Against overwhelming evidence that the 2020 Presidential election was fairly won by Biden, Trump has loudly proclaimed that he won the election, and supported by right wing media, about 70% of Republicans believe him. Even more troubling, a majority of Republican candidates in the Midterm elections are election deniers, including many who are virtually certain to win election. What are the consequences when these persons and the most radical elements of the Republican Party, such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene who has openly defended white supremacist and extremist conspiracy theories, get into positions of power with Trump’s full support?
Donald Trump is not on the ballot in the US Midterm Election on November 8, 2022, but he is very present in this election cycle. Through the process of Republican primaries to select candidates for the Midterms, Trump has proven beyond any doubt he controls the Republican Party, his endorsements have led to primary wins in 92 percent of the primaries. How can we explain his popularity with Republicans? Trump has delivered for his constituency, not economically but in terms of identity politics and the most important issue for many: abortion. He got three ultra-conservatives onto the Supreme Court leading to overturning of women’s right to abortion, so he has delivered spectacularly for them, beyond their wildest expectations, they accept his personal moral weaknesses and develop an almost cult-like personal allegiance to him, follow his leadership, vote for his chosen candidates, accept his demonizing the Democrats.
And the leaders of the Republican Party don’t dare oppose him.
Mitch McConnell, the powerful Senate Minority leader, said after the January 6. 2021 insurrection at the US Capital that Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” and allegedly said “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is”, and the House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy was reputed to have angrily confronted Trump in a phone call during the January 6 riot. Yet both voted against impeaching or convicting Trump, and McCarthy has actively defend Trump’s actions on January 6, rebuilding his relationship with Trump presumably to insure he will become House Majority Leader in the likely event the Republicans gain control of the House in the Midterm election.
The only Republican leader who has remained openly critical of Trump is Liz Cheney, who has paid for her resistance by being first removed from her position as number 3 in the Republican hierarchy in the House, and subsequently losing her Primary election to a Trump-supported opponent.
Trump has eliminated all Republican opposition to his control of the Party.
Bitter partisanship is not new to American politics, but Trump is the first losing candidate in a US presidential election to not accept the election results. The Republican Party, traditionally one of two rival parties working within the system, has become the Trump Party, standing against the very political process that has allowed US democracy to function for 250 years. Is this a minor deviation in the path of American democracy, that will right itself in due course when Trump is gone from the scene, or is this a harbinger of a profound weakening of the US democratic process, with major and as yet unknown consequences?
Only time will tell.