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Trump actively working to bury McConnell, midterms be damned


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As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to steer his caucus back into the majority next year, he faces fierce opposition from a familiar rival: Donald Trump.

Remember back in January—just after the Capitol siege—when GOP congressional leaders flirted for like three seconds with actually cutting loser Trump loose and trying to rebuild their party by appealing to more voters? Instead, they decided to gift ongoing control of the party to someone who literally cares about no one in this world other than himself. Genius!

Now McConnell is paying the price of his own weak, cowardly leadership as Trump works behind the scenes to oust him from his role as the party's most powerful elected official. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump has "recently spoken with senators and allies about trying to depose" McConnell and whether anyone in the caucus is interested in opposing him. This has yielded two totally enjoyable outcomes.

First, Trump, whose political prowess is legendary, has failed to grasp that McConnell still basically rules the roost in the Senate GOP caucus, which continues to be weighted toward supposed "fiscal conservatism" and the other traditional means Republicans have used for decades to enrich their friends and fleece working-class Americans. At the same time, none of the entirely narcissistic fatuous pro-Trump blowhards who would like to obtain more power have enough friends in the caucus to orchestrate McConnell's ouster. Take the case of Sen. Ted "Cancun" Cruz of Texas, for instance, who would gladly throw his own kin overboard to gain a toehold in greater power—he's mostly a pariah in the caucus. Simply put, no one likes him.

But while Trump may be failing to identify a would-be McConnell assassin, he is delightfully deepening fissures within the caucus right as McConnell tries to line up enough reasonable GOP Senate candidates to potentially prevail in tight races next year. Now McConnell has to watch his back in his own caucus while he also watches Trump radicalize the field of Republican candidates nationwide. Even somewhat reasonable GOP candidates will have to declare their undying fealty to Trump and his wacko 2020 fraud claims in order to prevail in their primaries.

The beauty of the Trump-McConnell feud is that it's ongoing and shows no signs of waning as the midterms get closer. Someone with a base-level impulse control might be able to set aside their animosity in order to advance the greater good of the party. But Trump has the impulse control of a 2-year-old and besides, his desire to screw over McConnell is far more precious to him than the caucus—or even the party, for that matter.

No better evidence of that than the fact that Trump reportedly raked in $102 million in donations in the first half of 2021 while also declining to donate a dime of it to GOP campaigns.

McConnell admitted over the summer that he has zero control over Trump's involvement in 2022, saying, "he has his own agenda." The implied but unspoken part of that sentence is that Trump's agenda has nothing to do with McConnell's.

The thing to keep in mind here is regardless of whether Republicans manage to retake control of either/both chambers next year, their congressional caucuses will undoubtedly emerge from 2022 more radicalized and beholden to Trump. That's because the GOP lawmakers who are alternately retiring and declining to run for reelection are almost all from the slightly more reasonable wing of the party, and the vast majority of them—if not all—will either be replaced by a Trump-endorsed cultist or Republicans will simply lose that seat altogether. What's left will be a party that has either beefed up its Trumpian ranks or thinned out its non-Trumpian ranks—or perhaps a little of both.

As Trump said in a statement earlier this month, "If we didn't have RINOs, the Republican Party would totally dominate politics. The good news is there are far less than there were four years ago—it is a dying breed—but nevertheless, and unfortunately, they still exist!"

Jettisoning anyone and everyone who hasn't pledged absolute fealty to Trump is the point. He would much rather have a minority party with no one but cultists than a majority party where the center of gravity was still with the McConnells of the world. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has kissed the ring, and if he becomes speaker of the House, his leadership of the House will be no different than having Trump as speaker.

But McConnell still isn't a Trump convert. In fact, he clearly can't stand the man. Of course, McConnell also didn't have the guts or the political juice to put a final dagger in Trump's coffin back in January. So here he is, with Trump actively working to bury him.

“Republicans in disarray” is kind of an understatement. Republicans in a Survivor-style death match to the end is more like it.