The Republican Party is in chaos as Donald Trump continues to rule with an iron fist even though he left the White House in disgrace. Dissenters dare not speak up against The Donald.
Or so say a lot of Democrats. Among them is Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama administration official who spends Sunday morning dicing with our own Chris Christie on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
On Sunday, Emanuel predicted that a vengeful Trump will spend the next two years seeking retribution from Republicans who failed to support him in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“He is going after every Republican that either said something bad or voted against him. And God bless them,” Emanuel said. “You guys who didn’t want to cut him off, you made a Faustian bargain with him, and that’s what’s coming to the Republican Party.”
No, it’s not, said one of the guys to whom Emanuel was referring. Christie argued that every party faces some divisions after a loss at the polls, but “part of those divisions are driven by Donald Trump’s personality and his behavior.”
Once Trump is out of the news, the Grand Old Party will actually be grander said Christie.
“I’ve had to come on this show for four years and your first question to me always is about something Donald Trump said, did or tweeted,” he said. “That’s not going to be the case over the next couple years.”
I agree with our ex-governor. No matter how much the Democrats would like to keep running against The Donald, Trump’s a goner.
He won’t be back, said one hard-core conservative who ran against Christie in the 2009 GOP gubernatorial primary.
“I think Donald Trump did a great job advancing issues important to this country, such as his success in the Mideast,” said right-wing stalwart Steve Lonegan of Bergen County. “But he’s not a philosophical conservative like Ronald Reagan.”
Reagan was called “the Great Communicator,” but no one would call Trump that, he said.
“If Trump had been a better communicator instead of this New York in-your-face guy, he’d still be president,” said Lonegan. “But I think we should face it. He’s done. He’s not coming back.”
But over the past four years, a number of talented candidates have come forward, said Lonegan. He cited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a top contender. Other potential candidates include Rand Paul and of course Christie, who never seems to get through a show withouttaking a shot at the Kentucky Senator.
But forget 2024. The next big election will be in 2022, when all 435 House seats are up for grabs.
One of New Jersey’s two Republicans seats is held by Jeff Van Drew of Cape May County. Van Drew was elected as a Democrat in 1998 but switched parties last year at Trump’s behest.
Van Drew remains loyal to Trump. But he told me he doesn’t expect those members of Congress who opposed The Donald to face significant retribution.
Perhaps the most prominent is Liz Cheney, the congresswoman from Wyoming who was so vocal in her opposition to Trump’s actions on Jan. 6. Van Drew said that when he spoke at a Republican caucus a few weeks ago he came out in favor of removing Cheney from her leadership position in the House.
“But I said whether we do that or not we must all be in unison working for the Republican Party and the nation,” Van Drew said. “I got a standing ovation.”
Van Drew said that even though Trump is out of the picture, his brand of “conservative populism” has become the template for national Republican politics.
Without Trump as a target the Democrats will have to confront a lot of tough issues, he said. One is energy. The cold snap sweeping the country has led to soaring natural gas prices that could lead to soaring home-heating bills.
“If they’re going to ban fracking and going to have the Green New Deal, get ready to pay a lot more and give up a lot more,” he said.
Immigration is another tough one for the Biden administration, he said.
“Are we going to have a system of immigration that really works?” he asked.
The sooner Trump is out of the picture, the sooner we’ll see those issues dominating the news.
The talk shows just won’t be the same without The Donald.
But somehow the Republican Party will survive.