The GOP’s Blind Loyalty To Trump Is Likely To End Up Costing Them

Republicans are blindly loyal to this President in a way we have not seen before. They are likely to end up paying a price for that.

The threats to Donald Trump’s Presidency are becoming more and more apparent, but The Washington Post reports that Republicans are continuing to rally behind him:>

When President Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen testified last week that his former boss was a “racist” and “con man” who routinely skirts the law, Republicans showed little interest in following up on his claims.

They shrugged when Trump called murderous dictator Kim Jong Un a “real leader” and once again elevated the North Korean leader on the world stage.

And faced with a vote on Trump’s legally contested declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border, just 13 of 197 House Republicans opposed him.

Acquiescence to Trump is now the defining trait of the Republican Party more than two years into his presidency — overwhelming and at times erasing principles that conservatives viewed as the foundation of the party for more than a half century.

Trump’s ownership of the GOP was on vivid display again Saturday, when the president appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, an annual gathering that has transformed into a raucous celebration of Trump, featuring propaganda-style art and a speaker who declared that the president was “chosen by God.”

Standing before an exuberant crowd chanting “Trump!” and “U-S-A,” Trump spent two hours railing against the “failed ruling class,” calling the special counsel’s Russia investigation “bullshit” and portraying his election as a major moment in global history.

“We are reversing decades of blunders and betrayals,” Trump declared at one point, before asserting that he was only joking in 2016 when he asked Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s private emails.

“Lock her up! Lock her up!” CPAC attendees roared at the mention of the former Democratic presidential nominee.

In interviews over the past week, Republicans on Capitol Hill offered an array of reasons for their unflinching loyalty to Trump as the 2020 campaign begins to take shape: a deep-seated fear of his pull with their supporters in primary races; fraying consensus about conservatism as nationalism takes hold of the party; and shared partisan disdain for Trump’s perceived enemies in the news media and the Democratic Party.

“We’re not going to turn on our own and make the Democrats happy,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who is up for reelection in 2020. “We don’t see any benefit in fracturing, but we do see a lot to lose.”

Republicans say Trump’s overhaul of the federal judiciary and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices, along with the passage of the GOP’s sweeping tax law, have helped bind the party together through bouts of political turbulence — from the loss of their House majority to the longest government shutdown in history to the torrent of developments related to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

All of it has left Trump firmly in control. Most potential 2020 primary challengers sit on the sidelines as the GOP establishment rallies around Trump’s reelection. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who once gave Trump a jar of hand-selected Starbursts candy as a gift, is a Trump booster and confidant. Former GOP foes in the Senate, such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.), flatter him and are regulars at his golf courses.

“They fetishize this nonconservative in the Oval because it’s tribal,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran GOP strategist and Trump critic. “It’s us versus them, we’re right and they’re evil, and it’s created this Trump cult that dominates the party.”


Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) publicly acknowledged what many Republicans say privately: The GOP is wholeheartedly accepting behavior and policies from Trump that would spark outrage from a Democratic president, particularly Trump’s attempt to use executive power in defiance of Congress to secure funding for a wall along the Mexican border.

“It’d be a little different,” Simpson said with a chuckle. “If President Obama had done the national emergency, Republicans would have gone crazy.”

Nonetheless, most Republicans backed Trump’s move last month, seeing it as a political exit ramp for the president as he flailed during the latest shutdown fight. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged Trump not to do it, only to eventually accept it. When House Democrats forced a vote Tuesday on legislation to overturn Trump’s declaration, just 6 percent of House Republicans dared to break publicly with Trump.

One defector was Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.), a libertarian-leaning Republican who is well known for clashing with leadership. Trump backers in his ruby-red district were incensed.

“I’m feeling it right now,” Massie said. “Lots of phone calls for voting that way. But it’s okay, because my district knows me. For those who don’t have that brand, it’s more dangerous for them to try and take an independent path, because they’ll be seen as being against the president.”

Opposition among Senate Republicans has been more visible. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), facing a difficult reelection race next year, has said he would vote to curb Trump’s use of emergency powers in this instance, worrying that a Democratic president could “exploit” those powers in the future. Three GOP moderates — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — have also voiced opposition to Trump’s declaration and called on him to withdraw his plan or risk a rebellion.

But Trump had an ominous warning for those GOP critics in an interview last week with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity: “I think they put themselves at great jeopardy.”

