Before January 6th, TQC’s position was that Donald Trump was a depraved human who denigrated the office of the president and further polluted the very swamp he promised to clean up, but we credited him – and agreed with – some of his policies. That morning, Trump urged his supporters to head to Washington, “fight” and “take back our country.” He unilaterally declared that “we will never concede (because) you don’t concede when there is theft involved.” After that, any goodwill we harbored towards him, vaporized.
Since then, Donald Trump has continued to beat two dead horses: that the presidential election was rife with fraud thereby “stolen” from him, and that former Vice President Mike Pence could have overturned the results. If anybody dare question the lies Mr. Trump peddles, Trump calls them a liar and / or accuses them of being “disloyal.”
Lies Damn Lies & Statistics
When hundreds of millions of people vote for anything, including a presidential election, it would be a statistical impossibility if there were not a few irregularities and isolated instances of outright fraud. That said, to cherry-pick specific instances of malfeasance – “this ballot was submitted by a dead person” or “that ballot was mailed in past a deadline” - and claim its representative of the general election process is nonsense and undermines the integrity of our democracy.
Often when we make this point, our friends on the right counter that while they cannot produce tangible evidence of widespread fraud, mail in balloting and remote everything clearly favorites Democrats because more Dems vote by mail. We agree with all that. However, the way in which a vote is cast, and voter fraud, are two mutually exclusive things. It is incorrect to conflate the two. When we make this point, our friends on the right counter that it is easier to commit fraud when voting my mail. It might very well be. But arguing that it is easier to commit fraud by mail does not equate to systemic fraud being committed by mail (or in person). If it did, the evidence would have been delivered a long time ago. Indeed, both of Donald Trump’s accusations are patently false, and frankly, pathetic.
After the election, a right leaning SCOTUS (of which three justices, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett were appointed by Donald Trump himself) rejected legal challenges pertaining to the election in Wisconsin and Texas. Bill Barr, Trump’s former Attorney General, and unabashed conservative said, “we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” Not surprisingly, this did not deter Donald Trump from promoting his self-serving lies.
To be clear, all politicians lie; it is basically a prerequisite for the job. However, the degree to which Donald Trump continues to lie ad nauseum about the election being “stolen” and that Mike Pence could have undermined the will of the people and overturned the results, usurps the democratic process and weakens the Republican party.
Principled conservatives must reject Trump’s nonsensical rhetoric and forcefully condemn it.
Pence Shows Backbone
Earlier this month, former Vice President Mike Pence did exactly that. While addressing the Federalist Society Pence said, “I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong…The Presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American President.” Of course, Mr. Pence is correct. And his loyalty to the American public rightly trumped – excuse the pun – any lingering allegiance to his former boss.
In an op-ed penned in the Billings Gazette, former governor of Montana Marc Racicot (R-MT) who was previously Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and prior to that, leader of George Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, wrote "Although it is ever so neat and tidy to blame the defeat of the former president on the existence of decisive and widespread fraud, there is not even a scintilla of evidence, anywhere, to support such piffle…”
Unfortunately, Vice President Pence and Mark Racicot are atypical among the GOP when it comes to publicly standing up to the former president. While the majority of the GOP would prefer to see Mr. Trump in the rear-view mirror, too many rank and file Republicans have cowered under pressure and failed to openly challenge Trump. They are spineless. And The Republican National Committee (RNC) has chosen to defend Trump and discredit his detractors. At TQC, we think the RNC’s stance is not only morally bankrupt, but also strategically inept.
Said conservative columnist Jason Riley in the WSJ, “The Republican National Committee is currently preoccupied with settling scores for Mr. Trump, which could come at the cost of expanding the GOP’s appeal at a time when Democrats look vulnerable.” Mr. Riley is correct. The GOP is squandering a tremendous opportunity.
Democrats are in a horribly weak position. President Biden’s approval ratings are dismal, he’s been unable to pass a signature piece of proposed legislation (Build Back Better) while infighting between “the Squad” and more centrist Dems have sown division within the party.
Republicans have a chance to massively outperform in November’s midterms. The roadmap for them is quite simple: repudiate and move on from Mr. Trump and proactively discuss substantive policies they champion. Instead, the RNC and other influencers have allocated their resources censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – two members of the GOP that have displayed prudence (and backbones) - for participating in a congressional investigation into last year’s attack on the Capitol. In our view, this is waste of time and flawed policy.
To be certain, Republicans are all but guaranteed to regain a majority in the House and will probably retake the Senate in the midterms this November. However, this will transpire in spite of their strategic initiatives, not because of them. Regardless, when the GOP wins back the House, nobody in their party will make baseless accusations of voting irregularities or fraud.
Despite his apparent iron clad grip on the Republican party, evidence suggests that Donald Trump is beginning to cede a bit of control over the GOP. After the RNC censored Cheney & Kinzinger, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell made a not-so-subtle attempt to push back, referring to the attack on the Capitol as a “violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next.”
Mr. McConnell is an extremely astute and calculating politician. In our view, he would not have made those comments if he did not think it was in the GOP’s best interest to reject and move on from Donald Trump, and the political trade winds are beginning to blow in that direction. Evidence suggests they are.
According to The Economist, “all seven House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump and are seeking re-election outraised their primary opponents…At the end of October 2020, 54% of respondents who identified themselves as Republican said they were more a supporter of Mr Trump, whereas 38% said they were more loyal to the party. In their first poll this year, nbc finds a near-complete reversal of those patterns: 56% proclaim more support for the party and 36% say they are more for Mr Trump.”
That right leaning voters are beginning to sour on the former president should be welcome news to Republicans. The GOP – and America for that matter - is far better off without Donald Trump. It would behoove more GOP lawmakers to take Mr. McConnell’s cue and publicly counter Trump’s hogwash. Indeed, the biggest fraud that exists as it pertains to the presidential election, is the person purporting there to be one. The GOP must call out Trump’s lies, forcefully condemn them, and move on from him.