Opinion Rising GOP anger at Trump shows a deeper problem for the party

cigaretteman

HR King
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By Greg Sargent
Columnist |
August 30, 2022 at 12:57 p.m. EDT

As Donald Trump’s legal travails deepen, a strange split-screen effect has taken hold throughout the GOP. On one screen, Republicans are increasingly anxious about revelations involving Trump, while concocting ever more inventive ways to achieve distance from them.
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On the other, GOP candidates in crucial midterm contests are, if anything, getting more Trumpy. They’re not just aggressively defending Trump; they’re also enthusiastically embracing the many pathologies he brought to our politics, and even imitating his mannerisms.
This captures an essential tension about this moment. Many Republicans apparently remain deeply convinced that Trump and his preoccupations are an indispensable source of political energy for their 2022 campaigns. Yet coming revelations about Trump might keep rendering that energy more toxic in swing states and districts.
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Two useful reports — one in Politico, the other in the New York Times — provide new information that illuminates that tension. Politico details “growing angst and concern” among Republicans about Trump’s ever-ballooning role in news cycles.


Some Republicans are urging the party to pivot away from defending Trump, Politico notes, to change the subject back to issues such as inflation. One GOP fundraiser describes the party’s mood about Trump as “enormous frustration.”
Republicans have adopted several strategies after the release of the redacted affidavit for the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search, which deepened our understanding of Trump’s misconduct and potential crimes associated with hoarding highly classified documents.
Some Republicans are blaming the media for hyping the revelations, per Politico. Others insist there’s something vaguely amiss about the timing of the search. Still others say the documents aren’t harboring serious secrets, which is contradicted by already-known facts.
But the responses mostly have a halfhearted quality. Among those Republicans, at least, gone is the full-throated rage that initially treated Trump as uniformly a victim and the search as wholly illegitimate.
Why? Well, as the Times piece documents, Trump is again a big story on terms unfavorable to Republicans. The political dynamic has shifted amid numerous factors: Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices overturning Roe v. Wade, revelations about Trump’s effort to destroy our democracy and, now, the drumbeat of devastating facts about his harboring of state secrets.
While holding the House will still be tough for Democrats, it’s now in play, and keeping the Senate is very plausible. As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg tells the Times, the combination of Republicans initially running “toward MAGA” and Trump’s reemergence with a vengeance have given Democrats “more ammunition to label their candidates as extreme.”
Many of the aforementioned “frustrated” Republicans appear to agree. But here’s the rub: Some GOP candidates have a different theory of the case. They genuinely appear to see Trump and Trumpism as key sources of political energy and inspiration.
Take Blake Masters, the GOP nominee for Senate in Arizona. Masters is under fire for blaming racial diversity at the Federal Reserve for economic woes. Now, Masters has responded with a video that seems designed to capture a kind of unadulterated Trumpism:

Note that Masters says “fake news!” with a bombastic vehemence that appears to consciously imitate Trump. And Masters attacks Vice President Harris with the ugly claim that she is “so incompetent she can’t even get a sentence out.”
That’s gutter trolling, but it’s of interest. While Masters has tried to selectively sanitize his positions on abortion and the 2020 election, here he’s working overtime to capture the spirit and essence of Trump’s sheer abusiveness. It’s as though going all-in on such unapologetic derangement is itself a selling point that displays resolve and fight against, well, whoever gets triggered by it.
It all has the feel of the geek who tries to stride into the school cafeteria with the swagger of a jock, but trips over his own feet. As Sam Adler-Bell documents, Masters is crafting a brand of Trumpism that’s nerdy and hyper-intellectualized but retains its dark hatreds of all manner of leftist enemies. In that video Masters attempts this to particularly ill effect.
Or take Doug Mastriano, the GOP candidate for governor in Pennsylvania. He continues to embrace insurrectionist lies about 2020 and talks only to right-wing media sources. When an old Army War College faculty photo surfaced of him in a Confederate uniform, his adviser was brashly unapologetic and blamed the left for trying to “erase history.” Mastriano is set to campaign with Trump.
And Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, is still running down rabbit holes in a never-ending chase after crackpot conspiracy theories about 2020. Lake depicted the Mar-a-Lago search as a sign the country has succumbed to totalitarianism and jackbooted tyranny.
GOP strategist Liam Donovan notes that such candidates are motivated by different levels of sincerity in their devotion to the Trumpist faith, but all seek to draw from it a political “spark” that replicates Trump’s successes.
“So much of it is an attitudinal thing,” Donovan told me. “So much of it is a sneer.”
Many GOP politicians, Donovan continued, grasp the true essence of Trump’s most important innovation.
“Trump realized that having the right enemies is perhaps the most important thing to the GOP base,” Donovan told me. These candidates are seeking to “emulate” those tendencies, “even if it’s sort of a pale imitation.”
It remains to be seen how heavy an albatross Trump will prove to be for Republicans. But one thing is clear: Many GOP candidates appear committed to requiring the party to find out.