The fact that the Republican Party has fallen in line behind the President so readily isn’t really a new development, of course. As both James Joyner and myself have noted here at OTB on several occasions, the evidence that the GOP is essentially Donald Trump’s party now is all around us. In some respects, of course, this is to be expected given that it’s rare for members of the President’s party to be directly critical of the White House while their party controls it. At the same time, though, the kind of loyalty we’ve seen over the past several years seems to be different from what we’ve seen in the past from both Republicans and Democrats. Even during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, there were Republicans who would publicly disagree with Administration policy in one respect or another, as well as conservative, Republican-leaning, pundits who were often as harsh on the Administration as they were on Democrats. This became especially true in the final years of the Administration when Reagan was seeking to forge a new relationship with the Soviet Union. Similarly, Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush faced criticism from within their ranks on issues such as spending and taxes, immigration policy, and other issues. On the Democratic side, both Presidents Clinton and Obama faced opposition from within their own party even on key issues such as health care reform, and in many respects found that governing with a Democratic-controlled Congress was nearly as difficult as governing with a Congress controlled in whole or in part by Republicans.

None of that has been true about the relationship between the Republicans on Capitol Hill and the Trump Administration either during the time when Congress was fully within the GOP’s control or now that the party finds itself in control of only one chamber of Congress. Outside of a handful of members of the House and Senate and some political leaders outside Washington, there is very little dissent from the President’s agenda and almost nobody speaking out when the President does or says something outrageous. Additionally, while Trump’s job approval with the general public remains historically low, his support among Republicans generally stands at 88% approval or higher. Add to this the fact that the Republican National Committee has effectively become a branch of the Trump 2020 campaign to the point where one member of committee has suggested that the party should ban primaries altogether for the 2020 election and the extent to which the GOP has been subsumed by the Trump campaign is, arguably, historically extraordinary. This has resulted in the creation of what can arguably be called a cult of personality centered around Trump that is unlike anything we’ve seen before in the United States.

The 2018 elections already showed the dangers of this kind of political loyalty poses for the Republican Party. Their losses in the House of Representatives, which currently stand at -41 seats and could increase pending the outcome of a still-outstanding race in North Carolina where the election is being redone due to pervasive fraud, are the highest the GOP has seen since the post-Watergate election in 1974 when the party lost 49 seats in the House.While it is far too early to rule out the possibility that President Trump could be re-elected in 2020, it seems apparent that if this disdain for the President continues through the next election cycle then Republicans could end up paying a political price for this blind loyalty to a deeply flawed President. We won’t see it manifest itself in deeply red states, of course, but 2020 won’t be won or lost in those states, it will be won or lost in the battleground states where it already seems apparent that the President, and his blindly loyal party, are vulnerable. Maybe at that point they’ll realize the mistake they’ve made.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    This blind loyalty is engendered by sheer terror of the Trumpkins. We haven’t seen anything like this mob of cultists before, either, though they had their roots in the era when Palin was riding high as the Tea Party darling. They were balked of Palin; they’re not going to be balked of Trump. These are scary people.

  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    We can only hope you are right, for the sake of the Republic.
    I’m old enough to remember when having a single undocumented house-keeper could help ruin a political career.
    See; Whitman, Meg.
    Now we know that the Dennison family has employed at least 33 undocumented workers.
    And yet it doesn’t even cause a ripple.
    Blind loyalty to anything is dangerous. Blind loyalty to this dumpster fire, by all rights, should be suicidal.

  3. drj says:

    Republicans are blindly loyal to this President in a way we have not seen before. They are likely to end up paying a price for that.

    I am rather more concerned about the price the country ends up paying.

    Losing a bunch of seats is not really proportionate to the long-term harm these spineless weasels are causing.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s not loyalty it’s white identity politics. The GOP is a white supremacist organization, and the sort of white person for whom whiteness matters will remain supportive because the party is them and they are the party. A racist does not have another choice: it’s the GOP or nothing. Ein volk, ein führer. There were a lot of Germans who remained faithful to the Nazi Party even as their cities burned down around them.

  5. just nutha says:

    The Republicans haven’t made a mistake. They’re getting exactly what they voted for and believe that they are the “true majority” of the country. In their view, it’s all good.

  6. Neil J Hudelson says:

    While I would like to think the GOP would be punished, looking at a House district and Senate map, I’m struggling to see where they will lose too many seats. Perhaps a few more House seats will flip, but that’s going to depend on who is more motivating in the remaining few swing-y districts: Trump or the Dem nominee.

    On the Senate side, Collins and Gardner may be in trouble, but Collins is a survivor. Maybe Tom Thillis should be worried? So that’s possibly 3 pick ups.

