Whatever the Result on Tuesday, Don't Expect the GOP to Go "Back to Normal"Roundup
tags: Republican Party, political history, extremism
In 2010, the then conservative Canadian-American commentator David Frum feared that the conservative Tea Party movement would radicalize the Republican party, which would bring it short-term gain but long-term loss. Two years later, after some unconventional Tea Party candidates had defeated establishment “Republicans in name only” in primaries to then lose in the general elections – like Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell in Delaware or Richard “God intended your rape child” Mourdock in Indiana – the Republican establishment successfully blamed the Tea Party movement for the party’s electoral defeats and regained control, albeit, as it turned out in 2015, for just a few years.
Recently, some commentators have argued that radical outsiders once again endanger Republican success in the midterms. While this might be the case, don’t expect this to seriously change the far-right direction of the party.
Most of the media attention has gone to a group of radical outsiders, endorsed by Trump, who unexpectedly won their primaries but have struggled in the polls for the coming US Senate elections. The most important are former Georgia running back Herschel Walker, whose campaign consists of cosplaying as a law enforcement officer and dodging debates with his opponents; New Jersey resident and quack TV doctor Mehmet Oz, running for a seat in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, whose social media team seems to hate him so much that his opponent, John Fetterman, simply has to retweet his tweets; and “venture capitalist” JD Vance, in Ohio, whose campaign is as entertaining as the movie based on his autobiography and is barely kept afloat by the largesse of Silicon Valley’s resident Trumpist, Peter Thiel.
To be fair, these three are just the tip of the iceberg. There are several extremists contending for governor races, such as former news anchor Kari Lake, in Arizona, a Sarah Palin 2.0, or Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, in Pennsylvania, who cosplayed as a Confederate soldier and is surrounded by a team of antisemites and self-proclaimed prophets.
This is to say nothing of the House races, in which a host of candidates are trying to make Marjorie “Jewish space lasers” Taylor Greene look normal. There is a host of conspiracy thinkers running, including a large number of QAnon supporters, such as Sam Peters in Nevada and Ron Watkins in Arizona. And I am not even touching on Republicans running for legislative positions at the state level.
To be clear, it is not even certain that most of these people will actually lose their election. Many are polling close to or even ahead of their actually normal Democratic opponents. But even should they lose – preventing Republican control of the Senate, and losing the party some governorships – there is no indication that this will substantially change the direction of the party.