Consider some of the biggest political headlines lately, particularly as they concern Republicans. All of them, though different and spread out over the country, have the same origin: The Big Lie about a stolen election.
Arizona Republicans have spent weeks haphazardly trying to recount votes from a single county from the presidential election seven months ago. One Republican state senator called it “embarrassing.”
On Thursday, a Facebook committee announced that former President Trump will continue to be banned from their platform for now.
On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new bill into law that would reduce voting access. Texas lawmakers are about to follow suit. They are continuing what Republican legislators have already done in Arkansas, Georgia, and Iowa.
That evening, also in Florida, two of the most controversial House Republican members, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, held the first of what are essentially Trump rallies without Trump in The Villages.
On Saturday, Republicans in Virginia limited their own voters from deciding the question of who would be their party’s nominee for governor. Just 54,000 of the most hardcore Republicans participated in conventions to select the nominee. And the top three gubernatorial candidates are arguing over who is the most Trump-y.
This week starts out with a rally of sorts held by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in South Dakota to launch his new social media website.
On Wednesday, House Republicans are expected to demote the highest-ranking woman in their group, Liz Cheney, because she is not a team player. That team is Team Trump.
In addition to all of that, the FBI says they are still arresting people — now over 400 in total — in connection with the insurrection attempt at the Capitol over four months ago.
All of the stories above exist because President Trump propagated “The Big Lie” that claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Reminder: Trump’s high-priced attorneys went down nearly every rabbit hole to find evidence it was stolen. In many cases, even Trump-appointed federal judges threw out the cases for lack of merit. And, of course, the Republican-dominated US Supreme Court also didn’t bother to take up the matter.
But that hasn’t stopped the Republican Party from coalescing around the lie. Without it, no one would have asked Congress not certify the election results on Jan. 6. And without that call to refuse certification, there would not have been a Capitol insurrection attempt that got all those people arrested. And without the attack, Trump wouldn’t have become the first president in American history to be impeached twice. And if there wasn’t an impeachment vote, then Cheney wouldn’t have voted to impeach Trump.
Want to know what else wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t an insurrection sparked by The Big Lie? Trump would likely still be on Facebook and Twitter. No one would need to start another social media platform for conservatives. And the Republican Party would be figuring out a path forward instead of looking back to 2020.
While all of the action now seems to be the logical extension of Trump’s refusal to move on from his presidency, the truth is that it didn’t need to be this way.
Republicans had an opportunity to pivot away from Trump. Indeed, the insurrection made that possible with both Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy criticizing Trump over the Big Lie.
But then McCarthy began to embrace Trump, even meeting with him in person. Republican state committees around the country began to formally censure their own lawmakers for voting to impeach Trump.
Trump has only encouraged this. In the past six weeks, he has sent 20 press statements calling into question the legitimacy of last year’s election. (During the same time period he has only attacked President Biden once).
Here is the Big Truth: Now, though he has been out of power for more than 100 days, the Republican Party is even more now the party of Trump than it was when he was president.