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Anti-Trump Republicans Must Explore Options

There is no room for dissent in Trump’s GOP.
February 24, 2021
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(Photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock)

One might think an armed insurrection cheered on by a twice-impeached, one-term Republican president who oversaw the loss of the House, the Senate, and the White House might cause some reflection among the GOP leadership. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott, however, wants to dissuade anyone from such a notion.

Scott, the junior senator from Florida, issued a public memo Tuesday with the subject line “REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR HAS BEEN CANCELLED.” As if one ever got started.

His message is a strange and redundant surrender to Trump.

He argues that there’s no time for Republican infighting because far-left radicals “want to cancel us, not simply from social media, but they also want to get you fired from your job, get your bank to drop you, make you unemployable in the future, re-educate you, and completely silence anyone who disagrees with their new woke version of socialism in America.”

Scott continues:

And yet, at the very same time these far-left radicals are trying to remake America in their image, and lead us into a disastrous, dystopian, socialist future, we have a parade of pundits and even Republican voices suggesting we should have a GOP civil war.

NO.

Quelle horreur. “Republican voices” that might be upset with the current state of the Republican party? That cannot be tolerated! Forced unification is thus ordered!

Yes, it’s confusing—not to mention utterly disingenuous and totally boneheaded—that a memo written to declare the “cancelation” of internal GOP debate simultaneously shrieks about liberal cancel culture leading to the silencing of GOP voices, but that’s beside the point.

Scott actually thinks and cares about the substance of the cancel culture debate as much as the organizers of CPAC’s upcoming “America Uncanceled” shindig did before extending and canceling an invitation for Young Pharaoh to speak. It’s all melodramatic, dittoheaded bumble.

All that Scott really cares about—and all that the CPAC honchos and everyone else seeking to hold their positions at the top of the slippery Republican pole care about—is keeping the Trump flag waving. The supposed GOP civil war in the wake of Trump’s failed presidency is much like Young Pharoah’s speech: It was billed but never happened.

All it took were a few meaningless mumbles from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about Trump being “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 attack—after he very meaningfully acquitted Trump for inciting an insurrection—to get the Washington establishment talking about how McConnell was itching for a fight with Trump.

Fat chance.

(Bulwark readers knew better. We called it.)

Turns out, McConnell doesn’t plan to do anything more than give Trump a little silent treatment. See, his mumbles got him in too much trouble with Trump last week. So, don’t expect any more of that.

Because the GOP war only goes one way. Trump versus everyone else. And if there is no fight against Trump, that only leaves surrender. All Scott’s memo does is put the white flag in writing.


The real question now is what anti-Trump Republicans should do.

The institutional GOP is saying any anti-Trumpspeak is unwanted. Canceled. The few Republicans who dared to vote to impeach and convict Trump are being censured and primaried. At the national, state, and local levels, the GOP could not be more inhospitable to Trump-skeptical figures. Realistically, Republican officials are giving the people who can’t stomach Trumpism no choice but to explore their options.

What choices do they have?

They could call it quits and leave politics, as Paul Ryan, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and others have done.

They could band together and forge an intraparty faction, pledging to withhold their support unless certain conditions are met, such as an acknowledgment that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen and a commitment that voting restrictions based on Trump’s big election lie not be enacted.

They could form a third party with the aim of displacing Trump-endorsed candidates.

Or, they could simply do what millions of Americans did in the 2020 election and choose to align with moderate Democrats so long as the leadership of the GOP remains under Trump’s thumb.

None of these options is guaranteed of success. Any of them is better than surrender.

Amanda Carpenter

Bulwark political columnist Amanda Carpenter is a CNN contributor, author, and former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz and speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint.