Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

A brief summary of what the next two years will be like

What will Republicans do without Trump?

“The Republican Party is at a crossroads like it’s never been before, and it’s gonna have to decide who it is,” said Corbin Casteel, a Texas GOP operative who was Trump’s Texas state director during the 2016 primary.

No one seems to be under the illusion that Trump will fade quietly. Since losing the election to Joe Biden in November, Trump has launched baseless attacks on the integrity of the election as most prominent Texans in his party let his claims go unchallenged. Some of Trump’s most loyal allies in Texas expect he’ll be a force here for years.

“The party is really built around Donald Trump — the brand, the image, but most importantly, his policies and what he accomplished,” [Dan] Patrick said during a Fox News interview Thursday. “Whoever runs in 2024, if they walk away from Trump and his policies, I don’t think they can get through a primary.”

To Texas Democrats, Trump has been a highly galvanizing force who created new political opportunities for them, particularly in the suburbs. He carried the state by 9 percentage points in 2016 — the smallest margin for a GOP nominee in Texas in two decades — and then an even smaller margin last year. But his 6-point win here in November came after Democrats spent months getting their hopes up that Trump would lose the state altogether, and they also came up woefully short down-ballot, concluding the Trump era with decisively mixed feelings about his electoral impact at the state level.

More broadly, some Texas Democrats believe Trump is leaving a legacy as a symptom of the state’s current Republican politics, not a cause of it.

“Frankly I don’t think he changed the Republican Party in Texas,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the state Democratic Party chair, adding that Trump has instead magnified the “extreme politics and tendencies” that Texas Republicans have long harbored. “The things that [Trump] stands for — the white nationalism, the anti-LGBT [sentiment], the just flat-out racism, just the absolute meanness — that’s what the Republican Party has been in Texas for quite some time.”

As for Texas Republicans’ embrace of Trump, Hinojosa added, they “are the people that Trump talks about when he says he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose their support.”

[…]

To be sure, it’s entirely possible Republicans unite in the next year the way political parties do when they’re in the minority — with an oppositional message to the opposing administration. But the GOP’s longer-term challenges could prove harder to resolve. In the final years of Trump, some in the party drifted from any unifying policy vision. At the 2020 Republican National Convention, the party opted not to create a new platform, saying it would instead “continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

November’s elections in Texas did little to settle the debate over which direction the party should go. Those who want to move on note that Trump won with the narrowest margin for a GOP presidential candidate this century, and swing-seat Republican congressional contenders largely outperformed him in their districts.

“Most every Republican that was successful, with the exception of a handful, outperformed Donald Trump by a significant margin,” Hurd said. “If you’re not growing, you are dying, and if we’re not expanding to those voters that are disaffected and don’t believe in the message that Democrats are providing, then we’re not going to be able to grow.”

On the other hand, Trump’s 6-point margin was bigger than expected, and he performed surprisingly well in Hispanic communities in South Texas. Former Texas GOP Chair James Dickey said Trump’s message was “particularly effective” in swaths of the state that aren’t typically looked at as political bellwethers.

“His biggest impact has been a return to populist roots and an expansion of the party in minority communities, which, again, is a return to its roots,” Dickey said.

My medium-lukewarm take based on 2018, 2020, and the Georgia runoffs is that Republicans do better with Trump on the ballot than not. Dems made the big gains in 2018 in part because Republican turnout, as high as it was in that off-year, wasn’t as good as it could have been. The GOP got some low-propensity voters to turn out in November – as did Dems – and now they have to try to get them to turn out again. Maybe they will! Maybe with Trump gone some number of former Republicans who voted Dem because they hated Trump will find their way back to the GOP. Or maybe those folks are now full-on Dems. The national atmosphere will be critical to how 2022 goes – the economy, the vaccination effort, the Senate trial of Trump, further fallout from the Capitol insurrection, and just overall whether people think the Dems have done too much, too little, or the right amount. Dems can only control what they do.

And that’s going to mean playing some defense.

Democrats are headed back to the White House, and Texas Republicans are gearing up to go back on offense.

For eight years under President Barack Obama, Texas was a conservative counterweight to a progressive administration, with its Republican leaders campaigning against liberal policies on immigration, the environment and health care and lobbing lawsuit after federal lawsuit challenging scores of Democratic initiatives. When Republicans could not block policies in Congress, they sometimes could in the courts.

Now, as Joe Biden enters the White House promising a slew of executive orders and proposed legislation, the notorious “Texas vs. the feds” lawsuits are expected to return in full force. And state leaders have begun to float policy proposals for this year’s legislative session in response to expected action — or inaction — from a White House run by Democrats.

[…]

Under Trump, Texas has often found itself aligned with the federal government in the courts. Most notably, the Trump administration lined up with a Texas-led coalition of red states seeking to end the Affordable Care Act. That case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Once Biden enters the White House and his appointees lead everything from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security, Texas’ conservative leaders will return to a familiar posture: adversary, not ally, to those making national policy.

Paul Nolette, a professor at Marquette University who studies federalism, said he expects Texas to be “at the top of the heap” among Republican attorneys general challenging the new administration in court.

According to Nolette, the number of multi-state lawsuits against the federal government skyrocketed from 78 under eight years of Obama to 145 during just four years of Trump.

“Republican AGs will take a very aggressive multi-state approach,” Nolette predicted. “It’ll happen quickly.”

It should be noted that a lot of those lawsuits were not successful. I don’t know what the scoreboard looks like, and some of those suits are still active, so write that in pencil and not in Sharpie. It should also be noted that the goal of some of these lawsuits, like ending DACA and killing the Affordable Care Act, are not exactly in line with public opinion, so winning may not have the effect the GOP hopes it would have. And of course AG Ken Paxton is under federal indictment (no pardon, sorry), leading a hollowed-out office, and not in great electoral shape for 2022. There’s definitely a chance Texas is not at the front of this parade in 2022.

My point is simply this: There’s a lot of ways the next two years can go. I think the main factors look obvious right now, but nothing is ever exactly as we think it is. I think Democrats nationally have a good idea of what their goals are and how they will achieve them, but it all comes down to execution. Keep your eye on the ball.

Related Posts:

25 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    This discussion of Republicans seems sanitized to me. Everything sounds so normal. Nothing about Q, nothing about secession, nothing about active insurrectionists, nothing about pandemic denial. It’s as if the normies are in control when in fact that is a known unknown.

  2. Thomas says:

    “Maybe with Trump gone some number of former Republicans who voted Dem because they hated Trump will find their way back to the GOP.”

    See, the problem here is that so far there’s relatively little indication that the post-Trump GOP will be any different from the Trump-era GOP.

  3. Jules says:

    I’ve been reading that Senate Minority Leader McConnell is quietly trying to get trump convicted in the Senate. That would be cool.

  4. Flypusher says:

    It’s their last chance to excise the cancer.

  5. Lobo says:

    Flypusher: Unfortunately the cancer has metastasized (to stay on metaphor) and pervades Texas (state) government, which is now trying to destroy vibrant local democracy that survived in the large cities and counties. If Cruz gets expelled from the Senate (long shot), he can be counted on to continue fomenting the malignancy here.

    Paxton has already declared “war” on the “lawless” Biden Administration following his failed SCOTUS bid to suppress democracy in states that did their part in firing Trump, so secession may be looming; — a sort of self-excision of the cancer-infested Lone Star State from the Union.

    Says the AG: “Congrats, President Biden. On Inauguration Day, I wish our country the best. I promise my fellow Texas and Americans that I will fight against the many unconstitutional and illegal actions that the new administration will take, challenge federal overreach that infringes on Texans’ rights, and serve as a major check against the administration’s lawlessness. Texas First! Law & Order always!”

    On a critical note: I don’t think it’s helpful to refer to political opponents as a cancer to be excised — or good strategy, for that matter — when these opponents are plentiful, not to mention having control over state government, and total control over two of three branches.

  6. Jules says:

    But misogynistic name calling is cute as a button fun!

    Not to mention thousands of words demanding that women can’t be called “strong”, cuz that’s for men.

    trump is a cancer.

  7. C.L. says:

    Re: “I promise my fellow Texas and Americans that I will fight against the many unconstitutional and illegal actions that the new administration will take, challenge federal overreach that infringes on Texans’ rights, and serve as a major check against the administration’s lawlessness. !”

    Straight out of the Trump playbook. Calling something unconstitutional and illegal that hasn’t happened yet and may never happen – that way if something DOES come his way, regardless of what it is, it’s a “See, I told ya they were gonna do sump’in unconstitutional and illegal”. It’s telegraphing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rates right up there with, “If I lose this election, it will only be because there was massive fraud”. “There must have been massive fraud because I lost.”

    He learned from the best.

  8. C.L. says:

    Re: “I promise my fellow Texas and Americans that I will fight against the many unconstitutional and illegal actions that the new administration will take, challenge federal overreach that infringes on Texans’ rights, and serve as a major check against the administration’s lawlessness. !”

    Straight out of the Trump playbook. Calling something unconstitutional and illegal that hasn’t happened yet and may never happen – that way if something DOES come his way, regardless of what it is, it’s a “See, I told ya they were gonna do sump’in unconstitutional and illegal”. It’s telegraphing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rates right up there with, “If I lose this election, it will only be because there was massive fraud”. “There must have been massive fraud because I lost.”

