The GOP will continue to follow Trump's lead - even if it's over a cliff
Donald Trump is sitting like a ranting toad at the center of the reasons Republicans can’t or won’t admit how badly they lost the House or do anything to fix it next time around. Since Trump refuses to admit that the loss had anything to do with him and is blaming individual Republicans for their own losses, leaders of his party can’t say anything without risking him directing his rage at them. And Trump is still popular with the Republican base—which is about all that’s left of their voters at this point. So don’t expect a reckoningany time soon.
The only Republicans willing to be blunt are the ones who are leaving:
“Now the party is Trump,” said Representative Tom Rooney of Florida, who at 48 decided to retire, “so we follow his lead.”
Or as Representative Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, who is also retiring, put it: “It’s clear to me why we lost 40 seats; it was a referendum on the president, but that’s an extremely difficult proclamation for people to make because if they were to say that they’d get the wrath of the president.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans have been busily marginalizing some of the 13 entire women they have left in their caucus, with one being passed over to lead the National Republican Congressional Committee, one losing her spot on the steering committee to a man, and one nearly losing the ranking member spot on a committee to a more junior man.
It’s not just that truth-tellers are likely to face the wrath of Trump, though. It’s that thanks to Trump whittling the party down to its most extreme base, the Republicans who were elected are heavily Trumpist—“Where they stand is how they see the world,” as retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said. “And the world is not their congressional district. But that’s who’s left. So they’re all dug in. I don’t expect many changes.”
Then again, the Republican pronouncements after 2012 that next time they would be more appealing to a diverse range of voters never came to anything, so maybe the effects of Republicans saying they’re going to change and Republicans saying they have no reason to change are the same.