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Port: Republicans must move on from Trump, and Trumpism too

"It's not enough for Trump to go. Trumpism, which is to say the bombastic, hateful, egotistical, divisive, and ultimately self-defeating approach to politics Trump has popularized, and that many Republicans have internalized, must go with it."

President Donald Trump speaks at Scheels Arena
President Donald Trump speaks at Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.
David Samson / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — I began to think that the midterm elections, in which Republicans seemingly had all the momentum before Election Day, would go badly for the GOP when the son of disgraced former President Donald Trump was openly mocking an 82-year-old man who was attacked by a hammer-wielding, would-be assassin.

Donald Trump Jr.'s tweet wasn't even original. He ripped off the image he posted — one showing a pair of underwear and a hammer with the caption "Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready" — from another Twitter user.

But the trouble wasn't plagiarism so much as the fact that a high-profile figure in Republican politics posted something like that, and drew little in the way of reprobation from other Republicans. Someone tried to bump off the speaker of the House, settled instead for attacking her husband, and the reaction from many Republicans was to make light of a man being put in the hospital with a skull fracture.

It wasn't just Trump Jr.

Ted Cruz disgraced himself in response to the attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's household, as did many other Republican elected officials and notable right-wing figures.

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The home of the speaker of the House, a woman who stands second in the line of succession to the presidency, was attacked, and no matter how botched the job (though remember, he put Paul Pelosi in the hospital), our nation's leaders should have been united in their concern and dismay.

Instead, this horrific act of political violence was made light of.

It's why many swing voters in many parts of America turned their backs on the GOP's most extreme, most Trump-aligned candidates and left Democrats with, if not complete control of Congress, certainly a midterm election that went much better than they could have expected.

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If we're lucky, Trump's sway over the GOP will fade away, allowing the party to return to its status as the far more dignified opponent of Democratic rule in the future.

Many Republicans, frustrated by the outcomes of the midterm elections, have begun to make noises about moving on from Trump. It's about time, because by objective measure, Trump is a loser.

In 2017, as the disgraced former president took office, the GOP had a supermajority in Washington, D.C., controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House. By 2021, despite a violent attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters radicalized by false election conspiracies, Republicans had lost control of all three.

They might have held control of the Senate in 2020, but a myopic Trump kneecapped Republicans in Georgia's Senate run-off elections.

Republicans have suffered another disappointing election day, and the tide seems to be turning against Trump.

But it's not enough for Trump to go. Trumpism, which is to say the bombastic, hateful, egotistical, divisive, and ultimately self-defeating approach to politics Trump has popularized, and that many Republicans have internalized, must go with it.

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If Republicans want to win back control in Washington, if they don't want to see their governing majorities in state governments across the country erode, they must stop being the party that is OK with laughing at a brutal assault on an elderly man just because he's a Democrat.

That's what Trump has turned Republicans into.

It's time for Republicans to be something better.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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