During his time in office, and well before that, Donald Trump took immense pleasure in coming up with demeaning nicknames for his opponents, or those he felt slighted him. He repeated them gleefully, like a child who has just learned their first curse word.
At most times he singled out individuals, but he also had blanket nicknames for certain groups. If it was a Democrat, he would call them “a never-Trumper”, but if it was a Republican, Trump called them “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only).
Considering what he’s done to what was once the Grand Old Party, the real RINOs would be the ones who did everything in their power to bend to Trump’s will – not those who opposed him.
While it would certainly be easy to so-label the 106 Republicans who backed Trump’s bid to have the Supreme Court overturn the election results, or the 187 Republicans in the House of Representatives who opposed the second impeachment, or even the 45 Republican senators who tried to claim an impeachment trial would be unconstitutional, there are those who are far worse.
Here they are:
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
No one did more to promote the Trump agenda than Moscow Mitch. As Senate Majority Leader McConnell was able to fulfill his dream of stacking the courts with conservatives, including three to the Supreme Court. And while Trump called Democrats in Congress “Do-nothing Democrats”, it was McConnell who provided the death knell for hundreds of bills that sat on his desk as he refused to bring them to the Senate floor for a vote.
After the McConnell-orchestrated sham that was Trump’s first impeachment trial, Mitch refused to call the Senate back into session when Trump was impeached a second time. Delaying the trial allowed Republicans to declare it unconstitutional because the purpose of an impeachment trial, to remove Trump from office, was no longer relevant since he was no longer in office. This was despite the fact many refused to acknowledge President Biden’s victory.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
When you look up the word ‘bluster’, you are sure to find Rand Paul’s picture. Throughout his tenure, he has railed against anything that was presented by Democrats and even challenged members of his own party. From his staunch defense of Trump in his first impeachment trial to his grandstanding motion to declare a second impeachment trial as unconstitutional, Paul has drawn the ire of many by refusing to wear a mask despite testing positive for COVID-19.
In the ultimate act of hubris, Paul, an ophthalmologist, tried to claim that he had superior knowledge of the coronavirus than Dr. Anthony Fauci. This shameful exchange, as well as Paul’s insistence that COVID safety protocols be ignored was in support of Trump’s efforts to ignore the pandemic. Paul repeatedly cut-off Dr. Fauci in mid-sentence, causing an exasperated Fauci to exclaim “You are not listening” as Paul continued to push herd immunity.
Paul stayed in lockstep with Trump even after the infamous January 6th insurrection. When it came to a vote on Trump’s second impeachment trial, Paul forced a vote on the constitutionality of the process, revealing little Republican support for the trial. This led Paul to declare that conviction of Trump was “Dead on Arrival”.
Senator Ted Cruz (R- TX)
Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, was one of several Republicans who opposed Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Cruz and Trump traded barbs, with Cruz calling Trump a “pathological liar” and a “narcissist “. This led Trump to counter by using one of his trademark nicknames. Because Cruz called him a liar, Trump labeled him “Lyin Ted”. He also insulted Cruz’s wife and floated the baseless claim that Cruz’s father was somehow part of the Kennedy assassination.
Things quickly changed once Trump was in office. Cruz became one of Trump’s staunchest supporters, voting along with Trump’s wishes over 90 percent of the time. Cruz became such a strong Trump proponent that he offered to argue alleged election irregularities before the Supreme Court.
Even after the January 6th insurrection, when Congress was called back into session, Cruz continued to oppose certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Such an appalling lack of acceptance of reality led many to question his role in aiding and abetting the insurrection. This has led to cries for his resignation as he tries to have it both ways. He has condemned the rioters, but will almost certainly argue for Trump’s acquittal as he sets his sights on 2024.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Another 2016 opponent in the presidential election, “Little Marco”, as Trump dubbed him, has tried playing both sides of the aisle. Rubio supports many of the same issues Trump did. This includes immigration, Obamacare, and denial of climate change.
He described the impeachment process and banning Trump from running again as “arrogant”, claiming it should be up to the will of the voters to decide if they want Trump in office again. Therefore, he opposes conviction, and absolutely opposes banning Trump from ever seeking office again.
This excuse is the same lame one Republicans used during Trump’s first impeachment trial, when they declared that the voters should decide if Trump should be re-elected.
Rubio has other reasons to worry. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is thinking of a foray into politics and Marco Rubio seems like a perfect opponent. So, in order to avoid losing his seat, Rubio must continue to cater to Trump’s whims.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
No one has done a greater political about-face than Lindsey Graham. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Graham famously referred to Trump as a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot”. He was an open critic of Trump and vowed to oppose him.
How quickly things change. Over the past four years, and beyond, no one has been a bigger supporter of Trump than Lindsey Graham. Yes, he has been critical of Trump, most recently when speaking about the January 6th insurrection, but he’s quickly returned to the fold, stating that House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is wrong to pursue impeachment and even going as far as to criticize the leader of his own party, McConnell, for his lukewarm acceptance of the trial.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO)
If Ted Cruz was the fuel behind the insurrection, Josh Hawley was the match. Many point to Hawley’s opposition to the election results as a motivator behind the bogus claims of a stolen election. Hawley, who is from Missouri, was arguing against the election results in Pennsylvania.
Like Ted Cruz, Hawley sought to overturn the election. Like Cruz, he raised objections to the certification of Biden’s victory even after the events of January 6th. Like Cruz, there are calls for his resignation.
Unlike Cruz, Hawley openly supported the insurrectionists. The image of him raising his fist to show support for the mob that would later invade the Capitol will forever taint his legacy.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the master of the flip-flop. In the past weeks he has blamed Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection, and then backed off, stating “everybody” bears some responsibility for the riots. While claiming Trump “shares the blame”, he opposes impeachment.
