- The longer the GOP holds on to Trump, the longer he will be able to damage to our democracy.
- Yes he wins elections for the party, but he also refuses to lose them. Plus Trump's main tools for staying in power are mendacity, corruption and grievance politics.
- Eventually the GOP will have to decide if it will allow him to retain influence within its ranks, supporting candidates who owe their loyalty to him and follow the tenets of Trumpism.
- In the meantime Trump will continue poisoning our democracy, spreading lies that erode trust in our system, and making millions of Americans feel like this isn't the country they know.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
It has been just over a week since news networks across the political spectrum called the presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden. Since then President Donald Trump and his campaign — despite never admitting it — have been handed defeat after defeat.
On Friday, a judge threw out the Trump campaign's third attempt to delay the certification of the election results in Michigan — where the president lost by more than 140,000 votes. Around the same time the campaign pulled out of a lawsuit in Arizona, which has also been called for Biden. In Pennsylvania, a law firm representing the president's campaign withdrew from a lawsuit challenging his loss in that state, where Biden beat Trump by over 50,000 votes.
The transcripts of the Trump campaign's appearances in various state courts — which are very clearly annoying judges in courts across the country — would be funny if they weren't such a waste of time and if Trump's attack on democracy weren't so hazardous. He has no path to reclaim the presidency.
And yet, high-ranking Republicans in Congress and the administration are going along with Trump's delusional attempts to stay in power. And the only reason the Republican establishment won't break with the president's fantasy is because they are addicted to Trumpism and the way it turns out voters. Winning is a high.
This addiction puts the entire country in a precarious situation. As long as the GOP relies on Trumpism to win elections it will be anti-democratic leech on our system, draining it of trust and poisoning our political discourse.
Consider the damage he is doing now. Despite the fact that election officials from both parties across the country keep saying this election was fair, Trump keeps casting doubt on the electoral process and his followers believe him.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll 20% of Americans believe the election was stolen. A Morning Consult poll found that 70% of Republicans believe the election was unfair. Those are all people who will be more willing to follow another demagogue politician like Trump — a man who claimed he alone "could fix it," the "it" being our broken democracy.
'Like a wolf by the ears'
Of course, we knew Trump and his family would be willing to burn it all down before conceding that he lost. What's pathetic is that his party is willing to join the Trumps in perpetuating these lies, even though Republican leaders know better. They know that our political system is built on trust in it and in each other.
"What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change," one senior GOP official told the Washington Post. This is a disastrously short-sighted comment from a member of a disastrously short-sighted party.
Yes, fomenting grievance about a "stolen" election may turn out voters in the two Senate special elections in Georgia set for January. But it will also make it difficult — if not impossible — for Congress to pass a coronavirus aid bill before Biden takes office. It will anger Democrats and make it harder for them to talk to their families over the holidays and in the weeks, months, years after this election. It will further cement the GOP as a nakedly anti-democratic party before the country and the entire world.
And do not get it twisted: Trump has no loyalties and nothing is ever his fault, so he will eventually find a way to blame his loss on the GOP apparatus. There's no amount of boot licking the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham can do in the next 60-odd days to avoid his derision once he's forced to accept that loss. They should know that. He will hold this grudge, and he will exercise it whenever he has a chance — and for as long as he legitimacy in the eyes of his supporters he will have many chances.
Trump already started undermining his so-called allies. Over at the New York Times Maggie Haberman reports that he is already talking about running in 2024. It's a way to keep money flowing into his very-indebted pockets, and it's a way to ensure the crowded field of would-be Republican candidates is brought to heel. It's mean, it's selfish, and it's what Trump will keep doing to his own party for as long as they give him the power to do so.
That would mean, however, the GOP would have to stop using his following to turn up votes. For a party that has for years been focused on power for power's sake that is perhaps too hard to surrender. Trump has the leadership of this weak, venal Republican Party like a wolf by the ears, holding on could destroy you, but letting go is dangerous too.
Now that he has been voted out of the White House it is the GOP that will decide if Trump will continue dividing the country into white and non-white, Republican and Democrat, urban versus rural. In the meantime 80 million Americans will wait for the Republican Party to admit it has a problem. That's the first step to recovery.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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