Analysis: The Republican Party allows Donald Trump’s policy of violence

The Republican National Committee’s censure of GOP Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for probing the “legitimate political discourse” of the Jan. 6 insurrection entrenched that principle in party policy dogma. Friday’s decision underscored the unbridled extremism of large sections of one of America’s major political parties and the still malign and dominating influence of the ex-president, who is ready for action with a war chest of $122 million.
The RNC’s statement coincided with the release of a new video by the Justice Department showing the ugly truth of the insurrection – a mob of Trump, strong on his election lies, beating up police officers and vowing to drag lawmakers in the streets. But the RNC’s authoritarianism was at odds with some anti-Trump movements elsewhere in the party, including ex-Vice President Mike Pence, who criticized his ex-boss’s bid to steal the election by overthrowing the electoral college tally last year as “un-American.”

The potentially irrevocable rift with Trump has spurred Republicans who despair of the party’s destruction of Truth and Democracy and has come amid possibly pious whispers among some strategists that the ex’s grip -president could weaken. These could be the first shots of an upcoming debate over whether Trump should be the party’s third-time nominee, in 2024.

But Trump’s dark power is also playing out among a wider group — GOP lawmakers who disdain his strongman radicalism but are afraid to speak out against him because they think loyalty is the only way to save their political skin. The acquiescence of most Republicans has long enabled Trump’s attacks on the rule of law and shows little sign of hardening opposition to the ex-president.

And it happened again last week as GOP senators dodged calls to condemn Trump’s threat to pardon insurgents if he wins another term in the White House.

And a Republican triumph in the midterm elections in November could cement a House majority dominated by Trump’s henchmen and women and breathe new life into his extremism in power as Trump’s presidential race approaches. 2024.

A clear signal from the RNC to Trump

The RNC resolution condemned Cheney of Wyoming and Kinzinger of Illinois for participating in a “Democrat-led persecution” of ordinary citizens engaging in “legitimate political speech” while serving on the House Select Committee that investigates events during and before the January 6 uprising. .
After the measure was passed, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel urged CNN that the committee distinguish between those who did not commit violence on Jan. 6 and the rioters who stormed the US Capitol. But the resolution, watered down from an earlier version that demanded the withdrawal of party support for Cheney and Kinzinger, contained no such caveats. The RNC might have a reputation as a haven for the party’s most dedicated activists and not represent it as a whole. But the symbolism of the entire exercise defied the spin seeking to contain political damage and sent unequivocal approval to Trump for his categorical denial of what really happened that day.

But appeasing Trump’s culture of violence is not limited to the RNC. In a continuing attempt to ignore the violent scenes, several Republicans on Capitol Hill have whitewashed the January 6 truth. Many others have attempted to obstruct the committee or mislead its purpose. Trump critics like Utah Senator Mitt Romney are ostracized by the former president’s supporters. Some who voted to impeach him are expelled from the party.

Trump clearly incited violence in front of the crowd scene – telling his supporters to “fight like hell” to convince Pence to block President Joe Biden’s election victory. His rallies and rhetoric have long had an undercurrent of menace. And his political rhetoric is only getting more extreme — for example, with his recent threats against black prosecutors probing his business empire and investigating his attempts to steal Biden’s election victory in Georgia.

Trump’s ability to intimidate is also underscored by the fact that even a frequent Republican critic of his behavior – Senator Susan Collins of Maine – has said that while she is “unlikely” to support him s he’s the candidate in 2024, she can’t say for sure.

Pence’s Thunderclap

Some Republicans, however, are now ready to call Trump. Pence’s speech to the Federalist Society on Friday was a political thunderbolt. It may have ultimately destroyed the delicate balance he was trying to strike between loyalty to Trump and his own presidential aspirations following his determination that he had no power as vice president to certify the election. in favor of the ex-president despite his delusional demands.

Pence’s statements that Trump’s demands were “un-American” and “wrong” and that he was doing his personal duty drew attention on Friday. But his comment on the implications of Trump’s continued undemocratic behavior may have laid the groundwork for a future struggle within the Republican Party itself.

“The truth is there is more at stake than our party or our political fortunes,” he said. “If we lose faith in the Constitution, we will not only lose the election, we will lose our country.”

Some might argue that Pence’s statement was woefully late, more than a year after he left office. And he still has not strongly condemned the former president’s electoral lies and attacks on democracy. Moreover, the former vice president encouraged anarchy and unconstitutional pyrotechnics during the term of the twice impeached former president with his admiring loyalty. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, former Pence chief of staff Marc Short also tried to tone down Pence’s political exposure by criticizing the House Select Committee.

While noting that he didn’t see much “legitimate political speech” when he was alongside Pence on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 last year, he also tried to deflect fire from the RNC resolution.

“Talking to some members of the RNC, I think there are concerns that there are people who were there to protest peacefully, who were dragged into this, which I think has become more a lawsuit by the Jan. 6 committee, and feel like they’re being treated unfairly,” Short said. The vice president’s former chief of staff is one of several Pence aides who spoke to the committee, breaking with the Trump world’s refusal to give his subpoenas any legitimacy.
While Pence still seems to be dithering a bit, his decision to publicly berate Trump is also significant – because it’s the farthest he’s ever gone and he’s somewhat brave. He is already drawing a backlash from pro-Trump Republicans. And his hopes of mounting a viable primary campaign may have faded on Friday. While it’s already doubtful that a vice president who thwarted Trump’s illegal attempt to cling to power will have a future, given the depth of the GOP’s grassroots investment in the voter fraud fantasy. .

Is Trump’s grip slipping?

Still, there are at least signs of tentative resistance to Trump, albeit from big-name Republicans rather than a new flag bearer with a future in the party who is willing to risk political apostasy.

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, for example, said he doesn’t think Trump should lead the country again. Cheney said he was not fit “for a future position”. There are other signs across the country that the ex-president’s grip may not be what it used to be. Some of the candidates he backed in the midterm elections have struggled. Some polls suggest a growing number of Republican voters would prefer another candidate in 2024. And would-be presidential hopefuls like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are raising the possibility of Trumpism without Trump with sweeping “Make America Great” policies. Again” about pandemic restrictions, abortion, transgender issues and other grassroots-pleasing culture war clashes.

But the ex-president still draws massive crowds. Any dwindling influence at the fringe could be due to its relative invisibility outside the conservative media bubble. The fact that there is still such resistance to the truth about Trump’s coup attempt — fueled by the GOP’s aggressive efforts to rewrite history — suggests that Trump’s power lingers within the party as is considering a possible return. Millions of Trump voters think he was conned and still see him as the antidote to their hatred of government elites and a sense that the country as they know it is being swept away by demographic, social and economic change. .

Since unleashing a political earthquake with his campaign launch in 2015, Trump has crushed all resistance within the party — one reason so many lawmakers are careful not to contradict him now. The main opponents in 2016 like Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have been crushed and co-opted by Trump. Critics like ex-Sen. Arizona’s Jeff Flake, who has retired, and now Cheney, who faces a primary challenger backed by Trump, and Kinzinger, who is not running for another term, have effectively had to choose between their Democratic principles and their political careers.

While Trump’s increasingly unbridled extremism could still dash his hopes of a comeback, especially with a general election hearing, events in recent days show he remains the bedrock of the Republican Party.

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