Donald Trump’s vision of a country with a single political party pledging total loyalty to him, and only him, took a step closer to reality on January 25 after the Republican National Committee (RNC) voted to approve a resolution declaring its “undivided support” for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The RNC move was designed to thwart any other Republican presidential hopeful from challenging Trump for the GOP nomination.
On January 26, Trump tweeted his thanks to the RNC: “Thank you to the Republican National Committee, (the RNC), who voted UNANIMOUSLY yesterday to support me in the upcoming 2020 Election. Considering that we have done more than any Administration in the first two years, this should be easy. More great things now in the works!”
Although Trump’s boast about his accomplishments to date is a lie, the RNC’s move set about a chain of actions among Republican state-level parties to cancel primaries and caucuses.
In a number of states, the Republican Party leadership has been seized by Trump loyalists who are opposed to any attempt by a GOP moderate challenger to Trump, for example, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland or Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, to mount primary and caucus challenges. This is especially the case in South Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, and Florida.
On January 26, far-right Trumper Kelli Ward defeated incumbent Jonathan Lines for the chairmanship of the Arizona Republican Party. In state after state, Trump loyalists have seized control of the Republican Party state apparatus, turning the party into a cult-like fan club for Trump. On January 12, Florida state senator Joe Gruters, the co-chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was elected chairman of the Florida Republican Party. Gruters has now placed his and Trump’s stamp on the Florida GOP, with former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio no longer influential in the state party structure. Gruters’s campaign for state chairman was highlighted by his red embroidered hats bearing the slogan “Keep Florida Great” on the front and “Joe Gruters” on the back. Gruters had the backing of Florida’s pro-Trump governor, Ron DeSantis.
In states like New Hampshire, Trump forces want to drop the neutrality clause from the state party’s by-laws. Trump loyalists in New Hampshire favor the party endorsing Trump, thus forgoing a GOP primary. The Trump faction, which dominates the New Hampshire party, fears residual support for former Ohio Governor John Kasich among the state’s Republicans. Kasich finished second to Trump in the 2016 primary. Kasich’s two recent trips to New Hampshire in recent weeks have Trump loyalists worried that he is considering a challenge to Trump in the 2020 race.
Kasich, however, was not even able to hold his sway over the Ohio Republican Party, where his ally, Matt Borges, was defeated last year for re-election by Trumper Jane Timken.
The seizure of control of state Republican Parties by Trump cultists has resulted in a number of elected GOP officials switching parties to become Democrats. In reliably Republican Kansas, which elected Democratic governor Laura Kelly last year, three GOP state legislators switched to the Democratic Party in December. They are state senators Dinah Sykes and Barbara Bollier and state representative Stephanie Clayton and former state representative Joy Koesten. Koesten was defeated by a Trumper in the 2018 GOP primary.
Also switching to the Democrats in 2018 were Hawaii state Representative Beth Fukumoto and New Jersey state Senator Dawn Addiego. Nebraska Independent state Senator Bob Krist also switched to the Democratic Party.
After the California GOP’s disastrous showing in the 2018 election, state party chair Kristin Olsen wrote, “The Grand Old Party is dead.” She told NBC News that the “division, hostility, vindictiveness, and lies” from the Trump White House were “the straw that broke the camel’s back for many, many, many Republican voters.”
Personalized political parties are only found in dictatorships where leaders have established personality cults around themselves. Single-party countries with dictators having personality cults included Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and Fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini. Today, such regimes exist in North Korea, where Kim Jong Un rules under the political mantle of the Korean Workers’ Party; Turkmenistan, ruled with an iron fist by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow under the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan; and Eritrea, nicknamed the “North Korea of Africa,” under the control of President Isaias Afwerki and his People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.
It is clear that Trump dreams of ruling the United States under a single-party state, where the Republican Party, molded into a personality cult, would be no more than a rubber stamp organization and would sycophantically endorse all of Trumps edicts and policies. Far from hyperbolic, this change is already taking place at the state level and, increasingly at the national level, particularly with the recent decision of the RNC to endorse Trump for re-election. News cameras have already captured footage of Trump’s Cabinet members being forced to sing their praises of Trump during carefully-choreographed White House meetings.
Social media manipulation, particularly by Google, does not even reflect the growing trend of Republicans switching to the Democratic Party. A Google search on the topic yields links to sites with fanciful stories about “Democrats losing support in 2018,” which was far from the case. The Google search algorithms return old stories on southern Democrats switching to the Republicans, which is no longer a major political factor, and “party switching Democrat to Republican,” which is definitely the opposite of current trends, particularly among Republican women.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).