Op/Ed

Editorial: Is Trump the face of the GOP’s decline or its hope?

ANGELO LYNN

Even if you somehow like the man, it doesn’t change these facts: Trump’s a tax cheat, a sore loser, a habitual liar, a thief of presidential records who refuses to return them to the government and a defeated candidate who sought to overthrow a newly elected president. He is also the perpetrator of the fraudulent lie that the election was stolen and who used that lie to dupe GOP donors out of tens of millions of dollars.  And now it appears he will possibly be charged with criminal counts in his calls for supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

To add another layer of absurdity to Trump’s troubled legacy, his recent meeting with a known White Supremacy leader, and his comments that the Constitution should be set aside to get him reinstated as president are not only looney but show his impulse as a would-be tyrant is much stronger than as a leader of a democracy governed by laws.

And yet, in the face of such recriminating facts, he still has millions of Republican supporters. That continued support is what is so astounding. 

Nothing in the first paragraph of this commentary should surprise any American who had studied Trump’s past and his personality. He is a flawed man, a flawed businessman, and a narcissistic con-artist as a politician.

What will it take, Trump critics wonder, to get conservative Republicans to snap out of the cultist adoration they have for him?

One might think that being branded a loser, and a costly drain on the Republican Party, might do the trick. 

With Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock’s convincing win over Republican Herschel Walker in Tuesday’s run-off election in Georgia, Trump once again is tagged with leading his party to an unprecedented poor showing in the mid-term elections.

But will it matter? Will he lose his luster to those supporters who refuse to let harsh facts about the man blemish his image and their previously unshakable support?

The answer will determine how badly the party is fractured going into the 2024 elections. If he remains in the race into the first presidential primaries, Republicans will see seismic disruptions in that election. If Trump loses the primary, he’s unlikely to lose nicely, nor will his supporters be of a mind to support the nominee. If he wins, he drags the party even further into the muck. Either way, the party could face significant congressional losses.

The best-case scenario for the GOP is to have Trump pull out ahead of the presidential primaries, but at this early stage that doesn’t seem likely. Because Trump and his organization are facing criminal indictments, his position as a political candidate gives him a platform to challenge “the unfairness” of what he has long called a “witch hunt.” Take that platform away, and Trump is a corrupt billionaire without the support of the conservative press (waning though it is), his legion of fans, and rightwing collaborators like Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson who perpetrate his lies.

That support is why he stays in the race as long as he can, even if it leads to a more significant unraveling of the GOP.

Angelo Lynn

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