The ex-President is showing that he doesn’t have to be in the Oval Office to damage faith in US elections and to trash truth, as his movement based on lies and personal homage takes an increasingly firm grip of the Republican Party. The widespread mistrust he continues to foster in the fairness of the US political system among millions of voters poses grave risks to democracy itself.
Trump, using his bond with the conservative grassroots, has effectively made fealty to his false claims of a fraudulent election last year the price of entry for any Republican candidate in any race. Under his influence, one of America’s two great political parties has effectively shed its belief in democracy — a dereliction that is massively significant for the country’s future.
As he seeks personal revenge, Trump is also mobilizing to try to destroy the political viability of any GOP office holders who tell the truth about the Capitol insurrection he inspired like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
He is celebrating the boos that Sen. Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, received from activists in Utah over the weekend, after voting to convict Trump over his abuses of power in two separate impeachment trials.
The former President retains an extraordinary ability to dictate the beliefs of his followers and the orthodoxy of the GOP on a daily basis.
“The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” Trump decreed in a statement Monday, literally reversing the facts about last November’s free and fair election that he lost.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, on Tuesday appeared to open the way for a new vote on Cheney’s leadership position, saying that she was no longer capable of representing the party’s strategy in the run-up to the midterm elections. That strategy, of course, is closely aligned with Trump’s.
“I have heard from members, concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy said on Fox News.
Trump’s power grows out of office
Trump is answering one question that was often asked in his dark last days in office — would he be as powerful in private life as he was with the trappings of presidential office? If anything the former President wields even more control of his party now than he did over the last five years , a fact made more remarkable by the social media silence enforced by bans from major social media platforms.
Court after court threw out Trump’s spurious claims of election fraud after his defeat to Biden. There is no evidence that he was unfairly deprived of office. In fact, the only person who tried to steal the election was Trump, with his bid to disrupt Congress certifying the results by inciting a crowd of supporters that mobbed the Capitol, sending lawmakers fleeing.
Trump’s manufactured crisis of legitimacy will effectively taint the midterm polls in 2022, which the former President is trying to use to tighten his stamp on the party. And even if Trump doesn’t try to reclaim the White House in 2024, his pernicious influence will mean that the idea that the last election was stolen will remain a false article of faith for Republicans going forward.
A flurry of recent developments prove Trump’s power in the GOP and his undiminished threat to trust in the electoral system, and show that the fight for American democracy merely entered a new phase when he left office.
A slew of Republican state legislatures have passed laws making it more difficult for Democrats, and especially Black voters, to cast ballots. They often cite voter mistrust in the electoral system as a…