The Republican Party emerged from the 2020 presidential election in a strong position. Of course, it lost the presidency, but it was within striking distance of retaining the Senate in the 2021 Georgia senate runoff, as well as reclaiming the House of Representatives in the 2022 congressional elections. But the Georgia races were won by the Democrats, and GOP chances for victory in 2022 may soon diminish if the civil war beginning in the GOP, pitting reality-based Republicans against conspiracy believers, cannot be peacefully resolved.
President Biden has been busy signing executive orders and developing other policy initiatives which have, or will:
- Cancel the Keystone Pipeline Project;
- Mandate a $15.00/hr. minimum wage;
- Increase federal aid for abortions;
- Reduce civil liberties protections for those accused of sexual harassment on college campuses;
- Implement a costly Green New Deal program;
- Etc., etc., etc.
To liberals, these policies have long been desired. To conservatives, however, these policies make obvious the need for a responsible center-right opposition party to push back or at least modify the Biden initiatives. The Republican Party is the obvious—indeed—only candidate to do this. But the chances the GOP can actually do so are dimming with each passing day.
The Georgia Senate runoff was the first test of the GOP’s ability to flex its muscles following the loss of the presidency. At issue were the re-election of one of Georgia’s Republican Senators to his next 6-year term, and the election of Georgia’s other Republican Senator, initially appointed to fill a vacancy created by a resignation, to the remaining 2 years of her predecessor’s term. The election of either would have kept the Senate under Republican control.
But the GOP lost both seats. One reason is that both candidates had their weaknesses—each had been involved in financial schemes which, if not exactly illegal, raised ethical doubts anyway. But Georgia is—or was—a ruby-red state. What may well have cost the senators’ their seats was President Trump’s relentless attacks on Georgia’s Republican Governor and the Republican chief election officials, on whose watch Biden carried the state. Trump and his followers may well have been so successful in arguing that the state GOP had rigged the presidential election to favor the Democrats that many Georgia Republicans may have decided to stay home. Of course the Democrats went to the polls anyway and, as always, the election was won by those whose supporters showed up, and not by those whose supporters didn’t.
And it’s been all downhill since then. The GOP is facing two dangers: Either it will be torn apart by internal party bickering between those who believe in reality-based governance as opposed to those who believe in conspiracies, or the conspiracy mongers will win ascendancy in the GOP and make the party seem so extreme that believers in reality-based governance will vote Democratic in enough numbers to maintain Democratic governance. Consider:
In Wyoming pro-Trump Republicans are attacking Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, for supporting Trump’s latest impeachment. No doubt efforts to primary her and the other pro-impeachment Republicans will soon develop. Cheney and allies may well be replaced as GOP nominees by others too extreme to win general elections.
In Arizona, the Republican organization censured the Republican governor for acknowledging Biden’s victory thee. Moreover, there’s a movement to impeach not only him but the Republican governor of Ohio for overstepping their authority in leading their states’ responses to the pandemic. More reality-based Republicans may thereby see their careers ended.
In Oregon, civil war within its GOP has broken out between different factions over whether the January 6 riot was really a “false flag” operation. Members of the Oregon GOP official organizational structure maintain that the “insurrection” was fomented by leftists to discredit the GOP. Republican members of the Oregon State House of Representatives blame right-wing groups, such as Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys, the 3 Percenters, the Oath Keepers, and QAnon. However right the GOP lawmakers may be, they may still face opposition from the false-flaggers, and see the end of their careers anyway.
QAnon believes that American politics and government are dominated by a cabal of Democratic politicians and their allies in Hollywood and the news media guilty of acts of almost incomprehensibly evil. It alleges that Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneris, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Kimmel, and many others regularly practice pedophilia, cannibalism, vampirism, and satanism. They allegedly kidnap, rape, murder, and eat children, as well as drink their blood.
But last year several dozen QAnon supporters sought election to public office as Republicans and 2 actually won election to the Congress. One is keeping a relatively low profile other than boasting of the firearms she carries with her. But another is becoming better known for her views on various subjects, including her assertion that the California wildfires of 2018 were caused by space lasers financed by Jews to clear land for the building of a highspeed train in which Jewish money had been invested. No doubt the Democrats would like to make her the new face of the GO. However much Nancy Pelosi may claim to be upset by the presence of QAnon supporters in Congress, secretly she must be overjoyed—and rightly so.
Indeed, unless the current conflicts of the GOP are resolved, the only real winners will be Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and their Democratic allies. And we don’t need QAnon to tell us that Democrats are cannibals. There’s already enough cannibalism in the GOP.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.