Republican pols and conservative opinion leaders are divided between those defending Team Trump’s crazed effort to contest his election defeat, and those remaining silent or criticizing the president and his allies for delusional thinking.
But let’s get real: The number of Republicans who really believe this is all going to work out for Trump, with him proudly mounting the rostrum to be sworn into a second term on January 20, is small and dwindling. So for the most part, this has become an entirely symbolic loyalty test for members of the GOP who fear losing the trust of “the base,” even as they privately wish they could move on.
Yes, “moving on” for many Republicans just means relearning the obstructionist tactics they regularly deployed when Barack Obama was president. But there is a critical moment before Joe Biden takes office, on January 5, when voters in Georgia determine control of the Senate in two runoff elections.
Georgia’s incumbent GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, would undoubtedly love to begin pounding Republican and swing voters with the message that they are needed to keep Biden and his Democrats from running rampant in Washington. That’s hard to do when their party’s leader is refusing to accept that Biden will in fact become president. And it’s even harder when Republicans in Georgia are fighting each other and walking a tight line over the results that have now been certified by the state’s Republican secretary of State and governor.
Trump’s allies elsewhere are beginning to become impatient with him as well, as evidenced by this shot across the bow from the editors of the Washington Examiner:
The president’s efforts to reverse the election result and stay in office for a second term are not going to succeed. Without a chance of succeeding, they have become distractions from the really important task of keeping the Senate in Republican hands. In Georgia, Trump is setting Republican against Republican.
More to the point, if Perdue and Loeffler continue to be forced to defend Trump’s mad take on what happened on November 3, the Georgia runoffs could become a referendum on Republican refusal to respect the Constitution, democratic norms, and objective reality. While they want to be identified with the sensible center of public opinion fearing total control of Washington by the wild-eyed socialists being ushered into power by Biden, the Georgia senators may instead paint themselves into the same extremist corner as Trump. And they may invite a good swift kick from voters anxious to make them break down the circus tents and kick the clowns out of town.
Perdue and Loeffler are indeed trapped between a public-opinion rock and a MAGA hard place. And Republicans everywhere who long for their success may lock themselves into a thousand closets and quietly curse the narcissistic president who put them all there.