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Jonah Goldberg: Trump’s goal is to tighten control over the GOP, not help him win the election | Jonas Goldberg

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Jonah Goldberg Tribune Content Agency

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said something interesting during his campaign for Dave McCormick, one of the GOP nomination contenders to replace incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Just once, I’d like to see a Republican candidate stand up in a primary and say, I’m a moderate establishment squish. I absolutely do not stand for anything. It would at least be refreshing and honest. But nobody says that. He then added, And by the way, they all swear their love for Donald Trump. I love Donald Trump. No no. I like Donald Trump more. No no no. I tattooed Donald Trump on the back.

Cruz’s remarks invited mockery, given that he battled Trump for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination until the convention and then pledged his love for Trump despite Trump insulting Cruz’s wife, suggested Cruz’s father was related to the John F. Kennedys. assassination and claimed that Cruz stole from the Iowa caucuses.

There’s no point in sitting around thinking about Cruz’s lack of self-awareness. But he made a good point. It is true that with very few exceptions, Republican primary candidates swear their love for Trump. Some are more obsequious and brazen than others, of course. In Ohio, Josh Mandel lost his bid for the GOP Senate nomination and Trump’s endorsement despite running as Renfield in Trump Dracula.

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Besides the memory of his own sycophancy of Trump, the other odd note in Cruz’s performance was his assertion that the establishment is still run by moderate Republican squishes. The reality is that insofar as there is an establishment, everyone from nationalist donors like Peter Thiel to the Heritage Foundation to Fox News is mostly MAGA.

House Republicans completed their transition to full MAGA when they defenestrated Rep. Liz Cheney and replaced her with Rep. Elise Stefanik, who transformed from a thoughtful Republican moderate into little more than a Twitter troll.

It’s true that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t like Trump, but he’s neither a moderate nor a squish. (He also said he would vote for Trump if he was the party’s 2024 presidential nominee.)

The key to understanding the GOP primaries is understanding that neither traditional conservative ideology nor even competence are qualifications or differentiators anymore. If they were, Liz Cheney wouldn’t be an outcast, and bomb-throwing Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert wouldn’t be Republican stars. Everyone has to be an angry populist revolutionary who wants to see the world burn.

Of course, none of Trump’s criteria for endorsements has anything to do with ideological or even partisan litmus tests. Candidates seeking his endorsement should praise him profusely. They must also buy into his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. And, if they check those boxes, they must have a better chance of winning without his approval. Trump wants to pick winners, so he can take credit for being a kingmaker.

Trump’s real goal is not to expand the party but to consolidate his control over it. As Fred Bauer notes in National Review, Trump has been more focused on asserting his dominance over the GOP than on winning the Republicans in the election.

The irony is that Trump is now dealing with the woes of being the establishment. And while his agenda bears no resemblance to a normal establishment agenda, he still has to deal with politicians with their own ambitions, and they give Trump a taste of his own medicine.

In the final days of the Pennsylvania primary, GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette set out to attack the swamp in Trumpian fashion. But who are the swamp creatures, according to Barnette? People like Fox News Sean Hannity, who carried more water for Trump than a thousand Gunga Dins.

Although he coined the word, MAGA actually belongs to the people. Barnette said during a recent debate. Our values ​​have never, ever evolved into President Trump’s values. It was President Trump who changed and aligned with our values. Translation: MAGA is bigger than Trump now.

Trump will have more wins and losses in this primary season, but the biggest lesson is clear: the dice have been rolled. Josh Mandel didn’t stop campaigning when Trump pushed him away. Cruz was perfectly happy campaigning for McCormick against Trump-endorsed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz. McCormick surrounded himself with former aides to Trump, who apparently weren’t afraid to work against their former boss. A politician like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis started out as a student of Trumpism and is now a MAGA master.

Trump’s revolution in the GOP succeeded, but as Jacques Mallet du Pan wrote in 1793 of the chaos in France, Like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.

Jonah Goldberg is editor of The Dispatch and host of The Remnant podcast. His Twitter handle is @JonahDispatch. The Goldbergs column is provided by Tribune Content Agency.

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