Terry H. Schwadron

Jan. 30, 2021

We have all the makings forming for a Shadow Government in Mar-a-Lago.

Well, maybe it’s more a Shadow Shrine than would-be government in exile — a place for Republicans to come and receive the blessings of former Dear Leader and hear how they can promote Him with his adoring masses, and maybe pick up some personal glory along the way.

Of course, Mar-a-Lago is just a stage set for a ready-made supply of Donald Trump threats, endorsements and general criticism for anything that is not Trump-approved. Don’t expect anything to emerge that helps deliver vaccines or health care or national security, this celebrity-in-exile is not interested in the public good, just the Trump good.

So, even without the otherwise ever-present Twitter account, Trump is working behind the scenes to play puppet-master, offer off-the-cuff opinions with no back-up or worry about whether anything useful emerges. It’ll Just be pure campaign-type propaganda for a base that polls say still reflects a third of the country’s voters who refuse to accept that he lost the election.

Receiving a contrite House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or jumping on chances to influence state GOP groups, the goals seem stabs for continuing Trump relevance and more divisiveness in Republican politics to assure it remains a Trump party. This week, Trump was already mixing into Arizona and Arkansas GOP family disputes, and sending word to those in other states, all in pursuit of a future for Trumpism through surrogates.

Naturally, Trump’s prime targets are any sitting Republican lawmakers whom he thought had failed to promote him, whether as sitting Republican governors certifying elections or actually speaking against him for inciting the Insurrection mob attack on the U.S. Capitol to overturn democracy to keep him in office.

While the Senate trial for impeachment will proceed over inciting the riot, that preliminary challenge we saw this week to dismiss the effort as unconstitutional was a strong signal that Republican senators already have their minds made up to let Trump walk. No conviction means no bar against running again in 2024, and that the Republican Senate majority is giving Trump a green light on doing whatever he wants between now and then.

Indeed, one wonders why senators of either side agreed to an oath to act as independent jurors in an impeachment trial when their minds are made up as partisans.

Let’s face it: We’re still talking Trump after we thought he was gone for good, just what Trump wants — an unending turn in the spotlight of his party, a continuing role as would-be king and a commitment that he is always right — even when he clearly is wrong.

I get what Trump is selling — himself — but it’s less easy to understand why Republican lawmakers are buying it.

Complete Opposition

A week into a Joe Biden presidency, Republicans are guaranteeing Trump a platform to dictate the party’s leadership and purge all but loyalists — and that, in coordinated but separate fashion, the 50–50 Senate have established an anti-Democrat bulwark, and they are launching multi-state efforts to pass more voter suppression laws.

“Trump is sure to try — to badger the man who beat him, to exact revenge against recalcitrant Republicans, to play a role of kingmaker and power broker, to return to his life-force rallies, to tease a 2024 comeback and to generally wreak what havoc he can on the public and body politic while enforcing fealty from his official (but contested) residence serving as his active home base and headquarters,” said Politico.

The Republican lines ignores the worst of the Trump years and are not about tax cuts, they are about denying that we have democratic elections in this country or rules to limit using the White House for personal political gain — and personal business gain.

On some level, it Is disheartening to see that despite disgrace, double-impeachment and rejection at the polls, we’re still talking about Trump pulling Republican strings. As a friend noted, there were too many states with close enough margins for most Republicans to feel that they want to abandon him as a force.

Along with it is a distinct turn towards accepting more radical right-wingers into the Republican fold — while pushing publicly to censure those like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who spoke and voted to impeach Trump over the riots. According to her defenders, there’s nothing wrong with a Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga, an avowed QAnon supporting, for having posted actual threatening messages about Democrats and dismissing mass school shoortings as hoaxes. We’re hearing Fox’s Tucker Carlson defending White supremacists as targets of a political Left that he says cannot separate people with a different political viewpoint from terrorists. We’re hearing Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio saying he is joining the list of Republican departees because it has become too hard to conduct an intelligent legislation conversation in a radicalized Senate.

In the Senate, Republican lines are already forming to battle against proposals aimed at dealing with coronavirus aid, immigration, climate, minimum wage increases from a Biden administration that wants both to overturn the Trump agenda and to address issues ignored by the previous administration.

For anyone hoping for a post-Trump reset, there seems only grim news.

Governing is Not the Goal

The weird thing here is that there is very little Trump agenda for the Senate or Congress to pursue outside of promotion of Trump as some kind a heroic figure.

Outside of talk to make tax cuts permanent, no Republican senator is demanding money for the Wall, or insisting on Muslim travel bans or building out the Space Force. Instead, all the attention is either on efforts to call out Biden over extraneous issues, including the behavior years ago of Hunter Biden, the president’s son, in invoking his father’s name for business introductions, or for demanding further examination of alleged irregularities in mail voting or other election-related challenges for which the Trump campaign has offered no evidence.

The criticism that it is hypocrisy for Biden to call for “unity” of national purpose to control a pandemic, for example, is pretty self-serving and flat. Decrying “unity” to allow Trump to walk free of any responsibility for months of anti-democratic undermining of elections and for provoking a mob Insurrection is plain nuts.

Strictly speaking, it seems that the goal for Republican senators is to avoid primaries from better Trump supporters rather than to achieve better government service to Americans.

Instead, we’re stuck replaying why Making America Great Again just isn’t great.



Journalist, musician, community volunteer