Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to threaten a Republican election boycott, sparking outrage on the right and celebration on the left.
Can the GOP survive Trump’s campaign of vengeance?
Trump said in a statement that “Republicans will not be voting” in the 2022 or 2024 election if “we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020.”
I guess unnecessarily losing the Georgia special elections—and empowering Joe Biden to spend additional trillions and get through a bunch of dreadful executive branch and judicial nominees—was just the proof of concept. https://t.co/V1KKnKcGKL
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) October 13, 2021
- GOP politicians have increasingly fallen in line behind the allegations, even as some have worried about depressed turnout as a result.
On the right: Prominent conservatives on Twitter, like National Review editor Rich Lowry, responded to Trump’s latest statement with dismay — warning of a repeat of Democrats’ sweep of the 2021 Georgia Senate runoffs.
Trump allies in the media also came out against the former president, who has toyed with running for a third time in 2024.
- Radio host Jesse Kelly conceded Democratic “Election fraud is a BIG deal” and must be stopped,” but he added, “The most popular Republican in America telling his supporters their vote doesn’t matter is the dumbest, most suicidal thing I’ve ever seen.”
On the left: Many Trump critics, including podcaster Brian Tyler Cohen, celebrated the statement as an electoral boon for the Democrats.
I have a steadfast rule against retweeting Trump statements, but him demanding Republicans not vote in 2022 or 2024 unless they “solve” the 2020 election (it’s solved, he lost) is just too great of a gift not to share. pic.twitter.com/nJnSWr4ob4
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) October 13, 2021
Politico Playbook described it as “GOOD NEWS FOR DEMS IN 2022.”
Others, though, voiced fears of that Republicans would simply give up on democracy.
- “What worries me is Republicans refusing to vote AND still insisting on maintaining power,” said progressive activist Zack Ford.
Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington later clarified that Trump wasn’t telling Republicans not to vote, but rather predicting they wouldn’t turn out pending a reckoning over 2020.
President Trump did not say don't vote. He pointed out the obvious consequence of not fixing fraud and holding those who broke laws accountable will be Republicans sitting out
If we don't fix our elections, many voters will think their vote won't counthttps://t.co/mufmgdO3fj
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) October 13, 2021
Republican leaders, meanwhile, mostly kept quiet — whether out of loyalty or fear.
- “[Trump] is saying something most Republicans in positions of authority in congressional and Senate committees would like him not to be saying,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN Thursday.
- “But … they are not saying publicly he’s got to stop doing this. They are averting their gazes and hoping it goes away and hoping not to amplify it.”