I started this post a week ago when Virginia Republicans began speaking out against Donald Trump. Much has happened since then culminating with Donald Trump’s announcement Tuesday night that he is a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination (to which National Review editorialized, simply, “No”: Donald Trump 2024 Presidential Run: Unworthy of Republican Nomination).
Ah … Donald Trump. Much of what is unfolding in the Republican Party is due to his presence the past seven years.
After the GOP’s underperformance in last week’s midterm elections, something began breaking in the Commonwealth. Virginia Republicans began speaking publicly against former President Trump.
Seven years after he bashed John McCain for being a POW, mocked a handicapped TV reporter, belittled women’s looks while claiming he could grab them wherever … two years after his 2020 reelection loss, after the violent riot by Trump supporters in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, with threats against elected representatives and the vice president … after his interference in the 2022 midterm elections causing the GOP to gain far less seats than expected … we are now beginning to hear calls for Trump to just go away. Not because of his bullying tactics or lies, but because in 2022 so many Republicans lost races.
The GOP pushed candidates spouting right-wing conspiracy craziness. Americans voted for normalcy.
Over the weekend more congressional races were decided, and it became clear that Democrats held onto their control of the U.S. Senate while Republicans, as expected, gained control of the U.S. House although by a sliver of a margin.
Will Trump criticism gain steam and stick this time? Or will it be similar to the days and weeks after January 6, 2021, when some in the party were critical of Trump but then knuckled under and fell back in line behind him?
Ansley Skipper at The Bulwark noted the trend (Conservatism Inc. Is Breaking Up With Trump. Again.):
Following a disappointing election night, conservative elites have decided to try to break up with Donald Trump. Which is great. Except that they’ve been here before. After Helsinki, after Charlottesville, and after January 6th. None of these other breakups have lasted. There’s no reason to believe that this time will be different.
At least four pieces on National Review’s homepage explicitly pinned Republicans’ underperformance on the Former Guy. They even published an editorial on the subject, writing that “Rarely has an election had simpler and more obvious lessons” than this year’s main takeaway that the GOP needs to move on from Trump.
Read the entire Bulwark piece to get a sense of what has been going on with conservatives couched inside the Republican party.
Here at Bearing Drift we had posts publicly suggesting the best thing for the GOP to do is turn from Trump from former Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling (Bolling: In the 2022 Midterm Elections, Republicans Simply Blew It) and former Virginia Del. Chris Saxman (Saxman: Trump’s Done and It’s Patently Obvious). To be fair, Bill Bolling had been asking questions throughout election season and pointed out the dysfunctional candidates that extreme right-wing Republicans were pushing. He was one of the few speaking publicly, long before many others. Here is the catalog of his past BD publications.
Virginia Republican Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears publicly broke with Trump last Thursday. From the Roanoke Times: Earle-Sears breaks with Trump, saying it is time for the GOP to move on. Republican Del. Tim Anderson, obviously frustrated at the string of GOP losses in recent years, took to Facebook last week to explain why he would not be supporting Trump if he decided to run in 2024. He also blamed State Sen. Amanda Chase, the self-proclaimed Trump in heels, for the 2022 GOP loss in the 7th Congressional District:
Anderson blames Amanda Chase for Yesli Vega’s loss. “I’m very, very good friends with Amanda Chase, I hope we still are after I say what I am about to say.”https://t.co/7j2C0ryPpL
— Brandon Jarvis (@Jaaavis) November 10, 2022
Chase has come out in support of Trump’s 2024 run for the White House. Meanwhile, on Friday Del. Glenn Davis wrote on Facebook: “FACT: Trump did not get Governor of Virginia elected. FACT: Winsome Earle-Sears is right, ‘a true leader understands when they have become a liability.’ FACT: Politicians need to knock it off with the childish middle school name-calling.”
Davis was responding to Trump’s latest childish temper tantrum:
Has Trump fever finally broken in the Virginia GOP and beyond?
In Pennsylvania, some Republicans want to push Trump aside after their losses on Tuesday: Some Pennsylvania Republicans say it’s time for Donald Trump to retire. The Wall Street Journal, notably a conservative publication, lined up with the growing GOP disgust toward the former president with an editorial that called Trump the one thing he doesn’t want to be called: Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser.
Former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan joined in the chorus of protests toward Trump by ending her op-ed (Maybe Republicans Will Finally Learn – WSJ) with this: ” The old saying is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. This is the third kick, after 2018 and 2020. Maybe they will learn now.” In an interview with ABC News over the weekend, former Vice President Mike Pence, hunted by January 6 insurrectionists who chanted, “Hang Mike Pence,” said Trump endangered him and his family (Pence to Muir: Trump’s words on 1/6 ‘endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol’).
Tuesday’s election was a bit of vindication for Rep. Liz Cheney who was shunned by fellow Republicans when she stood with the Constitution after January 6 and was pushed out of her leadership role when Kevin McCarthy and the majority of the House caucus endorsed her opponent. It reinforced that the majority of Americans agree that democracy is important and that they d0 care about January 6 (The quiet vindication of Liz Cheney).
I was once told that people can’t live with chaos for long periods of time; we are overall an optimistic nation. After seven years of chaos, voters are exhausted. On Election Day, the country’s quiet majority went out and voted for normalcy and democracy.
As defections continue between MAGA and the rest of the GOP, if indeed they do continue, will there be outright war between the factions? Who else may join the chorus of those ready to see Trump exit the stage? And will Trump continue to hemorrhage donors and support as we’ve already seen?
Check out UVa Center for Politics’ after-election analysis from Louis Jacobson with a look up and down the ballot nationwide: What Happened in the States – Sabato’s Crystal Ball (centerforpolitics.org).
-Virginia Mercury (Graham Moomaw): Why a firebrand Virginia Republican says it’s time to divorce Trump.
-Associated Press: Virginia Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears: ‘Time to move on’ from Trump
-Peggy Noonan: Maybe Republicans Will Finally Learn
-New York Magazine: The GOP Revolt Against Trump Is More Serious Than You Think
-Politico: The GOP case against Trump 2024
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