Like so many other mainstream media journalists and pundits, Matt Bai is desperate for a mythical Republican to save America from the actual Republican Party (and, implicitly, from the Democrats). He thinks he's found a possible deliverer:
No leading Republican did more to legitimize Donald Trump, as he was battling to secure the party’s nomination in 2016, than Chris Christie. And yet this week, the former New Jersey governor took dead aim at both Trump and his more ardent followers.
Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Christie compared Trump’s conspiracy-minded supporters to the John Birch Society in the 1960s, likened the former president himself to an authoritarian and flatly rejected the myth of a stolen election....
Christie can never be fully exonerated for his role in bringing the hateful margins of our politics into the mainstream. But if all those Never-Trumpers can’t do a thing to loosen Trump’s hold on the party, then maybe only a pro-Trumper can.
... if someone is going to finally shake Republicans from this Trumpian nightmare, it’s probably not going to be anyone who stood on principle from the start and is mostly popular with Democrats — Mitt Romney or John Kasich or Liz Cheney.
No, it’s more likely to be a former Trump supporter who earned enough credibility as a loyal Republican during the Trump years to say: “Enough of this. You and I have been misled, and it’s time to reclaim our party.” It would help if that former acolyte were also an immensely gifted politician.
And so maybe we don’t have to forgive Christie to think that he may yet have a valuable role to play in Republican politics and in the life of a fractured nation.
Chris Christie helped us get to this tragic place. It’s not crazy to think he could help us get out.
Sorry, Matt, but it is crazy to think Chris Christie can help save us. It isn't just that rank-and-file GOP voters show no signs of disillusionment with Trump, as a new CNN poll reminds us yet again:
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say, 63% to 37%, that Trump should be the leader of the Republican Party....
Most Republicans also consider support for Trump -- and his false claim to have won the 2020 election -- to be an important part of their own partisan identity alongside support for conservative principles. About six in 10 say that supporting Trump, and that believing that he won in 2020, are at least a somewhat important part of what being a Republican means to them.
CNN POLL CONDUCTED BY SSRS
Aug. 3-Sept. 7
How Important Is
Believing Trump Won 2020
To Being A Republican?
Very important 36%
Somewhat important 23%
Not too important 15%
Not at all important 25%
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 12, 2021
It's also that resisting compromise and moderation is central to their self-image. Right-wing media figures and politicians have encouraged this kind of acting out for years, having persuaded GOP voters that they're in a life-and-death struggle with one of the worst political forces in human history -- us. For this reason, it's preposterous to expect the Republican base to say, "Yeah, Democrats are the Antichrist, but you gotta hand it to them, they won in 2020."
The CNN poll says that half of them aren't sure Trump would be their best candidate in 2024, but the absolutely don't reject Trumpism, and they think it's unreasonable not to believe the 2020 election was stolen from them -- to them, it's just obvious. They'll never stop believing this and other lies Trump tells them, and they'll never stop believing Democrats are as evil as Hitler and Stalin.
The only Republican who could wean them from Trump is one who somehow persuaded them that Trump isn't extremist enough and that they need to go further than Trump wants them to go in order to fight the hated enemy.
There are only two possibilities: We need to beat Republicans repeatedly at the ballot box or watch them become more and more extreme. They can't be reasoned with, not by us and not by a fellow Republican, even one who's a former Trumper.
Published with permission from No More Mister NIce Blog.