- Lily Meckel
Republicans sticking by Trump: was it worth it?
Written by Lily Meckel
Senator Ted Cruz, one of President Trump's biggest defenders, received just 3% in a poll of likely 2024 Republican candidates.
As Trumpism suffered its defeat in the 2020 US presidential elections after having ravished US politics for the past five years, much of the world sighed a breath of relief: it was finally over. One would have thought that after spreading lies, the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially the Capitol Hill insurrection, Republicans and their supporters would have finally come to the realization that Donald Trump is a danger to America and its values. Yet, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, over 50% of Republicans would support former President Trump as the Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential elections. Additionally, many Republicans, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, have continued to defend Trump beyond his election loss by challenging the Electoral College certification before and even after the insurrection, and acquitting Trump in the second impeachment trial. Yet neither scored high in the polls for the GOP nomination. This leads to the question: was it worth it for Republicans to stick with Trump? The answer is abundantly clear: no, it wasn’t.
It is undeniable that all political parties and politicians deal with some sort of corruption and desire to get to and stay in power. Yet the Republican party, in particular, has exposed its spinelessness with the emergence of Donald Trump. When Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican primary elections, many Republicans at the time opposed him as a potential candidate, including many who ended up enabling his actions during his presidency. His popularity ended up dramatically changing the Republican party’s views on him, going as far as to support his every action during his presidency and being complicit in some of the most serious attacks on US democracy. They acquitted him from being impeached twice for soliciting foreign interference in US elections and for inciting a riot, were complicit in voter suppression and spreading false information, and contested the presidential election results. They also approved both of Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominees, one of which, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, was accused of sexual assault. The other, Judge Amy Coney Barret, was confirmed in a rush, days before the presidential elections, a hypocritical move, as the same party blocked former President Obama’s nominee due to the process being too close to the 2016 elections. These are only a few of the many examples of Republicans being complicit in each and every action taken by Trump.
At first glance, it might seem that their strategy paid off in some ways, as in 2018, the Republican majority in the Senate increased and in 2020 many Trump loyalists were re-elected, including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham. Yet, whilst re-election might have succeeded in deep-red states like Alabama, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, looking at election results in all races since 2016 shows that overall, the Republican party is falling behind. In 2018, the Democrats were able to flip the House of Representatives but failed to take the Senate. In 2020 though, Democrats held on to the House and flipped the Senate by a small margin, winning in states such as Arizona and Georgia, which had been Republican strongholds in previous years. Most obviously, Donald Trump lost his bid for a second term as president. Lastly, Republicans who stood behind Trump even after the riot scored very low on polls for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, with Ted Cruz receiving 3 per cent and Josh Hawley even less. Thus, even though the competition is very high between the two parties, and still almost half of the country voted for Donald Trump, implying Trumpism is still very much alive, it is clear that the Republican party’s complicity and lack of morals have been reflected in their electoral performance. Therefore, it can be said that the strategy might have led to gains at first, but overall has led to the party’s decline.
To sum up, sticking to Trump has led to the erosion of any morals the Republican party ever had if it had any at all. Yet, mistakenly, the decline of the Republican party does not equate to an end to Trumpism. In fact, as seen by the Politico poll, Trumpism is alive and well, and Trump’s acquittal, which is thanks to Republicans, means he can run again in 2024. Sticking to Trump might have given Republicans short-term power but in the long run, it will come around to haunt them as Trump will not be around forever, and history will recognize the party as being complicit in undermining US democracy. Therefore, if the party wants to survive in an ever-changing America and show that it believes in American democracy and the rule of law, it seriously needs to reconsider what it stands for.
Photo source- Flickr (Jamelle Bouie)