Trump’s grip on US Republicans persists after January 6 | Donald Trump News
Washington DC – Former US President Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party has only tightened since he stepped down, despite the storm of controversy and the many criticisms he has faced in the wake of the riot last year at the Capitol.
Part of the reason for his continued dominance, explained David Schultz, professor of politics at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is that Trump remains a âcharismaticâ figure who appeals to the passions of Republican voters.
âTrump has been very successful in capturing people with fear, with prejudice, with emotions,â Schultz told Al Jazeera. âThe Republican Party is Trump now. Without Trump, I don’t think there is a Republican Party.
Whether Trump’s outsized influence will last is an open question. Short-term political trends are in its favor, but continued investigations into its role in the January 6 insurgency and ongoing legal issues with its New York real estate business pose risks.
“Incitement to insurgency”
Trump continued to deny any role in the riot, despite his indictment by the US House of Representatives of “inciting insurgency,” and to make false claims that the election result 2020 he lost to President Joe Biden has been rigged.
A crowd of his supporters stormed the building after the Republican leader gave an inflammatory speech near the White House in which he urged the crowd to “fight like hell” and “stop the theft” .
Trump also tried to block a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the events of January 6 from accessing White House documents related to the riot, accusing lawmakers involved in the investigation of cover-up.
While this can hurt Trump with the vast majority of Americans believing Jan 6 was an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, it does help motivate Republican voters to buy what the ex-president is selling.
“Trump has tremendous support among the population,” Matthew Dickinson, professor of politics at Middlebury College in Vermont, told Al Jazeera.
“Donald Trump is the best-known Republican politician and therefore, whether you love him or hate him – and I frankly think most of the Republican establishment [doesnât] like him, your electoral fortune is linked to Donald Trump’s ability to mobilize voters on your behalf.
Trump is keeping the prospect of a 2024 return offer for the White House open and he is actively supporting Republican candidates in the upcoming midterm election. Trump has so far backed around 85 Republican candidates for public office, including some challengers of incumbent Republicans who Trump has broken up with.
In Georgia, a key state Trump lost in 2020, the former president has recruited and supported a team of political candidates to run for the next election that includes former American football star Herschel Walker and former Senator David Purdue .
Indeed, Trump’s endorsements can make or break a candidate. His support for Purdue against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp gave Purdue a boost and hurt Kemp, according to Charles Bullock, professor of political science at the University of Georgia.
“He has convinced Republican officials that his blessing is important to their political future and his damnation is fatal,” Bullock told Al Jazeera.
In Arizona, Trump is planning to hold a political rally on January 15 to support former local news anchor Kari Lake for governor. Lake has said she believes Trump, not Biden, won the 2020 election in Arizona, even though three state audits showed Biden won.
âIâm honored to have President Trumpâs endorsement. And Iâm thrilled that heâs coming to Florence, Arizona, January 15 for his first rally of 2022. Letâs make this his biggest rally yet. I will see you there!â Lake tweeted on January 2.
In Alaska, a state Trump won twice, he has endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican state official who is challenging incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of seven Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump for the January 6 insurrection.
Trump endorsed Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy on condition Dunleavy would not endorse Murkowski. âIf Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect!â Trump said in a statement.
Certainly, Trump’s current influence within the Republican Party and his future political prospects will be tested in the upcoming November election. His track record of winning and losing in endorsements has been thwarted, although Republicans are poised to do well this year.
Some Republicans fear that party battles in the Republican primaries to challenge Trump’s grievances risk losing Democrats in the general election.
In Georgia, Trump sparked infighting among Republicans by prompting Purdue – who lost his Senate reelection bid last year – to run against incumbent Republican Kemp. Kemp had angered Trump when he certified Biden’s 2020 election victory in Georgia.
Nationally, the Alaska contest pits Trump against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who backs Murkowski.
But another part of what keeps Trump relevant is the bitter partisanship that currently dominates U.S. politics, which analysts say is a function of the gerrymandering of congressional districts that sidelined the moderate voices of both parties.
While a few Republicans have dismissed Trump’s narrative, including Representative Adam Kinzinger, who voted for Trump’s impeachment but will not seek re-election mid-term, most have aligned themselves with Trump.
Meanwhile, a group of outspoken House members, including Reps Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar, have become the main cheerleaders in his message to Congress.
âTrump has always appealed to the right-wing base of the Republican Party and he managed to capture it,â Thomas Volgy, professor at the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona, told Al Jazeera.
âWhen you take gerrymandering, identity politics, punishing people who speak a different tone in your own political partyâ¦ it’s very difficult for people to walk away. “