Republicans don't flip away from Trump's massive lie as a result of it’s too painful to face the reality
Republican state and county officials not only advocate the big electoral fraud lie, many of them explicitly support the January 6th violent attack. At the same time, senior Republicans rejected either January 6 or January 6 violence. Donald Trump's lies that made the day possible are being "sanctioned" by county and state parties, stifled by death threats, and by a party they lead support, "different".
Meanwhile, on the eve of the CPAC, Donald Trump was giving directions to the party he controls on where things are going next. As Politico reports, Trump is assembling much of the same team that saw him in the 2016 election and Corey Lewandowski is being transferred to a super-PAC that aims to expand Trump's "post-president political apparatus".
Note that this does not appear to be a PAC directly dedicated to choosing a specific candidate. It is also not a PAC intended to support specific guidelines. This is a pool of money used for one purpose: to expand the power and influence of Donald Trump.
For anyone who thinks Trump would sit quietly in his car for endless rounds of golf while Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were pushed into the dark by a party deeply embarrassed about the bottom line of Trumpism … so walks not that one. Instead, Cruz is at the forefront of the CPAC, Hawley is a top contender for the Republican nomination, and the ordinary Republicans are increasingly willing to treat Jan 6 like their own Putsch beer hall.
The day after Trump's second impeachment trial, Senator Mitch McConnell stood up to say the following:
“Fellow Americans beat and bloody our own police force. They stormed the Senate. They tried to hunt down the speaker of the house. They built a gallows and sang about the Vice President's assassination.
They did this because they had been fed wild lies by the most powerful man in the world – because he was angry that he had lost an election.
Former President Trump's actions prior to the uprising were a shameful violation of duty. "
This is what McConnell said on Thursday when asked by Fox News' Bret Baier if McConnell would support Trump if he received the nomination.
"The party's candidate? Absolutely."
All of this may make it seem that where the Republican Party is going next has already been decided. Trump won, McConnell folded and every opponent is on the run. However, this is not entirely the case.
Despite the record number of Republican voters, Trump's tactics of racism, misogyny, and ancient fascism created an even bigger setback. After his surprise victory in 2016, the Trump Republican Party did not hold the House, did not hold the White House, and did not hold the Senate. His reprehensible statements and divisive actions have done what many believed was impossible: get young Americans to vote in large numbers. They have also taken one of the largest Republican strongholds – the suburbs – and turned it into a new source of Democratic Party power.
As a columnist Nancy LeTourneau points out that there's a good reason Republicans couldn't even support record-breaking performances: a long, long time ago they just ran out of ideas.
For decades, the central disagreement between Democrats and Republicans has centered on the size and role of the federal government. When it comes to domestic politics, the GOP has promoted tax cuts to "starve the beast" and deregulation. In this way, Donald Trump fitted right into the classic Republican agenda.
It could be argued that this was the only accomplishment of Trump's entire term in the traditional sense of a conservative stance. Trump's billionaire tax cut was right in the wheelhouse of the battle Republicans have fomented against the FDR New Deal programs for almost a century. Only Trump forgot the bathtub. He still gave the billionaires their billions and continued to build the government – especially in ways he could use as a club to support his xenophobic agenda, such as giving ICE ever greater reach or the ultimate example of one modern folly, Trump's wall along the southern border.
In fact, there is a good argument that Trump did not take over the Republican Party and emptied its last stash of "things to do" because this place was empty before he walked in. Republicans were already running on the steam of the things they were against – women, blacks, gays, and immigrants. Her positive ideas were on … except for … Sure there was one. Wasn't it there?
It was precisely this factor that allowed Trump to sail in. His willingness to put aside the reed dog's pipes and blow Trump-et-explosions of hatred really seemed to be "telling the truth" in a Republican party that had said the same thing. Just quietly.
When CNN reports that more than two dozen members of the House and Senate refuse to even admit that the election results were real and that Joe Biden is the legitimate President of the United States, it should be shocking. But not surprising.
It's not so much that Trump's lies reveal him as the emperor who was tricked into sneaking around naked. It is that the Republican Party has been without real "new clothes" for so long that it is ready to settle for Trump. In their eyes it is better than entering the history book of the parties that have lost their reason for being. His lies, no matter how hideous they may be, stimulate a base of people, while the sucker who comes from the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Hoover Institution just doesn't.
As LeTourneau clearly says, "Republicans reject democracy because they have lost the battle of ideas." They lost this fight because they are basically unarmed. That is, unarmed, except to spread hatred and shout "freedom" when they mean killing people for profit. Despite the appearance and the literal golden donkey revered at CPAC, that doesn't mean the fight is over and that not all Republicans behind Trump will be neatly lined up.
The number of Republicans openly willing to defy Trump may seem small, and proposals like Mitt Romney's child payments may seem like outliers, but those small numbers have overwhelming power. How many times have Democrats mumbled the name "Joe Manchin" in the past month? Republicans already have this problem. Times five.
Right now, Republicans seem ready to join the big lie about the elections, even at the cost of the potential destruction of the nation for having nothing else. They are ready to burn everything down because they realize they have no alternatives.
But this willingness to follow Trump is by no means a guarantee of their next election or their next Putsch will be more successful than the last.