On Tuesday, Rep, Matt Gaetz broadcast a warning. Republicans expect to retake the House in 2022, and when they do … ”it’s not going to be the days of Paul Ryan, and Trey Gowdy, and no real oversight, and no real subpoenas. It’s going to be the days of Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Dr. Gosar, and myself.”
On this point at least, Gaetz is right. Paul Ryan was a hyper-partisan hack, and Trey Gowdy was merely generally incompetent in his brief stint in Congress. As well as his short-lived attempt to head Donald Trump’s impeachment defense. But neither would be welcome in the Republican Party today. Because that party requires more than loyalty to Trump. It requires a fanatical loyalty that holds no other concerns, and a commitment to victory at all cost, democracy literally be damned.
Earlier this week, a profile of Republican Rep. Peter Meijer showcased how a young congressman who, in spite of a deep affection for the party, solidly conservative credentials, and what appeared to be a long political career ahead of him, smashed into the real Great Wall of Trump. That wall now stands across the Republican Party, dividing anyone who days raise concerns about facts, the law, or ethics from those who have placed all that far behind them. On the surface, such a division may seem good for Democrats. But the number of Republicans on the far side of Trump’s wall isn’t just a few; it’s a vanishing few.
And they’re getting picked off. One by one.
On Thursday, Axios reported on how “Donald Trump and his associates are systematically reshaping the Republican Party, working to install hand-picked loyalists across federal and state governments and destroy those he feels have been disloyal,”
Trump’s winnowing of the GOP is happening at all levels. Governors, senators, and representatives have all found themselves facing primary opponents—or a sudden lack of donors—when they run afoul of Trump. So have members of state legislatures. So have members of state and local election boards. So have candidates right down to the level of local school boards.
All of these candidates have one thing in common: “They all support his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.”
Surviving the purge now taking place in the Republican Party doesn’t mean just swearing allegiance to Trump, it means actively supporting the Big Lie about the 2020 election, and using it as leverage for all elections going forward. For Axios, this generates the question of whether “these contests help Republicans sweep to new majorities in 2022, or divide the GOP in brutal primaries that indirectly boost Democrats in the general election?”
But the stakes are far, far higher than whether Democrats can hold a slim majority in the brutal response that always seems to come with the midterms. Because the purge is about installing nothing but Republicans who will never lose again … no matter what the vote says. From county election boards to state legislatures to the governor’s office, Trump is installing teams who will only send Republican electors to Congress. No counting necessary.
Of course, Trump is unlikely to displace all the people who, like Meijer, failed to roll over last time. That’s okay. As Meijer has already learned, he might still survive in 2022 with “A blind eye here, some radio silence there.” He doesn’t necessarily have to lead the cheerleading for the overthrow of democracy. He only has to stand aside.
On Thursday, Mark Meadows turned over to the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 a presentation explaining the plan that had been formulated within the Trump White House, mostly by attorney John Eastman, for overturning the 2020 election.
That plan doesn’t have just one way to destroy democracy. it has options. Many of these options are dependent on a Trump-supporting vice president going along with the plan, which is why many Republicans were so anxious to slip that rope around the neck of Mike Pence. But one of those steps—having state legislatures simply send slates of Republican electors, no matter the outcome, is certainly the simplest. And if those slates are certified by Republican governors, it’s unclear exactly what steps happen next.
Many of the other options are based on the idea of declaring that election results involved fraud. Which is certainly easy enough to do when Trump-supporters are the only ones counting the votes. Such as in Georgia, where, Reuters reports, a bill passed by the Republican-controlled statehouse has allowed Republicans to purge Democrats from county election boards.
The panel in Spalding, a rural patch south of Atlanta, is one of six county boards that Republicans have quietly reorganized in recent months through similar county-specific state legislation. The changes expanded the party’s power over choosing members of local election boards ahead of the crucial midterm Congressional elections in November 2022.
Republicans are angling to count the votes. Then they get to determine which votes count.
In 11 months, there will be an election. The question is whether it will be the last election. But of course, the filibuster is a grand old tradition. And senators have their priorities.