Haley Is Out, But Deep Wound In Republican Party Remains Unhealed

@DevilsTower
Haley Is Out, But Deep Wound In Republican Party Remains Unhealed

Sen. Mitt Romney

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley suspended her campaign on Wednesday, leaving Donald Trump as the last Republican presidential candidate standing. Again.

But as she announced the end of the campaign, Haley did not endorse Trump. “I have always been a conservative Republican and always supported the Republican nominee,” said Haley. Then she cited former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in saying, “Never just follow the crowd. Always make up your own mind.”

“It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him,” she continued. “And I hope he does that.”

While her departure may mean that Trump can coast through the remaining primaries, it certainly doesn’t mean that the open wound in the Republican Party is going to heal.

A better understanding of how the Haley campaign feels about Trump and Trump supporters might be gleaned from this exchange between Haley’s communications director, Nachama Soloveichik, and Trump supporter Kari Lake, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in Arizona’s Senate race.

Haley’s whole primary campaign was based on the knowledge of the subset of Republican voters who say they won’t vote for Trump in November. Even in Trump’s wins on Super Tuesday, Haley picked up 23 percent of Republican votes in North Carolina, 29 percent in Minnesota, and 35 percent in Virginia, with 95 percent or more of the total vote reported in each state. Those are all states that Trump desperately needs to keep in his win column.

Even in deep-red states like Tennessee and Arkansas, Trump is walking away with less than 80 percent of the vote. That doesn’t mean these states are likely to swing to President Joe Biden in November, but it is a good signal that a significant portion of the GOP is unwilling to hold their nose and go MAGA. It’s fair to read much of the vote Haley has received not as showing their love for the ex-governor, but as showing their distrust of the party’s authoritarian leader.

“I don’t know. I did not vote for Biden the last time,” said one former Republican who bolted from the party in the last year. “I don’t know that I could do it this time. But I don’t know if I could vote for Trump.”

The schism goes both ways. As Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld reported on Tuesday, Trump is engaged in a purge of the Republican Party. He has declared that moderate Republicans are no longer welcome and that Haley supporters are “permanently barred” from joining the MAGA elite.

With Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump set to empty the party’s remaining funds into Trump’s account, and Trump making it clear that there is no party outside of MAGA, those voters who have voted against Trump in the primaries may find there’s no home for them remaining in the Republican Party. Though they may have a home elsewhere.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may have managed a half-hearted endorsement, but former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can’t bring himself to go even that far.

“I think we agree that we have looked at his behavior, and his behavior suggests that this is a person who will impose his will if he can, on the judicial system[,] on the legislative branch, and on the entire nation,” Romney said on “Meet the Press” in December.

Meanwhile, Trump says the Republican Party is getting rid of the Romneys. “We want to get Romneys and those out,” Trump told the crowd at a Virginia rally recently. Haley responded with a statement that “Trump is actively rejecting people from the Republican Party — a losing strategy in November and a recipe for extinction in the long run.”

We can only hope.

For at least two decades, the Republican Party has become increasingly hostile to anyone who didn’t hold to a very specific set of conservative beliefs. That requirement already cost Republicans the moderates and liberals who used to exist in their party.

The entry of Trump has upended the entire Republican platform, replacing it with the One Commandment: Obey Trump.

The party going to the polls in November is not McConnell’s party, or Romney’s party, or anything that would be recognized by any Republican candidate going back to Abraham Lincoln. It’s a classical authoritarian party, devoted to the rule of just one man—the one who says he’d beat Lincoln even if the 16th president teamed up with George Washington.

There’s no doubt that Trump’s cultish followers are enthusiastic to see their golden calf perched back on his altar, and Republican dissidents may wander home before November. But right now, the Republican Party appears to be split between those who want to see democracy only weakened and those who want to see it completely stripped away.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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