On Wednesday, former president Donald Trump declared that if his baseless election fraud claim was not “solved,” he would tell Republicans to stay home in 2022 and 2024. It is one threat Democrats might hope he carries out.
Imagine the flashback to early 2021 that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must be experiencing. Then, as now, Trump ignored pleas to pipe down about his obsession with overthrowing the election so that Republicans might go out to vote for two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia. Trump never stopped whining, Democrats won both seats and Republicans lost the Senate majority.
Trump has also been endorsing candidates who are not exactly of the highest caliber. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker canceled a fundraiser with a conservative film producer who until Wednesday used a rendering of a swastika as her Twitter profile picture.” Walker’s campaign tried denying the swastika was a swastika, but when a candidate has to argue about such things, they reveal that they might not be the strongest contender.
McConnell felt compelled last month to embrace this already problematic candidate because that is what members of a cult-like party do when their cult leader demands it. He did so despite accusations that, as the Associated Press reports, Walker "repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behavior.” Walker has since denied claims that he threatened his ex-wife. We’ll find out whether McConnell sticks with Trump’s disastrous pick.
The swastika incident is not unique in the MAGA GOP, which collects candidates who shamelessly dabble in antisemitic rhetoric, conspiracy theories and covid-19 denial. The Post reports: “In Arizona, Kelly Townsend, a Republican state senator, dismissed criticism from the state chapter of the Anti-Defamation League after she tweeted an image of a Nazi flag made up of needles.” Of course, anti-vaccine-mandate protesters in multiple states have been seen “carrying flags and posters featuring the needle swastika, drawing criticism from Jewish organizations.”
Fidelity to Trump has transformed the GOP into a delusional, anti-democratic party that relies on a constant drumbeat of disinformation and the intimation that violence is an acceptable political tool. That profile might be appealing to Trump, who continues to make money off his dull-witted followers and bask in the attention, but it is neither a formula for winning swing seats nor, necessarily, for turning out the base. It would be delicious karma if Trump once more submarined the party that has turned itself inside out to remain in his good graces.
For Democrats, the task is to accurately portray Republicans as out of touch with reality and dangerously loyal to Trump. Whether it is formerly cogent pols such as Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) or newly minted sycophants such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a party so dominated by a crazed cult leader cannot be trusted to hold power — at any level of government.