There are approximately 1 million reasons why the words “Donald Trump has won the 2024 election” should send shivers down people’s spines, up to and including the prospect of again watching the president of the United States board Air Force One with toilet paper stuck to his shoe, and seeing Christmas ruined for countless children by the leader of the free world. Probably the number one reason, though, is the minor matter of the guy making it abundantly clear that the rules don’t apply to him, plus the sneaking suspicion that if he managed to make his way back to the White House, he’d order the military to invade states whose governors he didn’t like or have his enemies put to death.
Unfortunately, many members of the Republican Party have no interest in stopping Trump, either because they’re absolutely terrified of experiencing his wrath, or they think he’s the greatest thing that ever happened to the United States (and have already pledged their undying loyalty to him). Which makes a New York Times report, one stating that a group of politicians led by Mitch McConnell is trying to cut Trump off at the knees, a hopeful development.
As Mr. Trump works to retain his hold on the Republican Party, elevating a slate of friendly candidates in midterm elections, Mr. McConnell and his allies are quietly, desperately maneuvering to try to thwart him. The loose alliance, which was once thought of as the GOP establishment, for months has been engaged in a high-stakes candidate recruitment campaign, full of phone calls, meetings, polling memos, and promises of millions of dollars. It’s all aimed at recapturing the Senate majority, but the election also represents what could be Republicans’ last chance to reverse the spread of Trumpism before it fully consumes their party.
Mr. McConnell for years pushed Mr. Trump’s agenda and only rarely opposed him in public. But the message that he delivers privately now is unsparing, if debatable: Mr. Trump is losing political altitude and need not be feared in a primary…In conversations with senators and would-be senators, Mr. McConnell is blunt about the damage he believes Mr. Trump has done to the GOP, according to those who have spoken to him. Privately, he has declared he won’t let unelectable “goofballs” win Republican primaries.
Would we like to believe that McConnell will be successful here? Of course we would. We’d also like to believe that climate change isn’t ultimately going to turn the earth into an uninhabitable hellhole, or that one day we’ll see a trio of people panhandling on the subway and on further inspection realize they’re Trump’s eldest children. Unfortunately, neither of those things looks like it’s actually going to pan out, and nor does McConnell’s plan:
History doesn’t bode well for such behind-the-scene efforts to challenge Mr. Trump, and Mr. McConnell’s hard sell is so far yielding mixed results. The former president has rallied behind fewer far-right candidates than initially feared by the party’s old guard. Yet a handful of formidable contenders have spurned Mr. McConnell’s entreaties, declining to subject themselves to Mr. Trump’s wrath all for the chance to head to a bitterly divided Washington.
Last week, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland announced he would not run for Senate, despite a pressure campaign that involved his wife. [Arizona governor Doug] Ducey is expected to make a final decision [about running for Senate] soon, but he has repeatedly said he has little appetite for a bid.
As the Times notes, “while there is some evidence that Mr. Trump’s grip on Republican voters has eased, polls show the former president remains overwhelmingly popular in the party,” and among people attempting to win primaries, he remains the most sought-after endorsement. “In my state, he’s still looked at as the leader of the party,” Missouri senator Josh Hawley told the Times. Last week, in a wildly cringeworthy display, Representative Nancy Mace filmed herself outside of Trump Tower reminding people of her longtime loyalty to Trump—and this came just one day after Trump endorsed Mace’s opponent and called Mace “an absolutely terrible candidate.”