The impeachment trial of Donald Trump is about so much more than his guilt or innocence. It is about the future of the Republican Party. Will it remain beholden to one man or will Senators convict the former president and prohibit him from ever holding the office again? Banned from social media, he seems so much smaller without his bully pulpit. But make no mistake, he behaving like an autocrat in exile, threatening a revenge tour to campaign against those who didn’t support him. He only has power because of the possibility that he could be elected again. The message is clear: support Trump of else.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) made this chilling reminder last week, “The party is his (Trump’s); it doesn’t belong to anybody else.”
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former Republican himself, addressed Greene’s statement (watch above) saying:
Isn’t that what we Conservatives always bristled at what we heard people say that about Fidel Castro in Cuba when we read in history books about Stalin, the party was Stalin’s and Stalin’s alone. Isn’t that what we were concerned about with Chairman Mao that there was no party without Chairman Mao, it was what Chairman Mao said it was. Just like the communist party in Cuba was, what Fidel Castro said it was. If it was murdering Catholics, it was murdering Catholics. If it was shutting down newspaper and jailing people because they dare to speak freely, that’s what Fidel Castro would do. If it was shooting down planes, cessnas, then that’s what he would do. And so now to hear this coming from a member of Congress, no matter who the member of Congress is, it sounds very ominous that the party is Donald Trump and Donald Trump is whatever Donald Trump says the party is. This is tyrannical thinking.
A couple of prominent Republicans are also speaking out about this Trump party mentality. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) said, “I still believe (as you used to) that politics is not about the weird worship of one dude.” And Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said Trump“does not have a role as the leader of our party going forward.”
Reuters also recently cited Jimmy Gurulé, who was a Treasury undersecretary in the Bush administration as saying, “The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I’d call it the cult of Trump.” Gurulé was among sixty or more former officials reportedly leaving the party.
Unfortunately, though that group may be in the minority, at least as far as Republicans are concerned. A new poll from The Hill/Harris X finds a majority of GOP voters would join Trump if he were to start a new political party:
Sixty-four percent of registered Republican voters in the Jan. 28-29 survey said they’d join a new political party led by the former president, including 32 percent who said they would very likely join.
By contrast, 36 percent of Republican respondents said they are either very or somewhat unlikely to join.
On Monday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) weighed in:
“I think we’re in a place where Donald Trump is gone — and in terms of his role in party, that has yet to be determined. But I have not embraced the party of Donald Trump. I’m looking for the Republican Party.”
She may find it hard to find that party, especially as we face Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. Yahoo quotes Trump spokesperson Jason Miller as saying this is essentially a test for the party:
He warned Republicans that if they vote to convict Trump, he could gear up plans to start a third party and tear apart the GOP.
“There hasn’t been any active planning for a third party and it will remain that way,” said Miller. “The only way it could become more serious is if Republican senators were to vote to convict President Trump.