There is apparently an urge for mass suicide among many Republicans who want to “purge” Donald Trump from their rapidly-shrinking party.
It’s not that Trump doesn’t deserve rebuke, censure, and possibly even impeachment for his careless words before the Capitol building was breached by his supporters. But throwing Trump under the bus is totally self-defeating and everyone should stop and think what it would mean.
This is a very bad idea on several levels. It’s bad politics, it’s unfair, and it’s playing into the hands of Democrats who love to see Republicans at war with one another.
As for bad politics, you don’t decapacitate your most popular leader. Whether you have any love for Donald Trump or not — and I don’t — countless millions do. What happened at the Capitol last week is immaterial to their affection for the president. In fact, the vast majority oppose his impeachment, support his contesting the 2020 election, and think Trump should be the 2024 GOP candidate for president.
Why it matters: The survey shows why Trump could run again in 2024 (and possibly win) if he isn’t convicted — or banned from holding federal office — by the Senate. It also shows the peril and opportunity for institutionalists like McConnell trying to reclaim the GOP.
- In addition, it helps explain why a majority of House Republicans voted against certifying the election, and against impeachment.
Between the lines: There’s a deep schism in the GOP, with a 56% majority considering themselves “traditional” Republicans and 36% calling themselves Trump Republicans.
- The former is often called establishment Republicans. CNN’s Chris Cuomo derisively labels the latter group “Retrumplicans.”
It’s important to consider that the 36 percent of Republicans who call themselves “Trump Republicans” are the heart and soul of the party. They do most of the grunt work of party building and getting out the vote that establishment Republicans take for granted.
They also give a sizable amount of cash to Republican candidates and infuse a lot of energy into Republican campaigns. It would be madness to purge the man they still see as the leader of the party.
- Traditional Republicans are split over whether the party is better because of Trump; 96% of Trump Republicans say it is.
- Trump Republicans are more than twice as likely as traditional Republicans to want him as their 2024 nominee and twice as likely to support the protesters.
- Traditional Republicans are five times as likely to disapprove of the president’s behavior.
- Be smart: The Trump Republicans are still large enough of a group to either stay and dominate primary politics or walk away if Trump is cast out, which would weaken the GOP’s force posture against Democrats.
I sympathize with the dilemma facing many establishment Republicans. Democrats and the mainstream media will call them vile names and accuse them of not supporting democracy. They may even be investigated by Democrats for being insufficiently rabid in their Trump hatred.
It will do them no good to try and appease Democrats.
It’s completely foolish for Republicans to want to “purge” Trump from the party, but even if they want to, they can’t. Democrats and the media will never let that happen. They are going to hang Trump and the Capitol riot over the heads of every Republican for the next 10 years and beyond.
The only thing Republicans can do is own their support for the president when he was right, which was more often than not, and tell it as it is when they know he was wrong.
These next few years are going to be tough on Republicans. Some establishment Republicans are likely to be primaried, others will lose their re-election bids regardless of whether they support Trump or not. Perhaps Joe Biden’s administration will get people to wish for the good old days of Trump before too long, given his agenda and the radicals who will be in charge.
As long as Donald Trump lives, he will have millions of supporters cheering him on. Dealing with that reality will be the key to political success for Republicans going forward.