My latest piece in Politico looks at the exodus of sane, decent, and principled GOPers from the party.
Let’s put that trend in context. Earlier this year, FiveThirtyEight documented the scope of the self-purges: “Congressional Republicans Left Office In Droves Under Trump.”
Which brings us back to Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s decision last week to retire after just two terms rather than fight a Trump-backed primary challenger. He didn’t quit because he feared he couldn’t win, he told reporters, but because it simply just wasn’t worth it anymore.
“You could fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy?” he asked. “And the answer is, probably not.”
This was the key to his decision to self-purge: He could spend a year fighting off merde-slinging deplorables, only to win another two years sitting in a caucus next to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Paul Gosar (R- Ariz.) and the other avatars of Trumpism.
Defeat, even before a single vote is cast, might have been disappointing. It might even look to some like a conspicuous lack of competitive mettle. But that assumes the outcome is in doubt — which it isn’t. The Republican Party is already lost. And victory meant two more years trapped in a hellscape of crazified school board meetings, Trump rallies, My Pillow Guy insanity, Newsmax and Fox News hits, and a caucus run by Kevin McCarthy, a man without any principle beyond the acquisition of power.
So Gonzalez decided to become the latest Republican to walk away from it all.
Trump gloated, attributing Gonzalez’s fall to his “ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting President of the United States, me.”
But the young congressman’s decision also highlighted once again the transformation of the GOP. The party is okay with members who dabble in white nationalism, peddle conspiracy theories and foment acts of political violence. Neither bigotry nor nihilism is disqualifying.
The one unforgivable sin, however, is telling the truth about the 2020 election.
By and large, GOP officeholders have internalized that message; they know that defying or even questioning Trump’s most bizarre claims is political suicide.
Trump has already made dozens of endorsements in down-ballot races against Republican officials who refused to back his claims of election fraud, not to mention the 10 members of Congress who actually voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The result is a Trump-led purge of dissidents, but the bigger story — and the one with longer-term implications — may be the self-deportation of the sane, the decent and the principled, who simply opt to leave on their own.
Their political emigration is profoundly changing the face of the GOP, and it is happening at every level of politics, from local school boards to the United States Senate. Whatever the result of next year’s elections, the GOP that remains will be meaner, dumber, crazier and more beholden than ever to the defeated, twice-impeached former president.
You can read the rest here.
They knew all along.
Remember that crazy Trump campaign post-election press conference where Rudy and Sidney & Co. floated bizarre conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines?