GOP divisions delight discouraged Democrats

Photo illustration of Donald Trump, who is slightly faded and red-tinted and behind Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who are grayscaled
Valerie Morris/Greg Nash/Getty/iStock

The great Republican divide is getting deeper and darker every day — and former President Trump is doing his best to sink the GOP.

In 2016, Trump led his party to the White House. But in 2018, his two-year tenure cost the GOP control of the U.S. House of Representatives. He completed the terrible trifecta in 2020 when his failed presidency cost Republicans the White House and the Senate. 

GOP divisions delight Democrats discouraged about their prospects in the midterm elections. Republicans have an opportunity to reclaim the House and Senate in 2022 and the White House in 2024. The big question is whether Trump’s antics will kill the party’s chances of taking back everything he fumbled away during his reign.

The recent Republican setbacks go back to that dark day on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump’s refusal to graciously accept defeat incited right-wing terrorists to attack the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump is the straw that stirs the poison drink that could sink the GOP. The abortive Capitol insurrection led to the creation of the House Select Committee that is currently investigating the assault on the peoples’ house. At a rally last month in Texas, he suggested that he might pardon members of the mob that invaded the Capitol if he won reelection.

Last week, the chasms that Trump created led to open warfare within the GOP. Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence rejected his running mate’s assertion that he had the constitutional power to nullify the congressional ratification of the Biden victory. The “Hang Pence” signs and chants from the Capitol attack were a symbol of the growing discord in the party.

If Trump’s treasonous behavior wasn’t divisive enough, the Republican National Committee (RNC) drove a wedge through the party last week when it censured the two GOP members of the House select committee, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) for serving on the panel that is working to seek the truth behind the involvement of Trump and his cronies in the insurrection that almost killed democracy in America.

The RNC’s statement described the Capitol attack as “legitimate political discourse.” The RNC failed to mention that the so-called discourse led to the deaths of seven people and injuries to hundreds of others. 

The RNC’s action exposed the rift within the Republican ranks between hardcore Trump acolytes and members of the anti-riot caucus. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the attack “was a violent political insurrection.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), whose niece, Ronna McDaniel is the RNC chair described the committee’s actions as “stupid.”   

Republicans who toed the Trump line while he was president are getting braver, now that the party faithful are disassociating from the former president.

A national poll conducted last month for NBC News demonstrates the growing chasm between rank-and-file Republicans and Trump. Back in October 2020, more than half of Republicans identified themselves more as Trump supporters while only one-third described themselves as Republicans. Now, there are more rank-and-file Republicans who are attached to their party rather than to their standard-bearer.

The party faithful have already moved away, which puts pressure on Republican leaders to fish or cut bait on Trump before the midterm elections. But the former president’s outsized ego compels him to act out against any GOP officials who disowns him, even if it means destroying the party. That means plenty of internal party conflict at a time when unity is vital to take back control of Congress.

The media has focused for a long time on the division among Democrats, between the pragmatists and progressives in the party. Now, Republicans will get their turn to squirm under the red hot spotlight as Trump and followers go to war against the rest of the party. 

The excrement will really ramp up as the House select committee shares its findings about the details of Trump’s involvement in the Capitol insurrection. Republicans who defend his actions, do so at their own peril. 

Then once the midterms are over, the 2024 presidential campaign will begin in earnest, when Trump likely to emerge from his Mara-a- Lago hideaway to mount his presidential campaign — and drive another stake deep though the heart of the Republican Party.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon

Tags Adam Kinzinger Brad Bannon campaign Democrats Donald Trump Joe Biden Liz Cheney midterms Mike Pence Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Republican Party RNC Ronna McDaniel Trump voters White House

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