Unwilling to wait until 2024, ‘Speaker Trump’ is now a thing Republicans want

Republicans can’t help themselves. No matter how big of a loser Donald Trump is, and he’s the biggest of them all, they just can’t quit him. In fact, they’re so desperate to keep him front and center in the electoral debate, that they’re now talking about making him speaker of the House

And in a little-known quirk of the House’s rules, he wouldn’t even need to be elected to anything to make that happen. 

Article 1, Section 2, states, “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers...” There are no other legal requirements for the position, including age, or actually being elected to anything. For some time in the mid teens, House conservatives actually agitated for Senator Ted Cruz to become speaker. In 2013, former Secretary of State Colin Powell received votes for speaker. In 2015, Sen. Rand Paul got a vote. 

Now, in all of American history, the speaker has always been a member of the House. But that’s a norm, a tradition, not an actual requirement. And we all know how much water that carries with both the modern conservative movement and Donald Trump. Zero. And so, a new conservative scheme is born: the drive to make Trump the next speaker. It started with this exchange on wingnut radio:

Speaker of the House Donald Trump? He’s not ruling it out.

The former president called the idea “very interesting” after conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root pressed him Friday to run for a Florida congressional seat in 2022 with the goal of leading a Republican takeover of the House and supplanting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Why not instead of just waiting for 2024, and I’m hoping you run in 2024, but why not run in 2022 for the United States Congress, a House seat in Florida, win big, lead us to a dramatic landslide victory, taking the House by 50 seats, and then you become the Speaker of the House,” said Mr. Root on his USA Network show [...]

“You’ll wipe him [President Biden] out for his last two years, and then you’ll be president. Do it! Do it! You’ll be a folk hero,” Mr. Root said.

Of course, Root clearly doesn’t know about the non-requirements to be speaker. Other conservatives do, and they’re starting to talk. One told The Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas, “If 150 members of Congress went to Trump and said, ‘We want you to be our leader,’ I think he’d do it.” 

Of course he’d do it! Could there be a better scenario for Trump than to be handed something without having to do a lick of work? It’s his dream come true! And you know who is really excited at this possibility? Steve Bannon. 

Bannon unspooled a wild chain of events to me, to explain away that hurdle: Trump would serve only 100 days, setting in motion the Republican policy agenda and starting a series of investigations, including an impeachment inquiry into Biden. Then, Trump would step down, turn the gavel over to McCarthy, and prepare for a 2024 presidential run. “He’d come in for 100 days and get a team together,” Bannon said. “They’d have a plan. That plan would be to confront the Biden administration across the board. I actually believe that there will be overwhelming evidence at that time to impeach Biden, just as they did Trump. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“On the 101st day,” Bannon added, “he’ll announce his candidacy for the presidency, and we’ll be off to the races.”


Bannon thinks that 1) House minority leader Kevin McCarthy would step aside, even for some time, to hand the gavel to Trump, 2) that Trump would have the votes in the House to win a speaker election, 3) that Trump would have enough of his shit together to put together a team in that short time frame, 4) that Trump would have a “policy agenda,” when they couldn’t even bother to have a party platform at the 2020 Republican convention, 5) that they’d have anything to impeach Biden on with supposed “overwhelming evidence,” and 6) that Trump would willingly hand over the gavel once he had it. Though it is nice of him to admit that Democrats did have “overwhelming evidence” against Trump. 

Still, rather than mock this, and it is so eminently mockable, it behooves us to encourage this talk. As I’ve written, midterm elections are almost always referendum on an incumbent president, leading to typical losses. 

History says that the party of a first-term president nearly always faces catastrophic loses in Congress in his first midterm election. In the House, the average is an over 30-seat loss. In the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attack, 2002 was an exception, so exceptions do exist. Regardless, Democrats face some historical headwinds that are compounded by a reapportionment and redistricting process that favors Republicans, a Senate map that features nearly every single difficult 2020 presidential battleground [...] and the systematic Republican effort to make it harder for core Democratic constituencies to turn out and vote.

In a normal year, we’d be talking about how to minimize losses and what a Biden administration might do with Republican congressional majorities. But this isn’t a normal year, and Republicans are doing everything in their power to keep it that way [...]

[B]y letting loser Trump call the shots and by letting him insert himself into the political debate, Republicans very well risk turning 2022 into a referendum on … Donald Trump. We already know how those go—they goose the liberal base vote without any corresponding Republican vote unless Trump is on the ballot. And he isn’t.

Keeping Trump front and center in the political debate, along with the conservative movement’s inability to get worked up much about President Joe Biden, 2022 threatens to upend the conventional debate, from a referendum on the incumbent, to yet another referendum on Donald Trump. By essentially putting Trump on the ballot—for speaker of the House—Republicans could give liberals yet another reason to turn out in the numbers they did in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. And without Trump being literally on the ballot, the chances of Republicans turning out the hidden deplorables are dramatically lowered. 

Right now, this “Speaker Trump” discussion is floating on the edges of the political debate. But with Bannon on board, it shouldn’t be long before Trump himself is promoting the idea. And from there? Who knows. “Will you vote for Trump for Speaker” could be yet another item on the conservative litmus test, to go with “who really won the 2020 election.”

Trump lickspittles have taken over Republican Party, but a handful of rebels play long game

All Republicans are awful. They are greedy, selfish, death-worshipping assholes. Let’s just stipulate that because it’s objectively true—it’s no accident that while they were happy to toss aside their supposed fealty to “family values” and “national security” during the Trump years, the one thing they got accomplished was tax cuts for the über-wealthy. Their priorities have always been clear. 

That said, we can divide Republicans into two camps, one of them full of morons beyond belief, and the other not so dumb. The first has surrendered itself completely to the felon-in-waiting Donald Trump, who cost them the House, the Senate, and the White House—only the third president to lose reelection in the last hundred years. He isn’t just the nation’s biggest loser, but a living reminder of the GOP’s lack of any actual ideological core beyond tax cuts for the rich. Remember, Republicans didn’t even bother writing a party platform during their presidential convention! Why bother writing anything down when all that matters is what Trump thinks in the moment, subject to his changing irrational whims? 