    I think AZ will swing back to red, ensuring McSally’s survival. And Doug Jones is all but assured to lose in Alabama barring Roy Moore winning the nomination, making the net pickup 2. I’m not as bullish as others at Perdue or McConnell’s chances of losing re-election.

    Facing a smaller majority or possibly a tied Senate, and a slightly smaller House minority is not much of a punishment.

    Edit: I will be very happy to be proven wrong come November 2020.

  7. Kit says:

    Maybe at that point they’ll realize the mistake they’ve made.

    Not a chance in hell! There’s someone somewhere in the blogosphere currently predicting that a big loss by the Democrats in 2020 will have them seeing the wisdom of white supremacy, blind devotion to as great leader, caging babies, et. al. Not going to happen. From here on out, it’s a desperate struggle to grab hold of the wheel, until one side or the other can finally triumph.

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    There were a lot of Germans who remained faithful to the Nazi Party even as their cities burned down around them.

    And a lot of Colonists remained loyal to King George. We call them Loyalists, and most of them ended up in Nova Scotia after the war.
    I think today’s Republicans would have been Loyalists in the 18th century.

  9. Eric Florack says:
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:
    There were Jews who thought Hitler would be good for Germany. All races have their stoopids.

  11. drj says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You just cited an opinion piece written by a GOP operative dating back to November 2014 to make the case that currently “many blacks are joining the Republican party and ditching the Democrats.”

    The piece itself contains gems like this:

    Mia Love, from Utah, became the first African-American Republican woman to be elected to Congress. Will Hurd became Texas’ first African-American Republican congressman since Reconstruction.

    Because it’s unfair if we’re also counting Democrats…

    In short: it was a lie then, and it’s definitely a lie now.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Jeasus-gawd you are dumb…which makes sense considering you are a racist Dennison supporter.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    Maybe at that point they’ll realize the mistake they’ve made.

    There is no “Republican Party” that makes mistakes. Both parties have systematically destroyed the power of the party. So every congress-critter must calculate for themselves whether they would lose more votes by bucking Trump than they would gain. And if we look at the Republican side, that’s going to be their only calculation. “Doing their job” or “the good of the country” will not factor into it.

    As far as I can see the national Republicans are following the same path as the California Republicans: losing every close election until their are no moderates left, just crazy extremists that can’t even recognize reality.

  14. mattbernius says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Hmm, so you had to pull a 4 year old opinion piece written by a Black republican to make an argument.

    Strangely, you seem to ignore actual scientific studies with more recent data like Pew:

    By contrast, African American voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic: 84% identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. Just 8% of black voters identify in some way with the Republican Party.

    Historic trends show the number relatively flat over time (with a slight downward tend if we start measuring in ’94, dropping from 11% to 8%)

    Admittedly there was an slight uptick in 2014/15, but that’s why serious people look at time series versus historical snapshots to make a grounded argument.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    @Eric Florack: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! That’s your proof that so many blacks are supposedly leaving the Democratic Party to become Republicans? An editorial from a Republican partisan written back in 2014!?! She’s touting the election of 3 black Republicans, one of whom is no longer in Congress…my, my, that’s just soooooo impressive…

  16. drj says:


    Strangely, you seem to ignore actual scientific studies with more recent data

    Everything that confirms Florack’s preconceived notions is necessarily true; everything that doesn’t is false. So obviously these scientific studies are untrue, while this random opinion piece contains deep and uncontestable truths.

    If you could think just a little bit more like a modern-day Republican, it would all make perfect sense!

  17. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds: This.

    More to the point, it isn’t that the GOP has become Trump as much as it is that Trump is emblematic of the recent GOP – baldly, shamelessly lying and trading primarily on faked grievance.

  18. Joe says:

    I think the Republicans are already screwed on this. They are a minority party one of whose major constituencies is the basket of deplorables and another of whom think it’s elitist and mean to call deplorable political positions deplorable. If the Republicans don’t keep these two constituencies, they are at best a 25% party. Taking the risk of trying to build on the 25% with more moderate independents or conservative Democrats is a political suicide run, but that is exactly what it will take to reject Trump and run as a Republican.

  19. MarkedMan says:


    Taking the risk of trying to build on the 25% with more moderate independents or conservative Democrats is a political suicide run, but that is exactly what it will take to reject Trump and run as a Republican.

    For me, this falls into the category of “The current situation is not sustainable, but I can’t see how it will get resolved.” The California Republicans are such a good example. What has happened there is similar on a statewide basis to a Chicago or Baltimore model, where Dems become so dominant that everything electoral happens in the primaries and that there are real factions within the Democratic. I just can’t picture that happening at the national level, especially with the failed Trump states having such outsized Senatorial heft.