In an effort to avert election disaster in 2022, McCarthy quickly sought to mend fences by trekking to Mar-a-Lago to get back in his “fearless leader’s” good graces. McCarthy pinned his hopes on getting Trump’s blessing as a way of regaining their House majority, with McCarthy once again becoming the Speaker of the House.
McCarthy’s lack of leadership may have doomed this effort before it even begins. A schism in his own party threatens to derail any potential gains. On one side is the group that sought to punish Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her vote supporting Trump’s impeachment while the other side wanted to strip Q Anon darling Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of her committee assignments because of her past social media posts supporting violence and a series of outrageous conspiracy theories.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Loud, obnoxious and annoying are Gaetz’s good qualities. His sneering face and boorish behavior, as well as his unwavering support for Trump has made him a darling of the far-right. When he offered to resign in order to defend Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, it elicited a cheer from House Democrats.
Gaetz even travelled to Wyoming to protest Liz Cheney’s vote, despite his incessant whining about the “Cancel culture” of the Democrats. He claimed “We have enough votes…” to remove Cheney from her #3 position in the Republican Party. He was roundly mocked on social media when that turned out not to be the case.
By opposing impeachment and conviction, Gaetz is aligning himself with the conspiracy theorists of QAnon and those who incited the insurrection.
Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH)
What Jim Jordan lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in volume. His arrogance is matched by his aforementioned counterpart, Matt Gaetz, who also believes there is no such thing as an “indoor voice”.
Jordan is one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, which espouses the very far right values Trump supporters embrace. Other past members of the Freedom Caucus included Mick Mulvaney and Mark Meadows; both who became Trump’s Chief of Staff at some point during his administration.
Since thei views gibed so well, it was easy for Jordan to become a Trump acolyte. His staunch defense of Trump and his policies made him a favorite of Trump’s base.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Devin Nunes joined Team Trump as part of the transition team in 2016. During this process, he fanned the conspiracy theory flames by claiming there was inadvertent surveillance of the Trump campaign, lending credence to Trump’s debunked “Obama had my phones tapped” accusation.
When Nunes became head of the House Committee on Intelligence, he became a mole for the Russia investigation and was often seen entering the White House following a day’s briefings.
For his loyalty, Nunes was “awarded” the Medal of Freedom by Trump on January 4th.
Following the insurrection, Nunes defended Trump’s actions by claiming, ‘All presidents make mistakes”, ignoring Trump’s inciting the riots.
Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX)
Along with fellow Texan Senator Ted Cruz, Gohmert sought to undermine the election results by asserting baseless irregularities without evidence. While Cruz focused on Arizona, Gohmert sought to have the results of the Pennsylvania voters overturned.
Gohmert sought to have the Supreme Court negate the Pennsylvania results. When the court declined to hear the case, Gohmert predicted violence on the streets, urging Trump supporters to “be as violent as antifa, BLM”. This was on January 3rd.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)
Boebert was elected as a strong Second Amendment advocate. She began her tenure in Congress by openly feuding with Parkland survivor David Hogg. Prior to the insurrection, she was seen giving a tour of the Capitol to a large group whose identities are still unknown, leading to speculation that this may have been a reconnaissance mission for those who launched the riots.
During the insurrection, Boebert was live tweeting her location, which also was where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was hiding as rioters were screaming for Pelosi’s head. This has led to calls for her resignation.
Even after the insurrection, Boebert protested as she set off a metal detector when she presumably attempted to make good on her threat to carry a gun to the House floor. She faces a $5,000 fine for her attempt, and has led some House Democrats to worry that their Republican colleagues might kill them.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
Saving the worst for last, there is freshman Congresswoman Majorie Taylor Greene, who espoused baseless conspiracy theories, including Pizzagate, voter fraud and a stolen election, and other lies. She supported the execution of Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats.
Despite this, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to hold her accountable and remove her from her committee assignments, leaving it up to Democrats in the House to force her removal.
It was only when Greene faced punishment that she made an impassioned apology on the House floor. Many viewed this as too little, too late, yet many Republicans, in a closed-door meeting, gave Greene a standing ovation . While giving this “apology”, she blamed the media, “cancel culture” and employed the “everyone makes mistakes” defense that Devin Nunes used to defend Trump to justify her actions. She tried to paint herself as a victim and equated the insurrection to the BLM protests.
Other than the fake apology (Trump would never apologize) Greene’s tactics are straight out of the Trump playbook. Demonize the opposition, resort to name-calling and bullying and finally, attempt to re-write history by claiming what you said isn’t what you said. In typical Trump fashion, she even filed articles of impeachment against Joe Biden in a lame attempt to distract from Trump’s own second impeachment trial.
The Arizona Republican Party displayed just how far they will go to support a losing cause. In a futile effort to protest the results, they censured three members of their own party. Former Senator Jeff Flake and John McCain’s widow were both censured for refusing to back Trump’s re-election bid, while Republican Governor Doug Ducey was given the same treatment for refusing to overturn Arizona’s results and replace the state’s electors with pro-Trump representatives.
The Oregon Republican Party issued a statement claiming, without evidence, that the January 6th insurrection was “a false flag” operation. The statement was so inflammatory that several Oregon Republicans issued statements of their own denying this and demanding a retraction. When members were notified of the statement by the Republican Party, they initially thought it was “fake news”.
South Carolina Republicans
The South Carolina Republican Party censured one of its own, Rep. Tom Rice, for daring to break party ranks and vote to impeach Donald Trump. Already, there is a someone considering a challenge to Rice when he comes up for re-election.
The Republicans are a party in disarray. The small fractures are becoming widening fissures as they seek to move on from four chaotic years, but the specter of Trumpism still looms large over the party’s future.