Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, one of seven Republican senators to vote to find Donald Trump guilty in his impeachment trial, thinks the GOP should “distinguish between conservatism and short-term-ism.” He wants a debate in the party about the long-term direction of the party and whether it should fashion an agenda for 2030 or a “20-minute Twitter agenda.” That last is an obvious dig at Donald Trump, who conducted most of his presidency via Twitter.
But Sasse is in deep trouble with his own state party. He easily won a second Senate term in November despite being an occasional Trump critic. But his vote to convict has riled county-level party organizations, several of which have already voted to censure him. The state party organization is considering a censure move and will vote on it next month.
Sasse wasn’t sitting still and waiting for censure. He issued a blistering attack in a five-minute video posted to Facebook.
In a five-minute video posted to Facebook and YouTube, Sasse ripped fellow Republicans for following a “cult of personality” and “acting like politics is religion.”
It’s the no-apologies approach Nebraskans have come to expect — and even appreciate — from their junior senator, who perhaps more than any other rising Republican leader is cultivating anti-Trumpism as his brand.
He ran ahead of Trump by 27,000 votes in winning the November election, so perhaps he thinks he can afford to be anti-Trump. But Nebraska is not representative of the party as a whole, and while even Nebraskans appreciate his independent thinking, many are not sure it’s what’s needed at this time.
More than 450 miles west, the Scotts Bluff County GOP chair had grown furious with Sasse by mid-January after the senator said Trump had “consistently lied by claiming that he ’won the election by a landslide‴ and that the then-president was “derelict in his duty to defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law” during the Capitol siege.
“He’s made such a public spectacle of his hatred for President Trump. And that’s not the way Nebraska feels,” Woodward said. She described Sasse as “Oh, just so disrespectful to the former president.”
Sasse appears to be seriously looking at a 2024 run for president, at which time there will be a reckoning between pro- and anti-Trump Republicans.
During his interview with NPR, Sasse stated that the GOP needed to assess where the party currently stands.
Asked whether the GOP is “still Donald Trump’s party,” Sasse called for the Republican Party to “distinguish between conservatism and short-term-ism.”
“I think it’s important to give a frank assessment of where the party of Lincoln and Reagan is right now,” Sasse said. “I think there’s a whole bunch of stuff the party of Lincoln and Reagan needs to do to persuade people we have a 2030 agenda, not a 20-minute Twitter agenda.”
Right now, Trump Republicans aren’t listening. All they care about is where a politician stands on Trump: for or against? If you are against him, you will be thrown under the bus. With the Republican Party being threatened with extinction, sanction, and suppression, Republican voters want someone to brawl for them and the party.
Ben Sasse is not a brawler. Donald Trump is. Next question?