A few days ago a national headline caught my eye. It proclaimed that GOP leadership believes “Everything’s great” across the county.
I immediately began humming “Everything is Awesome,” the sarcastic song made famous in The Lego Movie. Tongue-in-cheek, the refrain continually declares everything awesome no matter how inappropriate (“I lost my job”) or nonsensical (“Rocks, clocks, and socks, they’re awesome”).
The song fits perfectly for a party that still finds itself caught in the vortex created by a president who made the phrase “person, woman, man, camera, TV” a part of the American lexicon. For four years the party faithful have cheered every rambling news conference, every garrulous stump speech, and every verbose Twitter thread.
The transformation is so complete, it is difficult to tell whether “side by side you and I are gonna win forever” is a Trump rallying cry or a lyric from The Lonely Island.
Does it even matter? As the song says, “everything you see or think or say is awesome.” At least when it comes to Republicans’ belief in Trump.
And that is a lot of what the GOP dilemma boils down to at the moment. Team Trump has so fully consumed the Republican Party that any utterance he makes becomes etched in tablets of stone truth for most of its members.
Between 70% and 80% believe that the election was stolen. The basis for that belief rests in the myriad fraud claims Trump has touted since before the election. It does not matter that his legal team has been unable to prove substantial fraud in a single court across the country.
To the contrary, when given the opportunity to argue the merits before a judge, his legal counsel stipulated to all facts and chose to forgo presenting any evidence of actual fraud. The only logical conclusion is that they had nothing to produce.
Yet most Republicans seem impervious to that reality. So impervious that Trump has openly floated the idea of running for president again in 2024. Just the suggestion has frozen the hopes of all other presidential aspirants within the party. If he runs, it would be political suicide to oppose him in a primary.
It has also frozen any potential path back to long-term relevancy for the Republican Party.
Rather than focusing on plans to add votes and incorporate new blocs of supporters, including the inroads Trump made with Latino voters, the party has focused on how to restrict voting rights and limit accessibility in future elections. These are examples of campaigning by subtraction – suppressing votes to limit the number of people participating in the process and increase the proportional relevance of respective party bases.
It is not only undemocratic and cynical, but likely futile.
It is like building a wall of sand against the incoming tide of demographic and ideological change. It may withstand the first few waves, but it will eventually be washed away.
National Republicans need look no further than Colorado where divisive issues and measures eventually erode political relevance. In less than 20 years Colorado has shifted from a center-right state to a Democratic stronghold.
Much of that change can be attributed to policies that alienated voters in the middle of the political spectrum, from civil unions to gun rights to health care. Democrats have cudgeled Republicans with those policy questions.
The only statewide race won by Republicans since 2014 has been CU Regent Heidi Ganahl. No Republican has garnered more than 45% support in the past two election cycles.
With Trump and his family likely to dominate Republican politics for the foreseeable future, Colorado’s past may be the future of the national party.
If that is true, then the GOP is only a few peg blocks, no-knee legs, cupped hands and cylindrical painted faces away from a continuous musical loop of “Everything is Awesome.”
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq
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