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Opinion | Why Sane Republicans Are Purging Themselves

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21.09.2021

Anthony Gonzalez leaves no doubt about what he thinks about Donald Trump and his impact on the GOP. The former president, he says, is like a “cancer,” and he has turned his party into a toxic and hostile environment.

“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” he said.

But if Trump is the one supposedly headed for the exit, why is it Gonzalez who announced he would not seek reelection?

Last week, Gonzalez (Ohio), the 37-year-old former rising star, announced that he wouldn’t stay and fight his Trump-backed primary challenger, walking away from what had once been a safe seat in Congress.

The decision was greeted with dismay among anti-Trumpers of both parties who saw Gonzalez’s survival as a test of whether Trump’s grip on the GOP could be shaken. It also came as a surprise. Gonzalez was an attractive candidate, with a strong resume and lots of cash, and he had out-performed Trump by nearly 7 points in November. Why would he hand his nemesis an easy win?

The answer is Gonzalez didn’t quit because he feared he couldn’t win, but because it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Winning, it turns out, is not winning if the prize feels a lot more like a loss.

“You could fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy?” he asked. “And the answer is, probably not.”

This was the key to his decision to self-purge: He could spend a year fighting off merde-slinging deplorables, only to win another two years sitting in a caucus next to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Paul Gosar (R- Ariz.) and the other avatars of Trumpism.

Defeat, even before a single vote is cast, might have been disappointing. It might even look to some like a conspicuous lack of competitive mettle. But that assumes the outcome is in doubt — which it isn’t. The Republican Party is already lost. And victory meant two more years trapped in a hellscape of crazified school board meetings, Trump rallies, My Pillow Guy insanity, Newsmax and Fox News hits, and a caucus run by Kevin McCarthy, a man without any principle beyond the acquisition of power.

So Gonzalez decided to become the latest Republican to walk away from it all.

Trump gloated, attributing Gonzalez’s fall to his “ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting President of the United States, me.”

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© Politico


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