    He learned from the best.

  9. Lobo says:

    Jules: Get over it. I hope (wish?) you enjoyed the “poker-face-not” Angela Merkel parody I posted last night. Or was that too misogynistic for your taste too? In that case, I hope you relished the Trump imitation.

    The point of that was that – yes – it’s okay to make fun of strong women leaders. They put themselves in the public sphere. It’s not for everyone.

    If the Dems are populated by folks thinking and hurdling insults like you, and attack free-thinking left-leaning intellectuals (Lobo may be perceived as such, at least by portion of the OTK readership), I am afraid their future political prospects in Texas are bleak indeed.

  10. Jules says:

    Awwa, that’s so cute that you think you can boss me. No, I haven’t had time to watch your little video, no doubt it’s totes adorbs! I just want to pat your little head when you call women “strong”, silly wabbit, “strong” is for men!

    Maybe Manny can weigh on on your use of hurdling instead of hurling. Just cute as a button when you correct others!

    Now toddle off, the grown ups are talking.

  11. Lobo says:

    RE: “hurdling instead of hurling.” – Thanks for the correction, Jules. Always appreciated. I make lots of typing errors and have no editorial assistant to fix them. The video is not mine, though. It’s from the BCC and available on YouTube. 2.7mil folks have already watched it. No doubt that they find it funny. You might too.

    On a more serious note, here is the real thing, so you can do a comparison of strong women in action:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aedJkRez2Go

    (Angela Merkel’s speech on the corona situation in Germany, with English subtitles; but the nonverbal aspects of speech delivery are always interesting to watch too, and that’s even easier to focus on when you don’t understand the language. For her trademark eye-rolls, though, go to YouTube)

    Evviva Hidalgo! Evviva mujeres intelectuales!

  12. Manny says:

    Lobo why would anyone pay attention to Fascists/Racists and their defenders?

    Why is it always the Democrats that have to get over it with you?

    As I had stated previously, you are a dollar short and four years late, go back to underneath the rock from where you crawled out.

  13. Manny says:

    By the way Lobo my name is Manuel (Manny) Barrera let us see if you have the courage to state your real name, don’t be a pussy, otherwise, the orange buffoon may grab you.

    Those are insults Lobo, I don’t mind using them, I watched the Fascist/Racist Party engage in their use for years and believe in playing by the same rules.

  14. Manny says:

    Lobo/Wolf interesting use of a moniker makes one wonder if you are Bill Daniels.

  15. Manny says:

    Lobo is a left-leaning intellectual? That made my day. You are full of yourself Lobo. That is a whole lot of bull, that would be manure/shit, just in case the resident intellectual does not comprehend words used by us low-class non-intellectuals.

    I visit Big Jolly and have never seen you there telling them how name-calling is not good, after all, Democrats control Harris County.

  16. Lobo says:

    Mucho gusto, Sr. Barrera. Mi nombre es Lobo Seudónimo y soy un animal politico en peligro de extinción. Asi que hay que tener cuidado. Le aseguro que no soy Bill ni siquiera un Republicano. Como ya sabe Ud. “Wolf” es nada más que la traducción al inglés.

  17. Jules says:

    Manny, he thinks it’s ok to insult “strong women”, but since I never compared Judge Hidalgo to other women when he demanded me to yesterday, I’m not quite sure how he thinks it is ok to insult her, since he spent approx 50,000 words arguing that she isn’t strong, because she’s a woman.

    Does he even read the blather he writes? In one short post he says “ – it’s okay to make fun of strong women leaders. They put themselves in the public sphere. It’s not for everyone.” And in that same post he says that Dems shouldn’t hurdle insults.

    Insert Merkel eyeroll here.

  18. Jason Hochman says:

    My thought is that the Republican party won’t have anyone win on a national level for maybe a decade. The crowd at the Capitol were after Mike Pence and other Republicans who weren’t completely loyal and subservient to the cult. Which is sad, because Pence would be a good presidential candidate. Republicans will still dominate those state or local offices where they have strong support. I don’t know if Trump will really bother to start a “Patriot” party. If so, it will flop like most of his other big plans. I have even more doubt that he would run again in 2024, at the age of 77 or 78. I think he’ll just move on, and focus on golf. His days of reality TV are over. What irony that the TV people who made him a personality were horrified when he became a president.

    Over the next few years, prices will rise, and regular working families will suffer. Gasoline is already up. Shut down the XL pipeline, and the US will start to rely on foreign oil and be compelled to enter more wars. Groceries will be next. Already prices are up there, too. Racism will increase. It’s hard for me to tell if Biden is a racist. He speaks the language of another era, when people soaked their razors in rain burls and got em good and rusty. In those days it was de rigueur to refer to African Americans as cockroaches, or to talk about racial jungles. So, he may just be an anachronistic speaker rather than a racist.

