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OPINION

After Georgia, it’s over for Trump

The results blow up the conventional wisdom that Trump owns the Republican Party now and forever.

Raphael Warnock of Georgia made history as the first Black man in the state's history elected to the US Senate after beating Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday's election.Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

President Trump is done, and so is everyone who clings to his grisly political remains.

What happened in Georgia was political death by Trump’s own hand. With his vile lies about a stolen election, and crime boss maneuvers to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, Trump ended up suppressing the Republican vote that was needed to win two Senate run-off contests. Meanwhile, Democrats — rallied brilliantly by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — voted in droves.

The outcome made history: Democrat Raphael Warnock unseated Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, becoming the first Black senator to represent Georgia. The race between Republican Senator David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff is too close to call, but momentum looks to be on Ossoff’s side.

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Those results also blow up the conventional wisdom that Trump owns the Republican Party now and forever. Of course, there will still be faithful groupies and white nationalists like those primed to tear Washington apart at Trump’s bidding. But a Proud Boys rumble won’t save Trump; it will only hurt him more. Some politicians will also be slow to read the writing on this crumbling Trump wall. Even as she faced defeat, Loeffler told disappointed supporters she was heading to Washington to “fight for the president.”

But Trump’s lock on the GOP is over, or at least his lock on those Republicans who want to stay in office. He bears the burden of what Democratic strategist David Plouffe called on MSNBC “epic political malpractice.” And it’s not just Democrats who see it that way. As “Fox and Friends” kicked off their Wednesday morning show, co-host Brian Kilmeade posed the question: “What happened in the last five weeks?” His answer, paraphrased: “Republicans at each other’s throats. The belief the election was stolen. Turnout problems.”

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In other words — Trump happened and Republicans paid the price. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as president Jan. 20, with the House controlled by Democrats. If Ossoff is declared the winner, the Senate would be evenly split between the two major parties. Under the Constitution, soon-to-be sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris has the power to cast the deciding vote in any tie.

As their new circumstances sink in, Republicans will look at Georgia and blame Trumpism, not Republicanism. They will still embrace the ideology Trump embodied, but no longer see Trump as the champion they must rally behind. Finally, they will turn on the devil to whom they sold their souls when they thought he was invincible, because they want to save themselves.

Here’s the sad, post-Georgia reality for the GOP: So very few Republicans in Washington stood up to Trump even as he planned a coup. There was so much cowardice and so little bravery. It was left to governors, state lawmakers and election officials, and judges to fend off Trump’s assault on democracy, which has not stopped.

Even after Georgia voted, Trump continued to fuel insurrection. As election results came in, he tweeted the usual unsubstantiated blather about cheating by Democrats. After The New York Times reported that Vice President Mike Pence told the president that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Biden’s victory, Trump put out a statement denying the report, and repeating the lie that Pence does have that power.

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With Trump egging them on, more than 100 House Republicans and at least a dozen Senate Republicans were positioned on Wednesday to object to Biden’s victory. I wonder how many have the sinking feeling that comes with knowing they are not just on the wrong side of history, but on the wrong side of power. Power is what mattered to them. That’s why they were willing to put Trump ahead of country and help him subvert the founding principles of this country. Fear of a mean tweet or a primary opponent backed by Trump turned them into cowards and flunkies.

They hitched their wagon to a bomb that just exploded in Georgia. It not only destroyed Trump, it will destroy them too. Just wait and see.


Joan Vennochi is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at joan.vennochi@globe.com. Follow her @joan_vennochi.