The dumbed down conspiracy-laden GOP base has been a drag on the country for more than a decade now, so it's only fitting that it is finally kneecapping the political calculus of the Republican party.
Alas, Donald Trump's true believers are so invested in the mirage that he won the election that conservative groups can't counter-message any of President-elect Joe Biden's incoming agenda without being attacked, according to Politico. The super-secret command came from Donald Trump himself as he urged everyone to ignore the incoming Biden administration as a way of delegitimizing his win. Smart.
Now conservative groups in Washington have had to forgo much of the work they would normally engage in during the transition period to a president from the opposing party. Along the way, they have been unable to message about the horrors that certain Cabinet picks might bring, unable to hire soon-to-be unemployed Trump administration officials for fear of reprisals, and unable to get conservative outlets obsessively writing about baseless voter fraud claims interested in covering any stories about Biden’s upcoming tenure.
“All of conservative media is about the recounts [and] the fraud allegations,” said a high-level employee at one conservative media outlet. “Trump is basically the assignment editor for the conservative press.”
The newfound predicament of this reality-based minority of GOP operatives in Washington is born of experience. Organizations and individuals that have made the mistake of crossing Trump’s red line have been called traitors who are feeding the "liberal media" narrative. “You definitely have a grassroots conservative movement that’s completely unwilling to discuss anything related to a Biden administration,” said an employee at one conservative nonprofit.
Deliciously, the delusional groupthink has also spilled over into the two Senate runoffs in Georgia, leaving groups helpless to warn against what a Democratically controlled Senate could mean when paired with a Biden White House.
“The winning narrative in Georgia would be that Republicans need the Senate to counter Joe Biden and [Vice President-elect] Kamala Harris when they’re in office,” one prominent elected Republican told Politico. “The problem is you can’t make that case effectively when you’ve got the president telling some of his voters, ‘Don’t worry, Joe Biden is not going to be president.’”
That cognitive dissonance has made otherwise mundane but critical organizing both fruitless and effortful. “I sent out a weekly email and mentioned something about a potential Biden administration and the fallout was ridiculous,” said an employee at one conservative nonprofit.
One area where the inability to do long-term planning could really hamper the conservative response is in combatting a series of potentially aggressive executive orders that will likely flow from the Biden administration starting on Day One. Whether Democrats manage to secure a majority in the Senate or not during the Georgia runoffs, Biden will almost surely make sweeping use of executive actions right out of the gate to overturn a number of toxic Trump remnants. Typically, those actions would meet with immediate legal challenges from conservatives who had been strategizing for months about the best legal path to blocking them. Instead, the conservative response could be delayed and even scattershot in its approach.
In fact, one of the four Senate Republicans who have actually acknowledged Biden's win is warning his colleagues that they are handicapping themselves heading into an entirely new landscape of political battles.
“Republicans can’t afford to get stuck in the denial stage of grief,” said Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Sasse has declared he would “crawl over broken glass" to block some of the names being floated for Cabinet positions under Biden. “We’ve got some big fights ahead, and it’d be prudent for Republicans to be focused on the governance challenges facing our center-right nation,” he added.
Imagine that—a guy who voted to acquit Trump of impeachment charges without hearing from a single witness suddenly in a spin about coddling Trump being a political liability. You reap what you sow.