liberals for their cancelling (but not really) Dr. Suess and Mr. Potato Head among other things.
As Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (COT-Georgia) said of Liz Cheney, “her first fist bump to Biden was when she voted to impeach President Trump.” The picture of the fist bump Cheney gave to Biden as he headed to the podium to give his first Joint Session of Congress speech, “is just the one that made it public,” Greene said.
And, yes, showing respect to the presidency also no longer is part of the former GOP’s values.
Now, Green and her cohort Matt Gaetz (COT-Florida) are on a countrywide tour to call out Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) because they are not toadying to Trump.
It’s funny they call it a tour to out RINOs because those RINOs include folks who represent past big Republican office-holding families that helped build the party. Folks like Mitt Romney, whose dad was governor of Michigan, and former President George W. Bush, whose family spans political involvement from the 18th to the 21st centuries. And, Ronald Reagan, once considered the gold standard of the modern party couldn’t get the nomination today.
Gaetz, a sitting congressman, makes time for the tour because it distracts from an investigation into his allegedly sleazy sex life involving girls (a female under 18) and other possible crimes.
Greene, a sitting congresswoman, has time because she was stripped by the House of all her committee assignments for her past incendiary comments and support of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.
Meantime, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is so craven to be the Speaker of the House that he has buried any self-respect he earned when he first criticized Trump over the insurrection but then made his pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ring. As have other COT leaders.
Kevin McCarthy. | Talk Media News
A large part of the party now is promoting legislation across the country to suppress the votes of various constituencies that typically vote Democratic. They are using Trump’s Big Lie to justify those bills. They say they are tightening the security of elections because the last election was, well, it was secure and declared so by Trump Administration officials and multiple judges across the country, including many appointed by Trump.
One might ask of those pols, to coin another phrase, “Have you no sense of decency?”
McCarthy sees riding the Trump train as the way to achieve the Speakership because Trump is spending his first post-presidency months carrying out the Donald Trump Revenge Tour and finding candidates to primary anyone who ever took a stand against him.
Ironically, Cheney has a far better record voting for Trump policies than Rep. Elise Stephanik, who is likely to replace her as the House Republican Conference chair, third-ranking in GOP House leadership, which isn’t really much of a job but the title sounds good.
Cheney’s vote ratings also make her among the more conservative of congressmen in the party. But being a conservative is no longer the measurement to be in the party, now it is being wholly dedicated to Trump.
Also remember that Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who led the charge against those Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found during the Bush 43 presidency. And his daughter was shoulder to shoulder with him on that. She did not vote for Trump’s first impeachment but did for his second, thus her banishment from leadership and probably from her House seat next election, if not before.
The conventional wisdom is that Republicans have to suck up to Trump so that his supporters stick with the party’s Congressional and Senate candidates, who, if blessed by Trump, have a leg up in most primaries within the party. While primaries aren’t elections, it wouldn’t take many wins to retake the House and the Senate in 2022, which is all McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has not pledged fealty to Trump, care about. In fact, McConnell is another long-time Republican leader that Trump would like to take out.
Then there is that poll, conducted by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), whose mission is to elect Republicans to the House, that shows Trump’s support is weak in “key battleground states.” The poll was presented to Republican House members at a recent retreat.
But that negative information about Trump was left out of the presentation. Why? Because in the COT any informaiton negative to Dear Leader is hidden.
In the poll, Trump’s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones in “core districts.” This information was withheld even though a sitting congressman asked that specific question during the presentation. Let’s call it the Littler Lie. And it is information that House Republicans should have been given at that retreat.
The Republican Party once stood for smaller government and against budget deficits. Those were not highlights of the Trump Administration. While Ronald Reagan is famous, among other things, for proclaiming “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Trump is famous for saying nothing ever to get Gorbachev’s successor, Vladimir Putin, upset.
Yes, I know, “what about the sanctions?” But you seldom heard Trump talk about them. He just kept saying nice things about Putin. Not to mention Trump’s love letters pen pal, Kim Jong-un in North Korea.
Donald Trump. | Trump White House Archived
Trump also upended the GOP’s long-held support of free trade by criticizing trade deals entered into before he was elected, most negotiated by Republican administrations. And, he accused our NATO allies of not pulling their weight, putting a huge strain on our formerly strong relationships with our allies. And our hard-earned role as Leader of the Free World.
In short, things the party stood for, for decades, don’t matter anymore. It has lost its policy way. In fact, at the 2020 Republican Convention, the party had no platform – Trump didn’t want one. No philosophy, no ideology, no roadmap for leadership.
It all, though, gets whittled down to the Big Lie, which is that Trump actually won the election he lost, in a landslide according to Trump’s own calculations of what a landslide is (because Biden’s margin was similar to Trump’s in 2016).
If you don’t side with Trump on the Big Lie, you can’t belong to the former Republican Party, demonstrated this week by the all-but-certain vote that will boot Cheney from leadership. For those current and former Republicans who don’t agree with the Big Lie, there are limited places they can go:
- They can become Democrats and form a true Conservative caucus within that party;
- Or, they can create a third party, which likely would strengthen Democrats because that third party would split votes with the Republican Party.
Those are about the only options.
The party that for years called itself The Big Tent is now a Pup Tent.
▫ B. Jay Cooper, former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
- B. Jay Cooper is the author of Mac Baldrige: The Cowboy in Ronald Reagan's Cabinet | The Lyons Press
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[This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 11 May 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Flickr/Steve Rhodes. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)