The Trump lickspittles have won the battle for control of their party. But there is a smaller faction—those Republicans who, while ideologically odious, at least remain loyal to the Constitution and the principles of American democracy. It’s a low bar to meet and a distressingly small number of Republicans meet it, but they exist. 

Yet while this small minority of Republicans might be on the outs today, they’re playing the long game, and it’s a smarter game to play. They may not be the future of the party, but they have more of a chance to do so than any of the Lickspittle caucus ever will. 

Six Republicans voted for the Jan. 6 commission: 

  Bill Cassidy, Louisiana   Susan Collins, Maine   Lisa Murkowski, Alaska   Rob Portman, Ohio   Mitt Romney, Utah   Ben Sasse, Nebraska

This nearly mirrors the list of Republicans who voted to convict during Trump’s second impeachment trial. The only differences are that Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey is missing (he didn’t bother to stick around) and Portman was added to this list. 

Of those, Portman is retiring, Collins represents a blue state, and Murkowski is protected by the strange politics of her state (including the brand new “top-four” jungle primary that protects her from being ousted in a traditional Republican-only primary). 

Cassidy, Romney, and Sasse, however, represent solid red states (even if Utah isn’t particularly Trump-loving), and Sasse, in particular, has presidential ambitions. (Maybe Romney too.) 

Over in the House, 35 Republicans voted for the commission—a stunningly large number of defectors—led by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was recently cancelled from the House leadership. That is a significant increase from the 10 who voted for Trump’s second impeachment. And if you look at that list, it’s not a list of “liberal Republicans,” or even moderates. No liberal Republicans are left, and precious few moderates, as well. Most were solid conservatives standing up for the Constitution. 

It would be hard to point to any elected official and not think that they have higher-office aspirations. So these Republicans, in all future campaigns, will have this vote hung around their necks during their primaries. It’s the reason so many Republicans took the coward’s way out and stood by Trump. They were afraid to face their base voters having stood up to Trump. There are the loyalists, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who are far gone in Q-conspiracy land and worship their idol Trump. But aside from those, there are the opportunists—the Sens. Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzes, Republicans working feverishly to capture that Trump electoral magic in a bottle and releasing it for their own benefit in their inevitable future presidential bids. George P. Bush is the latest of that crowd to humiliate themselves in a bid to win Trump’s approval. 

What the Liz Cheneys and Ben Sasses know, because it’s obvious, is that Trump will never anoint any of that crowd—not the loyalists, and not the opportunists—for anything in which he or his spawn have their eye on. He is loyal to himself first, and Ivanka Trump second. Then, to a lesser degree, his sons. And after that, the spouses and partners. That’s it! 

There isn’t a chance in hell that a Trump doesn’t run for president in 2024. It might not be Donald Trump himself—he might be too indicted, too convicted, too in jail, or too dead from all those disgusting Big Macs he eats. But if it isn’t the Liar in Chief himself, it will be one of his children. The loyalists might not care, pathetically worshipping at the altar of Trump. But the opportunists are making a bet that will never pay off. They will never inherit the Trump movement, because Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone but himself and his clan. They have thrown in with an odious, morally obscene man who will never give them the approbation they so desperately want from him. 

Cheney and Sasse are ambitious politicians. They know what they face inside their party, and they’re making a calculated bet that someday sanity will return to their party, and their brand of competent conservatism will once again have value. These are smart politicians, and they know the pitfalls and dangers they face ahead. They may lose their next primary bids. They may be further ostracized and marginalized. They may simply fail to stem the tide of a Republican Party falling deeper into conspiracy territory. 

But if the Republican Party ever breaks out of this current fever, they’ll be there to pick up the pieces and lead it onward. 

The chance that happens is slim. What, 5% or 10%? Let’s not pretend odds are good. But it’s not out of the realm of impossibility. And even 10% is a higher chance of success than the big 0% the lickspittles have of ever becoming president, becoming leaders of their party, or even winning any seats coveted by the Trump clan. 

It’s amazing to see, but Republicans are really digging their own graves

Much has been written lately about the GQP’s unfathomable opposition to the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package (see here, here, here and here). In short, the Democrat’s proposal is incredibly popular, even among Republicans. A Morning Consult poll pegged support at 76% of voters, including 60% of Republicans. That’s bipartisanship. But Republicans in Congress want to play off the old destroy-Obama-at-all-costs playbook, and have put up a wall of opposition to the legislation. 

And not only are they rhetorically opposing it, but they’re actively whipping against it, forcing congressional Republicans to vote against it or else. Let’s hope they’re successful, because nothing will make the 2022 midterm messaging clearer than “those checks came from us, they didn’t want to help you at all.” 

Indeed, their current stances are so at odds with basic political common sense, it almost makes you suspicious, right? What do they know that we don’t? But no, they think the COVID-19 relief package is like the Affordable Care Act, where they could fearmonger about losing your doctor. Pandemic relief isn’t about taking anything away from you, it’s about giving you cold, hard cash. 

The current Republican response is hilariously stupid. It’s stuff like this: 

We’ve run the numbers and here’s your receipt, @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer. pic.twitter.com/e2cAG8st8W

— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) February 24, 2021

That “$$$”, of course, is checks for people. But even libraries and mass transit aren’t particularly unpopular items, so not sure what they think they’re getting from this kind of messaging. Here’s another one: 

Only 9% of the Biden Bailout Bill goes to #COVID relief. A few examples of where the money is actually going: ➡️$135 million for the National Endowment of the Arts ➡️$350 billion in blue state bailouts ➡️$1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge ➡️$1.5 billion for Amtrak

— Ways and Means GOP (@WaysandMeansGOP) February 24, 2021

For a party that is losing ground with swing voters, not sure why they think that “blue state bailouts” kind of divisive rhetoric gets them anything beyond their old, white, rural, and literally dying off base. “$1.5 million” for something? In a $1.9 TRILLION dollar bill? Does anyone care? And Amtrak is a lifeline for many rural communities. And people like trains

Part of the GOP’s problem is that they no longer know how to message against an old white male. President Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren? Oh boy, they’d have a field day. But the old guy who doesn’t grandstand or showboat much, keeps his head down, stays professional? They’re at a loss. 