  20. Kathy says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Did the memory hole burn your fingers?

  21. Teve says:

    @Joe: how do you expand your pool of voters when the one group you can’t alienate are a bunch of dumb assholes?

  22. just nutha says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Considering that Hayek speculated that today’s conservatives would have been Monarchists in the same period, your speculation is not all that wild.

  23. Electroman says:

    @Eric Florack: Show us on the doll where the truth hurt you.

  24. DrDaveT says:


    This blind loyalty is engendered by sheer terror of the Trumpkins.

    Exactly. ‘Loyalty’ is the wrong word; we don’t call it ‘loyalty’ when you hand over your lunch money to Jimbo every day.

  25. Kathy says:

    At a highly simplistic level, without delving into reasons, Dennison won because a respectable portion of the electorate didn’t trust Clinton. Most of these people voted for Johnson or Stein, but a small percentage voted for El Cheeto.

    Going by the approval ratings polls, Dennison has failed to broaden his support beyond the GOP. If those who voted for him to cast a vote against Hillary Clinton don’t find the next Democratic nominee as objectionable, then we may yet see Dennison quit after one very long term.

    This is way oversimplified, but IMO we have to watch out for attacks against Democratic candidates.

  26. Gustopher says:

    40% of Americans are fine with the Trump administration. Add to that the mushy middle that somehow thinks both sides are the same, and I don’t think a lot of Republicans will pay any price.

    I’m not even sure that Trump will be a one term president.

    All bets are off if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, or if unequivocal evidence of Trump being a foreign agent is revealed, but barring a complete game changing moment we have a country that is 40% insane, and another 20% that can’t tell the difference.

    If he stroked out while taking a tweet dump and collapsed on the bathroom floor and spent the rest of his life drooling, Republicans would lionize him, while all trying to be Trump-without-the-baggage, and a lot of that mushy middle will get on board with that.

    All the principled libertarian voters will stay away, but there are about 12 of those.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    In other news of the day, the NAACP refused to allow Stormfront to host a web discussion on race relations in the United States…a spokesman for the NAACP was asked why that decision was made and promptly told the questioner, “If you don’t know, I can’t help you…”

    Oops! Sorry, wrong thread…

  28. Teve says:


    Discussion I had on FB earlier, excerpt:

    Me: I’ll vote for whoever wins the Dem primary. And it’ll be great having a year of discussion about the candidates and issues.

    Putin and trump etc will spend the next 1.5 years trying to turn Dems against each other, though, so if I see someone I don’t know bashing this or that Dem candidate–not disagreeing, but actually attacking, a Dem candidate I’m going to just block them.

    My friend: I’ve already seen this with bots/plants posing as Sanders supporters. It started the day he announced. 🙁

    Me: yeah I’m close to putting the words Bernie and Hillary on mute on Twitter for that very reason. I’ve also noticed that most of the rabid Trumpers I see have poor grammar and handles that end in like 8 numbers.

    “Donald Trump keep being best President for America!” -@PatriotJim86496369

    My friend: I’m seeing lots of bots/plants on Twitter praising one Dem and savaging another, and English doesn’t seem to be a core competency. They’re trying to help Donald again and Early this time.

  29. Teve says:


    All bets are off if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, or if unequivocal evidence of Trump being a foreign agent is revealed, but barring a complete game changing moment we have a country that is 40% insane, and another 20% that can’t tell the difference.

    I was thinking the other day about how the religious right initially formed to oppose desegregation. Bob Jones, Jerry Falwell, those guys all started their schools to keep themselves and their relatives and friends away from black people. and it really hit me, this isn’t an original thought, I’ve read it elsewhere, but it hit me, oh yeah, Putin is ‘christian’ and white and hurts gay people. The religious right here actually prefers him to a gay brown bartender from the Bronx. White, christian, and hates gays, means more to them than Russian dictator. That’s what they value.

  30. mike shupp says:

    Some stuff I want to discussed sometime. Do Republican legislators UNDERSTAND that they’re being unusually attentative in their allegiance to Donald Trump? Or do they regard their oaths of fealty as absolutely normal, the sort of thing that Tom Jefferson and Abe Lincoln and FDR would have taken for granted? Do they expect — or view with apprehension, or eagerly anticipate — to be so obedient to Republican presidents throughout the rest 0f this century? Do they expect Democratic legislators to be so dominated by presidents from their party in the future? Or do they feel that Democratic legislators have been so dominated from some past date? And would Republican legislators be willing to explain their behavior to say high school civics classes or college classes in political science and defend it as desirable?

