Well, John was right. John Barnhart’s column on August 31st entitled “Trump is hurting the Republican Party” certainly foreshadowed our midterms. Though as I write, control of the House teetered right, the Dems held the Senate and if Raphael Warnock wins in Georgia on Dec 6th, the power wielded by lone wolfs such as Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema ends.

While Donald Trump owns some of the “failed red wave,” the circular firing squad of republican blame continues. After January 6th, the second impeachment, and the tarnished transfer of power on Jan 20th, both Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy could have walked away from Donald and focused the next 2 years on regaining control of the GOP. Instead, Mitch went publicly silent and refused any contact with Trump. Kevin McCarthy did the opposite, went groveling to Mar-o-Lago and has disgraced himself ever since with parroting lies about the election and voter fraud. McConnell and McCarthy had the chance at real leadership, and they utterly failed to take the challenge. They own this loss too.

What has never made sense to me was the demographics. As I understand today, roughly 30% of voters declare themselves republican, 30% democrat, leaving 40% of voters as independent — not beholden to either party. Furthermore, the estimates of hard-core Trump supporters are 30% of all republicans, so 30% of that 30% is roughly 10%. In other words, 10% of eligible voters are the singularly loyal MAGA supporters. I can’t believe that if McConnell and McCarthy had decided in February 2021 to walk away from Donald, that they couldn’t have recaptured most of the “trump-only” loyalists back into the republican tent by the midterms.

Republicans will pay a steep price for this failure of backbone and leadership over the next two years. Republicans have won the House by the narrowest of margins. This means small groups of 3-4 Republican representatives can pull the Manchin/Sinema trick and hold their party hostage in return for special interests. This could mean bad news over the “debt ceiling vs entitlement cuts” vote early next year. To add to the red calamity, Donald Trump has announced he is running in 2024. This loser, (who lost to Hillary by 3 million votes in 2016, both Houses in 2018, and to Biden by 7 million in 2020), will wreak vengeance on the Republican party as he loses public support and gets indicted. I suspect Donald’s candidacy hopes to complicate his criminal and civil prosecutions, bilk money from his loyal 10%, and extract revenge. He knows he can’t win in 2024 just as we now know from multiple sources that he knew he legitimately lost the election by December 2020. He lives to break stuff because he can. To add a final topping to the multi-layer cake of twaddle, I expect Liz Cheney to be a factor in 2024 either by running as an Independent for President or as a power broker. Liz, being a Cheney, and is not about to lose her conservative Republican party to a populist mob that no longer believes in individual rights, fiscal responsibility, or the foundation of democracy — elections.

I sincerely hope conservatives regain the Republican party from the populists. I believe in a principle-based balance of power between liberal and conservative factions. Though I lean democratic, I was angered by Biden’s attempted forgiveness of college loans because it did nothing to address the real problems of escalating tuition costs, usury student loans at inflated interest rates, and predatory fake schools. Somehow, we’ve let the tail wag the dog. As these midterms have proved, the vast majority of Americans are moderate. The fact that our elections appear more polarized is because we don’t have much choice, too many of our candidates are extremes — hard right and, less often, hard left. I really do hope that the republican party finds it’s backbone and principles in 2023. This means a sound rejection of Trump, extremists, and a demonstration that they can solve problems, compromise, and govern. My suggestion from last week remains my best hope — developing and passing a coherent balanced plan for both illegal and legal immigration with Democrats. Finally, republicans please make MAGA stand for “Make America Govern Again.”