So much so that he is a far more popular politician than pretty much anyone else in this country. Some polling has shown positively gaudy numbers for Biden. 

New numbers from @MorningConsult show that @JoeBiden is the most popular national political leader in America https://t.co/EgQ7jtrlob pic.twitter.com/marUPs14FJ

— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) February 24, 2021

Civiqs, which does a great job of filtering out partisan non-response bias (in essence, demoralized partisans refusing to answer polls), has more measured numbers: 

For comparison’s sake, Donald Trump is at 42% favorable, 56% unfavorable. And just as important as the toppling, the trend is a good one. Republicans can’t touch him, which is maybe why they’re resorting to this kind of buffoonery: 

Newsmax guest attacks Biden's dogs for being dirty and "unlike a presidential dog" pic.twitter.com/6yitOlM765

— aliciasadowski (@aliciasadowski6) February 20, 2021

They’ve got nothing of real substance. 

Now, as we look ahead to 2022, take a look at this question, which asks which party better represents you:

That 16-point gap (46% Democratic vs. 30% Republican) is quite dramatic, and is driven by crashing numbers among independents: only 22% think the GOP is concerned about people like them, down from 33% on Election Day. Meanwhile, 36% of independents say Democrats are concerned about them. Let’s keep an eye on this chart in the coming months, because it’s going to become extra clear which party cares about people, and which one is hell-bent on committing political suicide. The damage Republicans are doing to themselves is already extensive. Let’s compare the two parties: 

Republican Party favorability: 23% favorable, 65% unfavorable, with brutal trendiness.

Democratic Party favorability: 44% favorable, 49% unfavorable, with gradually improving trendiness. 

Republicans already lost the 2018 and 2020 elections, and demographic trends continue to move against them. Trump cost them the White House, the Senate, and the House, and there is zero guarantee his voters will ever turn out for an election without Trump on the ballot (they haven’t before). Yet the Republican Party isn’t just doubling down on Trumpism, it’s doubling down on opposing popular legislation.

Think about it, even a Q-addled Republican will have to think twice in 2022 if she or he has to vote between losing their monthly child credit check from the IRS, or a Republican promising to end any such help. Deliver help to people, and it’s a different playing field. It’s already happening, and the legislation hasn’t even passed into law. 

Democrats gifted Republicans the chance to rip out the Trump cancer from their party, but the GQP refused to convict in the impeachment trial. Now Republicans are gifting Democrats the chance to lock in popular support for their party and candidates. 

Perhaps it’s time to stop looking the gift horse in the mouth, and just run up the advantage. 

Live on this week’s The Brief: Impeachment trial and the future of the Republican Party

I’m excited about this week’s episode of Daily Kos’ The Brief, with me and Kerry Eleveld, featuring two fantastic guests! The first is our first repeat guest, Elie Mystal of The Nation, an expert on legal matters and one of the most entertaining people I’ve ever encountered. You’ll love him!

We also get to visit with Sarah Longwell, founder of the never-Trumper publication The Bullwark, founder of the Republican Accountability Project, and founder of Republican Voters Against Trump. We’ll talk about what happened to her party, and whether it has any future in its current state. 

The Brief is now also a podcast! You can catch it wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Please subscribe and leave a review to help the podcast grow. The more people we reach, the better we spread the Daily Kos message of grassroots empowerment and progress. 

Hey guys, (some) Republicans want you to forget that they’re Trump toadies

Senate Republicans, like almost all Republicans, stood strongly with Donald Trump through four years of chaos, incompetence, malice, and mayhem. They stood with him as he promoted his Big Lie, that he hadn’t lost decisively to an American electorate sick of his bullshit. They stood with him during certification of the vote, not just those who challenged the Arizona and Pennsylvania votes, but those who stayed quiet and refused to criticize their colleagues’ efforts to undermine democracy. And with seven notable exceptions, they stood by him during the impeachment vote by refusing to hold Trump accountable for his unprecedented efforts to destroy American democracy. 

Now they want you to think that they really don’t stand with Trump, you know, just because. 

There are only seven Senate Republicans with any credibility left on the matter of democracy—Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), and Pat Toomey (PA). Every single other Republican can go to hell, having destroyed the United State’s credibility on matters of human rights, democracy, and the right of self-determination. Why should the military coup leaders in Myanmar give two shits what Mitch McConnell has to say about their undemocratic power grab? He literally just gave Donald Trump a pass on the same kind of effort, here at home. 

Trump literally tried to get Vice President Mike Pence killed, and 43 Republicans didn’t give a shit. 

Oh, many are talking a good game. 

McConnell himself tried to have it both ways, pretty much hoping the criminal justice system does to Trump what he himself was too afraid or feckless to do. With an eye to nervous corporate PACs, wary of giving money to insurrectionists, he all but begged them to come back to the GOP’s embrace, without doing anything to actually address those concerns. 

Trump’s literal strategy was to try and throw out the votes of predominantly Black voters in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit. And McConnell, given the chance to do something about it, merely shrugged, while his Senate committee sent out “stand with Trump” fundraising emails. 

As Senate GOP leader McConnell blasts Trump but uses constitutional excuse to vote to acquit, his NRSC issues fundraising email to “stand with Trump against impeachment.”

