Today’s Republican Party

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The jury in the federal case brought by E. Jean Carroll against Donald Trump awarded her $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages. Although the number may end up being reduced on appeal, it did not come as a shock. Trump did everything he could have to turn the jury against him and have them produce a substantial number.

For example, he walked out in the middle of the plaintiff counsel’s summation and came back for his lawyer’s summation. He made comments to his lawyer that were so loud that the jury could hear them. These were the same comments that he was found to have defamed Ms. Carroll. Probably the worst was that during the trial, he kept on making the same statements through the media that the prior jury had determined were defamatory. You have to believe that Trump is either crazy or this was a deliberate strategic move. Of course, both can be true. He also went after the judge. Unfortunately for Trump, the judge knew how to handle him and his attorney, which can be a template for other judges in Trump’s future cases.  He did not let Trump make a mockery of the proceedings or into a political event.

Elsewhere, the United States Supreme Court made a temporary ruling letting federal border agents in to break the barbed wire set up by Texas and deal with migrants in a border area. Trump is supporting the Texas governor, who is ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling. It is not only Trump and Governor Abbott who support not abiding with the law of the Supreme Court. There are Republican state officials and members of Congress who support that position. The last time a state disregarded a ruling of the United States Supreme Court involved integration where President Dwight D. Eisenhower had to federalize the State National Guard and send in the military in a show of force.

Trump’s attack on the judicial system including the Supreme Court is no surprise. The false claim that the election was stolen can only be accepted if you believe that the courts are corrupt. Trump and his supporters repeatedly made allegations concerning the 2020 election in the courts and repeatedly lost. Trump claims that a president has absolute immunity. This is even further than what his attorneys argued that there is an exception to absolute immunity if the president is impeached for said conduct by the House and Senate. He probably will lose his immunity claim. Trump also has four pending criminal cases and one civil case where a decision is imminent. He knows he will lose the civil case in New York.  If he is convicted in the criminal cases, then he has to justify it by claiming the judicial system is corrupt.

Another possibility is that Trump is looking to consolidate power if he wins the 2024 election. He knows that if he goes too far, the courts will try to stop him. This way, he has started the process of delegitimizing the courts. 

It is not only Trump who wears being arrested as a badge of honor. Six out of nine Republican candidates for a congressional seat in Colorado, including Lauren Boebert, were asked at a Republican Party forum whether they were arrested. Six, including Representative Boebert, said yes - and were cheered by the crowd. Trump and other Republicans refer the criminals who attacked the Capitol on January 6 as hostages.

Trump praises dictators and has opposed aid to Ukraine, which would lead to Russia winning the war. Trump told Congress not to pass an immigration bill because it would help Biden in an election, although Republicans forever have talked about having new legislation to deal with the problem.

This is not how the Republican Party used to be. It was a party of Ronald Reagan, who called Russia the “evil empire” and helped the United States win the Cold War. Reagan must be turning over in his grave at what the Republican Party has become.

Reagan had a positive view of this county. It is not only Reagan, but George HW Bush and George W. Bush who won their elections who had similar views. Of the candidates who lost, Senator John McCain was a war hero and Senator Mitt Romney was also respected as a man of principal. They all believed in a strong America that would be the leader of the free world. That meant supporting democratic countries against authoritarian entities such as Russia and China. It meant having a strong NATO and having partnerships with other nations. There was a respect for the institutions of government including the presidency, Congress, and the judicial system. Government service, including being in the military, was respected. If you lost an election, you accepted it. You did not vilify those with whom you disagreed. A president had to act in a certain way because the office of the presidency required one to do so. Personal conduct mattered. Law and order applied to everyone, including those in the Republican Party. Legal immigrants were looked at positively. Balanced budgets were a goal.

Nikki Haley is a traditional Republican. She has a great personal story - a daughter of immigrants who became the governor of South Carolina. Her husband is currently stationed abroad in the military. She is a fiscal hawk. She supports a strong American foreign policy including giving funding to Ukraine. 

If the Republican Party had not gone off their way in 2016, she would be the frontrunner and Donald Trump would be looked at like a carnival barker. 

There is still hope for the GOP. The majority of the electorate is between the left-center and right-center. The Democratic Party learned from their mistake in 1972, when they nominated a progressive George McGovern for president. He lost forty-nine states in the election and received only 37.5% of the popular vote. That’s why in 1976, they went back to a moderate Jimmy Carter and won the election. Since then, they have made sure that their candidates are between center and center-left.  The progressives may make noise, but they are not in power.

To put it in a way so the Trumpians can understand what a sea change the Republican Party has gone through, it would be like having Rashida Tlaib as the Democratic Party’s candidate for president and Ilhan Omar as House Speaker and the majority of the party supporting both of their ideas.

Haley knows that she has no future in Trump’s MAGA populist party. However, things can change. Trump and the Republicans have to keep on “winning” like they did in 2018, 2020, and 2022 in order for the party to realize that being MAGA is not a winning strategy.  Haley will be there to be the standardbearer of the new (old) party since she, unlike the “fellows,” has stood up to Trump. Let us hope it comes sooner than later.

Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.