The outgoing U.S. president is also driving deeper and deeper wedges in his own party with his baseless accusations. This will have consequences for him.
More than a month after the election, U.S. President Donald Trump has still not accepted his defeat in the race for the presidency. Furthermore, he and his fellow campaigners are attempting to legally challenge the election result and undermine it with baseless claims of alleged election fraud.
“We got 74 million plus and they’re trying to convince us that we lost. We didn’t lose,” Trump said last weekend during an election campaign appearance to support Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia.
With false statements like this, the outgoing U.S. president is not only jeopardizing the chances of both Republicans in the upcoming runoff election, but also posing an existential question to the whole party — what will the Republican Party stand for in the future?
If we take the silence from the Republican leadership on the outcome of the election as a point of reference, then the party currently stands for conspiracy theories and against democracy. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, both Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress, have still not officially acknowledged Joe Biden’s election victory.*
No One Has More Loyal Followers than Donald Trump
“The president, he has to make sure that every legal vote is counted, every recount is done, and make sure every complaint [is being] heard inside court. Once that’s done, I think the election will be over and the electors will make their decision,” McCarthy said the day after Biden was declared the winner.
It is not surprising that so many Republicans continue to support Trump despite the lack of evidence, according to Harvard professor Thomas E. Patterson. Many members of Congress simply fear losing their position in office.
“No American politician in postwar history has managed to gather a larger or more loyal following behind him than Donald Trump — not Barack Obama, and not Ronald Reagan,”** said Patterson, the author of the book “Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself?” in a conversation with Taz. And in politics, it is known that voters are synonymous with power.
Patterson believes that for this reason only, Trump will continue to shape the Republican Party even after he moves out of the White House. According to the U.S. media, the 74-year-old is not ruling out a new candidacy in four years.
Trump Has Made the Populist Wing Socially Acceptable
But until then, Trump continues to try everything to stay in power. Most recently he has focused on local politicians in the all-important swing states. He wanted to convince them not to certify the election result. And although these attempts remain unsuccessful, Trump has received a lot of support for his undemocratic behavior from his own ranks. Laura Cox, leader of the Republican Party in Michigan, called the certification of the election result in her state a “criminal act.”
Trump has deeply divided not only the country, but also the Republican Party. The populist wing of the Republicans, which has lived only in the shadows for years, has become socially acceptable through Trump. It is hardly surprising that two supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, were elected to the House of Representatives.
The current Republican Party has little relation to the party of the late John McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election. McCain defended his opponent during an election campaign appearance against the racist comments of a voter. But since then, moderate Republicans have become an endangered species. Senators like Mitt Romney or Ben Sasse therefore only play a subordinate role on a national level, despite their regional popularity.
“What we will see in the coming years is a continuation of the far-right populism that was made strong by Trump,”** said political scientist Jacob Hacker to Taz. Although Trump is the first incumbent president since 1992 not to win a second term in office, the Republican Party was still able to win 10 seats in the House of Representatives, and the defense of the Senate majority is not yet lost — it all depends on the outcome of the runoff elections in Georgia, which have been scheduled for the beginning of January.
Given this starting position, there is no reason for Republicans to change their strategy. “The voters have removed a tumor with Trump, but the patient of American politics is still very sick,”** said Hacker, who teaches at the renowned Yale University.
McConnell already proved during Obama’s time in office that he understands how to paralyze a Democratic administration.
*Editor’s note: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect on Dec. 15. As of this date, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has not done so.
**Editor’s note: These quotes, though accurately translated, could not be independently verified.