Whether you believe history repeats itself, rhymes, or is nothing but chaos, the unavoidable fact remains that presidents with majorities in Congress tend to lose those majorities. That’s what Republicans are counting on in Orlando in their first legislative huddle in more than a year.
The good news, as Republicans see it, was their better-than-expected showing in November’s House races. They also have new voter-suppression laws and forthcoming redistricting on their side. The bad news is Trump, his toxic one-term presidency and the conflict he’s creating inside the party.
All in all House Republicans are not in an enviable position, however, and the next eighteen months are fraught with hazards. Not the least of those hazards is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has kept alive the claim that Trump was the true winner of the 2020 election. “No matter how upset you are about the presidential election and no matter what you’re seeing in the news, it’s not over,” Greene told a crowd in Vero Beach recently.
It also doesn’t help that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy once again dodged questions about what he and Trump spoke about by phone during the January 6th insurrection. Adam Kinzinger (R, Illinois ) termed McCarthy’s dodge “unacceptable.” In his quest to reclaim the title of Majority Leader, McCarthy may have miscalculated about Trump. Only fickle history will tell for sure.
Infamous Republicans who will be speaking at the retreat include Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary and now a GOP candidate for governor of Arkansas. One person who won’t be there is Donald Trump. “I didn’t invite him,” Liz Cheney quipped.
Whatever the outcome, Democrats need to be on alert. The Republican Party is hellbent on reclaiming power at any price. Included in that price some are willing to pay is a rediscovered need to actually appear legitimate. Perhaps most frightening of all are the other words of Liz Cheney, “What we have to do as Republicans is get back to being the party of ideas and the substance and the policy of conservatism, and that’s going to be a big part of the retreat.” If they manage to do this even halfway, many naive voters will incorrectly conclude that Republicans have become again what they haven’t been in a long, long time: patriots dedicated to the betterment of the average American.
Back in the early 90s there was the naive notion that four years of a Dan Quayle presidency would secure power for the Democrats for years to come, if not decades. We never got a chance to test that theory directly, but few sane people today would disagree that Donald Trump was far worse than Quayle could have ever been. And Trump’s silly and disgusting, dangerous and stupid one term in office clearly hasn’t destroyed the GOP.
But there is one direct lesson from history that we can learn from. A little more than six years after Nixon resigned came twelve years of the Reagan Era. That lesson still applies today. The battle for the soul of the nation is far from over, and evil people are scheming right now in Orlando to reclaim it from us. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.