WATERTOWN — Former President Donald Trump will resume his notorious rallies next month.
Other than to assuage his ego, I’m not sure what this will accomplish. But Trump often goes out of his way to engage in activities for no other reason than to make himself feel good.
Trump still cannot come to grips with the fact that he failed to win the 2020 election. Shortly after leaving office, he established the Office of Former President Donald Trump.
But this apparently didn’t sit well with him. The website for his post-presidency enterprise has scrubbed the use of the word “former,” and he issues every statement (either from 45Office.com or his Save America PAC) with the phrase, “Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States …” This allows him to pretend that he’s still presiding over the White House.
So Trump is a 74-year-old man who needs to wallow in make-believe scenarios. And for some bizarre reason, many Republicans want this person to continue leading their party.
I thought that the carnage Trump left in his wake would have led more than a few GOP loyalists to say, “Enough is enough.” Let’s be honest: Sitting on your hands while hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens die atrocious deaths doesn’t look good on the resume of a head of government. However, Trump’s incompetence did little to shake the support of his fan base.
But then again, I also thought Trump’s utterly childish reactions to the numerous criticisms that come with the job would have put off more Republicans who claimed to believe that we should have an adult running the country. I suppose not.
Many in the GOP have waged a campaign against reality. From boasts that Trump had the largest inauguration audience ever to declarations that the novel coronavirus is a huge hoax and repeated assertions that the 2020 election was stolen, they are living according to what former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway once brilliantly described (this was unintentional on her part) as “alternative facts.” They just see things the way they want to, and no one is going to tell them any differently.
This was the rationale behind Wednesday’s ouster of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. She crossed Trump too many times, so she had to go.
When word spread the week before that House Republicans wanted to give Cheney the boot, Northern New York’s representative on Capitol Hill began lobbying for the job. And on Friday, her colleagues gave it to her.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, spoke of unity in casting herself as the ideal candidate to take the No. 3 position in the House GOP leadership. But it’s obvious that the unity she and many other Republicans want is the party’s focus on acquiescing to Trump.
Steve Scully interviewed me Thursday for a segment on his C-SPAN Radio program, “Washington Today.” We discussed Stefanik’s background and how people in the 21st Congressional District were responding to her pending promotion in the House Republican leadership. (To listen to my interview, visit http://wdt.me/ptfkFt; my portion of the program begins at the 29 minute mark in the podcast.)
This conversation got me thinking about what Stefanik’s ascension within the GOP means for the party and our nation. Unfortunately, it’s not good.
Stefanik placates Trump in his fantasies. In a recent podcast with Steve Bannon, she referred to Trump as “the president” at least twice.
She also played along with his claims of a presidential election that lacked integrity. Contesting the results in several states, she said that “tens of millions of Americans are rightly concerned that the 2020 election featured unprecedented voting irregularities.”
Of course they’re concerned about this. They followed a con artist who lied to them time and again.
And not wanting to admit they were duped, they stuck with his falsehoods despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So when the results weren’t what they wanted, they chose an alternative fact over the clear reality of the election’s outcome.
Pushing Cheney out of this position and installing Stefanik sent the message that House Republicans need to get in line. Strong opposition to Trump will not be tolerated.
We as a nation have numerous issues to resolve. The Democrats have razor thin majorities in both the House and Senate, and they’ll need Republican cooperation to accomplish some big items.
This is how our government is supposed to work, so it’s good that Republicans have some leverage. Their voices must be heard on key pieces of legislation and policies to be implemented.
But if they’re going to filter much of what they do through the lens of Trump’s fantasies, we’re in serious trouble. Many in the Republican Party have developed contempt for the truth, and this does not bode well for us.
Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. They also may follow him on Twitter: @WDT_OpEd.