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Donald Trump has a vice grip hold over the Republican Party, its members and the Republican members of Congress. Republican congressional members cower in fear with a deep commitment to following the Trump line. They are afraid to oppose the Donald for fear of losing their office. This fear is patently obvious in the overall blind votes on impeachment and the expected votes for acquittal after a Senate trial.
The Wall Street Journal writes:
Now, as the GOP-led Senate begins the impeachment trial for Mr. Trump, the Republican Party is in lockstep behind the president of their party. Every House Republican voted against the two articles of impeachment the Senate will consider, with the party even luring a New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, to join their ranks. While a handful of GOP senators have defied the White House’s wishes on whether to allow witnesses in the trial, no Senate Republican has publicly signaled a willingness to remove the president from office.
The unity is the byproduct not only of a White House charm offensive this fall and widespread Republican concerns about the fairness of the impeachment process, but more broadly the president’s personal powers of persuasion and his raw political power over the party, fueled by an intensely loyal base of GOP voters. As has been the case since Mr. Trump ascended to the GOP throne, Republicans who dared step out of line faced his Twitter outrage, meeting the wrath of the president’s base.
The stark tribalism has led those who want long-term futures in the party to get in line behind the president and those who have had enough to retire quietly without risking a noisy and disruptive exit. Twenty-six House Republicans have announced they are leaving the House since the 2018 midterm elections, when the party’s moderate wing took major casualties as Democrats won the majority. Not one of those retirees, including several moderates, voted against the party line on impeachment.
The bottom line is simple: Trump owns the Republican base, about 40% of voting Americans. This voting block is adamantly loyal to Donald Trump regardless of what he says or what he does. This blind allegiance gives Trump a stranglehold over the GOP, regardless of whether this voting block leads to a Trump victory in 2020. The GOP congressional members, rightly or wrongly, feel they cannot retain office if they opposed Trump. They feel they will suffer from the Trump base’s ire in 2020 by not standing in lock step with Trump. Therefore, it is all about power, regardless of the consequences.
The tribalism shown by Republicans in Congress mean that the Senate, regardless of the evidence, will not remove Trump from office. The GOP knows if it removes, they lose office. The reality is simple: oppose Trump and you lose the office you hold.
Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a little over 3 million votes. However, in GOP strongholds across the nation officeholders know Trump’s base is strong, without it they cannot win their primaries and ultimately reelection. Therefore, the general national vote is not as important as voter makeup in each state, and each congressional district, where the Trump base may effectively flex its muscles. Trump’s electoral victory is an example of the local dynamics that can give members of both The House and The Senate the GOP victories they need.
Therefore, the tribalism is all about the base, a base controlled by Donald Trump. This base delivered an electoral victory and can deliver victories in each House district and in the states that matter most to the GOP.
Welcome to the Trumplican Party.
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
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