Blue MAGA and the Republican Purge

In November 2020, when Donald Trump lost re-election to one of the most unimpressive Democratic nominees in U.S. history, I had at least a little bit of hope that the Republican base might finally recognize, despite their affection for the defeated president, just how much political damage he had caused their party.

One could understand them not seeing it after the 2018 midterms, being that it’s historically pretty common for the party occupying the White House to lose a majority in the House. But when the advantages of incumbency, a strong pre-pandemic economy, and 11 million more Americans voting for him than in 2016 weren’t enough to give Trump the victory, the writing should have been on the wall.

Two months later, after Trump’s “rigged election” campaign additionally cost Republicans the U.S. Senate (rounding out the GOP’s biggest electoral defeat in 70 years), that writing should have been in huge bold letters.

But when a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol the very next day didn’t even do the trick, it became quite clear that the party hadn’t learned a thing.

The Republicans had lost so much, including — for the first time in history — our nation’s peaceful transfer of power. And yet, they couldn’t bring themselves to place blame on the guy who actually caused it all.

Instead, the real problem (according to the president and therefore the base) was Republicans who were insufficiently loyal to Trump. We’re talking about election officials, members of congress, governors, Trump-appointed judges, Supreme Court justices, members of his administration, and even his own vice president — so-called “RINOs” who stood in the way of his efforts to circumvent the Constitution and overturn U.S. democracy.

Over a year and a half later, this is still the litmus test placed on elected Republicans. Either you reaffirm your allegiance to Trump, and at minimum pay lip-service to the “Stop the Steal” crowd (if you don’t go all-in on the lie that Trump won), or you will face the wrath of primary voters, the state party, and in some cases even the national party. Everything else — whether it be policy positions, a record of achievement, or just simply keeping a seat Republican — is immaterial.

What this approach has created are some really bad Republican nominees. For those clear-headed enough to see the big picture, the jokes write themselves:

Of course, there have been exceptions, like in Georgia (a state electorally hit harder than most by Trump’s lunacy). But that’s all they’ve been: exceptions. The rule has been that loyalty to Trump is far more important than anything related to governing, legislating, or party power.

As I’ve stated before, regular readers (even those who contend they don’t want Trump to run again) get mad at me for recognizing this, and commenting on it. What should worry them far more, if they’re at all interested in Republicans taking back (or holding onto) seats, is that Democrats have recognized it as well. They’ve been working hard in recent months to boost the GOP primary campaigns of some of the nuttiest, Trump-worshiping, election-denying Republicans running for office.

Yes, we’re talking about the same types of candidates that Democrats have insisted, for almost two years, shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near public office, because they pose a clear and present danger to U.S. democracy. Yet, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has spent millions of dollars in ads promoting them, targeting Republican voters through television, radio, and direct-mailings. Their plan has been to produce the weakest possible Republican nominees to run against their Democratic nominees… even as that plan runs the risk — in a “red wave” election year — of backfiring and propelling these types of Republicans all the way to a November victory.

Some are referring to this unholy alliance between Trump and the Democrats as “Blue MAGA”. And while it’s not technically a joint venture, it might as well be.

The former president gets exactly what he wants: party loyalty, adulation, and political retribution against the Republicans who chose their country, and the law, over him.

The DCCC, in places where their strategy works, gets what Trump couldn’t care less about: general election victories.

Case in point, one of the Republicans on Trump’s hit-list was incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer from Michigan. Meijer was one of just ten Republicans in the House who, after January 6, voted to impeach Trump. Thus, Trump endorsed Meijer’s primary opponent, loyalist and election-denier, John Gibbs.

One might think that by being one of the few principled Republicans willing to put his career at risk to hold Trump accountable, Democrats would have afforded Meijer at least the common respect of staying out of his primary.

Nope.

Recognizing that Gibbs (a guy who’s defended antisemites and accused Obama officials of performing Satanic rituals) would be much easier to defeat than Meijer in the general election, the DCCC poured almost half a million dollars into advertising benefiting Gibbs; that’s more than Gibbs himself raised throughout his entire campaign.

To the delight of many Democrats, it worked. Gibbs won in a close race, and will now go on to face the heavily favored Democratic nominee, Hillary Scholten, who Meijer defeated two years ago.

The hypocrisy is, of course, astounding:

The morning after Meijer’s primary defeat, Republican congressman and January 6 committee member, Adam Kinzinger, addressed Democrats on CNN.

“Don’t keep coming to me, asking where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy, and then take your donors’ money and spend half a million dollars promoting one of the worst election deniers that’s out there,” he said.

He’s absolutely right.

Sean Maloney, the head of the DCCC, said just over a month ago that the “MAGA Republican movement” is “defined by serious, serious things like the attack on our democracy.” He added that “it’s going to be those MAGA Republicans who take away your rights, your benefits and your freedoms.”

Meanwhile, the committee he chairs was funding those “MAGA Republican” campaigns (in secret at first) with millions and millions of donor dollars. And it continues to do so today.

I guess the removal of American rights, benefits, and freedoms aren’t such a concern to him after all.

But here’s another factor, and it’s a significant one. It was Republican-primary voters who ultimately filled out the ballots and gave Gibbs the victory. And that win came not from the DCCC necessarily misrepresenting Gibbs or Meijer, but from their loud amplification of Gibbs’ Trump-aligned, conspiratorial views and allegiances. The same has been true with other GOP primary races the DCCC has interfered with.

This “stolen election” and MAGA-loyalty-pact stuff is still the deciding factor for lots of GOP primary voters, while remaining non-starters with most general-election voters. And that’s a problem.

Donald Trump once told Republicans that, under him, they would “get tired of all the winning.” Well, it seems pretty clear that Trump and MAGA Republicans got tired of winning quite a while ago. And even in a “red wave” election year, they’re doing whatever they can, in conjunction with the opposition party, to maximize Democratic wins.

It sure makes you wonder who the real “RINOs” are.


 

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