Why does the Republican Party support Trump
Little has been heard from Donald Trump in the past few days. Whereby "little" is still exaggerated. There were a few media reports above Donald Trump. CNN said he once "almost yelled at the television" in anger over the appearance of his lawyers in the impeachment process. But of Donald Trump was actually not heard during the days when the Democrats in the Senate brought their charges of "inciting insurrection" against him - not a word, not a syllable, not a sound.
This was not only because the former US president is no longer allowed to tweet. There would have been other opportunities for Trump to publicly comment on the second impeachment, which he had to face within a year. Trump could have called his friend Sean Hannity, who hosts a show on Fox News every night. He could have issued press releases through his office. Or he could have just stood in the driveway of his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he now lives. Lots of journalists would have come.
However, it would be a mistake to conclude from Trump's silence that he had nothing more to say in the party. Rather the opposite is the case. Most political observers believe that despite his electoral defeat and complicity in the storming of the Capitol, Trump remains firmly in control of the Republicans.
The uprising within the party quickly fizzled out
That looked different shortly after January 6th. Several Republican MPs and senators who had been loyal to Trump until then, whether out of conviction or opportunism, appeared to be ready to break with the voted president after the violence in the Capitol. "I've had enough. Enough is enough," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham after he had to flee from the mob instigated by Trump. The Republican parliamentary group leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, let it be known in the media that he might be ready to vote for the condemnation of Trump in an impeachment process. In the House of Representatives, ten MPs opposed the president and voted with the Democrats for impeachment, among them the number three of the parliamentary group leadership, Liz Cheney.
But the mutiny against Trump, if it was a real one at all, came to nothing relatively quickly. Graham is back on track a long time ago. The videos of the violence and chaos that the Democrats showed to substantiate their charges were seen by many Republican senators as "offensive and absurd," he criticized in a tweet on Thursday. After he flirted with condemning Trump, McConnell also voted twice against continuing the impeachment process because it was unconstitutional. On Saturday he also voted against a guilty verdict - only to immediately find out in a speech afterwards that Donald Trump was naturally to blame for the violence on January 6th. Republican logic.
Only Liz Cheney remained steadfast. She continues to sharply criticize Trump and warn the party against chaining to him. "We shouldn't mess with the former president," she said in an interview a few days ago.
However, Cheney also addressed the central problem with which Trump's opponents among the Republicans are struggling. Trump has influence over the party mainly because the party has surrendered to him completely. There are individual dissidents in Washington and in the states. But overall, the party is infected by Trumpism down to the local associations. Trump holds the party tight. But most of the party feels very comfortable in this grip.
Cheney, who represents the state of Wyoming in the House of Representatives, had to experience two weeks ago what this looks like in practice. Her parliamentary colleague and party friend Matt Gaetz, a rock-hard Trump supporter from Florida, traveled to Wyoming and sharply attacked the local MP at a rally in front of hundreds of listeners. Wyoming should rather send a real Republican to Washington, scolded Gaetz.
Trump critics quickly felt the anger of the grassroots
For Liz Cheney, the vote against Trump could mean the end of her political career. There are already several Republicans who want to dispute her parliamentary candidacy in the next internal party primary. Donald Trump Jr., the popular popular son of the former president, has announced that he will then campaign against Cheney.
Other Republicans who dare to criticize Trump are also feeling the anger of the party base. A good number of those MPs and senators who voted for the impeachment were immediately reprimanded by the party associations in their home states. Most recently, it was Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. He was one of six Republicans who voted with the Democrats on Tuesday to ensure that the impeachment process is constitutional and should continue. The Republican Party in the capital Baton Rouge called it "a betrayal of the people of Louisiana and a rejection of all those who support President Trump". Cassidy still voted for the condemnation of Trump on Saturday.
But that doesn't change the fact that there is little for Republican politicians to gain by opposing Trump. They are more likely to put themselves in danger. According to a recent poll, nearly 70 percent of Republican voters say they didn't want to vote for a congressional candidate who voted for Trump's condemnation. The bottom line is, at best, a narrow majority of Americans are in favor of finding Trump guilty in the process, even if they blame him for the violence in the Capitol. The vast majority of Republican party supporters still support Trump - eight out of ten, according to a new survey by Reuters news agency. It was therefore no coincidence that most of the seven Republican senators who condemned Trump on Saturday had either just been re-elected, are known to be Trump critics anyway, or no longer want to run for re-election.
Given this situation, Donald Trump could sit back and calmly wait until the impeachment was over. He then spoke up shortly after the vote by press release - very pleased: Now this part of the "witch hunt" against him is over, he wrote. "Our historic, patriotic, and beautiful movement that will make America great again has only just begun."
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