Analysis: Trump’s 2022 anti-democratic playbook takes shape as Biden confronts Putin

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As Biden seeks to prevent a potentially deadly and destabilizing military incursion into Eastern Europe, Trump and his allies are stepping up efforts to infiltrate the roots and branches of American democracy. With a new election season on the horizon, the former president and MAGA-friendly organizations are on the offensive, forcing a national Trumpification process as concerned with ridding the GOP of its opponents as it is with uplifting its allies.

There is nothing unusual about the most popular figure in a political party striving to smooth the political course for like-minded candidates. Former President Barack Obama is still, nearly five years after leaving the White House, the most desired supporter in Democratic politics. But the nature of Trump’s influence is, of course, fundamentally different, and the programmatic message of his cronies – particularly at the bottom of the ticket – reflects a loyalty to Trump and his fictions that threaten to corrode the most basic levers of the government. government.

The process was sped up in part by current Republican officials and Trump critics who opted for exits rather than facing the wrath of supporters or certain defeat in the GOP-dominated election.

Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney is almost a singular figure in his efforts to win re-election to Congress in open disregard for Trump and a lead candidate he has backed to run against her. Others, like Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, choose not to run next year, in part because of the prospect of Trump pitting his base against them. In 2017, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, a conservative Republican, announced his retirement when it became clear that his criticism of the then president had reduced his chances of re-election. And in Massachusetts, the moderate and hugely popular Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week that he would not be running for a third term. By stepping down, he sidestepped a main challenge from former Trump-backed state lawmaker Geoff Diehl.
In Georgia, former Sen. David Perdue on Monday issued a main challenge to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, a conservative Republican who has made himself on Trump’s enemies list by failing to try to overturn the election results of the ‘Status in 2020.

Perdue’s video announcing his candidacy offered a take on Trumpism with a smiley face, as he borrowed from the aesthetic – half-zip collar, mention of schools parental controls – of Virginia Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, who has ran a campaign this year that successfully played down Trump. But the former Peach State Senator, who lost in a runoff earlier this year, included in his indictment of Kemp a reference to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the official. election campaign that has repeatedly rejected Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud in the state.

Ironically, Perdue blamed the two for the country’s divisions – although it was Trump who stoked fears of a mail-in vote that could have kept Georgia Republicans at home last January and cost Perdue his seat. .

In a Monday night statement endorsing Perdue, Trump echoed parts of the new candidate’s remarks but, as usual, put aside the dog whistle for a megaphone in regards to the 2020 election.

“Kemp has been a very weak governor – the Liberals and RINOs have crushed him on electoral integrity, and more,” Trump said. “More importantly, he can’t win because the MAGA base – which is huge – will never vote for him.”

Kemp’s ability to garner the support of die-hard Trump supporters is obviously in doubt. But the suggestion that Kemp, Georgia’s former secretary of state, has been a bystander or wallflower in the national struggle for voting rights is just absurd – and not in a way that flatters him.

On the contrary, Kemp’s long-standing support and dogged implementation of tough election laws likely helped Trump keep the 2020 race as close as it has been. And he enacted new restrictive measures in March after Biden’s victory in the state.

This is the hidden cost of Trumpism

Georgia Republicans are now set for a dragging gubernatorial primary that could anger middle voters over the eventual candidate and lend a hand to Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is running again in 2022 after failing little to defeat Kemp in 2018. In a state that will likely be the political epicenter of next year, Trump has already handpicked candidates for the Senate race – encouraging Herschel Walker to run despite concerns from some Republicans regarding his past – and supporting GOP Representative Jody Hice, who voted against presidential certification, against Raffensperger.

It is this push to aid or install Trumpist candidates further into the ballot, particularly in legislative or state elections, that might actually be of greater concern. Decision-making power vested in these offices is less than that of a U.S. governor or senator, but their ability to meddle in or undermine larger elections was highlighted in the turbulent days following Biden’s victory. last year, when Trump’s loyalists pressured them into making extrajudicial decisions. the steps to cancel or refuse to certify the results.

