Republicans are growing sick of their former leader
Going into the midterm elections yesterday, Republicans were hoping for, and expecting, a red wave. Now, it has turned into a red ripple. With skyrocketing inflation, crime, an energy crunch, and a historically unpopular president, this, as Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen aptly put it, is a “searing indictment of the Republican Party.”
In reality, though, it’s an indictment of Donald Trump’s failure to do anything more than fire up the MAGA base — at the expense of alienating broad swathes of the electorate. This phenomenon, the political equivalent of running a massive debt and calling it prosperity, is now being fully recognised for what it is by the mainstream of the G.O.P. In response, the party has set in motion a ‘Dump Trump’ movement to purge itself of what is now seen as a toxic element.
Numerous G.O.P. politicians, operatives and commentators have said in the last 24 hours that Trump is now the problem. His relentless self-obsession, once a manageable nuisance, has now become a weakening influence on the party. Consider Ben Shapiro’s response to Trump’s decision to trash Ron DeSantis on the eve of the election. There is today no more powerful voice in conservative media and politics than Shapiro’s. And there are few who are more staunchly born-and-sworn to the Republican Party. Yet in the video (viewed nearly 200,000 times) Shapiro did not mince words:
The word that stands out there is “peculiar.” For example, the G.O.P.’s fire and brimstone stance on abortion — at a time when most Americans are seeking nothing so much as a return to the economic, political and cultural status quo ante — comes across as peculiar. Why, Americans asked, were Republicans choosing to focus on that when grocery bills and petrol were soaring?
Trump has, in the past, equivocated on abortion, even though it was his Supreme Court pick who tipped the scale in favour of repealing Roe v. Wade. But much more to the point, it was the spirit of zealotry that Trump breathed into the Republican Party — a take-no-prisoners attitude that just as often turned its sights on Republicans who dared to question the former president (Trump’s pre-election “Ron DeSanctimonious” comments being the latest example) — that birthed, so to speak, this zero-sum approach to the most divisive social issue in America today.
On the eve of the midterm elections, a new poll found that a record number of Republicans were now more likely to identify with the party over Trump. Last night’s results provided fresh testimony to that finding, with most Trump acolytes under-performing across the country. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, won Florida by a huge margin, which goes to show that G.O.P. supporters are ready to support their party — just not with Trump at the helm.
The disappointing performance at this week’s midterms should be cause for introspection in the Republican party. It is clear that Trump now needs to go and allow space for a new leader to shape the future of the party — and possibly the country. It’s time to retire MAGA and replace it with Make America Governable Again.