Jim Crawford: The choice before Republicans going forward

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2023

As fellow Republicans rallied around Donald Trump last week, they likely have contributed not only to Trump’s fund-raising efforts, but to the continued demise of the Republican Party. 

In the very short term, the beleaguered ex-president’s popularity may rise within the party faithful as the Democrat prosecutor stretched (at least as understood with the limited case facts presented) to charge a felony when a misdemeanor charge would seem more appropriate. 

Of course, what underlies the charge is a not-so-noble desire by Trump to pay off two women and a building doorman to avoid voters discovering his questionable personal conduct weeks before the 2016 election. Trump claims his innocence, but he is willing to spend money to silence these individuals. In the end, a judge and a jury will seek justice in whatever form it takes some time in 2024. Republican outrage aside, this is our process and our law at work. 

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 But, by extending their support for Trump against the American legal system, Republicans elevate Trump in the primary campaign. Outside the Fox shell of fiction, they must know that Trump is already essentially unelectable, even before he faces additional prison-worthy charges before the 2024 election. 

Trump lost in 2020 by a relatively wide electoral vote. And, since then, he has done nothing to attract a broader range of voters, instead choosing to continue his bizarre seduction of the 30 percent of Americans who would support him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue. His public speeches have taken on a dark tone, filled with conspiracy theories, threats against all opponents and an endless re-hash of all his perceived wrongs at the hands of Democrats, Soros, the FBI, the DOJ and anyone who criticizes him in general. 

As a campaigner, he presents a pathetic failure figure living in an imagined past with little or no vision of the future. 

 Will independent voters support Donald Trump when and if the state of Georgia charges him and several other Republicans with an attempt to subvert the 2020 election? Will new voters opt for Trump when and if he is charged with the theft of government documents, including “Top Secrets”? Will voters flood to Donald Trump if he is charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States on Jan, 6? 

If any of these charges are filed against the ex-president, the New York charges filed week will pale by comparison. Will Trump be electable should all of these outcomes result in criminal charges, as is entirely possible, unless and until all are dismissed? 

 Republicans seem ready to wait and find out that answer on election day 2024. Suppose they do not take action to encourage other potential Republican candidates to run for the presidency. In that case, Trump, the proven loser and potential convicted felon, will lead the Republican Party to massive defeats in 2024 and beyond.  

 Finally, there is yet another reason Republicans need to find a way to push Donald Trump to the sidelines. Republicans have massively misunderstood the anger of the voters, particularly women voters, over the end of Roe and the subsequent extremism of Republican-dominated states to pass even more barbaric restrictions on abortion. In state after state, Republican majorities have shrunk and dissolved over this one issue. Standing alone, this could be a judgment day for Republicans in several states in 2024. The Wisconsin results of this week were a final warning on abortion rights. 

Supporting Donald Trump will damage the Republican Party for a generation, if they do not back away from this failed man. 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.