The “liquidation of Trump” triggered a split crisis in the Republican Party

“Do you miss me?” On February 28, 2021 local time, Trump made his first public speech more than a month after leaving the White House. In the face of prolonged applause and cheers from the audience, Trump, who has transformed his identity as the former president of the United States, made it clear that he would consider running for the president of the United States again in 2024, saying that he would “defeat them (the Democratic Party) in the third election.”

At the Conservative Political Action Conference held that day, Trump did not directly attack Mitch McConnell, the most important leader of the Republican Party and the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate. Since Trump supporters rushed to Capitol Hill on January 6, McConnell publicly condemned Trump for being responsible for the violent clashes on Capitol Hill three times.

On February 16, Trump for the first time launched a counterattack against the “friend on Capitol Hill” he had previously called, reprimanding McConnell as a “third-rate leader.” Trump said in a long statement issued that day that only if McConnell is left behind can Republicans win the next election.

Trump’s latest speech made the division of the Republican Party more public. He single-handedly denounced all Republican members who voted against him in the impeachment case in early February, and McConnell has previously announced that he will support all these members to fight for re-election in the 2022 midterm elections. At the same time, Trump emphasized that he will fight with McConnells within the party instead of forming another party.

Mitch McConnell is determined not to talk about former President Trump. “For Trump’s statement, Mickey laughed it off.” A person close to McConnell revealed to the media that McConnell was not interested in responding to Trump at all. “You may never even hear him mention it again. Trump’s name.”

Earlier in February, two votes by Republicans in Congress had already shown signs of intensified division in the party. They first kicked the Rep. Cheney, who supported McConnell and criticized Trump, from the party with a two-thirds majority of the negative votes, and then supported Trump and criticized McConnell with a majority of the negative votes. Rep. Green drove out the various committees of the House of Representatives.

Chen Renyi, director of domestic policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Republican policy adviser, predicted that McConnell is likely to have the last laugh in this “party war” in which no one knows the outcome.

Trump’s second daughter-in-law, Laura Trump, said in an interview with the media that Trump, who had been acquitted in the second impeachment case, has told people around him that he might participate in the presidential election in 2024. Attending the American Conservative Political Action Conference is Trump’s first political event since he stepped down as president.

Pragmatism and the “right-wing border”
After the violent clashes on Capitol Hill on January 6 this year, McConnell broke his silence. After the House of Representatives initiated the second impeachment case against Trump, McConnell, who has always used cautious words, opened fire, accusing Trump of “inciting riots” and saying that the “defeated president was facing the earth.” The biggest loudspeakers keep sending out more and more false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless exaggerations.” On the other hand, he praised the newly-elected Democratic President Biden and Vice President Harris as “outstanding politicians”, although this does not prevent him from obstructing Biden’s new administration’s bills and personnel appointments.

McConnell seems to have returned to the posture he had when he was first elected to the Senate in 1984. At that time, he was described as a moderate Republican: the campaign platform was biased towards the mean, supported women’s abortion rights, and deliberately kept a distance from the capital predators. However, during the next 35 years of his career as a senator, McConnell’s stance continued to change, gradually anti-abortion, anti-same-sex equality, and anti-public health insurance, completely siding with conservative Republicans.

In an interview with China News Weekly, Levinson, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, summed up McConnell—pragmatism in one word. The rise of McConnell was accompanied by the rapid changes in American politics and economy. Since the 1970s, Democrats have gradually become spokespersons for the civil rights movement, while Republicans have attracted white voters with conservative ideas. At the time, US President Nixon first called on Republicans to speak with a unified ideology to oppose liberal radicalism, and to release a summary of conservative views to all congressional candidates.

White voters who think they are being overrun by “minority privileges” then see the Republican Party as a spokesperson. In 1972, the approval rate of Southern whites for the Democratic Party was 5% higher than that of the Republicans; but by 1988, the Republican Party’s approval rate for Southern whites exceeded the Democrats by 41 percentage points, and this advantage has continued to this day.

In 1994, the Republican Party won a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and a new “partisan politics” in the United States took shape. Gingrich, who became the speaker, laid the foundation for the Republican Party’s congressional strategy in the wave of polarization: unite as one and oppose all Democratic policies, regardless of the specific content of the policy.

Michael Karaman, an Honorary Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, pointed out that gaining votes with a conservative view, then implementing tax cuts and restrictive monetary policies, and deregulation of the economy have become the main choice of the establishment Republicans. It is against this background that McConnell has gradually grown into a typical Republican leader. In the seven Senate elections from 1984 to 2020, McConnell’s political stance has gradually shifted to the right, and his approval rating has also steadily increased.

From 2009 to 2016, as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, he inherited Gingrich’s strategy and effectively controlled the “rebellion” of the Republicans in the Senate, that is, supporting the Democratic Party when voting. Statistics show that as the majority party in the Senate, “moderate Democrats” have only 57% of their voting loyalty to their party, while “moderate Republicans” are as high as 83%.

As a result, McConnell has reduced the Obama administration’s legislation and federal judge nomination pass rate to less than 50% in a record-breaking manner. At the cost of paralyzing justice, McConnell has left a Supreme Court judge and number for the Trump administration. Appointment opportunities for ten judges of the Court of Appeal and hundreds of grassroots judges. On February 18, McConnell told his colleagues in Congress that he would adopt the same strategy for the Biden administration.

However, the successive defeats of the Republican Party in the presidential elections in 2008 and 2012 caused the pragmatist to re-examine the consequences of party polarization. After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee conducted a post-election analysis and pointed out that the party must refocus on its appeal to minority voters, including supporting the Democrats in Congress to carry out comprehensive immigration reforms. In the 2016 presidential election, McConnell, who adhered to this concept, had favored four establishment candidates successively.

However, some Republicans do not approve of the reform direction of the establishment. In 2011, the real estate tycoon Trump began appearing on Fox News every week to criticize Obama, attacking Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists,” and revealed the idea of ​​building a wall on the Mexican border and completely banning Muslim immigrants.

A Republican who has been in contact with McConnell told China News Weekly that since the defeat in the 2012 election, the two political propositions represented by McConnell and Trump have been planted in the party that continue to this day. The core of the disagreement is “where is the border of the Republican Party turning right?” Karaman pointed out that McConnell’s main reason for opposing Trump was not because of political disagreements, but from a practical point of view, believing that it was too extreme to have the power of votes.

The struggle continues until 2021 and there is not much change. Informed sources close to McConnell revealed that the Republican Party’s failure in 2021 in traditional red states such as Arizona and Georgia prompted McConnell to reconsider the party’s political orientation. His supporters include Arizona Republican Party Chairman Ward and Georgia Governor Camp, both of whom will lead their party to fight hard in the traditional red state of “turning blue” in the 2022 election, and use “de-Trumping” to attract middle voters. , Is an important prerequisite for victory.

As for the Capitol Hill incident, CNN cited high-level Republican sources as saying that McConnell privately stated that he believed that seizing the incident and the resulting impeachment would make it easier for the Republican Party to get rid of Trump. Ism. However, the psychological changes of some Republican voters are exactly the opposite of the timing chosen by McConnell. The latest poll released on February 15 by Yougov, an American online survey agency, showed that after the impeachment case, 36% of Republicans regarded Trump as “the greatest president in American history.” Polls released by the website on the eve of the Senate vote showed that 83% of Republicans opposed the impeachment of Trump.

“Asymmetric polarization”
The biggest “legacy” Trump left to the Republican Party is the rapid intensification of the Republican Party’s polarization, which Karaman summarized as “asymmetric polarization” and “right-wing public opinion ecological construction.”

Missouri Republican campaign official Garcia admitted to China News Weekly that he only started to understand Trump after he became president, but soon discovered that when partisan disputes dispelled the people’s confidence in the government, Trump provided A “completely different option” was created. By the end of Trump’s administration, his favorite Fox News became the main news source for over 70% of Republican voters. Coupled with “Twitter governing the country” and attacks on traditional mainstream media, 80% of Republican voters believed more in the President in the White House. Rather than serious media, a right-wing public opinion environment field is completely constructed.

