It’s been nearly a month since the 2018 midterm elections, and in that time the Democrats have only extended their massive margin of victory in the House, gaining at least 39 seats to handily wrest the majority away from congressional Republicans.
Given this historic ass-whupping, you might think the GOP would be, I dunno, a little curious as to why they were so thoroughly routed. That, however, does not seem to be the case. Instead, according to a new report in the New York Times, Republicans seem pretty content to keep chugging ahead like everything is just fine and dandy, with House leaders like Kevin McCarthy and outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan remaining relatively mum about what, y’know, went catastrophically wrong.
Per the Times:
“There has been close to no introspection in the G.O.P. conference and really no coming to grips with the shifting demographics that get to why we lost those seats,” said Representative Elise Stefanik, an upstate New York Republican who is planning to repurpose her political action committee to help Republican women win primaries in 2020. “I’m very frustrated and I know other members are frustrated.”
And later in the same piece:
In an interview on the Saturday before the election, Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, the head of the House Republican campaign arm, predicted his party would keep the majority. But, citing a handful of suburban incumbents, Mr. Stivers allowed that “if we wake up on Wednesday and all those have broken the other way, then it’s legitimate to say it was Trump.”
Reminded last week of those comments, the lawmaker would only say: “I’m not playing the blame game.”
Of course, Stivers is playing a different sort of game: One in which Republicans pretend like last month’s walloping was a par-for-the-course swing of Washington’s power pendulum and not, say, a massive rebuke to two years of unified Republican government.
There is, of course, a practical reason many Republicans don’t want to talk about the electoral elephant in the room—Trump remains insanely popular in plenty of the GOP’s solidly held congressional districts, and to (rightly) place the blame on him for motivating a massive wave of reactionary midterm voters would risk pissing off their MAGA-chud base. “Now the party is Trump,” said Rep. Tom Rooney told the Times. “So we follow his lead.”
Notably, Rooney is retiring from Congress, and probably feels a a little more comfortable pointing out that the extremely dumb emperor is bare-ass naked. But if the Republicans really wanted to be honest with themselves, they’d also have to admit that Trumpism is just the modern Republican party distilled down to its essence: Misogynistic, xenophobic, and cruel. Remember the Republican “autopsy” after 2012 pleading for a less overtly bigoted party, and how quickly it was discarded by nearly everyone with an iota of power?
This is what the Republican Party has been about for decades. If 2008, and 2012, and 2018 didn’t change them, it’s hard to see what will.