— Rick Pearson (@rap30) February 13, 2021

Other Senate Republicans are equally eager to put Trump and the damage he creates in his wake behind them. “Senate Republicans are warning that they no longer view former President Trump as the leader of the party amid growing signs that they are ready to turn the page after a chaotic four years,” says the lede of a Hill piece on those efforts, as I almost died of laughter. North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer, who was too cowardly to hold Trump accountable for trying to murder his Vice President, said, “Now, as you can tell, there’s some support that will never leave. But I think that there’s a shrinking population and it probably shrinks a little bit after this week.” South Dakota’s John Thune claimed that the vote was “absolutely not” an endorsement of Trump’s actions, except it was exactly that. 

You’d think that Republicans would be concerned about their political peril. Under Trump, Republicans lost the House, the Senate, and the White House. In fact, Trump was only the third president in the last 100 years to lose reelection. They lost ground among people of color (in absolute numbers, even if as a percentage, they may have made some gains). They lost ground among young voters. They lost ground among suburban college-educated women. 

Their most substantial gains? Old white rural men, a constituency that is literally dying off. 

Smart Republicans might look at that damage and think, “on the one hand, he tried to get his Vice President murdered, launched an insurrection against our country, and damaged out international standing, and we’re okay with that, but hell, do we want to keep losing elections?” It’s not as if they’re blind to the damage, as Indiana’s Kevin Cramer said, “I am more concerned about how we rebuild the party in a way that brings in more people to it.”

But really, their strategy, for the most part, really appears to be “let’s pretend Trump doesn’t exist.” Texas’ John Cornyn said, “We won’t keep talking about his tweets or what he did or did not do.” Ha ha ha as if they ever talked about his tweets. It was uncanny how Republicans never ever saw his tweets! 

Meanwhile, too many Republicans still think they can win over Trump’s base in a 2024 presidential bid, like the Senate’s biggest opportunist, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asserted on Sunday that twice-impeached former President Donald Trump was the face of the Republican Party, declaring that “Trump-plus” was the best path forward for the GOP. At the same time, he insisted that Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara was the “future of the Republican Party,” reported the Daily Beast, on his appearance on Fox’s Sunday show. Too many Republicans will trip themselves to be the biggest Trump cheerleaders, when Trump will only ever enthusiastically support someone from his own tribe, and her name is “Ivanka.” 

Undoubtedly, Trump’s deplatforming has dramatically reduced his influence, but it’s only a matter of time before he lands on one of the right’s many platforms, whether it’s Gab, OANN, or Parler, if it ever resuscitates. And then, it doesn’t matter if Trump is speaking to the mainstream as long as he reaches the true believers. He doesn’t have to control the party to severely damage it.

Now to be clear, there’s no way Trump launches a viable third party to challenge the GQP. No freakin’ way. We’ve seen the crowd that surrounds Trump. He doesn’t exactly attract top talent. He’s the guy who bankrupted a casino, a business that literally mints its own money. What’s he going to do, put Steve Bannon in charge? Jared Kushner? We’d witness the biggest grift in political history, which might be great for Trump and his cronies, but wouldn’t be particularly effective in winning significant support. 

Ultimately, it’s much easier to take over the existing party, which is where Republicans stand today—swarmed by the MAGA/Q believers they so avidly cultivated with fear-based racist appeals. I don’t think anyone doubts that Trump would be convicted by the Senate in a secret vote. The fact that Republicans couldn’t publicly pull the trigger is all the evidence you need that the Republican Party hasn’t moved past Trump or his supporters. They remain held in thrall by them. 

In the short- and mid-term, it’s important we hold corporations accountable for any donations to the Republican Party. They made the right move to cut off that flow of money, and McConnell did nothing to mitigate their concerns. And of course, we need to make sure our side remains engaged and active, to punish Republicans in 2022. History says we’ll lose Congress, but history isn’t always right. It wasn’t in 2002 when George W. Bush won seats in his first mid-term, in the wake of 9-11. January 6 should have as much cultural and political resonance, if not more, than 9-11. Saudi terrorists never threatened our Constitution or democracy. My own fury remains unabated. 

So yeah, good luck GQP trying to pretend that they can move on and pretend Trump is irrelevant, and that their own actions enabling him to the very end should be shrugged off. No one is ready to move on. 

The GOP needs to figure out their Trump problem now

On his way out the door, right before it hit him in his ass, twice-impeached madman Donald Trump said, “Have a good life. We will see you soon.” What might’ve been a throwaway line from a person incapable of surrendering the limelight received added context when The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had discussed starting a new “Patriot Party” with his aides—a five-alarm fire that has Republicans panicking and Democrats licking their chops. In fact, it might be a major factor as Senate Republicans struggle with how to handle the impeachment trial. 

And yet I wouldn’t bet on it ever happening. 

First things first: Let’s stipulate that Trump never does anything for anyone except himself, and maybe Ivanka. While several Republicans would love to bask in its light—the Paul Gosars and Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the right-wing MAGA/Q fever swamp—Trump’s entire reason for building this party would be for the benefit of the TRUMP brand, and nothing else. And how could it not? There is no such thing as a Trump ideology (beyond “owning the libs”). There isn’t a cause that motivates him, a higher calling or purpose. He clearly didn’t even like the job of president! He barely showed up to work, didn’t read briefing papers, watched television all day, and said the dumbest shit ever said by a president … and that includes eight years of George W. Bush! 

All Trump cared about was the title, being the Big Man with his airplane and taxpayer-funded Big House and his precious bully pulpit, which he used to, well, bully people. For example, at a reelection rally in Ohio, Trump wasn’t making a case based on how he had improved people’s lives, or a policy vision for a second term (a question he was repeatedly asked during the campaign and he could never answer). Nay, he could only focus on the perks of being president. “[Air Force One has] more televisions than any plane in history! They’ve got televisions in closets, in bathroom, on the floor, on the ceiling.” 

So what would being a member of the Patriot Party entail beyond the further aggrandizing and enrichment of Trump himself? 

