Skip to main content

Former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures after speaking during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on Nov. 4, 2020.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The breaking point for Republicans with Donald Trump, many expected, would have been his complicity in the Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol Hill, an unimaginable desecration of democracy.

It followed his party’s loss of the Senate majority to the Democrats days earlier, in two runoff elections in Georgia. This followed his loss of the presidency – though Mr. Trump maintains, in a claim that would make even Mother Goose cringe, that he won the election – by seven million votes.

The debasement of Mr. Trump is also such that he is the target of criminal investigations in New York State and Georgia.

But the Republican Party isn’t deterred by the degradations and defeats. Such is its spineless condition that it still kowtows to him, ceding him total control.

A decisive coup de cowardice came last week when the party stripped Liz Cheney, who had stood up to him, from her position as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and replaced her with Trump lackey Elise Stefanik.

Intriguingly, a majority of Grand Old Party members voted to remove Ms. Cheney, in comparison to the mere 11 who joined with Democrats in February to remove QAnon wingnut Marjorie Taylor Greene from committee assignments. Ms. Greene had gone so far as to make statements suggesting she supported the execution of prominent Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ms. Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, was one of 10 Republicans who voted in favour of impeaching Mr. Trump for his role in the ransacking of the capital. She called him out on his big lie about the election being stolen. She said the party had to free itself of the dangerous anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.

Republicans heard her out and chickened out. They feared Mr. Trump would challenge their nominations in their districts. They feared his vile tongue. Though party polling data show his favourability ratings are very low in key electoral districts, they still think he’s indispensable.

“We can’t grow without him,” said his wind-up apologist, Senator Lindsey Graham, his suggestion being that the party has no choice but to stick with Mr. Trump’s retrograde redneck agenda and whatever convulsions it brings on.

The personality cult is such that at the Republican National Convention last August, Mr. Trump dispensed with offering a party platform and no one complained. He was the platform. He still is.

The vote removing Ms. Cheney was a critical blow to those hoping to wrest control of the party from him. He seems assured of being the de facto leader for the midterm elections, which are less than 18 months away. The midterms are a protest vote that the incumbent party most often loses. That will likely be the case with Joe Biden’s Democrats.

Mr. Biden had a stellar first 100 days. His favourability ratings are more than 10 points on the plus side, numbers which Mr. Trump never came close to matching. But the new president’s problems are ratcheting up faster than gasoline prices. He is confronted by inflation problems, job market problems, immigration problems and Arab-Israeli warring, which sees his party badly split over which side to blame.

The likely Republican advances in the midterms will solidify Mr. Trump’s position. He’s indicated he is inclined to run again in 2024. He will likely be free to do so.

One major caveat is the fraud investigation of him in New York, which is intensifying. Should he be hit with criminal charges and have the possibility of a jail sentence hanging over his head, that could finally be enough to turn large numbers of Republicans against him – unless it makes him a martyr.

Another more far-fetched scenario is that a new right-side party is formed that divides Republicans into blocks and leads to a reckoning that destroys Trumpism.

Ms. Cheney fears that as things stand now, with Mr. Trump continuing to get away with whatever he wants in his party, more upheavals of the Jan. 6 type are well possible.

At the moment, Trump supporters in a great many states are trying to undermine the democratic system via vote suppression legislation. Measures include stricter ID requirements, limitations on mail-in voting and absentee voting, and other restrictions. Some analysts see them as potentially constituting a level of disenfranchisement not seen since the post-Reconstruction era, when Southern states blocked the voting rights of Black citizens.

In a democracy like the United States, how sick is that? For the morally bankrupt Trump Party, not sick at all.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct