Republicans in Disarray
Across the nation, Republicans in state parties are engaged in in-fighting, power struggles, and chaos.
Election Day is less than a year away, and the Michigan Republican State Party has split in two. There are now two committees. Two chairs. Two websites. A 500K loan in default and a threat of bankruptcy. It’s a whole Western schism two popes situation.
Meanwhile, the Florida Republican Party just ousted its chair Christian Ziegler, currently under investigation for rape by local law enforcement. Ziegler’s accuser previously had consensual sex with Ziegler and his wife Bridget, a school board member and Moms for Liberty co-founder. Mrs. Ziegler has refused to resign from her school board seat despite multiple calls from her constituents to do so.
What’s fascinating is that Michigan and Florida aren’t anomalies. Several state Republican parties are currently dealing with some form of crisis, usually one of their own making. They’re broke, plagued by in-fighting and power struggles, fixated on election denial conspiracies, and bogged down by lawsuits and criminal investigations.
Michigan Advance, a state news outlet, does a wonderful job of putting the MI GOP’s woes into context nationally. Instead of trying to win the next election, state Republican parties have continued to re-litigate the 2020 election in perpetuity. Donald Trump’s political operation took care to invest in the states and empower MAGA loyalists wherever possible, but the weakness in his strategy of election denial conspiracies as a litmus test is that those loyalists focused resources on conspiracies rather than building an operation to turn out voters and win elections. We also saw this same strategy fail with Trump’s preferred candidates, who won their primaries handily but, as a group, fared poorly in the midterm elections.
I’ve been saying for ages that Trump and the GOP aren’t actually trying to talk to voters or win elections, and this is yet another data point for that argument. We’re in an election year of a presidential cycle. State parties should be thinking about how to support candidates from the presidential nominee and all down the ballot: raising money, hiring staff, and building the infrastructure to mobilize volunteers and turn out voters. But it’s difficult, maybe impossible, to do any of that when you’re navigating disasters like this.
Not that Donald Trump himself seems all that invested in actually campaigning. The day after his decisive Iowa Caucus victory, the candidate skipped out on the campaign trail and instead opted to attend court for a day of a civil defamation trial against him. Trump’s loud asides were so disruptive that the judge admonished him multiple times, but as I’ve written before, he seems to grasp that courtroom theatrics generate more media attention than anything he could do on the campaign trail. If holding the media’s attention matters more than talking to voters, why bother with the cold New Hampshire weather at all?
Meanwhile, we’re finally seeing some alarm bells in the press about just how bleak a second Trump Administration would be and what his MAGA base would expect. Tom Nichols points out in his newsletter for the Atlantic this week that winning isn’t even enough. Trump and his base want revenge: “Millions of Americans, stung by the electoral rebukes of their fellow citizens, have become so resentful and detached from reality that they have plunged into a moral void, a vortex that disintegrates questions of politics or policies and replaces them with heroic fantasies of redeeming a supposedly fallen nation.”
The New Republic’s Greg Sargent writes “There are strong indications that Trump is intentionally trying to raise expectations among his core supporters for just that—a presidency unbound by the law. And there are even signs it’s having exactly that effect.”
We all know that no matter what happens, the Trump campaign will declare victory and, if he loses, claim the election was stolen. Theoretically, having Trump loyalists running Republican parties in key states should help the Trump campaign make court challenges and mobilizing support easier. But by making election denial a litmus test and bolstering people who live in the MAGA Cinematic Universe over those with competence, experience, and institutional memory, Trump absolutely made his reelection campaign harder. Maybe enough to lose him the election.
Protect Our Democracy Now Primer (Women’s Donor Network)
A handy list of resources for kicking your advocacy and knowledge into gear now that we’re in 2024 officially. A good one to bookmark.
From Brandy Zadrozny, who consults many of the experts whose work I’ve linked to over the years here. It’s frustrating that we’re here again but even so, folks should be prepared.
Authorities Investigate Threats to Democratic Lawmakers (New York Times)
Roger Stone is living proof that a rich white man can get away with pretty much anything. Allegedly.
The panel and training submission process for Netroots Nation 2024, which is happening July 11-13 in Baltimore, is now open! Do you have an idea for a panel or training you’d like to see on the agenda this summer? You can submit anytime between now and February 9.
We want to highlight the hard work being done by activists and organizations around the country, from national campaigns to local grassroots organizing, as well as to shine a light on what's happening locally in Baltimore.
I’m proud to serve on Netroots Nation’s board and I look forward to attending each year. Election years especially, because the energy and organizing are always incredible. I encourage you to consider submitting a panel or attending yourself this year.
That's all for now. See you next Sunday!