    This was an historic election, with two of the dumbest candidates ever. Trump is dumb in the blustering, hectoring style of someone who is at a bar watching Monday Night Football. If his team is ahead he will pump his fist and yell “YAAAA” right into your face. If his team is losing, he will whine about the bad officiating. Biden is simply maundering through dotage. He’s more of the type to come out of the shower, pull his dog’s tail, and then his towel slips off and tangles around his ankles, tripping him up. It will be interesting to see how long he lasts. It will be interesting to see if tries to undo Trump’s law protecting animals so that he can continue his tail pulling exploits. Already we see that his plans are simplistic. We can wear masks! As if they have worked in the cities and states that have mask laws already. As if any randomized trial of masks shows no efficacy for them. I doubt that he read any of those papers, and doubt that he knows what is an ANOVA or statistical significance. As he said, “If you didn’t die of Covid, you ain’t dead, man.” I have also heard that he has a bust of Cesar Chavez in his office. Although Biden understands that Hispanics are not all the same, he might not realize that Chavez launched an anti illegal immigration campaign. Chavez saw illegal immigrants as strike breakers, and a source of cheap labor that would destroy the gains of his union.

    I don’t know if Biden is aware that all European people aren’t the same. I’ve known for a long time that all African Americans are not the same, but Biden doesn’t know that, so, I kind of suspect that he is unaware that all White people aren’t the same. For a long time, I believed that all European were the same, but at some point, I realized that I am not ever going to be a good old boy.

    Certainly I am inspired by Biden. He began running for president shortly after the office was created, and finally, in his 90s, he was elected. This makes me feel that I can still achieve something with my life, if I don’t give up.

    In summary, I would say the next few years will be much the same. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer. If you think that a politician cares about you, then you might also believe that a stripper thinks you are hot.

  19. Bill Daniels says:

    I’m just passing through to observe the chaos, which, surprisingly, seems to occur here whether I post or not. So much for being branded the forum pot stirrer.

    Jules, never forget that Manny considers you a racist white, too. You’re currently arguing in lock step with him, but never forget you’re just a plain ol’ racist to Manny. Your gay card doesn’t work with Manny. Step out of ideological step just for a second and you’ll see the seething hatred he has for you.

  20. Jason Hochman says:

    I read that McConnell and others told Trump they would convict him if he pardoned Assange and/or Snowden.

    Of course it is insane that the party of unity is pursuing this impeachment trial, when there is much to do, and when they want to unify everyone. I’m sure that being a sore winner and wasting time impeaching someone who is out of office when there is work to be done, yes, absolutely positive that will unify the country. Trump is going to fade away, and he’s not going to run again.

  21. Manny says:

    Bill or should I call you Lobo, or liar, or racist, or misogynist, or fascist, or all of them as they all apply to you, Bill.

    Dang, I voted for Biden, I gave money to Beto, to Elizabeth Warren, to Amy, to MJ Hegar, to Ann Johnson, to Conner Lamb, to Doug Jones, I could add a few more, know what they all have in common Bill?

    Barking up the wrong tree Bill. But quote the real Bill;

    give orders for the soldiers to shoot to kill any person entering the kill zone from the Mexican side, period. Women? Children? Old people? Military age males? Waste anyone that crosses from Mexico into the US. Back that up with predator drones . and perhaps an A-10 every 3 or 4 hundred miles, for close air support for larger groups, and you’ve secured the border, with no fences.
    https://www.offthekuff.com/wp/?p=89263

    or

    I support abortion, because most of the murdered kids would otherwise have been born to liberal parents. It’s better they were never born and don’t have to suffer the neglect, abuse, and brainwashing leftist parent(s) are known for.

    or

    It is also obvious that Meghan wears the pants in your family because otherwise you would not have used your dog whistle to mock our president. You used to be a real man who other men looked up to. Now you’re seen as nothing more than a milquetoast.
    Sadly, you went from a hero in 2008, when you served on the front lines in Afghanistan, to a henpecked husband now. You have been turned into a puppet whose strings are being pulled by a domineering bitch.
    And your press is nearly as bad as the daily attacks against the President by the Trump-hating media. The only good press you get is in the US, but only when you bad-mouth President Trump.
    Your fame-hungry wife is achieving her goal. There is even talk about her being a future presidential candidate. Horrors!!

  22. Manny says:

    Placing oneself in a public sphere and being able to take insults is different from hurling insults at people, any intelligent person would know the difference.

  23. robert says:

    ” So much for being branded the forum pot stirrer”

    And then you go on to stir the pot, smh

  24. Bill Daniels says:

    🙂