From time to time, members of the House who have been elected to prominent party positions are stripped of these coveted roles. Usually, these gut-bleeding political episodes occur when an election has gone badly and grassroots lawmakers want a proverbial head.
Trump has made it clear since his defeat that all that matters is whether Republicans accept his lie that the election was stolen.
It’s a sign of the unorthodox political times we are in that on Wednesday there will be a rare example of a change in party leadership in the middle of a term in Congress. That’s when House Republicans plan to vote against Liz Cheney of Wyoming for the Speaker of the House Republican Conference, the third position in the House GOP leadership, due to her reluctance. to remain silent about former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
As if that weren’t atypical enough, waiting backstage as conference chair – primarily responsible for messaging for House Republicans – is New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a politician with a track record. conservative and a much weaker political lineage than Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. During his early years in the House, Stefanik had one of the most moderate and bipartisan voting records among House Republicans, even opposing Trump in 2017 on his tax cut bill. But two years later, the upstate New York lawmaker moved all-in for Trump as his first impeachment trial approached, and she has been among his most vocal advocates ever since.
This decision shows that the party has relied on a very specific strategy to regain power: Donald Trump’s policy of revenge. While it could have been argued before election day last year that the party’s loyalty to its president was bolstered by certain ideological goals, such as a hard line on immigration and a focus on appointments to the Right-wing court, Trump has made it clear since his defeat that all that matters is whether Republicans embrace his lie that the election was stolen.
Although Trump was banned from Twitter during the final days of his presidency for instigating violence on Capitol Hill on January 6, his statements on his website are dripping with rage and fury over the election result. “If a thief steals a jewelry store of all its diamonds (the 2020 presidential election), the diamonds must be returned,” Trump said in a typical letter Monday night. “Fake News media refuse to cover the biggest electoral fraud in our country’s history.”
House Republicans, by siding with Stefanik, a Trump ally, against inside critic Cheney, are effectively encouraging his campaign for revenge. It is a movement not without logic, strictly from a short-term political point of view, given the most recent successful GOP candidates. And it also has a longer-term precedent in the successful campaign of Trump’s hero Andrew Jackson in 1828. This is the only time in US history that a major party candidate has won a campaign. based purely on comeuppance, and it was arguably the ugliest competition. America has never seen.
Over the past five years, the Republicans in the down have fared better when they allied with Trump. House Republicans lost their majority for the first time in eight years during the 2018 midterm cycle. Many of the GOP lawmakers who have descended have tried, unsuccessfully, to distance themselves from Trump.
But with Trump leading the ballot last year, even in what turned out to be a losing candidacy for re-election, House Republicans won 12 seats, putting them within easy reach of winning the election. majority next year. It’s no surprise, really, that Republicans want to politically tighten the former president as tightly as possible. “I would just say to my fellow Republicans, ‘Can we move forward without President Trump? “The answer is no,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a recent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Trump is betting on such GOP loyalty as he contemplates a 2024 race against President Joe Biden. If Trump seeks a comeback in the sense he has hinted at so far, he will be the first candidate to lead a purely revenge-based campaign since Jackson’s in 1828. It is not particularly surprising that he adopts this unconventional strategy, as Trump has already shown affection for the seventh president, after hanging a portrait of him in the White House.
Jackson’s pet peeve was President John Quincy Adams. His repugnance towards founding father’s son John Adams dates back to the 1824 election. Jackson that year finished first in the Electoral College votes, but without sufficient support to claim a majority, launching the contest in the House. . Adams ended up as president thanks to an alliance with Speaker of the House Henry Clay, himself a presidential candidate, with Jackson declaring his loss a “corrupt deal.”
Jackson, a retired general and military hero of the War of 1812, fought a four-year battle against the President. Jackson’s allies, among other tactics, traced a ten-year-old rumor that, as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Adams had acted as a “pimp” for the Tsar, providing young women in exchange of favorable trade treaties and general relations between the two. countries.
Adams’ forces were quick to retaliate – alleging, among other things, that Jackson had married his wife, Rachel, before her divorce from her first husband was finalized. In their 1828 rematch, Jackson won a clear majority in the Electoral College.
While there are reasons to suggest that Republicans could have chosen the right political strategy in embracing Trump’s quest for revenge, Cheney’s ousting leaves them little room for error. The move alienates principled Tories and suburban voters who were already shying away from the GOP, helping seal Trump’s defeat. It’s either the Trump way or the road.