In my article “Crash and Burn,” written right after the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters and the Republicans’ loss of the majority of the Senate, I thought that Trump’s political career was over. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
There are various reasons why. It is human nature not to admit that you were wrong and that the person you wanted to win lost. Those who believe that the election was stolen from Trump want to believe it. They cannot accept that most Americans thought that President Biden was the better choice. So, they delude themselves in a fantasy. When the results went against them, Trump and his allies said that they would prove their case in the courts. They repeatedly lost in the courts and recounts. They pretend that none of that matters and keep on spewing nonsense.
At first, some in the Republican leadership criticized Trump. Now, Representative Liz Cheney, the only person in the leadership position who continues to attack Trump’s big lie that the election was stolen, is going to be purged from her leadership position. She will be replaced by someone who is toeing the Trump line. There are others who are silent.
Courage and politicians are not often found in the same sentence. Those in the House of Representatives are aware that the base of the party is behind Trump and the false claim that the election was stolen. They are up for reelection in 2022. They are afraid to cross the base, so they go along with it. If they do cross the Trumpians, they could be subject to a primary challenge. At a minimum, they will be harassed by the rank-and-file Republicans.
The leadership has a second reason why they espouse or tolerate the fraudulent claims by Trump: They believe that this will be the best way to take back the House and Senate in the 2022 elections. They need the Trumpians to vote in mass numbers to win back the majorities in the House and Senate.
Furthermore, it gives them cover to enact laws to limit votes from groups and locations which are traditionally Democratic. These new laws could have them win closely contested seats. The excuse for the new laws is to install confidence in the voting system. They create a straw man (false claim of voter fraud) and then pass a law to eliminate a problem that they made up.
The Democrats are also happy that Trump and his claim of voter fraud has become the mantra of the Republican Party. They remember that the Democratic candidates shockingly won both Senate seats in Georgia. At that time, the wisdom was that the loss was due to the Republicans being focused on Trump’s claims of election fraud in Georgia. Also, the Republicans’ focus on false claims of a stolen election allows the Democrats to remind people of the danger of this approach, including the insurrection on January 6. Furthermore, they can bring up the votes of the Republican House members who voted against some of the state delegations even after the attack on the Capitol. They can point to the Republicans’ anti-democratic attempts to suppress the vote by the enactment of new election laws.
The Republicans’ focus on relitigating the prior election also keeps the focus off the Democratic Party’s own excesses. They will use the Republicans removing Cheney from her leadership post for telling the truth against the Republican candidates. Few people are talking about the squad or the merits of some of the provisions in the Biden plan. The Democrats won a Trump-Biden battle once and are happy to go at it again through proxies in the 2022 election.
The Democrats also must thank Senator Mitch McConnell for saying that “One hundred percent of my focus is stopping this new administration.” Both McConnell’s statement and the significant group of Republicans who doubt that Biden is a legitimate president give the president justification to move ahead without any Republican support. The Republicans cannot object that Biden is not acting in a bipartisan manner.
Unfortunately, both parties, especially the Republicans, are doing the country great harm for short-term political expediency.
It is dangerous to the health of a democracy for large segments to believe that the system is corrupt and that the existing president is illegitimate. There was one attempt to stop the lawful certifying of an election by storming the Capitol. There is no reason to doubt that some of those who believe Trump’s lies will again try to take matters into their own hands. A few months ago, I thought that Trumpians would return to reality, but I now have my doubts.