    Enquiring minds want to know …

  31. de stijl says:

    I know it’s not going to be true, but Trump should be the end point of R irresponsibility in an ordered world.

    They represent a large faction of the populace. Will they disavow othering?

    Can they they turn away from chaos?

    Please, yes.

  32. Mikey says:

    Good God.

    Trump Seeks Huge Premium From Allies Hosting U.S. Troops

    Under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil — plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter.

    Does this complete fucking imbecile just not understand WHY we have forward bases? Does he not understand the gargantuan benefit to America? Does he not understand the gargantuan benefit to our adversaries if these host nations just say “we’re not paying your usurious fee, get the fuck out?”

    One can only hope this idiocy gets squashed by whatever saner minds still remain in this utter disaster of an administration.

  33. Teve says:

    @Mikey: it’s almost like 72 year old congenital liars with no experience who snort Adderall make bad decisions.

  34. barbintheboonies says:

    Yes some Republicans will follow Trump blindly, and Democrats will follow the Democrat opponent blindly too. No news there. The Democrats will shut down every place that Republicans go to get their word out. That infuriates people, and we all should be. I was a loyal Democrat until one day I disagreed with something I heard some Democrat say. I posted it here as a matter of fact. For the life of me I cannot remember what it was. What I do remember is everyone here jumping all over me. Michael Reynolds actually said to me I’ll paraphrase: Hey don’t worry about it just stay home and collect a check. I thought FU what kind of jerk would say something like this. Then it hit me, the pretentious jerks they think they are the only ones that matter, and since then it has escalated to what we have now. Democrats are blind with rage, because they lost an election they could have sworn they had to win. Now they took the gloves off and said now we will bring in anyone who will help us, even if it costs us our country. Now go ahead jump in and say something witty and biting, thumb me down, it does not matter. I know what I want, I want a unified country again, without all the hatred, and biases.

  35. barbintheboonies says:

    I guess my post does not count, the one I posted before. It confirms my belief, you all really do not want everyone’s opinion. You will put your fingers in your ears and sing not to hear. That is exactly why a lot of people have left your party. It is sad though that the person who pushed me to the other side never gets to know why.

  36. PJ says:

    You got banned, again, so you created this persona. What else is there to understand?

  37. Teve says:
  38. Teve says:

    The Mueller report is going to be bad for Trump, but frankly, the clear tax fraud and bank fraud and insurance fraud that the SDNY is looking into is going to be even worse for him.

    I think it’s pretty obvious now why he looked direly worried the night he won the election, and openly demanded that Mueller not look into his finances.

  39. barbintheboonies says:

    @PJ: Makes a person wonder why though. I actually did not get banned, my posts finally went through.

  40. barbintheboonies says:

    @Teve: Yes and the liberals were destined to bring on AOC and the other new comer crazies. They will be sorry for that I am so sure of.

  41. Gustopher says:

    @barbintheboonies: Every time I make a typo in my email address (more often then I would like to admit), my post is dumped in the manual approval queue.

    I think the suspicious delay has more to do with the current moderation policy than any grand conspiracy. I expect that most of the regulars are whitelisted, and you have been gone long enough to either be from before that, or the whitelist drops people after a while.

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @barbintheboonies:..I know what I want, I want a unified country again, without all the hatred, and biases.

    The last time I saw one of your posts on these threads you stated that birthright citizenship was bad and should be eliminated.
    I asked you then and I ask you now. When are you going to renounce your birthright citizenship under the United States Constitution?

  43. wr says:

    @barbintheboonies: Yes, Barb, we all believe you were a lifelong Democrat until someone you’ve never met was mean to you on the internet, and that forced you to give up your lifelong beliefs about the way our political system should work and your entire set of values to become a Republican. Because that happens every day. I’m sure Pearce will vouch for you.

  44. An Interested Party says:

    Yes and the liberals were destined to bring on AOC and the other new comer crazies.

    Now that is an interesting comparison…let’s look at that, shall we? At Teve’s link, the writer talks about how…

    …conservatism has always been a reaction against social progress, especially when that progress means poor and marginalized people asserting their power against entrenched elites.

    Meanwhile, AOC and the things she wants to do could be seen as a reaction to an unjust system that rewards the wealthy and the powerful while screwing the poor, particularly people of color…so, if you really want a unified country without all the hatred and biases, you need to switch political parties, because the one you’re supporting right now will never give you what you want, sweetie…