Since the election, Donald Trump and his riled up, nutty supporters have not gone quietly into the night. Many of them make up the core of an unlikely new group of American right wing extreme activists. The mob that attacked the Capitol included lawyers, CEOs, shop owners, grandmas and other average Americans you might think were normal neighbors of yours. Think again.
Trump incited the crowd by claiming for months that he won when he lost and alleging widespread voter fraud when that was not true. Trump’s loyal followers still believe he won. Even now. Mr. My Pillow guy, Mike Lindell, was on Newsmax, a right wing news channel, trying to continue the Big Lie about Dominion voting machines being rigged. The frantic interviewer did what he could to stop Lindell’s rant because Dominion has put Newsmax on notice that it will sue them big time if they don’t clean up their lies about their voting machines. (There’s nothing like a 1.3 billion dollar lawsuit to force conservative media to suddenly get real.)
And what is the truth? Trump lost, as we know. But WHY did he lose?
Trump blew his reelection bid with his own misguided words, actions and conspiracy thinking. The real reasons for his loss were written up in a 27 page post mortem by his chief pollster, Tony Fabrizio, who lives in the real world instead of the Trumpian dystopia.
Former President Donald Trump has blamed the election results on unfounded claims of fraud and malfeasance. But at the top levels of his campaign, a detailed autopsy report that circulated among his political aides paints a far different — and more critical — portrait of what led to his defeat.
The post-mortem, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, says the former president suffered from voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy and that he was crushed by disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And while Trump spread baseless accusations of ballot-stuffing in heavily Black cities, the report notes that he was done in by hemorrhaging support from white voters. (Alex Isenstadt- POLITICO)
More specifically the white voters Trump lost in droves were college educated suburban men. He had already lost the suburban women.
The real reason for Trump’s loss came down to two huge shortcomings:
1) Trump lied so much that Americans could not trust him.
2) Trump failed to protect Americans from the pandemic.
These two shortcomings are connected. They are both at the heart of what I have written about extensively in this blog, namely, Trump lives in a Trump-centric world in which he must always be the winner. He insists on his altered version of reality and pushes conspiracies to explain the doctored reality he believes in. To maintain that alternate universe Trump needed massive support from the conservative ecochamber and GOP lawmakers, which he got. Trump also created a cult within the GOP that he groomed and turned into his attack squad. (Yes, some of them are your neighbors.)
During his campaign and his time in office whatever Trump needed to reject to maintain his version of reality he called a hoax. The Mueller investigation was a hoax. The first impeachment was a hoax. But he met his match with the pandemic. You can’t get away with calling a pandemic a hoax when Americans are losing loved ones to the scourge and can see the real life effects of Covid-19 in their own lives especially when hospital workers on local news are crying about all the dying people taking their last breath alone in local hospitals.
Above all Trump lost the election because he was untethered to the truth and out of touch with the realistic fears of Americans about a virus that could kill them and their loved ones. He relied on conspiracy mongering and disinformation. That was his ultimate downfall.
Did the GOP Learn Anything From Trump’s Loss?
Members of the GOP should be scrambling to understand why Trump lost. Once they understand it, they should be remaking the party to be a better version of itself. Instead, too many Republicans are trying to use Trump’s tactics, including unhinged conspiracy mongering and reinvented reality, to stay in power by appealing to Trump’s unhinged base.
There are a bunch of prominent Trump mini-mes out there including Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan, Matt Goetz, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and others who think they can take the Trump playbook and run it for themselves. This, they think, is how they will keep the Trumpian mob happy with them so they can get reelected.
Take Greene for example: she has promoted a bullet to the head of Nancy Pelosi, denies the reality of mass school shootings, claims 9/11 was fake news, believes there are Jews shooting lasers from space that started wildfires in California, thinks Clinton murdered JFK Jr., believes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should be lynched, the shooting in Los Vegas was a lie, and she posed with an AR-15 in her campaign literature calling herself the “squad’s worst nightmare.” She was elected from a heavily gerrymandered district in Georgia.
This kind of vicious, weirdo thinking will not win future elections for Republicans outside of heavily gerrymandered districts. Most well educated suburbanites are shocked and horrified by the lunatic fringe of the GOP. The GOP will lose many suburban voters who want decency, civility, and diplomacy front and center in their political discourse. If the GOP hopes to retake control in the House they need those suburban voters. Yet the GOP is unable to tear itself away from this toxic bunch of crazies in the Republican Party because it is still the party of Trump who hails from the toxic lunatic fringe.
What the GOP Has Become
The GOP House caucus met on February 3rd to decide what to do about Marjorie Taylor Greene and Liz Cheney. The caucus heard from Greene behind closed doors where she said she didn’t believe a lot of the trash she has been saying that makes her popular with the lunatic fringe. In public, however, she has not backed off of any of her crazy claims. Greene got a a standing ovation.
And then there’s Liz Cheney who spoke out against Trump and voted to impeach him on moral and ethical grounds. Cheney has been seen as the future of the GOP. She was subjected to extensive attack from her caucus. In the end these Republicans voted in secret to keep her in her leadership role 145 to 61. But that means 61 House Republicans wanted her out of power.
Today the Democrats will force all members of the House to take a vote to remove Greene from her committee assignments on Education and Budget. She will be stripped of those committee assignments by a simple majority. That will happen. But what will also happen is that every Republican in the House will be forced to go on record about whether they are in or out with their lunatic fringe. Get ready to see early ads from the Dems about House Republicans in purple states who vote to keep Greene on those committees. They will be slammed for their alliance with her and they will deserve it.
Mitch McConnell has gotten into the mix in this proxy war over the future of the Republican Party. He has spoken out about both women. As the Senate leader he almost never weighs in on what’s happening in the House. But he understands that the future of the GOP hangs in the balance. He urged Republicans to reject Greene and embrace Liz Cheney.
Something is Rotten in the GOP
Why do the Republicans cling to Trump? Trump did not win in 2020, and he would not win if he tried to run for president again. He cannot undo his record of over 30,000 false or misleading statements. He cannot remake his toxic image or undo the crazy nut ball stuff he said like shooting up bleach to combat Covid-19 and so many other bizarre statements and conspiracy theories that make up Trump’s greatest hits. But there are a lot of Trump mini-mes out there trying to make a name for themselves. Trump mini-mes believe their path to greatness is to emulate Trump. The GOP is in a marriage from hell with a defeated president who is still the leader of the Republican Party.
Trump famously said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still love him. On January 6th, when the Trump inspired mob attacked the Capitol, all those Trump loving Republican legislators could have been killed in the attack. The mob had been groomed to hate all lawmakers without regard to party affiliation. Mike Pence was on the hit list along with Nancy Pelosi and AOC. On January 6th Trump mobilized the mob that loves him to do his dirty work, to “shoot someone” in the Capitol instead of 5th Avenue.
Every Republican lawmaker who refuses to call Trump out, refuses to call Greene out, refuses to vote Greene off of the committees she is in, refuses to vote to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial and hold him accountable for inciting that insurrection, every one of these votes is telling us the Republican Party has joined the ranks of the lunatic fringe. They need to be voted out of power. If the Republicans fail to retake the House and Senate in 2022 and 2024 maybe then they will get the message that trying to be like Trump is a bad idea and put some effort into rebuilding a viable party that will appeal to more than conspiracy mongers and white supremacists.