'The party's over': GOP strategist warns that 'good Republicans' can’t defeat 'lunatics' in 2022’s GOP
Although Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska isn’t a full-fledged Never Trumper like the Washington Post’s Max Boot, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, attorney George Conway or former GOP strategist Rick Wilson, the conservative senator has been highly critical of former President Donald Trump at times and voted “guilty” during Trump’s second impeachment trial — a move that has resulted in Sasse being labeled a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by Trump and other far-right MAGA Republicans. Sasse has decided he would rather be in academia than politics, applying for a position as president of the University of Florida.
Sasse is the sole finalist for the position, and his departure from the U.S. Senate is almost certain. GOP strategist and Never Trump conservative Sarah Longwell is sorry to see Sasse leaving politics, although not surprised. In an article published by The Bulwark on October 17, the founder of the Republican Accountability Project (formerly Republican Voters Against Trump) laments that in the GOP of 2022, there is little or no room for those who are not far-right MAGA extremists and total devotees of Trumpism.
“Ben Sasse is retiring from the Senate at the youthful age of 50,” Longwell writes. “We know why. Politicians who thought they could wait out Trump now see the writing on the wall. The party’s over. For years, we watched the GOP defenestrations: Will Hurd, Jeff Flake, George W. Bush, the memory of John McCain, Paul Ryan, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and any other Republican who stood up to Donald Trump — or even just opposed Trump’s attempted coup. Some fell on their swords. Some were tossed aside involuntarily. The result was the same.”
READ MORE:Why Ben Sasse garners hostility from both Trump loyalists and liberals in academia
Trump continues, “Simultaneously, we watched the progress on the other side of the spectrum as normie Republican moderates such as Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy, Elise Stefanik, Ronna Romney McDaniel, and J.D. Vance became unquestioning Trump maximalists. What these two dynamics proved was a simple fact: In the Republican Party as it is currently constituted, political power emanates completely and totally from Donald Trump…. The end result of this truth is that it has driven the Good Republican — that rare animal who was supposed to be the post-Trump future of the GOP — to near extinction.”
Longwell adds that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “not a Good Republican,” but rather, a “despicable human being” and “a performative culture warrior who uses the levers of government against companies who engage in speech he doesn’t like.”
The Never Trumper cites Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey as examples of Republicans who weren’t Big Lie promoters after the 2020 election but are now “stumping” for Kari Lake — an “election-denying lunatic” and far-right Big Lie promoter — in Arizona’s gubernatorial race because they want to remain “in good standing” with their party.
“To be a Republican in good standing today,” Longwell laments, “you have to make a devil’s bargain…. Did Glenn Youngkin move Republican voters? Or did Republican voters move Glenn Youngkin? Ask Kari Lake. She knows. And that’s the choice for the remaining Good Republicans. You can play ball with the base, with Trump, with (Steve) Bannon, with Lake, with your new lunatic colleagues. Or, like Ben Sasse, you can tap out. Either way, you can’t ignore the truth: The Good Republicans are gone. Probably for good.”
READ MORE: 'Are they out of their minds?’: Former Reagan staffer slams WSJ for overlooking Kari Lake’s 'extremism'
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