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Jim Jordan Isn’t Fighting for Republicans
He’s fighting for Trump. It isn’t the same thing—or shouldn’t be.
Ohio representative and rabid right wing shithead Jim Jordan is using his position as House Judiciary Chairman to investigate the Manhattan DA. This is a transparent partisan ploy; the Manhattan DA is expected to issue an indictment for Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican party. Jordan is protecting Trump to protect the GOP and stick it to Democrats.
Wait just a minute, though. Is Trump actually the leader of the Republican party? Is protecting him the same as protecting the GOP? Is Jordan sticking it to the Democrats?
The answer to each of those questions in order is, de facto and yet sort of not, no, and also no.
When Trump was president, his scandals and criminality were a problem for the Republican party. When Trump tried to blackmail the Ukrainian government, or when he suggested that injecting bleach was a good method of fighting Covid, the GOP had to defend him, because he was in office, and if his approval cratered, so did the party’s fortunes. There are huge incentives for a party to defend and apologize for its leader almost no matter what that leader does, because the party wants to win elections, and when the leader is damaged, so are the party’s electoral chances.
The thing about Donald Trump is that he lost his reelection bid. He’s not president anymore. He’s just some putz like the rest of us. He is running for president again, but that’s very different than being president. Lots of Republicans are running for president. Rap star Ye is running for the GOP nomination, as one example. But when he started talking about how much he loves Hitler, the party distanced itself from him, because why not? He needs them for the nomination; they don’t need him. They could just nominate someone else.
Usually that would be the calculus with Trump too. He’s facing a slew of possible criminal charges on a range of sordid issues. That’s mildly embarrassing for his party. But it’s not a catastrophe for his party, because he’s not the boss of his party anymore. If his public approval plummets, it means little or nothing for the GOP—unless they nominate him again. But they don’t have to do that!
Jordan, in using state apparatus to defend Trump, isn’t really defending the party against nefarious Democrats. Rather, he’s defending one Republican faction against others.
Trump is not currently in a position to push policy of any sort; he’s a private citizen squatting orangely in Mar-A-Lago, with no access to the levers of government power. Democrats would like him to face legal consequences because Democrats think it’s bad for the country to let presidents break the law with impunity. But whether or not Trump gets indicted has little effect on current policies in Washington. It won’t make student debt relief more or less likely; it won’t affect whether we can tax billionaires; it won’t affect health care expansion or reform. It won’t affect anything.
But while defending Trump doesn’t have many practical consequences for Democrats, it has big implications for Republicans. In the normal course of things, Trump’s struggles should benefit his GOP rivals. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott—as Trump sinks in a legal mire of his own making, they should be picking up support. There’s a small but real chance that Trump could be in jail during part of the Republican primary season or the general election. Why would a party want to nominate someone facing that? DeSantis can at least say, “Hey, nominate me, and I will focus primarily on the 2024 election, not on my legal troubles.”
But Jordan and other Trump allies like Matt Gaetz are working overtime to prevent DeSantis from taking advantage of the Trump prosecution. They’re rushing to denounce it as a partisan attack on Republicans, rather than as an example of Trump’s personal failings. In doing so, they make it difficult to impossible for Trump’s rivals to take advantage of Trump’s mess.
They also assiduously spread Trump’s mud on themselves and their party. Is the GOP a political party with policy goals and a vision for America? Or is it just Trump’s personal corruption laundering service?
Jordan is not the sharpest fish in the sea, and it’s possible he doesn’t really understand this dynamic. He defended Trump during his presidency; he’s defending Trump now. He may just not understand the difference, because he has turds for brains.
Other party actors, though, surely understand what’s happening. They’re just afraid of Trump’s base. DeSantis has tied himself in knots trying to condemn the DA and Trump at one and the same time. He wants Trump voters to like him, so he says that the prosecution of Trump is unfair. But he also (desperately) wants the GOP to understand that the GOP is bigger than Trump. Trump’s failures don’t have to be the GOP’s failures anymore. Right? Someone tell DeSantis he’s right before he cries.
Much of the mainstream political press is used to discussing political conflict in terms of inter-party conflict or in terms of intra-party Democratic conflict (“Dems in Disarray.”) It doesn’t seem to fully understand at this point the mess that the GOP is wallowing in.
But the fact is that members of Congress, GOP media, and GOP national leaders, are currently consumed almost entirely by internal divisions created and cultivated by Trump. The apparatus of government is being used to marginalize and embarrass, not Democrats, but Trump’s enemies within the party. The future is always in motion, and Republicans could of course win in 2024 for any number of reasons. But the 2024 GOP primary is already a historically unprecedented clusterfuck, and it could easily get much, much worse.
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