Forget any broader strategy of pressuring Republicans, again, on policy grounds. Trump is too stupid to formulate any real strategy, and too aloof to care about any outcome beyond “they better kiss my ring” and “send me more money to save America.” That last part may actually loom large. Trump saw the $200 million that he raised for his big “fight the steal” lie, and he wants more. His real estate empire is on the verge of collapse, with banks refusing to do further business with him. Mainstream television isn’t going to give him another show to bail him out financially. The MAGA rubes are his last chance. And sure, campaign finance law prohibits candidates from enriching themselves from campaign contributions, but since when has Trump cared about the law? He’d do what he wants and dare a toothless Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to do something about it. And if the FEC did act on it, he’d tie it up in the courts for years. 

Remember, Trump is a guy who couldn’t manage to get a platform for his own Republican Party convention—are we really going to pretend that his Patriot Party would have one? 

So what would the actual impact of this party have on elections? If smartly set up (ha ha), it might function as the Working Families Party, which endorses in primaries and supports candidates who back its agenda. Or maybe like the Democratic Socialists—again, focusing heavily on primaries, mostly on friendly territory, trying to push Republicans closer to Trump. There could be a “Patriots caucus” in the House that would push Q conspiracies, Putin’s agenda, and whatever other inanities whip up its white supremacist base.

At the presidential level, imagine Trump going on his own (or, hilariously, whoever emerged from the Patriot Party primary process—Don Jr. or Ivanka), splitting off critical votes from the mainstream Republican Party. If Republicans lost even 10% off their toppling (or flip it around: Trump got the bulk of base Republican support, 90% of it), this is what the electoral map would look like with a split right: 

Furthermore, Alaska and South Carolina would be competitive. And you can believe that the right-on-right rhetorical violence would be fierce in such a contest. The fireworks from a Ben Sasse vs. Donald Trump matchup could even render the Democrats an afterthought, with Joe Biden waltzing easily to reelection. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to us. 

Which is why it is in Senate Republican (and minority, ha ha) Leader Mitch McConnell’s interest to nip this shit in the bud. His best way to do it? Conviction. He takes away Trump’s ability to run again, and he removes 98% of the any impetus Trump might have for this party. Will Republicans have to deal with pissed-off MAGA assholes for several years? Of course, but it should be pretty clear at this point that Republicans need some time in the wilderness to rethink who they are if they are going be competitive at the national level. 

The demographic trends that flipped Arizona and Georgia this time aren’t ebbing. Republican Texas is next, and South Carolina and Mississippi three to four presidential cycles behind. Kansas doesn’t have the racial and ethnic diversity of other transforming states, but it has higher-than-average education levels and is also moving in the Democrats’ direction. All of those states would more than offset any Republican gains in the rust belt and Minnesota. 

Just flipping Texas and North Carolina alone keeps a Republican Party wholly dependent on white non-college evangelical voters so far from a presidential majority that it is doomed to eternal minority status. Republicans need college-educated whites (both urban and suburban), and they need to do better with growth demographics (Asian, Black, Latino, and Muslim). Trump Republicanism isn’t going to get that done. 

What’s worse, the GOP advantage in the Senate will erode over time. Arizona and Georgia both went from two Republican senators to two Democratic ones seemingly overnight (though it took a decade of hard organizing to make it happen, of course). Texas came close to flipping a seat, and Democrats will hold those seats before long.  

Susan Collins won’t be around forever in Maine. That seat will eventually be Democratic. South Carolina and Mississippi will be more competitive in the next two decades. Statehood for Washington, D.C. and maybe Puerto Rico would further erase their built-in advantages. And again, if Republicans retreated to a white evangelical base, they could still hold an easy 30-40 Senate seats, representing a fraction of the U.S. population, but that’s not going to get them a majority.

On the other hand, if Republicans excise the Trump cancer, wander in the wilderness for one to two presidential cycles, and start winning back college whites while eating away at Democratic dominance with voters of color, then you have a national party once again. 

By all indications, that’s where McConnell’s head seems to be. He’s done playing with Trump and his cult: “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people." It doesn’t hurt that conservative mega-donors and corporate PACs are refusing to donate to Republicans until they clean house of the insurrectionists.

So for conservatives suddenly in danger of losing control of their party to American fascists, that might not be a bad course of action. They had a good run, got themselves an ill-gained 6-3 Supreme Court majority, some nice tax cuts, a few wars, and lots of environmental degradation and higher global temperatures. None of that would’ve been possible with a truly democratic America, one in which the Senate actually reflected people, not cow country, and one in which presidents got popularly elected by a majority of the American people, not just a handful of battleground states. 

And sure, it led to an actual insurrection and occupation of the U.S. Capitol by American Nazis, but all in all, I’m sure they’d do it all over again. It’s just that the bill has come due, and they now have to pay the price. 

Then again, they can roll the die some more. They can gamble that a deplatformed Trump won’t have anywhere near the juice to maintain his level of influence. They can gamble that they can still keep control of the Trump-only hidden deplorable crowd, that it was just a few “bad apples” and antifa infiltrators who caused the Capitol insurrection. They can guess (with good reason) that Trump is incapable of managing anything well, and that his party wouldn’t be any different. Remember, this is the guy who bankrupted a casino. This is a guy whose most successful investment is the one he had nothing to do with. He’s the guy who surrounds himself with hucksters and grifters like Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski, and Brad Parscale.

For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star). It is firing on all cylinders. Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc. In a few days we start pressing FIRE for the first time. pic.twitter.com/aJgCNfx1m0

— Brad Parscale (@parscale) May 7, 2020

They can try to blow kisses at Trump and hope it keeps him (and his MAGA/Q adherents) satisfied enough to keep him in the fold. This is the Sen. Lindsey Graham approach. "I hope people in our party understand the party itself. If you're wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you're gonna get erased," Graham said on Fox News. "Most Republicans like his policies, a lot of Republicans like his style. A lot of people are disappointed with him personally at times but appreciate the outcomes he's achieved for our country." Maybe if they stroke his ego enough, Trump will be stay happy until he loses interest and heads off to the golf course. 

