For decades, Republicans have been fighting each other as those on the right go further and further to the right. Dozens of prominent elected and formerly elected Republicans have left the party. Now that President Donald Trump has been voted out, some Republicans are hoping that it'll be Democrats' turn to destroy each other from inside the party.
A New York Times report on the destruction of the GOP as Trump abandons them along with the country cited some Republicans hoping for an upside to the Trump exit.
"When Trump is no longer in office there's going to be less focus on personality and 'What did he tweet today, what did he say today?'" the Times quoted Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), "adding, hopefully, that Democrats would soon struggle with internal divisions in a 'Tea Party moment' akin to what Republicans faced a decade ago."
Democrats typically fight each other from the party's progressive wing to the more conservative, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading the former of the two. One significant difference between the two parties is that President-elect Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are long-time friends and allies. Many Republicans, Cornyn evidently among them, don't like Trump and are sick of his dominance over their party.
Another problem with Cornyn's logic stems from his presumption that when Trump is no longer in office that he will disappear. Trump is furious about what he feels is an election he was entitled to. Any Republican who denies that or abandons him will likely draw the wrath of his Twitter trigger-fingers. Firing off a career-ending tweet isn't unheard of from this president, in fact, it's a prowess that he brags about.
Trump says he only "destroys careers" of anti-Trump Republicans because "they said bad things about me." pic.twitter.com/Hj5XGaKx9N
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 4, 2018
While some Republicans think that "the president's departure might allow [them] to return to some of the themes that proved effective in down-ballot races last month, while also depriving Democrats of their most dependable boogeyman. In that rosy vision, lawmakers might step gingerly in public to avoid Mr. Trump's wrath but otherwise go about their business, assuming Mr. Trump's focus will never linger on one matter for long, while they elevate the perceived excesses of the left."
"Our problem is tone, their problem is policy," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who spent years schmoozing with the president. "We've both got to overcome problems, but I like our chances better because we can act better and it's harder for them to legislate differently."
To Graham's point, the GOP tax cut that failed, again, to make "trickle-down economics" work is still unpopular, according to a 2010 Monmouth University poll showing 34 percent approve and 43 percent disapprove of the law. It doesn't appear they can do much to change their legislation either. The obstructionism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was so overwhelming that he openly bragged about being the "Grim Reaper of legislation." Given Biden campaigned on bringing people together, if McConnell tries to pull what he did with former President Barack Obama, it might not work a second time, particularly after a massive economic catastrophe and global pandemic.
The other thing Cornyn gets wrong is that he anticipates Trump will disappear to his Florida resort and play golf all day. It's never going to happen. Trump is already pondering starting his own media empire to compete with Fox News. It has already become clear that Trumpism has taken hold in the GOP and that group of Republicans isn't going to suddenly sit down and shut up. A whopping 126 of elected Republican House members signed onto the Texas lawsuit demanding the Supreme Court overturn the election.
"He will become that much more influential," said Trump voter Lisa Moreno, from Fresno. "Because he's not going to be under the constraints of politics anymore."
She explained that loyalty to Trump goes far beyond what Democrats realize.
"They're not just following a candidate," she said. "They're following someone that gave them a voice."
Trying to take that voice in the GOP away could end badly for the party.