Democrat Raphael Warnock has won his Senate race in Georgia, defeating Republican Kelly Loeffler, a billionaire who had reinvented herself as a Trumpist, right down to the trucker cap that she started wearing atop her expensively styled blond locks.
If Democrat Jon Ossoff’s lead over David Perdue, whose Senate term expired Sunday, holds up in the remaining Georgia Senate race, Republicans will have managed to lose the presidency, the House and the Senate during Trump’s four years in office.
Quite the trifecta.
What is even worse, both for democracy and for the long-term well-being of the party itself, is that Republicans have lost any legitimate claim that they stand for constitutional principles and conservative values.
We will see the most incontrovertible evidence of this on Wednesday, as GOP members of the House and Senate, at Trump’s bidding, wage a futile and deeply undemocratic effort to overturn the results of a presidential election that wasn’t even close. What is normally a rote procedure to certify the results of the electoral college will be challenged by a shockingly large number of GOP foot soldiers, with Vice President Pence in the hot seat.
And why are Republicans doing this? The more weak-kneed among them might be afraid of an unkind tweet from the president; others, of a possible primary challenge.
And still others — I’m looking at you, Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) — because of craven opportunism. As my colleague David Von Drehle pointed out, they are positioning themselves for 2024 presidential bids and are betting on the dubious proposition that Trumpism is “a philosophical torch that can be passed from one runner to the next.”
As a large number of Republicans vote to undermine democracy inside the Capitol, the streets of Washington will be thronged with Trump supporters. The MAGA crowds might or might not actually believe their leader’s claims that the election was stolen, but they are willing to do whatever he asks of them. Trump has not been subtle in his suggestion that violence might be in order. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” he tweeted last month. “Be there, will be wild!”
Watching Trump’s performance since his election loss — and especially the chaos he has sown in the past few weeks, as things went down to the wire in Georgia — it seems fair to ask whether he even wanted Republicans to win there. Because if Perdue and Loeffler had carried the state and he had lost it, that would have exposed exactly how hollow were his claims of election fraud.
Trump’s obsession with Georgia is such that the president placed no fewer than 18 calls to its secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, before finally reaching him. (His incompetence is such that he was dialing the press office, where interns answered and hung up, assuming that it was a prank.)
The transcript of his hour-long diatribe on the phone with Raffensperger, as reported in a blockbuster story by The Post’s Amy Gardner, underscored another fixation on Trump’s part: Stacey Abrams, who after being narrowly defeated in Georgia’s gubernatorial race in 2018 took the lessons from the loss and built a Democratic voter-mobilization program that will be studied — and emulated — for years to come.
“Stacey Abrams is laughing about you,” Trump fumed. “She’s going around saying these guys are dumber than a rock. What she’s done to this party is unbelievable, I tell you.”
When the president says things like that to other people, we have learned, he is projecting what he knows to be the case about himself. And if there is anything that he cannot abide, it is the idea that a woman — or an African American, and Abrams is both — might be mocking him.
It parallels the narrative, embraced by many close to Trump, that his decision to run for president in the first place was set in motion after then-President Barack Obama made fun of him at the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner. Since he has been president, nothing has unsettled him more than the contempt of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Republicans knew what he was when they made the bargain they did, transforming themselves from a party that claimed to stand for conservative values to one that was willing to become whatever Trump demanded it to be. It got some judges and some tax cuts along the way.
But this fealty was never going to be a mutual one. The GOP is of no use to Trump anymore — except as a target for blame and recrimination.