And is there really that much danger? Trump can’t tweet his threats, and he doesn’t have a White House press office to distribute his proclamations. He was never able to generate small-dollar donations for other candidates, including his preferred primary choices. (Not that Trump would ever direct his supporters’ dollars anywhere but into his own pocket.) And anyone betting that this party will ever get off the ground and have enough juice to seriously impact Republican politics would be taking one hell of a risk. I wouldn’t take that bet. Trump just doesn’t have a track record of success.

But for Republicans, it’s an existential question: Do they cut the Trump cancer out, wander in the wilderness for a few cycles, then rebuild in the image of today’s America (more diverse, more educated, more secular), or do they keep going down the same path that cost them the House, the Senate, the White House, and the critical support of key growth demographics (not to mention, Arizona, Georgia, and soon, Texas), while at the same time remaining beholden to the whims of an egotistical madman? 

If I were them, I’d rip off the Band-Aid and start rebuilding today. 

Republicans ditch Mitch, because Trump is their one true love

Once upon a time, the Republican establishment made a Faustian bargain with the ignorant, racist rabble that makes up the conservative base, and it’s now coming back to bite them. Of the 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, a huge chunk of them—the dangerous, conspiracy theory-believing, radicalized populist right—don’t care for Republicans. Their allegiance is to one man: a cult of Trump. 

First and foremost, after everything that has happened—the nearly 400,000 dead from COVID, the Capitol insurrection, the refusal to accept democracy, the bullying and deplorable behavior—the Republican base still loves its Donald Trump. 

Trump’s job approvals are currently at their lowest levels ever in Civiqs polling history—40% approve, while 57% disapprove. Yet most of that drop is among independents. Republicans are, for the most part, holding firm: Trump’s job approval among Republicans was 91-7 on Election Day, and 88-8 today.

And despite that small erosion in job approvals, Trump’s favorability ratings among Republicans is barely budging, from 91% favorable and 7% unfavorable on Election Day, to 90-9 today. Sheesh. 

It’s safe to say that despite his unprecedented assault on American democracy, self-identified Republicans aren’t jumping ship. They are slightly less impressed with the job that he is doing, but that’s all cool! They still think he’s the best. 

Now compare that to Republican sentiment for the Republican Party:

Those same Republicans approved of the GOP by a 82-9 margin on Election Day. Today’s 64-21 margin is a net 30-point drop. Those are Republicans upset that the party, generically, isn’t “fighting” hard enough to upend the results of the election. 

Now look at Mitch McConnell: 

Holy crap! McConnell went from a 70-13 favorable rating among Republicans on Election Day, to just 25-49% favorables today! I’ll do the math for you—that’s an 81-point net drop

As you can see on the graph, the collapse came in two waves—the first after McConnell finally recognized Biden’s victory (after Vladmir Putin had done so and apparently given the go-ahead), and then after the failed insurrection at the Capitol, when McConnell refused to join Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas to contest the Arizona and Pennsylvania electors. 

Meanwhile, who was tops on the insurrectionists’ murder list? Vice President Mike Pence. Let’s look at this numbers: 

Pence’s 91-6% favorability rating on Election Day was in line with Trump’s 91-7. And Republicans mostly stuck with him while Pence humored Trump’s electoral delusions. But the attack on the Capitol was fueled, in large part, with anger at Pence’s refusal to join in a coup attempt while certifying the Electoral College vote. And the reaction was immediate, as you can see from the chart above, down a net 48 points to a 61-24 favorability rating today, 

To summarize:  

Net favorability


Election Day Today change Donald Trump Republican Party Mitch McConnell Mike Pence
+84 +81 -3
+73 +43 -30
+57 -24 -81
+85 +37 -48

Once again, Donald Trump is the favorite thing among Republicans. They barely budged off him. The Republican Party has suffered a steep drop, but not as steep as the second- and third-highest ranked Republicans. The party might still be seen as belonging to Trump himself, limiting the damage. 

McConnell has always been distrusted by Republicans, for reasons that are unfathomable to me. Look at all the Supreme Court seats he stole for the GOP! Perhaps it’s like El Chapo Trap House-style hatred for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—when you are on the fringe, you are never going to be happy with what any legislative chamber’s leader can accomplish in our current system. And while McConnell had earned some goodwill among Republicans for his defense of Trump during the first impeachment trial, his refusal to sign on to the election challenges eliminated all of that. 

But McConnell is easy to hate, and Republicans love to hate him. This isn’t the first time he’s been underwater with Republicans in the three years we’ve tracked him: 

Pence, on the other hand, is a reliably conservative Republican stalwart, loyal to a fault to Donald Trump. His Election Day favorables with Republicans actually exceeded Trump’s by a point. His drop in support is directly attributable to his refusal to join the coup attempt.

If Senate Republicans actually provide the votes for conviction, these numbers will be scrambled yet again. Who knows how Trump’s de-platforming will affect his ability to control his party. Will the nascent Lynn Cheney/Lincoln Project faction of the GOP gain traction? The situation is volatile. 

But as of now, the GOP is very much Trump’s Party. 

Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) talks to Daily Kos, live today on The Brief

My YouTube show The Brief, co-hosted with Kerry Eleveld, airs every Tuesday, 1:30PT/4:30ET. Today we’re going to go deep into the Senate with the help of two amazing guests: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Adam Jentleson, former top aide to Harry Reid and author of his new book “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.” 

We might have some things to talk about, like the brand new Democratic Senate majority  in the wake of the Georgia runoff elections, the insurrection at the Capitol, the looming impeachment trial, and the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s 100-day agenda with our narrow 50-50 majority and the destructive filibuster (which is the topic of Jentleson’s book). 

