Trump has been voted out of office. But he could win again. And even if he doesn’t, he’s poisoning the political climate and making rational debate impossible.
Spoiling the mood and poisoning the climate: Donald Trump Photo: John Minchillo/ap
If the current state of the power struggle among US Republicans* is more than a brief snapshot, then the "Grand Old Party" is indeed unsalvageable. Donald Trump, who became the candidate from the outside in 2016 with the reputation of being a good entertainer and shady businessman, has destroyed the party at a speed that some warned about but few anticipated.
He has deftly played on all the movements that have already increasingly defined the party since at least the mid-1990s, turning it into an electoral club of autocratic right-wing populism with an openness to the extreme right. Or, as Trump’s son put it at that fateful rally on the morning of January 6: "This is Trump’s Republican Party!"
The lie of the elections supposedly lost only through fraud is central to this: even in his latest message, Trump presents himself as the one who brought the Republicans electoral victories never seen before, and his supporters believe him. In reality, he is the first president in 30 years not to be re-elected, and in just four years to lose both chambers of Congress and the White House – even though it took an incredible mobilization on the part of the Democrats that they will find difficult to repeat from the White House.
This is another reason why secret or open gloating about the fact that the Republicans are not now getting rid of the loser Trump is not appropriate: He could win again. And even if he is not in power, he is poisoning the political climate and making rational public debate impossible. Trump’s broadsides from Mar-a-Lago against all reasonably sane Republican legislators make bipartisanship impossible, and that prevents reform. The new president, Joe Biden, has a guaranteed congressional majority for only two years. That is likely to be too short.