Republicans have a major problem, and it’s one of their own making. It’s also one that, if they had the courage, it's a problem, they could solve.
The problem is their continued fealty to a failed candidate, a failed administration and a failed process that is being supported by nothing more than rumor, innuendo and conspiracy theories.
Normally, when a candidate loses an election, the losing party moves on. They reevaluate their positions and adjust their party platform to develop a winning strategy for the next election. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Republicans are rallying around Donald Trump, spreading the Big Lie and awaiting the expected announcement that Trump will run again in 2024.
All of this looms over a nation still reeling from an insurrection as the threat of more violence hangs over us. Meanwhile, there are Republicans waiting in the wings, ready to take on the conservative mantle. With Trump teasing at a 2024 run, they are going to be left waiting.
In short, Republicans have a Trump problem and many more that originate with him.
The Voter Suppression Problem
The Big Lie is centered around the false claim of a stolen election; that somehow votes that were meant for Trump were magically switched to Biden. The myth of voter fraud has been pushed in several states, resulting in voter suppression laws being passed, and more being considered, in many Republican controlled state legislatures. When Republicans can’t win at the ballot box, they will change the rules to their advantage.
That is the true voter fraud that currently prevails in our country.
The real reason Trump lost was because of his own baseless claims. When the pandemic caused many states to change their voting procedures, something states are legally allowed to do, Trump warned of widespread illegal voting.
He claimed the system was rigged, prompting many Republican voters to remain home. When he claimed mail-in ballots were somehow illegal, he discouraged these same voters from using that process. And when Election Day results changed the outcome as more votes were counted, Trump seized on this as “fact”, setting up the motivation for the January 6th insurrection.
Republicans have a voter suppression problem.
The GOP Leadership Problem
Even before the next presidential election, the midterms offer a frightening scenario. As scary as this sounds, there’s a possibility that Georgia Representative (and Q-Anon kook) Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) could become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. At this point, she is more popular than current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Her appeal to the base of Trump supporters is what got her elected in the first place, and of course, she has the blessing of one, Donald J. Trump.
So, when it comes to who could garner enough votes, current patterns are leaning in Greene’s favor. If Republicans were to win back the House in the 2022 midterm elections, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that, with support of Trump backers, she could be elevated to the position of Speaker of the House. This sets up a myriad of nightmare scenarios as the extremists in the Republican Party set about to enact their own conspiracy theory driven agendas.
Under the current leadership, Republicans are punished for telling the truth and rewarded for supporting lies and conspiracy theories. When it was revealed that Marjorie Taylor Greene had once liked a comment saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) be removed from her position by “a bullet to the head” and another about executing members of the FBI who were part of the ‘deep state’, McCarthy stripped her of her committee assignments.
More recently, Greene compared the House rules regarding masks to the Holocaust , it took five days for McCarthy to issue a mild rebuke. Even then, rather than retract her comments, Greene called McCarthy and other Republican leaders weak. Despite calls for her censure, McCarthy has done nothing further, even as Greene doubled down on her comments.
Republicans have a leadership problem.
The Accountability Problem
When it comes to holding Donald Trump accountable for his actions, there is a definite blind spot, not to mention selective amnesia, when his conduct is called into question. The first and second impeachment trials were a lopsided victory for Republicans, who ignored the facts and chose to refuse what they would otherwise have supported if the accused was a Democrat.
Instead, when given the opportunity to rid themselves of the Trump albatross, they invent fake controversies, such as “cancel culture” or engage in whataboutism to deflect from the real issues.
Instead of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, they preferred to talk about Hillary’s emails. Instead of holding Trump accountable for trying to pressure the Ukrainian president into helping get dirt on Joe Biden, they’d rather say “let the voters decide”.
Instead of holding Trump accountable for the January 6th insurrection, they argued “cancel culture”. Instead of establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the issues surrounding the insurrection, Republicans wanted to dig into the Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa.
Republicans have an accountability problem.
The GOP Racism Problem
When crowds took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd, far right extremists infiltrated the protests and incited violence. This gave Republicans the opportunity to claim the entire movement was based on violence. They looked the other way when Trump used the police to forcefully clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protestors for a lame photo op.
Look at the images of any Trump rally. It is a sea of white faces and MAGA hats. They deny that systematic racism exists in law enforcement and claim Democrats want to defund the police instead of seeking changes in the way minorities are treated. From Charlottesville to Seattle, Republicans would rather point fingers than admit there is a problem.
When yet another Black man dies when in police custody, Republicans blithely mention the possibility of police reform. They invariably assign the task to the only Black senator in their ranks,Tim Scott of South Carolina. There is a brief mention of a bipartisan effort to address the issue, but then it dies in committee.