Trump’s ticket takes shape

Two of Michigan’s top Republican candidates for office, where Biden won more than 154,000 votes, have openly sought to reverse the result. Kristina Karamo, an election candidate for secretary of state, falsely claimed that Trump won the state in 2020. Matthew DePerno, who filed a questionable complaint challenging the election results, is now a candidate for prosecutor general. Both have Trump’s approval.

The roster of electoral conspirators already in or vying for influential positions is growing – but it does not end with somewhat smaller officials, agents and activists with previous electoral experience.

Trump's allies seek election positions from top to bottom.  This could have consequences in 2024

Public Wise, an electoral rights organization formed in 2019, is working to launch a searchable database of individuals and groups in positions of power who were involved in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. The group told CNN it now has more than 1,000 records showing that nearly 200 suspected insurgents hold or seek seats in Congress, in statewide offices and in city councils, towns and cities. school boards and other local offices.

“The dangerous ideology that fueled the January 6 insurgency is spreading to all levels of government, accelerated by former President Trump’s deliberate efforts to install insurgents and supporters of the ‘big lie’ at all levels of our government, ”said the executive director of Public Wise. Christina Baal-Owens. “The election of the same people who attacked the Capitol on January 6 poses a direct threat to American democracy, especially as we look into the mid-terms of 2022 and 2024.”

Prominent figures in Trump’s orbit have made no secret of their desire to systematically supply the government with followers of the movement. Steve Bannon, who helped lead Trump to the election in 2016 and briefly served as his chief strategist and senior White House adviser, has made his podcast a hub for below-the-radar organizational efforts.

“We take control of the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. We take control of all elections,” Bannon said in a recent episode of his podcast, CNN’s Sara Murray and Jeremy Herb reported Monday.

In an interview with CNN, he explained the strategy in layman’s terms.

“It’s about winning the election with the right people, the people from MAGA,” Bannon said. “We will have our people at all levels.”

Whether the tactic is effective remains to be seen. Youngkin and Jack Ciattarelli of New Jersey, who nearly ousted Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in an incredibly close race in November, did better than expected in part by keeping Trump out of the campaign speech and – literally – out of the borders of State. Trump has played the game this year; he’s unlikely to be so deferential, or back down, in a campaign he seems to see as a referendum on his own popularity.

Trump has also displayed a tendency to support flawed candidates facing controversy. His endorsement of Roy Moore in Alabama in 2017, when several women accused Moore of assaulting or sexually assaulting them as teenagers and in his thirties, fell flat. Moore, whom then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called to quit the race, denied the allegations but lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
More recently, Sean Parnell, Trump’s choice to take the Senate seat of retired Republican Senator Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, suspended his main campaign after a judge granted his ex-wife primary physical custody and sole legal custody of their three children and determined that Parnell had committed acts of violence against his wife in the past. She also accused him of injuring their children twice – all claims Parnell denied.
In Georgia’s other costly race for the Senate seat won by Democrat Raphael Warnock earlier this year, Trump moved all-in for Walker despite being accused of threatening multiple women. In a 2008 CNN interview, Walker spoke openly about his struggle with mental illness and the violent and disturbing thoughts he had. Walker’s campaign noted that the former football star had gotten help since his alleged violent incidents in the early 2000s, while denying a more recent allegation.
Trump did not endorse former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in his Senate bid. Greitens resigned from his previous job in 2018 following an investigation into allegations of sexual and electoral misconduct. A woman had testified under oath before state lawmakers that she felt coerced into sexual acts by him and that he threatened to post explicit photos of her if she disclosed their relationship. (Greitens admitted the case, but denied ever having blackmailed, coerced or sexually assaulted.) He has since claimed he was “exonerated”, noting that an investigator in his case had been charged with perjury and tampering with evidence.
But the break with Trump is not complete: Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, one of the former president’s best campaign assistants in 2020, has signed on to be Greitens’ national campaign chair.
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