It’s a classic thing that organizations of all kinds deal with. When you have a visible and dynamic leader: do people follow the leader, or do they follow the organization, what it’s built around and the purpose that originally brought people together?
Such is the dilemma of the Republican Party, or more specifically Republican voters.
Unlike Ronald Reagan, who put a focus on building the Party at all levels, Donald Trump’s focus for the Party has been toward himself. And it may cost Republicans control of the Senate next month.
Overall, Republicans did better than projected in the November elections. They picked up seats in the House of Representatives, although Democrats still hold a slim majority. And, so far they have only lost one seat in the Senate though Democrats had hoped to pick up as many as seven Senate seats. However, there are two seats for Senate in Georgia that were forced into a runoff when no one got more than 50% of the vote. With Democrats barely controlling the House and with Joe Biden taking office next month, if Democrats win both elections they will control the Senate. The only way for Republicans to keep Democrats from controlling the legislative agenda is to win in Georgia. So far, both Democrats and Republican campaign officials say, the biggest barrier to doing that is Donald Trump.
It’s not news that Trump will take shots at anyone that disagrees with him, no matter what Party and again different from Reagan and his famous ‘11th Commandment’: “Thou shalt not criticize another Republican publicly.” But Trump’s continuing tirades about election fraud, and specifically calling out the Republican Governor of Georgia and the Republican Secretary of State that he endorsed, as part of the conspiracy is hurting Republicans and badly.
Trump isn’t going to stay in office. If he thinks he is, he’s delusional. But his daily rants against election fraud have sent a message to voters in Georgia that says it isn’t worth voting because the system is rigged. Republican voters have said that at several campaign rallies to campaign officials. Yet Trump continues. Even more than that, he’s planning on holding a rally in Washington DC in January. The point of the rally is hard to figure, unless it’s so that Trump can say there are a lot of people that support him. Ok, we knew that from the 70+ million that voted for him. But we also know that such things will drive people away from the Republicans up for election. Frank Luntz, a pollster that frequently works with Republicans has said that Trump may very well cost Republicans control of the Senate. He isn’t alone.
Trump will point out that he is making a campaign appearance for the Senate candidates this week. But as some of our parents used to say “What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.” Trump telling Republican voters to vote, while at the same time saying that the Secretary of State, who runs state elections, is part of a conspiracy to change votes really doesn’t do much good.
Is there anyone that thinks Trump will be in office at the end of next month? If not, why doesn’t he quit the daily rants? While we can’t completely answer that, we can say that at least part of the reason is that he doesn’t care about Republicans holding on to the Senate and stopping Democratic priorities as much as he cares about saying what he wants to say and showing that people like him. Because to Trump, political ideas and principles aren’t as important as he is. Whatever you think about him, that much is clear and undebatable.