The show is also expanding into a podcast as well. Links to all the relevant podcasting platforms are being finalized and I’ll share those as soon as we get inclusion. 

Drop any questions you might have for Sen. Schatz or Jentleson in the comments below!

This is why Facebook is suddenly emboldened to deplatform Donald Trump

After years of pressure from outside and inside the company, Facebook has (for the time being) deplatformed wannabe fascist Donald Trump. 

We believe the risks of allowing President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great, so we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks. pic.twitter.com/JkyGOTYB1Z

— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) January 7, 2021

This comes after years of frustration with Facebook’s refusal to police Trump’s most incendiary rhetoric. In June of last year, Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout to protest their company’s refusal to label Trump’s lies the way that Twitter had decided to do. “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” Zuckerberg said in a post to his Facebook page in response. “But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression.”

Yet those notions of “free expression” are suddenly moot. What changed? Well, the terrorist siege of the Capitol was clearly a factor, but there was likely an even bigger one: Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is suddenly on the wrong side of history. 

No one has been more aggressive in attacking “Big Tech” and its supposed “censorship” of conservative voices than Hawley. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, has emerged as a surprising Republican voice on those issues. The youngest working lawmaker in the Senate, Hawley has taken a lead on the ongoing investigations into Facebook, joining with Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in February for a letter probing the company’s teen data collection practices, and penning legislation with Democrats that would extend more rigorous privacy protections for children. He’s also been outspoken in calling for changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, often seen as the central legal protection for online platforms.

Facebook may not like the scrutiny on its noxious data-collection policies, but that’s a bipartisan concern. The bigger danger was the last sentence above—Hawley’s advocacy for stripping social media companies of their Section 230 protections. 

As you might remember, Section 230 was the real reason that Trump vetoed the Pentagon/national security budget bill, the only veto to be overridden by Congress during his single term in office. It protects online platforms from legal liability of those writing on that platform. It’s literally the reason Daily Kos allows its community to exist and thrive. Without it, Facebook and Daily Kos and every other site with community generated content (including comments!) would be legally liable for everything posted on that site or platform. 

Section 230 is existential to Daily Kos, and it’s extra existential to Facebook. So conservatives have tried to use it as a cudgel to block the big social media companies from monitoring and limiting certain content—like the false bullshit and incendiary stuff that conservatives love to post. 

Now the notion that Facebook is anti-conservative is laughable, as can be seen by the platform’s most shared content on January 5: 

The top-performing link posts by U.S. Facebook pages in the last 24 hours are from: 1. Franklin Graham 2. Dan Bongino 3. Franklin Graham 4. Donald J. Trump 5. Franklin Graham 6. ABC News 7. Ben Shapiro 8. Occupy Democrats 9. The Dodo 10. Fox News

— Facebook's Top 10 (@FacebooksTop10) January 5, 2021

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 10 are all conservative voices. And I’m not cherry-picking, this Twitter account lists Facebook’s top 10 links every single day. The list is always dominated by politically conservative voices. In fact, Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire blatantly breaks Facebook’s rules in promoting his material, yet Facebook has been too afraid to act, lest it give Hawley further ammunition for his anti-Section 230 crusade. 

Last week, Popular Information exposed how The Daily Wire has gained unprecedented distribution on Facebook through its relationship with Mad World News. Five large Facebook pages controlled by Mad World News expanded The Daily Wire's audience by millions through the coordinated posting of dozens of links from The Daily Wire each day.

Facebook previously said it had looked into the matter, found no evidence of a violation, and could not prove a financial relationship. The company now admits the two publishers are working together.

After denying what everyone knew to be obvious, Facebook finally admitted that Daily Wire was breaking its rules. And the response? “We are also warning Daily Wire and will demote them if we see this behavior continue.” Oh no. A warning. Click on that link and see how blatant Shapiro’s conduct has been. But Facebook did nothing. 

And similarly, Facebook refused to act on Trump, while its CEO Mark Zuckerberg regularly dined at the White House. 

Yet here we are today, with Facebook issuing perhaps the most aggressive deplatforming of the major social media outlets, calling the suspension “indefinite.” By all indications, it’ll last through the rest of Trump’s presidency. And if no one can control Trump now, imagine when he’s a private citizen again? He’ll be even worse, completely subsumed by QAnon conspiracy theories with little checks on his ability to vomit that crap on Twitter and Facebook. Without the protections of his office, there’ll be even less hesitation for those platforms to keep him around. Trump’s ability to do damage on Parler will be limited. 

But given Facebook’s fear of riling up conservative critics, wouldn’t deplatforming Trump, even temporarily, be problematic? Well, that’s where Josh Hawley comes into play. 

1. Republicans lost the Senate

Hawley’s ability to call for hearings and use the Senate majority as a platform for his anti-Facebook crusade is obviously degraded. Democrats will want to probe into Facebook for anti-trust and privacy violation issues, but there’s less appetite for an ideological effort to overturn Section 230. And while some Democrats have made noise about Section 230, they have far bigger priorities to deal with, and they will be more amenable to arguments against messing with it (or at least, protecting sites like this one with any changes). 

2. No one can pretend Trump’s Q-flavored rhetoric and supporters aren’t dangerous

Republicans and other Trump defenders claimed that no one took Trump literally, that it was all figurative! Turns out, the deplorables were absolutely taking his rhetoric literally. “Stand back and stand by” was literally a call to be ready for action. 

And people died as our own Capitol was taken over by terrorists, putting Congress and the vice president in grave mortal danger.  

3. And now, Josh Hawley is on the wrong side of history

I’ll have more to say on this in the coming days, but Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol changed everything. 

