Taegan Goddard of Political Wire has an article up on his blog (subscription required): Trump’s Strength Is His Lack of Loyalty, which analyzes the Former Guy’s continuing hold on the GOP.
Trump’s leverage over Republicans right now isn’t that he can grow the party. It’s that he could destroy it at any time.
Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy know that if Trump caused just a small percentage of reliable GOP voters to stay home, Republicans could not regain control of either chamber.
Goddard made this point in connection with something Lindsey Graham said last night on Fox:
“We can’t grow without him.” Graham is admitting that the GOP can’t take back power without Trump. Which is just how Trump wants it:
Trump’s reappearance is fueled by an ego-driven desire to remain at the center of national attention, said former advisers and allies who are in touch with him.The defeated ex-president is propelled primarily by a thirst for retribution, an insatiable quest for the spotlight and a desire to establish and maintain total dominance and control over the Republican base, said several former senior White House advisers. [emphasis added]
This is where Goddard’s headline is a bit off. It says that Trump doesn’t care what happens to the GOP as long as it does what he wants it to. But the headline really should be that Trump’s loyalty is only to himself.
The country had four years to figure that out, and kicked Trump out of office. The GOP had plenty of chances to do the same prior to the election, and many Republican “leaders” did realize that. But they were so determined to keep power that they figured it was worth catering to Trump’s ego if that’s what it took.
Now they’re hoisted on their own petard, going along with The Big Lie that the election was stolen because Trump’s ego demands it. When someone like Liz Cheney calls them on it, they kick her out of their leadership rather than admit she’s right — rather than even discuss whether she’s right. Cheney’s policies are probably further to the right than Trump, but policy doesn’t matter, only ego.
Goddard got it right in his conclusion:
It’s not that Trump has some special power over Republican voters. But GOP lawmakers believe that he’s willing to use whatever power he does have against the party.
And he wouldn’t even think twice about it.
[Edit] In the Hindu trimurti — trinity — of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Shiva is the most powerful, because he is the Lord of Destruction. Trump is the GOP’s Shiva. This is not to say Trump is a god, but that his followers are coming awfully close to worshiping him as one, and while Shiva’s power and attributes extend beyond destruction, Trump’s only power is to destroy. And that power is greater and easier to use that creation or preservation.