No, the GOP has not finally 'seen the light' on MAGA — 'Everybody wants to be on President Trump’s bandwagon'
If you’ve been on the internet longer than you should be, you’ve heard of RickRolling. So you know that the gist of this “joke” is that instead of sending you toward the thing you’re trying to find, a link sends you to the video of Rick Astley’s debut hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
By clicking on this article, you’ve been RickRolled.
RickRolling isn’t particularly funny. Still, it is harmless, and it becomes a bit funnier each time it happens to you – or someone you know.
You can’t say this is true of its nauseating and far more dangerous cousin, which I call “Dickrolling.”
Dickrolling is anything that tickles the titillating yet specious notion that the Republican Party has finally seen “the light” and is about to abandon Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, we were Dickrolled so often that it could qualify as a prostate exam.
There was the time Trump insulted John McCain’s service. Or when Trump lost Iowa and claimed fraud. Or how about when Ted Cruz refused to endorse Trump at the GOP convention. Or when the “Access Hollywood” video came out and RNC chair Reince Priebus allegedly told the GOP nominee he should “drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.”
You barely remember these “Trump’s finished now!” moments.
The biggest Dickroll came after the J6 insurrection when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the ex-president was “practically and morally responsible” for the attack on the Capitol that ended America’s tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Of course, McConnell had just voted to acquit the ex-president of all impeachment charges for the second time.
We are now in another moment of immense Dickrolling. Again the GOP may be wresting away its soul from the parasite who took over the party and became its host.
Trump’s accountants have finally abandoned him, insisting that the financial statements the firm put together from 2011 to 2020, or the bulk of Trump’s career in Republican politics, "should no longer be relied upon.”
Meanwhile, McConnell is doing his best to keep more Trump allies out of the Senate. Republican voters have rejected the claim that Mike Pence should have “overturned” the 2020 election, as Trump insisted. And “tensions” are allegedly at a “boil” within the Republican Party over Trump’s multi-level marketing-style fundraising appeals.
In general, Trump’s legal woes continue to engorge in multiple ways that would doom anyone who doesn’t have the resources and non-existent conscience of a guy who has been a millionaire since age 8 thanks to tax fraud.
And if you buy that any of this has lessened Trump’s grip on the GOP, congratulations.
You’ve been Dickrolled.
Republicans have long been willing to express their concerns about Trump anonymously and you’ll notice that all of the most pointed quotes from Politico’s recent piece “GOP senators steer clear of Trump as rift deepens” were from unnamed sources.
This cowardly posturing betrays a clear fact.
The GOP needs Trump more than he needs the GOP.
This isn’t theoretical.
Unlike his more than 30,000 lies as president, Trump’s iron grip on the GOP has been proven again and again.
“I’m done,” Trump reportedly told Republican National Committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel, on his last day in office. “I’m starting my own party.”
And McDaniel – who reportedly stopped using her maiden name “Romney” in early 2017, because it bugged Trump – promptly caved.
The GOP is now paying millions for Trump’s legal bills and Republicans, including Mike Pence, who was targeted by rioters for a possible lynching on J6, are insisting that the events that led to the insurrection were “legitimate poltical discourse.”
Trump’s successful threat at the absolute nadir of his power echoes his abandoning of a pledge to back the Republican nominee at the first 2016 GOP presidential primary debate.
In effect, Trump’s position has never changed. Bend or I’ll break you.
The GOP has bent so often its spine is now a hinge.
You could argue that there’s a boastfulness here that Trump hopes is self-fulfilling. Like any adherent of How to Win Friends & Influence People, Trump is always aiming to will his desires into reality.
But the man who pretends to have written The Art of the Deal seems to have a better understanding of America’s political landscape than many commentators.
Trump’s support is different from what typical Republicans enjoy, a 2021 study confirmed.
Republicans just like Trump. And Republicans also like generic Republicans like McConnell and Paul Ryan.
“However, for Trump himself, and Trump alone, the other thing that predicted whether they would like him was that they disliked Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics and L.G.B.T.Q. Americans,” Lilliana Mason, a John Hopkins political scientist who co-authored the study, explained. “Any mix of those, but largely all of them.”
Unfortunately, the people who share this dislike of these minority groups are not all Republicans.
Trump’s explicit antagonism toward minorities actually expands the GOP base. This helps make the GOP more competitive in key states they’ve generally lost as they’ve lost the popular vote in presidential elections 88 percent of the time since 1992.
Any Republican who wants to hold the presidency cannot risk alienating Trump’s faction. Any Republican who wants to be president is desperate for their support.
And McConnell knows the Republican caucus in the US Senate is overflowing with dudes who want to be president.
That’s why the “old crow” is trying to bring in less Trumpy Senators into the body as he aims to take back the majority – not because he has any significant policy differences from Trump, but because he knows Trump will pressure the presidential wannabes to vote against him as majority leader.
He knows shameless cowards like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, for instance, will always back Trump.
McConnell just wants his power back, with a vote or two to spare. Believe him when he says he’ll “absolutely” back Trump in 2024.
So will the entire GOP.
"I think everybody wants to be on President Trump's bandwagon, without any question,” Senator Tim Scott said last Sunday when asked if he’d consider being Trump’s running mate.
There is no national GOP without Trump’s faction.
So counting on the GOP’s non-existent immune system or our “justice system,” which should have stopped this corrupt clown decades ago, to contain his lust for destroying our democracy is just a Dickroll.
Defeating Trump and the party that he’s consumed at the polls is, tragically, our only hope for a peaceful end to this ridiculous crisis.
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