On Tuesday, Republicans were bought into the Trump wing of the Republican Party, doing their damndest to cater to the crazy deplorables. We saw this in the challenges to the electoral votes of Arizona, and the planned challenges to other states. Rudy Giuliani was even pressuring its allies in the Senate to challenge up to 10 states to gum up the works! Hawley and Cruz and others were tripping over themselves to prove the most Trumpy, looking toward the 2024 presidential election (as if Trump would bless anyone not named “Trump” as his successor). 

Then the siege happened, and everything has changed. Those gallows and zip ties weren’t just for Democrats. In fact, they seemed even more directed at Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence himself, traitors in the eyes of the deplorables. There was real fear in the statements put out by Republicans in the aftermath of the attack, doing little to tamp down on Democratic calls for 25th Amendment or impeachment solutions. In fact, some of them seemed to tacitly approve of them. 

When the dust cleared, Republican appetite for more challenges evaporated, yet there was one a-hole still pushing them—Josh Hawley, the same guy who had cheered on the terrorists moments before their attack began. He’s steadfastly refused to distance himself from the mob. He still sees them as his allies and pals and best path toward the 2024 nomination. He has no plans to give that up. 

Problem is, a big chunk of his party sees the deplorables as a problem—a problem electorally (they will further repel suburban voters and motivate core Democratic constituencies), and a personal safety problem. They created this monster, and it’s clear many Republicans have little appetite to keep feeding it.

So you can see Hawley’s problem, as he refuses to back off. Without even talking about the coming Republican civil war, it’s clear that Hawley’s personal brand is now far less daunting and scary than it was a mere two days ago. It’s as if Reps. Louie Gohmert or Jim Jordan were your chief nemesis. You can laugh them off as ideological cranks, once elevated by Trump, but now pushed back to back-bencher status. 

That’s not to say that Hawley won’t be a real threat moving forward, but he’s now marked as a deplorable at a time that even Republicans want to distance themselves from Trump and his deplorables. He’s lost credibility. And with that loss of credibility, he’s a lot less scary to Facebook. So much so, that it’s easy for them to say “that content is incendiary” and they ban it, not worried that Hawley can muster the political capital to do anything about it.  

Republicans think 175,000 dead Americans is okay, and that’s not all

The sorry, sad state of the morally bankrupt Republican Party: 

57 percent of Republicans think 176,000 coronavirus deaths (and counting) is acceptable. Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/dd737aoOmj

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 23, 2020

By double-digit margins, Republicans think 175,000 Covid-related deaths (and counting) are “acceptable.” These are the same Republicans who now think that Russian meddling in our politics is okay, that “family values” was a cynical joke on our moral discourse, that “law and order” was something that mattered, that no one stood above the law, that leading the world in pursuit of shared democratic ideals is best replaced by boyish fandom of murderous despots, and that the entire purpose of the Republican Party is nothing more than the singular worship of their idiotic man-boy president. 

Oh, and the response to anything is whine, whine, whine:

.@GOPChairwoman responds to @CBSNewsPoll showing 57% of Republicans say the number of those dead from #COVID19 is acceptable at 175,000: "I think that is a really unfair poll..Republicans do not want to see people suffering from this pandemic." pic.twitter.com/E43B4p9rck

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 23, 2020

Republicans literally are okay with people suffering during this pandemic because they—like their dear leader—are utterly devoid of empathy for their fellow neighbors. It’s the reason so many still resist wearing face masks, putting everyone around them at risk. It’s the reason Republicans continue to support their president despite knowing what they know now, which is exactly what they knew then:

Ted Cruz knew. Rand Paul knew. Nikki Haley knew. Marco Rubio knew. Kellyanne Conway knew. Mike Pompeo knew. Glenn Beck knew. Rick Perry knew. Susan Collins knew. They all knew. pic.twitter.com/73XyJkiNkv

— act.tv (@actdottv) August 21, 2020

Nothing about Donald Trump has been a surprise. Everything that has happened was predictable. We didn’t know we’d suffer a global pandemic, but we knew Trump would be tested during his first term—every president is—and that he would fail spectacularly. 

What wasn’t predictable was how quickly his whole party would become as sociopathic as Trump himself, how quickly they’d acquiesce to his rampant lawlessness. The party that once went into hysterics because former President Bill Clinton had a quick chat on an airport runway with Attorney General Loretta Lynch is now silent as the curent attorney general acts as Trump’s private lawyer. The same party that went into hysterics and filed multiple lawsuits over former President Barack Obama’s executive orders now turns the other way as Trump escalates the same practice. 

And a whole party that once declared fealty to “law and order” is totally mum as Trump literally thumbs his nose at the Supreme Court. What army do they have, anyway? 

USCIS makes it official. They will ignore SCOTUS ruling and, "will reject all initial DACA requests from aliens who have never previously received DACA and return all fees." Furthermore, renewals will be limited to one year. https://t.co/RUIZ3LXw3n

— Ali Noorani (@anoorani) August 24, 2020

There is a single constitutional remedy for such defiance of our nation’s laws: impeachment. But Republicans decided that they were okay with Trump’s lawlessness, and he’s returned the favor by making an even greater mockery of the very institutions that make our democracy work. 

It turns out they're quite fragile, indeed. All it takes is one despot and an enabling party to watch those institutions crumble. Turns out, the only thing keeping them in place was a belief in our democratic system. Republicans don’t care for our system. Or democracy.

The “party of life” never was, but at least now everyone can stop pretending. Their opposition to abortion has nothing to do with “life,” and everything to do with controlling women. 

The “party of national security” is a laughable joke. Russia strongman Vladimir Putin pulls the strings. 

The party of “law and order”? Trump has literally argued that as president, he is above the law, and Republicans have been happy to play along. 

Tax cuts is all that’s left of what Republicanism was all about. The rich and powerful still get their payday. They always do. Nothing like global economic devastation to redistribute even more wealth to the top 0.01%. 

But the stuff that was supposed to trickle down to the masses? All of that is shredded, in tatters, as the Republican Party devolves into an outright cult of personality and Q-inspired conspiracy mongering.