The Republican dilemma: How to keep Trump from wrecking their plans

The Republican party should be very complacent about their chances of winning majorities in both the US Senate and House of Representatives in the mid-term elections to be held in November. Usually the party that holds the presidency loses seats in mid-term elections and since the Democrats currently hold such wafer-thin majorities, even a slight swing away from them would make them the minority in both chambers. In addition Joe Biden has particularly low ratings and the issue of inflation is hurting him. The only upside for Biden and the Democrats is if the pandemic really and truly goes away, the country opens up again, and the economy starts booming with lots of jobs being created. The Ukraine war is a wild card whose effect on US elections will be hard to predict.

But clearly there is some concern in the Republican party leadership that there is a wild card that could mess up their plans and that is Donald Trump. He clearly sees his own needs and satisfying his ego as the most important thing and the needs of the Republican party a distant second.

The Republican party has traditionally been strong among the more well-to-do suburban demographic. While Trump has certainly broadened the party’s appeal with his racist and xenophobic message that has tapped into the sense of grievance felt by many, mostly white, people that ‘their’ country is being taken away from them, the accompanying Christian nationalist, white supremacist, anti-abortion, anti-LGBT agenda may be hard to stomach for many in the traditional Republican base who view themselves as ‘moderate’.

The problem for the party leadership is how to not alienate traditional Republicans while still appealing to the extremists that Trump definitely strikes a chord with that the traditionalists might not want to be associated with.

The Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell has been the one trying to keep the traditionalists in the fold by asserting that what happened on January 6th 2021 during the attack on the Capital was not some family sightseeing outing that was brutally suppressed, as Trump and his allies are trying to make out.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced the Republican National Committee’s recent censure of GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and then joined the House’s Jan. 6 select committee. At the same time as they censured Cheney and Kinzinger, the RNC declared the events leading up to it as “legitimate political discourse.”

“It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next,” McConnell said. “That’s what it was.” 

The Republican leader of the House of Representatives is trying to appease the Trump base and is thus skirting the issue, while Trump’s vice-president Mike Pence is trying to keep a slight distance from Trump.

Mike Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short joined several senior Republicans in rallying to defend the former vice-president on Sunday in his escalating feud with Donald Trump over the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

Some of Trump’s advisers on the 2020 election were like “snake oil salesmen”, Short said on Sunday.

Pence angered the former president this week by rejecting Trump’s false claim that he had the power to overturn Joe Biden’s victory by refusing to accept results from seven contested states.

At a conference hosted by the conservative Federalist Society in Florida on Friday, Pence delivered his strongest rebuke to date of Trump’s election lies, declaring that it was “un-American” to believe that any one person had the right to choose the president.

Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race in Virginia by adopting all the Trump base dog-whistles like grandstanding over non-issues like critical race theory while avoiding appearing with Trump. That is likely to be the model adopted by many Republicans in contested seats while those in solidly Republican areas will adopt full-bore Trump nuttiness rhetoric.

We should not mistake this divergence of opinion on January 6th as a deep split in the Republican party. All it is is an issue that they are trying to use to keep two important segments of the party within the fold.


  1. garnetstar says

    The republicans should win majorities, but it’s difficult to tell what the adverse affect of Trump is going to be, as well as the extremist nonsense the candidates will have to spout.

    Then, the republicans are having a difficult time finding candidates for some races who aren’t just awful. I rather think that the democrats may win the senate races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania on that basis. If I was McConnell, I’d try to have Sen. Johnson assassinated before the election, so as to get a republican candidate in who might win.

    There is such a tidal pull, though, to voting for one’s own party, one’s tribe, no matter what, that I think that Trump will have a difficult time ruining the whole thing for republicans. They’ll probably get majorities in spite of Trump.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    We should not mistake this divergence of opinion on January 6th as a deep split in the Republican party

    I don’t. This is the central, most (only?) admirable thing about the Right in general: where we on the Left cancel each other over things we agree on, differing only in trivial details if at all, those fuckers on the Right use things that on paper should divide them as sources of unity. It’s the most infuriating thing about being a Lefty, seeing them win elections again and again because of their basically superior grasp of actual politics compared to the generally morally superior people on the Left who on the whole couldn’t agree their way out of a wet paper bag.

  3. kenbakermn says

    I predict the reps will win a thin majority in the house and senate. And even before the new members take office at least one rep will call for impeaching Biden on clearly bullshit charges. And then someone prominent at Fox News will loudly announce that an impeachment of Biden means Donny Shithead has to be reinstated.

  4. Deepak Shetty says

    I find this Republican dilemma a media invention -- The idea that there are good little Republicans that are distraught and want to cut off Trump is a fanatasy and I’d rather read Tolkien or Gaiman if I had the time. All the Republians who cared identify themselves as independent -- the ones who still identify as Republican will go along with every single one of Trump policies and nominees -- They can hem and haw to maintain plausible deniability.

  5. says

    There are so many balls in the air right now that anyone who says they know what will happen come November should generally be ignored. This is specifically aimed at the pundit class.

    For every argument that I have heard recently regarding the Dems losing ground, I have heard an equally compelling (or not) argument for the reverse (although, admittedly, the former tend to get more airplay on the national news). For example, does anyone think that if SCOTUS guts Roe this summer, there won’t be a huge backlash from the middle and progressives? Has everyone already forgotten the determination that many people had to vote in 2020 precisely because they felt that the Republicans were trying to prevent them from doing so? How does that calculus change today? I don’t know what’s going to happen and anyone who thinks that they do is only fooling themselves. Unfortunately, some people get paid to prognosticate, and other people seem to think that those people have some form of “special insight”, and thus, those voices get amplified even further. More time in the media gets spent on a bs meta-analysis of the election than on the issues themselves. It’s all armchair quarterbacking and about as useful.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    We should help Trump wreck the party!
    The problem is, he is so incompetent we may have to hire a competent campaign manager (paid for through social media campaigns) to help him get his pro-Trump assholes nominated -then they can fail spectacularly in the elections.

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