 

torbee

HR King
Gold Member
But one thing is clear: Many GOP candidates appear committed to requiring the party to find out.

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torbee

HR King
Gold Member
The party needs to move beyond Trump, and in doing so they need to understand that Trump didn't create his followers, he merely discovered them...
There is a small part of me --- like 5% --- that feels a little sorry for establishment Republicans.

They truly are in a lose-lose situation. Trump's nasty, brutish, bullying, fixation on culture war issues is wildly popular with a hardcore 30-40% of the GOP electorate. That cohort is also the most politically active and thus is critical to winning primaries.

Look at principled actual conservatives like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the second you don't go all-in on grievance and cruelty --- you are cast aside.

The GOP has effectively made it impossible for a non-deplorable to win most of their primaries. I predicted in 2020 that Trump would ultimately prove to be the "dead cat bounce" of the GOP and I stand by that prediction.
 

goldmom

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Mar 29, 2002
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He is the gift that keeps on giving for them, for sure.

But you continue to deny and downplay the absolute grip he has on the GOP.
More and more people I know who voted for him (against Hillary and Joe) have said no way Jose in ‘24, but these are not the sad persons who cling to a fantasy.
 

torbee

HR King
Gold Member
More and more people I know who voted for him (against Hillary and Joe) have said no way Jose in ‘24, but these are not the sad persons who cling to a fantasy.
Good for them. And I totally believe it. The problem is, non-Trumpers have a close-to-0 chance at winning Republican primaries in the current climate, thus "Trumpism" as the defining movement in that political party is entrenched and is not going away anytime soon.
 

Rifler

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Jan 26, 2011
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There is a small part of me --- like 5% --- that feels a little sorry for establishment Republicans.

Establishment Republicans aren't the direction anymore either,.. I think the future of the party lies somewhere in the rather large gray area that exists between a Mitt Romney and a Donald Trump....
 
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goldmom

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Establishment Republicans aren't the direction anymore either,.. I think the future of the party lies somewhere in the rather large gray area that exists between a Mitt Romney and a Donald Trump....
I agree with this.
 
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sober_teacher

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Establishment Republicans aren't the direction anymore either,.. I think the future of the party lies somewhere in the rather large gray area that exists between a Mitt Romney and a Donald Trump....

How? If you’re not pro-Trump you’ve put yourself behind the eight-ball to start with.
 
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Jerome Silberman

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Establishment Republicans aren't the direction anymore either,.. I think the future of the party lies somewhere in the rather large gray area that exists between a Mitt Romney and a Donald Trump....
I think the future of the party continues to be about whomever is most adept at scolding democrats and offering up a nicely whitewashed version of the past.

sic semper erat, et sic semper erit
 

Rifler

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How? If you’re not pro-Trump you’ve put yourself behind the eight-ball to start with.

Not necessarily,.. Given a little bit of time it's not going to be so much about Trump as it is the policies. Life goes on and I think Republicans will eventually discover that there are alternate ways to obtain the desired result with less friction.
 
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franklinman

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Establishment Republicans aren't the direction anymore either,.. I think the future of the party lies somewhere in the rather large gray area that exists between a Mitt Romney and a Donald Trump....
Disagree, there is too big of a difference between the two, and would be no agreements.
 
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Rifler

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I think the future of the party continues to be about whomever is most adept at scolding democrats and offering up a nicely whitewashed version of the past. sic semper erat, et sic semper erit

Scolding Democrats will never go out of style...
 
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Rifler

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Disagree, there is too big of a difference between the two, and and would be no agreements.

Not attempting to find agreement between those two,.. I describing a singular individual that exists somewhere in the sweet spot between them...
 

Huey Grey

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Jan 15, 2013
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Don't know,.. I haven't seen that individual yet.
To me it's like trying to mix oil and water. It also spells doom for the Rs that most of the anti Trumper Rs lost their asses in the primaries. Iowa is a good example of the MAGAt infection. Every last candidate is a Trumper. I can't even imagine someone like Romney or Liz even running in Iowa anymore.
 