Republican efforts at voter suppression are primarily aimed at the minority population, while depicting them as lazy, drug-addled welfare recipients. While they claim their efforts are not racially motivated, the targeted efforts at limiting minority participation in upcoming elections has been labeled “the new Jim Crow”; a reference to the restrictive policies put in place to prevent Blacks from voting following the Civil War.
Republicans have a racism problem.
The Republican Faith Problem
A large part of Trump’s loyal base is comprised of White Evangelicals. Their blind obedience to Donald Trump and willingness to believe in the Big Lie are testaments to their gullibility. They falsely believe that the Constitution made America a Christian nation and that Barack Obama is a closeted Muslim who wanted to destroy America. They view Donald Trump as the “savior” who prevented this from happening.
Evangelicals will vehemently deny that their motives are racist. Instead, they will point to another lie to support their hatred of President Obama. They embrace the same lie that catapulted Trump to political prominence: the birther lie. And it’s their ability to embrace this lie that permits them to believe the Big Lie, and to continue to claim that Donald Trump is the “real” president.
Republicans have a faith problem.
The GOP Anger Problem
From Charlottesville to Washington, DC, one thing has been made abundantly clear; Republicans have an anger problem. In Charlottesville, the “Unite the Right” rally led to the death of a counter-protestor, Heather Heyer, who was run over by an angry member of the right wing mob.
In DC, the mob was motivated by other angry Republicans who falsely claimed the election was stolen. They exhorted the mob to forcefully demand the election results be overturned. They were egged on by a series of hostile speeches and angry posts on right wing websites.
But it isn’t just the insurrectionists who have an anger problem. Republican members of Congress routinely launch into fiery tirades. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) famously attacked those who sought to hold Trump accountable during the first Impeachment Trial. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has repeatedly attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci over COVID. Every time there is a mass casualty shooting in America, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will staunchly defend the perverted “right to bear arms” arguments held by gun owners.
Republicans have an anger problem.
The Republican Reality Problem
Republicans have long distanced themselves from facts. They would rather believe a good conspiracy theory than accept reality. From bitherism to Pizzagate to a stolen election, there is nothing they won’t propagate if it's about Democrats or any Republican who dares to go against Trump’s wishes. They refer to Democrats as “sheeple” for stating facts, yet blindly follow any utterance that spews out of the mouth of their feckless leader.
They would rather believe that illegal immigrants are taking their jobs than wealthy corporations robbing them blind. They believe in unsubstantiated rumors that come from NewsMax or OAN rather than factual information from CNN or the New York Times. They accept outlandish tales from Q-Anon, but reject data from Reuters.
While most Republicans in Congress, other than whack jobs like Reps. Majorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz or Lauren Boebert, don’t buy into the lies and distortions coming out of right wing media outlets, they are more than happy to call anything that goes against their delusional constituents “Fake News” to benefit themselves.
Republicans have a reality problem.
Republicans Have a Trump Problem
When Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican candidate for president in 2016, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were his fiercest critics. Now, after losing the White House and both houses of Congress, they are his most fervent supporters. Like many other Republicans, they became enthralled with the Trump mystique, or perhaps they simply read the writing on the wall.
Many Republicans who opposed Trump have either left Congress or have lost their seats due to opposition from his base. So, there are very few who will challenge him, even though he’s no longer in office. His popularity amongst the Republican faithful remains so strong that, even after the events of January 6th, there are few members of Congress who will go against Trump. Even though he’s been banned from Twitter and his Facebook account is suspended, Trump is still able to issue “official statements”. He uses these to blast those he feels have wronged him.
Many Republicans have been looking for ways to move beyond Trump. With two impeachments and the possibility of a commission to investigate January 6th, they had ample opportunity to bring him down like they did Nixon. The difference is Trump remains enormously popular with Republicans, while Nixon saw his popularity plummet after the events surrounding the Watergate break-in came to light.
Instead, Republicans hope Democrats will do their dirty work, making them the saviors of the Republican Party. As Democrats weigh the options of holding a select hearing on the events leading up to and during the insurrection, Republicans will defend Trump’s actions, while secretly hoping it won’t doom their midterm chances, and Trump’s desire to run again in 2024 will wane.
Meanwhile, they will continue to refuse to cooperate with the Biden administration, knowing that to do so would risk the wrath of Trump and his all important base. Their hope is that by opposing the Biden agenda and continuing to call Democrats “the radical left”, they will regain their majority in both the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.
Make no mistake, the Republican Party is nothing like the Party of Lincoln. It’s even a far cry from the Party of Reagan. Gone are the days of fiscal responsibility and low deficits. They have been replaced by fealty to one man: Donald Trump.
Yes, Republicans do, indeed, have a Trump problem.