But no. Instead of trying to rebuild their party in a post-Trump era, they are clinging to his likeness like mice on a piece of driftwood. It’s an entirely desperate strategy, but GOP lawmakers and strategists also seem 100% committed to and clear about it.
The New York Times reports, “Recent party polling indicates that, more than any issue, Republican voters crave candidates who ‘won’t back down in a fight with the Democrats,’ a finding that showed up in a survey by the G.O.P. firm Echelon Insights earlier this year.”
So instead of offering any actual policies that could benefit Americans and make their lives better, Republicans are pushing the politics of grievance and grievance alone. Forget tax cuts, the deficit, national security, or really anything the GOP once purported to stand for. They’re just gonna burn it all down on the way to “owning the libs,” consequences be damned. If federal incompetence kills hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans, so be it. If people can’t put food on the table or find jobs, tough luck. If democracy withers on vine, c’est la vie.
“Brass-knuckle political combat” supersedes all right now. The calculation isn’t whether politicians can improve people’s lives, it’s whether they can make life miserable and even unbearable for certain kinds of people.
The unrestrained pugnaciousness, says GOP strategist and evangelical fire-breather Ralph Reed, is Republicans’ new golden rule. “It has become the overarching virtue Republicans look for in their leaders,” Reed told the Times. He noted that in a bygone era, Republicans might have watered down Georgia’s voter suppression law once it drew media scrutiny and corporate backlash, and then moved on. “Now we just dig in,” he offered.
Case in point: Some Republicans started threatening Major League Baseball with scrapping the antitrust exemption the league enjoys. Or witness McConnell saying corporate America might “invite serious consequences” if CEOs didn’t shut their traps about voter suppression laws.
In Georgia, House Republicans voted to end a $35 million tax break for jet fuel for Delta Air Lines after the company belatedly issued a statement criticizing the GOP’s voter suppression law. The GOP-led Senate has taken a pass on the bill, but Republican House Speaker David Ralston gleefully defended the punitive measure.
“You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand,” Ralston said.
Add that to your repertoire of winning campaign slogans.