The polarization of American society therefore shows a trend of “asymmetric”. According to surveys, Republican voters are now twice as extreme to the right as Democrats to the left. More than 70% of Republicans consider themselves conservatives, while only 40% of Democrats call themselves liberals. More than half of Democrats believe that their party will become more moderate, while nearly 60% of Republicans tend to be more conservative.

While the Republican Party turned sharply to the right, the anti-Trump camp was a little bit sloppy. McConnell’s peers are nearly 80 years old. 2018 has become an iteration year. Nearly half of the Republican congressmen elected in 2016 did not seek re-election. The most important Trump critics in the Senate, Bob Kirk and Jeff ·Flake retired. McCain, the most important leader of the anti-Trump camp, died in the summer of that year. Republicans in his state have turned to support Trump in 2020.

Since the defeat in the 2012 election, the two political propositions represented by McConnell and Trump have planted differences in the party that have continued to this day, the core of which is “where is the border of the Republican Party turning right?”

Republicans who support McConnell pessimistically predict that, due to reality, McConnell will eventually return to the old path of reconciliation with Trump. The American media pointed out that in the past four years, McConnell has been tolerating Trump’s fierce rhetoric, white supremacy, and willful incompetence in government governance in exchange for key agendas such as tax cuts, deregulation, and appointment of conservative judges. Implementation.

House Republican leader McCarthy and McConnell condemned Trump for inciting commotion and suggested that Congress initiate a condemnation resolution. But after being criticized by extreme voices in the party, McCarthy flew to Florida to visit Trump. Although the $700 lunch at Sea Lake Manor needs to be paid out of his own pocket, McCarthy exchanged Trump’s promise to support the other party in the 2022 Republican midterm elections.

Trump seems impatient to wait for McConnell to reconcile himself. In a statement on February 16, he made it clear that he would support those Republican candidates who agreed with his views in the 2022 election. Trump’s team also revealed that he met with former campaign manager Pascal on February 16.

McConnell said that he would not allow Trump to hinder Republicans from regaining the majority position in the Senate in 2022. Therefore, if he judges that the candidate Trump supports is less likely to win the election, he will make his position clear in the Republican primary elections.

McConnell particularly emphasized that he supports all current Republican senators in the Senate to fight for re-election, including Murkowski, who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment twice, and Thun, the number two Republican. CNN reported that Trump is preparing to launch a candidate in South Dakota to challenge Thun, who is trying to be re-elected to the Senate for the fourth time. The states where the two sides are close to each other may also include Georgia. Trump said that he would not support the current Republican Governor Camp in the next round of elections.

This may be a repeat of the history of the 2018 midterm elections. That time, from South Carolina, Mississippi to Florida, then President Trump supported unknown political veterans in the primary elections and challenged senior Republican congressmen or governors who criticized him; McConnell supported him. the latter. Finally, under Trump’s pressure, the Republican National Committee finally turned to support the Trump faction candidates. But the final result is that this internal conflict of the Republicans gave the Democrats an “assist.” In that midterm election, the Democrats regained 39 seats in the House of Representatives and became the majority party again.

This time, the situation is slightly different. Chen Renyi pointed out that although McConnell’s efforts to “de-Trump” through the impeachment case did not succeed, he could mobilize most of the funds of the Republican National Senate Committee and the Political Action Committee in the 2022 election. Pope can no longer intervene in the Republican National Committee, so candidates supported by McConnell will gain more support in the party’s primary elections.

If Trump insists on launching a group of “independent candidates” after losing the primary election, it will scatter the Republican votes in the final election and disrupt McConnell’s plan to “retake both houses of the House of Representatives in 2022.” Some Republicans predict that if this is the case, Trump will stand up and put the blame for the Republican party’s failure on McConnell.