Donald Trump is out of the White House – and largely gone from the public eye – but his grip on the G.O.P. Base has probably never been stronger.
In the House of Representatives, Representative Liz Cheney appears to be coming to an end as Republican No. 3 thanks to her willingness to stand up to Mr. Trump’s inventions. With Ms. Cheney on the way out, a new era begins in G.O.P. Politics is heralded: as early as next week, every member of the management of the house could fully support a pro-Trump platform.
That said, we will continue to hear many false claims about the rupture of the electoral system – rather than the emphasis on traditional Republican political goals.
Substitute Elise Stefanik, who stands in the place of Ms. Cheney, is a perfect symbol of the shift. A little over six years ago, at the age of 30, Ms. Stefanik was the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. She did it by flipping a borough in New York state that had sent a Democrat into the house for the past two decades, and since then she has mostly legislated like a moderate.
The strictly conservative think tank FreedomWorks gave their voting record a score of 37 percent, which they described in one as “dark” Tweet On Wednesday. She actually voted with Mr Trump much less often than Ms. Cheney.
But Ms. Stefanik has increasingly played along, at least rhetorically, and lately she has been a major defender of his baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen. So far, the balance she has found seems to be working: she has won re-election three times in a row at double-digit margins in a relatively non-ideological district where loyalty to Mr. Trump is becoming the coin of the empire.
The House Republican Conference is expected to vote next week to replace Ms. Cheney with Ms. Stefanik. Our Washington reporters Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater published an article yesterday on Ms. Stefanik’s recent drift into Trump loyalty. I spoke to Catie to see what this holds for the future of G.O.P. means. Politics, in the house and beyond.
Hello Catie. Trump’s first impeachment trial was the moment Stefanik was viewed as fully occupied by Trump. How did that develop and why did she go all-in?
When she was first sworn into the house, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, Stefanik had a handsome testimonial after working for Paul Ryan in his vice presidential campaign and in the administration of President George W. Bush , and it was widely seen as moderate. To understand their transformation, just look at how their district has changed over the years: Your voters swung sharply to the right in 2016 after voting for President Barack Obama twice. She has spoken publicly about how breathtaking it was for her to see so many Trump advertising signs popping up in her district in 2016.
But that transformation has earned her a number of right-wing allies, including Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, perhaps the most well-known Trump ally in the house. However, some other deeply conservative members were more skeptical of this metamorphosis.
In the last electoral cycle, Stefanik headed a political action committee that voted for over a dozen female G.O.P. Candidates. How important was this résumé for her advancement at a time when the party is finding it increasingly difficult to have female voters?
Stefanik said very early in her time in the House of Representatives that helping Republican women in the primaries was crucial to addressing the party’s gender diversity issue, especially as Trump’s caustic style threatened to alienate women voters and further curtail Republican appeal. Initially, her openness on this issue steered some of her (male) colleagues in the wrong direction, but Stefanik is now widely considered to be one of the key engineers in a strategy that allowed female candidates to almost single-handedly secure the party’s formidable profits to Democrats in 2020.
Stefanik and her PAC supported many of these women, some of whom are now considered rising stars in the party, and as a result, she benefits from deep support.
As you and Luke’s most recent article highlight in an interview with Steve Bannon yesterday, Stefanik has taken up the issue of electoral integrity and mimicked Trump’s lies about a stolen election. Despite all the exposes, could this remain the main topic of many Republican primaries in 2022?
These comments really highlighted one of the ironies that drove Cheney’s downfall. The House Republicans, who are trying to remove them from their leadership positions, have insisted that the problem is not their criticism of Trump’s false electoral claims – they insist on trying them again.
The fact that Stefanik championed the same claims in their media blitz yesterday shows that the Republican Party cannot escape them by just removing the one leader willing to blame them, especially if Trump continues to trumpet them almost daily.
New York Times Podcasts
The Ezra Klein Show: Elizabeth Warren on what we’re doing wrong with inequality
On today’s episode, Ezra spoke to Senator Elizabeth Warren about the rising cost of childcare, the stagnation in women’s labor force participation, whether billionaires are a political failure, the social philosophy behind Ms. Warren’s tax proposals, and how markets can be channeled towards progress, and ends much more.
You can listen here and Read the minutes here.
On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Login here to get it to your inbox.
Is there anything you think we are missing? Do you want to see more? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.