Trump Will Never Fear the GOP, but It’s Still Terrified of Him

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters
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Talk about pathetic. The state of the Republican Party is such that a recent article in Politico quoted a Republican strategist in Arizona as saying, “the party may have to die to be reborn.”

Even if this comment was specifically aimed at the dysfunctional Arizona GOP, it is not an original thought. Is the Party of Lincoln salvageable, or do we have to destroy the village to save it?

In a rational world, we wouldn’t have to slash and burn any party. A healthy free market incentivizes organizations to compete for customers—or die. Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, but show no signs of changing.

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We are a couple of months removed from the disappointing November midterm elections where Trumpism was an obvious drag, and I have already seen enough to conclude that Republicans haven’t learned anything from the dismal results. The feedback loop isn’t just kinked; it’s broken.

The most recent example comes from New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, the latest “normie” Republican to say he would vote for Donald Trump for president in 2024.

Several Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, have echoed Sununu. Still, McConnell is a company man who also happens to be the leading Republican in the U.S. Senate. You would think that Sununu (who has been widely touted as a non-Trump/DeSantis 2024 alternative) would be more defiant, or at least, independent.

I honestly just want one currently elected GOPer to say, “I’ll support any Republican who didn’t try to stop the peaceful transfer of power.”

And if they can’t, is this party even worth saving?

Keep in mind that Sununu’s fealty is not reciprocated by Trump—which makes Sununu look even sadder. On Thursday, Trump refused to commit to supporting the Republican nominee in 2024.

You don’t have to be a genius to see it as a veiled threat: Republicans can either nominate Trump, or they can watch him sabotage any competitor (Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example). Never mind that DeSantis might have a much better shot than Trump against a Democrat in the general election (and help us conservatives to slowly escape our dependency on Trump).

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It’s just another shakedown by a guy who acted like a low-rent gangster in both business and government. Nice party you have there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.

Once again, Trump is leading the GOP to likely defeat and certain ignominy—while showing zero loyalty (and even blackmailing the party) in return. And Republicans keep asking for more.

What will it take for Republicans to stop trying to make Trump happen? Must they lose yet another election to an 85-year-old mummy?

Because of vagaries in our electoral system—including structural bias in population distribution—Republicans seem to win just enough to avoid hitting rock bottom. To that point, a shrinking party is also a more radical party. All of these things are conspiring to create a dysfunctional GOP where there is a race to the bottom and the worst rise to the top.

The question for us Forever Never Trumpers remains: If the only way the GOP can return to its respectable conservative roots is to crash and burn, would expediting that process be the noble solution?

As hard as it might be for some readers to understand, those of us who grew up in the conservative movement are deeply and emotionally attached to the idea of saving that movement and the Republican Party, even as we are committed to not being complicit in the things the Democratic Party might do.

If you think about it, this also makes a bit of sense philosophically. As a conservative, my disposition is to want to conserve and reform the party of Lincoln and Reagan. Burning it all down is, after all, a radical choice. I mean, wasn’t it Vladimir Lenin who said, “The worse, the better?”

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But the emotional part is the part to understand.

Imagine if you had a loved one who was a self-destructive drug addict. It’s possible that this person will never begin to heal until he hits rock bottom. Still, if you love this person, you will not want them to see rock bottom. You certainly will not root for rock bottom, nor will you contribute to their hitting rock bottom. Sometimes, people die at rock bottom. You would do everything you could to help this person get help before they hit rock bottom. You might even lie to yourself about their chances of getting better.

Well, if you’ve ever wondered why some of us keep hoping against hope that the GOP will finally reform itself, now you know.

Increasingly, the Republican Party is immune to feedback. It won’t change until and unless it has to. Things probably have to get much worse before they get better. I’m not rooting for this outcome. But I am starting to make peace with it.

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