WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
By John A. Tures
Earlier this year, the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) held a conference titled “American Uncanceled.”
Organizers attempted to showcase how their political opponents are the intolerant, and that conservatives were the true defenders of the ability to speak their minds. But what would happen when House Republicans would vote on a conservative Trump critic?
And what do surveys say about how the GOP faithful deal with criticism of Trump, compared to how Democrats deal with critiques of Biden?
A CPAC organizer claimed “The radical left will not tolerate any dissenting point of view.”
Another organizer argued “contemporary moral panic-mongers are redoubling their bullying to cleanse the culture of what they consider unacceptable opinion, which often, simply means ‘conservative,’” he argued.
He claimed that the hunted prey includes supporters of Donald Trump. “That is the most un-American thing I can imagine. Our nation was founded on the idea that people who disagree can still be part of a civil society.”
Ironically, just before the conference, an anti-Semitic speaker was canceled before his speech. I agree with the decision to not reward these words with a prime speaking spot. But after boasting about that America uncanceled position, it was an awkward moment for the organizers.
Then came May 11, and the House Republican voice vote to purge Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. from the House GOP’s leadership team.
There was no secret ballot or even a public discussion or debate. Some members hadn’t even arrived before Cheney’s ouster began. Back in February of 2021, Cheney won her House leadership position with a secret ballot by a 145-61 margin. But to support Cheney out loud in conference would be a kiss of death, according to Donald Trump Jr.
Cheney wasn’t dumped because she’s insufficiently conservative or even holds different policy views from Trump (they are a 93 percent match). Her reported successor is far less conservative.
But Cheney criticized Trump’s speech before the Jan. 6 Insurrection, and doesn’t believe in the conspiracy theory that claims the 2020 election was “stolen.” Perhaps CPAC leaders are right: true conservatives such as Cheney are going to be targeted.
“What a lot of folks are starting to realize here in the States is that President Trump really is the Republican Party,” a Trump advisor said in an interview before CPAC.
The Pew Research Center found that only 43 percent of those who claim to be Republican, or lean Republican, say that elected officials who criticize Trump should be accepted within the GOP. For conservatives, it’s only 37 percent who will be very or even somewhat accepting of elected officials who criticize Trump.
More than two-thirds of Democrats or those who lean Democratic say that the Democratic Party should be very or at least somewhat accepting of elected officials who openly criticize President Joe Biden. For self-described liberals, that Pew Research Center survey says that 73 percent of them tolerate such criticism of President Biden.
Some Republicans are aware of the drag Donald Trump’s been on the party. He’s the first major presidential candidate to have finished second twice in a row in the popular vote for president since Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s.
He’s cost the GOP its control of the U.S. House and Senate.He shifted the Republican Party brand away from its ideology of economic freedom and a foreign policy of standing up to such authoritarian regimes as Russia and North Korea.
But party members are terrified of offending him and his political supporters, the majority of whom do not support any criticism of the former president.
Opinion contributor John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @JohnTures2.
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