Politico has a piece that consists solely of various Republicans pretending to wonder whether the Republican National Committee (RNC), an organization that Donald Trump allies purged of his detractors so relentlessly that you'd have a better shot getting an anti-Trump quote out of Jared Kushner than from all remaining RNC leaders put together, will truly stay "neutral" if Trump runs for president again and some other Republican dares to also enter the race. The committee is supposed to remain neutral! Completely neutral! It's written into the rules and everything!
Mind you, the extent of Trump's capture of the RNC—as made most evident through years of almost satirically sycophantic displays by organization chair Ronna NoLongerRomney McDaniel—is such that the piece has to rely on an anonymous "party official" to provide even the most anodyne quote asking the question.
"How do you stay neutral when the single greatest driver of raising money is using Trump’s name?" frets Anonymous Somedude. Yeah, that's a stumper, all right. Fortunately it's a purely theoretical one because—and I cannot stress enough that we have been talking about this for years—Trump's allies purged the RNC of officials not willing to back him during his four-year spree of corruption and incompetence.
What you see is what you're going to get. The RNC is selling Trump in the vast majority of their fundraising drives. They "even push his private business ventures through [RNC] official channels," notes Politico. His grimacing mug is what brings in donations, and the committee can only use it if they stay on Trump's good side and do his bidding. Maybe that bidding is to "push his private business ventures," for free, in their own "channels." Maybe it's to keep pretending, no matter what, that Donald Trump did not raise an armed mob in a last-ditch attempt to maintain power despite losing an election. And maybe six months from now it will be something else.
But if it comes to making boatloads of money plastering Trump's citrus countenance all over Republicandom and not doing that, you can certainly see how a party official wouldn't be able to even raise the question with a straight face and under his own name. This is the party that obligingly rented conference rooms from Trump and acquiesced to demands that they buy Trump-branded bottled water. This is a party that twice was faced with a Trump doing such crooked and dangerous things that he was impeached for them, only to sit back, take a swig of that water, and claim that there ain't nothing to see here.
The party is going to do the crooked thing unless there's more profit in not doing it, the people who survived the Trump team's incessant purges are still there precisely because they're willing to do the crooked things, and this whole faux-process of wondering whether McDaniel will continue to be a sycophantic Trump puppet is just part of the schtick. Yes, the RNC will insist it is remaining "neutral" the whole time. And yes, they'll continue to prop Trump up, slathering him with praise for his every new utterance in order to separate his fawning base from its money, forking over cash to pay the legal bills Trump incurred after doing a large number of things that seem quite evidently to be crimes, even as they treat his challengers with, ahem, neutrality.
"Will an organization restructured by Trump's allies to follow his every whim keep following those whims" is only an interesting question if someone, somewhere can point to any evidence that it might not. Is there any such evidence? Anything at all? Even the tiniest hint?
No? Then what are we even doing here?
There are still several ways that Republican Party officials might turn on Trump, and by "turn on Trump" we mean "gently distance themselves, sycophanting away gracefully to instead cling to someone else.” All of them are likely.
Trump could die. Trump could decide not to run. Trump could, uh, flee to Russia to become Vladimir Putin's latest pet. Trump could get indicted—no, actually, if that happened the party would go all-in on supporting him and treason both.
By far the most likely scenario is that Florida's fascist Trump mimic, Gov. Ron DeSantis, announces a run against Trump and Trump's resulting audio, video, and social media meltdown takes the whole Trump campaign out like an exploding fireworks barge. There's nobody else in the party that is in a position to criticize Trump on a debate stage, because each of the other likely presidential contenders will first have to explain why they kissed Trump's behind and/or presented Trump with miniature Mount Rushmore models with his face added on but suddenly don't like him now, after just one little hoax-premised violent attempted coup. Not happening. If you can't stand up to the biggest clown to ever cartwheel his way into the political circus, Republican voters are certainly not going to see that as leader material, Marco. Lindsey. Mike.
But if Trump and DeSantis get in a fight, DeSantis may have even odds of winning. Trump is an emotional wreck at the best of times; DeSantis' political vision combines Trump's fascist tendencies with a political persona that's far more methodical and calculating. Any campaign team worth their salt knows how to get under Trump's skin after six years of watching him scratch, and it's quite possible that pairing a bloviating Trump against someone even more willing to attack conservatism's true enemies (teachers, universities, people who know history, LGBT children) would result in a base wanting to give the even meaner asshole a try.
If that happens, sure. Trump may find that the Republican Party his allies remade into a team willing to follow the whims of a spiteful strongman is quite willing to follow a strongman that isn't him. But that switch will happen only after the primary battle is over and Trump-branded merchandise is no longer pulling in cash.
Until that theoretical day, the Republican Party is nothing but Trump's toy. And they're fine with that.
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