Uniformed_ReRe

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I’m afraid some of you underestimate the mouth-foaming intensity of Trumpers. They will just claim that the elections were stolen somehow. This could be a serious problem in swing states with GOP-dominated legislatures.
 
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MitchLL

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To me it's like trying to mix oil and water. It also spells doom for the Rs that most of the anti Trumper Rs lost their asses in the primaries. Iowa is a good example of the MAGAt infection. Every last candidate is a Trumper. I can't even imagine someone like Romney or Liz even running in Iowa anymore.
Reynolds is a mini Trump in that she had any House Republican that didn't like her idea of giving wealthy people a voucher so they could send their kids to private schools, primaried.

Iowa is Trump country, pure and simple.

We've become Mississippi North, but even more extreme.
 

runkpanole

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Nov 17, 2002
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More and more people I know who voted for him (against Hillary and Joe) have said no way Jose in ‘24, but these are not the sad persons who cling to a fantasy.
Who in the party dares to run against him?
 

Tfxchawk

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Jun 22, 2021
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Another article telling the republicans they are doomed as they will take the midterms by storm and Desantis is likely our next president.

Democrats created Trumpers to borrow their slur. The deplorables. Those unwashed masses that dare to believe in God and own guns. That shop at Walmart and didn't go to college much to the horror of the elitists in the democratic party.

Unless democrats somehow leave identity politics behind and actually start caring again about the truly downtrodden they are doomed.
 

cigaretteman

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Another article telling the republicans they are doomed as they will take the midterms by storm and Desantis is likely our next president.

Democrats created Trumpers to borrow their slur. The deplorables. Those unwashed masses that dare to believe in God and own guns. That shop at Walmart and didn't go to college much to the horror of the elitists in the democratic party.

Unless democrats somehow leave identity politics behind and actually start caring again about the truly downtrodden they are doomed.
Now that's some high comedy! Well done sir!
 

sober_teacher

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Mar 26, 2007
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Not necessarily,.. Given a little bit of time it's not going to be so much about Trump as it is the policies. Life goes on and I think Republicans will eventually discover that there are alternate ways to obtain the desired result with less friction.

It’s ALWAYS been about Trump, never policies. Trump was always for whatever policy got him the biggest applause line.
 

kc78

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Nov 25, 2002
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Good for them. And I totally believe it. The problem is, non-Trumpers have a close-to-0 chance at winning Republican primaries in the current climate, thus "Trumpism" as the defining movement in that political party is entrenched and is not going away anytime soon.
It seems parties have to keep learning this lesson. Being a moderate party is the way to win at the general elections, but the primary process we have requires that candidates appeal to the fringe to have a shot at the general. This generally means, that in most cases, the absolute worst candidate for the country is put forth on both sides as the one most people would like can't pass the purity tests the partisans require. Generally it only takes losing one major election for the party itself to change direction. The Democrats recognized that and made a conscientious push to get Biden on the ballot as they felt he could gain the support of the partisans while still appealing to moderates. He did that. But the partisans are mad that he's not being far left and so there's a major push for a far left candidate next election.

The Republicans are even more insane though as the party has lost the control over trying to vet the candidates as full on nationalistic populism bred on hatred of those who don't look like their voting group has sprung up with a complete lack of care for democracy, the rule of law, etc... and instead a fear of losing power is pushing for an uprising in authoritarianism blind to any facts or reality at all. The genie is out of the bottle and I don't see how the Republicans can get it back in. At some point either all sensible Republicans are going to realize their party is dead and move to the Democrats or simply be voted out all together leaving Republicans as a party that only appeals to about 30% of the population. They'll then utilize the broken electoral and senate math to try to control the law through any means necessary.

It's a weird and scary time for the country, that's for certain. Politicians have always spun the truth, but I've never seen such a complete disregard for reality and a love of embracing fiction.
 

lucas80

HR King
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Jan 30, 2008
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Bob Ray.

I appreciate him more now then when he was alive.

He's rolling in his grave right now with what Iowa Republicans have become.
Ray was pretty far out there when he welcomed Vietnamese refugees to Iowa. Could you imagine Kim Reynolds doing something similar? God no. She has had the chance and turned her Christian back on those in need.
 

joelbc1

HR King
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Sep 5, 2007
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you can’t always get what you want!
Dems NEED Trump.
Why?
Trump is as useless as a tit on a boar. In a few more years, the GOP will understand this. It is early, but it appears the GOP has really pissed this election down their leg by supporting Trump endorsements in primaries.
Republicans (rank and file) should have listened to McConnell. At least he knows politics.