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Republicans Purge Their Ranks Of Any Lingering Truth In Preparation For Their 2020 Do-Over In 2022

Republicans Purge Their Ranks Of Any Lingering Truth In Preparation For Their 2020 Do Over In 2022
Date Posted: Friday, May 14th, 2021

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney is an unabashed conservative, with a fervor for torture and anti-Muslim xenophobia and almost unmatched GOP pedigree. Not so long ago, her rise through the Republican ranks would have been unstoppable, but none of that matters now. Cheney planted her flag on the wrong side of the Big Lie that is now central to Republican efforts to retake control of Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.

This week it became clear that the GOP’s entire electoral strategy is to sell the next two election cycles to aggrieved supporters of Donald Trump as a referendum on the 2020 election that roughly two-thirds of GOP voters think was stolen from them, depending on the question polled. Ever since he announced his candidacy in 2015, Trump has tirelessly devoted himself to priming the victimhood of his cultists, until the politics of grievance defined them and enveloped the GOP base. Now Republicans plan to give that base the ultimate in grievance elections—a chance to roll back all the electoral wrongs they baselessly believe robbed them of their vote, their glorious leader, and their say in the future of the country.

Cheney, charged with carrying the message of House Republicans as their conference chair, became a one-person wrecking ball for that strategy. Her assertion in an op-ed this week—that she stands with the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution, and that "the electoral college has spoken"—was a death knell for the GOP's 2020 do-over in 2022.

"More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple Trump-appointed judges, have rejected the former president’s arguments, and refused to overturn election results," Cheney wrote. "That is the rule of law; that is our constitutional system for resolving claims of election fraud."

Not only did Cheney blow their 2022 message to smithereens, she was a daily reminder to a substantial majority of her colleagues that they had cast bogus votes against certifying the election and were continuing to pump the American public full of toxic lies for political gain. Luckily for House Republicans, just as soon as they tired of Cheney refusing to toe the party line, a Trump sycophant who was both female and more than happy to trumpet the Big Lie in exchange for just a little more power showed up to elbow Cheney out of the way.

But the lesson here isn't that Cheney is a hero or that her likely successor, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, is a conniving opportunist. It's that Trump's Big Lie that he didn't actually lose the 2020 election is now official orthodoxy in a party that has traded its once-supposed big tent of competing ideas for a small tent, where blind devotion reigns supreme and cleansing oneself of any hint of integrity is the price of admission.

More than ever before, this is the party of Trump, where allegiance supersedes competence, where truth is permanently arrested, and where anyone threatening the party's disreality bubble is a threat who must be exterminated.

That includes insiders like Cheney, but it also includes outsiders with enough power and agency to challenge the entirely fictional narrative around which Trump cultists and party loyalists have chosen to organize their lives, their worldview, and indeed their political fortunes. That's why Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, and her family have been the target of a new round of death threats from Trumpers for continually confronting the integrity of the sham audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election results.

What is perhaps most bizarre about the GOP's full embrace of Trumpism and the Big Lie in this very moment is that it comes at a time when Trump himself is a significantly weakened figure who is living his most pathetic life.

Trump's favorability rating among Republicans has started to trail off ever since Election Day, falling in Civiqs from 90% last November to 87% now. He's also lost his megaphone on Twitter and Facebook for the foreseeable future, which has had a profound impact on his ability to make himself the center of the social media universe. This week, Vox's Recode wrote, "Mentions of Trump went down by 34 percent on Twitter and 23 percent on Facebook the week after he was banned from both platforms following the Capitol riot on January 6. Since then, Trump mentions have continued to decline around 90 percent on both platforms from where they were the week of the riots."

We get occasional glimpses of the sad empty shell of a man who once basked in the glow of unending media attention as the chief generator of content. They mostly come when Republican lawmakers seeking to burnish their fealty cred fly down to Mar-a-Lago to get a perfunctory photo next to Trump, whose symbolic value in a party desperate for meaning has risen even as his actual star has fallen.

Nothing epitomized this better than a 30-second video—likely taken in the weeks following the 2020 election—that escaped Mar-a-Lago, Trump's personal Hotel California, like a prisoner gasping for life. In it, Trump appears to have commandeered the mic at some random event to rant about the supposed "rigged election." Flanked by an empty band setup in the backdrop, Trump seems to have capitalized on a break in festivities to tell the crowd replenishing their drinks, "Let's see what they find," as he ticks through a series of battleground states where he fancifully imagines “thousands and thousands and thousands” of votes might turn up. A pathetic little smattering of yelps pipe forth here and there, breaking the awkward silence of the tepid audience.

Even though the video is likely months old, it captured perfectly the portrait many of us have imagined might emerge from the disorienting existential crisis of a narcissist who suffered one of the greatest popular vote losses in U.S. history on the biggest political stage in the world.

Trump, suspended in time, can't let it go—and Republicans have very explicitly and deliberately chosen not to let it go. And even if Democrats ultimately save the nation from the fascist tyranny Republicans have embraced, the Big Lie they are propagating will surely haunt the nation for decades and even centuries to come just like the ghost of the Civil War has for generations.

Source: Kerry Eleveld /Dailykos.com

Date Posted: Friday, May 14th, 2021 , Total Page Views: 602

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