Now that the Republican Party is explicitly the party of uncritical, unyielding, and perpetual fealty to twice-impeached disgraced one-term president Donald Trump, it’s helpful to locate where different politicians rank in terms of their adherence to the Trump Party:
On the craziest end of the Trump Party spectrum are True Believers such as Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor-Green, and Madison Cawthorn. These people believe 100 percent in such things as The Big Lie and QAnon and focus most, if not all, of their efforts on P.R. and “owning the libs” rather than actually governing.
Second-craziest are people such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who are smart enough to know better and likely do know better. Nevertheless, they have such little shame that they’ll go along with whatever performative outrage the Trump Party wants in order to fundraise and continue to retain their seats. (Cruz, in particular, is still loyal to Trump even after Trump insulted his wife and suggested Cruz’s father was the Zodiac killer.)
Third craziest are people like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who initially blamed Trump for the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, then quickly changed their minds. These politicians are terrified of Trump, and more importantly, Trump voters, and as a result fear being primaried from the right. As a result, they publicly espouse the Trump Party line even as they privately express concern about the direction of the party.
Some Modicum of Dignity
Finally, you have people like Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, and Lisa Murkowski. They’re still loyal to the party, but do occasionally criticize Trump, albeit in the mildest and most milquetoast of ways. Despite their relatively tepid critiques, they’ve earned Trump and the Trump Party’s eternal ire for having the audacity to question the indisputable greatness and wisdom of Dear Leader. These people are not welcome in the Trump Party.
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It’s hard to say where a person like Lindsey Graham falls. He’s as mercurial as a thermometer, having transformed from an outspoken critic of Trump during the 2016 primaries into one of Trump’s most loyal apologists after John McCain’s death.
And then you have people like Justin Amash, who became so fed up with Trump’s domination of the party that he left it in 2019. (Although why the breaking point happened two years into Trump’s presidency is less than clear.)