Republican leaders have been reluctant to oppose President Trump outwardly. In the past, we have already seen Trump remove several of his cabinet members, attack state GOP officials, and create friction within moderate and far-right conservatives within the Republican party.
We have already seen the impact of Trump’s relentless claims of widespread voter fraud in many states. Georgia right now is the epicenter of this political battle.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both lifelong Republicans, have come under severe attacks from President Trump and his loyal fan base. Trump has called for their resignations, questioned their integrity, and made public attempts to undermine their career and authority.
Trump recently retweeted a post by attorney Lin Wood, a ‘former’ member of the Trump legal team who has peddled conspiracy theories tying the Dominion Voter System to socialist governments like Venezuela and China.
President Trump @realDonaldTrump is a genuinely good man. He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially “Republicans.”— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) December 15, 2020
He gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail. pic.twitter.com/7PMBLc8L2N
The tweet highlights that previously mentioned friction within the GOP. Many Republican officials choose sides and walk a tightrope between maintaining President Trump’s support (therefore consolidating his coalition) and not ostracizing moderate Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents.
But Trump has incredible power to mobilize his fan base, who continue to fuel the election fraud fire in any and every possible way. The enthusiasm over the issue culminated over the weekend when violence broke out between protesters and counter-protesters in Washington DC. Four people were stabbed, and around 23-33 arrested.
Moreover, the “stop the steal” movement led to police escorts for Michigan lawmakers traveling to the state capitol for the electoral college certification vote. This, along with other hints of violence among far-right conspiracy theorists, has created doubt and fear among those who choose to oppose Donald Trump.
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke publicly congratulating President-Elect Joe Biden, signaling a significant shift in the Republican party away from Donald Trump’s control. The rest of the party will likely soon follow McConnell’s lead, and McConnell may be the only Republican official that has the power to suppress Trump.
Still, a few other officials are going all-in on Trump and refuse to be a part of the so-called “Surrender Caucus.” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) plans to try to overturn the electoral college vote. This move, however, appears performative and probably an attempt to gain popularity through Trump’s image.