Hamilton Journal News

Trump’s GOP takeover may be disastrous for America

- Robert Reich Robert Reich is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Mary Sanchez returns soon.

Donald Trump formally anointed himself head of the Republican Party at Sunday’s Conservati­ve Political Action Conference.

The Grand Old Party, founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, is now dead. What’s left is a dwindling number of elected officials who have stood up to Trump but are now being purged. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s popularity has dropped 29 points among Kentucky Republican­s since he broke with Trump.

In its place is the Trump Party, whose major goal is to advance Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Its agenda is to exact vengeance on Republican­s who didn’t or won’t support the lie or who voted to impeach or convict Trump for inciting the violence that the lie generated, and to keep attention on his grievances.

As the Trump Party takes over the GOP, anti-Trump Republican­s are abandoning the party in droves — thereby weakening it for general elections while simultaneo­usly strengthen­ing Trump’s hand inside it.

It’s great news for Democrats and Joe Biden.

Democrats couldn’t hope for a more perfect foil — a defeated one-term president who never cracked 47% of the popular vote, left office with just 39% approval and is now hovering at an abysmal 34%, whom most Americans dislike or loathe, and a majority believe incited an insurrecti­on against the United States.

The gift will keep giving. Courtesy of the Supreme Court, Trump’s tax returns will soon be raked across America like barnyard manure. Expect more of his shady business dealings to be exposed — more payoffs, cheats and cons — as well as civil and criminal prosecutio­ns.

The Trump Party isn’t interested in appealing to the nation as a whole, anyway. It’s interested only in appealing to Trump and the base that worships him.

Biden is in the enviable position of getting most of America behind his agenda — and he can do so without a single Republican vote if Senate Democrats end the filibuster.

Democrats have proven themselves capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But if they and Biden use this opportunit­y as they should, by this time next year COVID19 will be a tragic memory, and the nation will be in the midst of a strong economic recovery propelling it toward full employment and rising wages. With the GOP in disarray and rabid Trumpism turning off ever more voters, the 2022 midterm elections could swell Democratic majorities in Congress. But the emergence of the Trump Party is deeply worrisome for America. It is a dangerous, deluded, authoritar­ian and potentiall­y violent faction that has no responsibl­e role in a democracy.

Its Big Lie enables supporters of the former president to believe their efforts to overturn the 2020 election were necessary to protect American democracy, and that they must continue to fight a “deep state” conspiracy to thwart Trump. This is an open invitation to violence.

The Big Lie also justifies Trump Party efforts to suppress votes considered “fraudulent.” In 33 states, Trump lawmakers are already pushing more than 165 bills intended to stop mail-in voting, increase voter ID requiremen­ts, make it harder to register to vote, and expand purges of voter rolls.

Plus, there’s the small possibilit­y Trump will run again in 2024 and win.

What’s good for Biden and the Democrats in the short run is potentiall­y disastrous for America over the longer term. One of its two major parties is centered on a Big Lie that threatens to blow up the nation, figurative­ly if not literally.

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