Joe Biden may have won the presidency last November, but rumors of the Republican Party’s downfall were very much exaggerated. Unfortunately, many of President Donald Trump’s defenders went off the deep end in challenging the election results. Thanks in part to Lin Wood’s attacks on Republican officials in Georgia, the GOP lost two winnable Senate elections on January 5, and then a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
This was the kind of perfect storm that might doom one of America’s political parties for a long time. In fact, January 5 and January 6 could have become the GOP’s Ragnarok, sundering the party in two and leading Americans to blame Republicans for a historically tragic attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Yet the Republican Party was not fated to die in early January 2021. Unlike Democrats during the Black Lives Matter riots over the summer, Republicans united to condemn the violent attack on the Capitol. While Trump arguably coddled the rioters early on, he eventually gave the strong condemnation he should have given right away.
Trump committed to a peaceful transition of power on January 20, and he delivered on that promise. While Trump’s decision to contest the election did inspire large crowds to gather to support him on January 6, the president never told the crowd to attack the Capitol and the plans to storm the building predated Trump’s speech. While Trump did encourage Vice President Mike Pence to overstep his constitutional bounds and unilaterally reject Electoral College votes, Trump did not “incite an insurrection.”
The president’s behavior between Election Day and January 7 did prove reprehensible at times, and had the Democrats chosen their words more carefully, they may have gotten more Republican support for the last-minute impeachment effort. However, Democrats went off half-cocked and gave Republicans every excuse to condemn this impeachment as political.
Trump still faces the indignity of being the only president impeached twice, but his party will likely rise from the ashes of January 5 and January 6, 2021, to a powerful electoral force in 2022.
One man will be most responsible for the GOP’s monster resurgence, and it isn’t Donald Trump (although Trump’s stock will increase after the Senate acquits him yet again).
That man is Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. Judging merely by his first week as president, Biden promises to be one of the most divisive leaders in American history, no matter what he says about “unity.” Biden became the first president to sign more than 30 executive orders in his first few days, and those executive orders destroyed thousands of jobs, forced schools to open girls’ restrooms to biological boys, destroyed fairness in women’s sports, and reversed Trump’s order protecting the U.S. power grid from China. Biden has already violated his own mask mandate and he has already praised abortion as vital for women’s “health care.”
Trump’s rhetoric may have alienated many Americans, but his policies helped the country, brought peace to the Middle East, and developed vaccines in record time. Biden has worked overtime to erase all of Trump’s progress, even to the petty extent of renaming Operation Warp Speed.
More ominously, Biden wants a bill on domestic terrorism in the wake of the Capitol riots. He seems poised to launch a domestic “war on terror” aimed at silencing dissent and casting conservatism as an “insurgency.” If he does push this horrifying agenda, conservatives will fight back, and Americans will be horrified. The backlash will be severe.
Biden came in promising, “Unity! Unity! Unity!” Americans have already had enough of the job loss, confusion, and radicalism that “unity” entails, and the GOP has two and a half years to gear up for the midterms.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.