GOP officials are buying into Trump’s unquenchable thirst for revenge
Richard N. Bond is a longtime Republican Party activist. He served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1992 to 1993. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
(CNN)Dear Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee,
I am writing to express my concern over the recent Republican National Committee resolution censuring Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and calling the events of January 6 “legitimate political discourse.”
My objection to your resolution is based on my respect for, and adherence to, the US Constitution, common sense, human decency and plain old political smarts. At a time when our focus as a party should be on the Biden administration and Democrats at every level of power, you made former President Donald Trump’s unquenchable thirst for revenge against Republicans who disagree with him the political story of the week.
Indeed, the conservative National Review editors wrote that your actions, and those of the committee members who voted for this resolution, are “political malpractice of the highest order.” Sadly, I agree.
Let’s briefly review: Cheney and Kinzinger have a fundamental difference of opinion with Trump on what constitutes impeachable offenses by a president, as well as the cause of the events leading up to and occurring on January 6, 2021.
Their difference of opinion with Trump is not because they are suddenly anti-GOP, but rather because they are critical of the former president’s sustained efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and his inflammatory rhetoric leading up to, and on, January 6. It’s important to note that during the Trump administration, Cheney supported Trump’s congressional initiatives almost 93% of the time, while Kinzinger supported them over 90% of the time.
And yet to satiate Trump and his vengeance against those who disagree with him, you censure these two lifelong Republicans and, in the case of Cheney, authorize RNC resources to defeat her in a primary?
Where will it end, Chairman McDaniel? The former president has called the 19 Republican US senators who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill “RINOs” (“Republicans in name only”). He recently called his erstwhile ally Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina a RINO for disagreeing with the former president’s potential consideration of pardons for the January 6 rioters.
And the Trump hit-list goes on: unrelenting attacks on Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, John Thune of South Dakota, Govs. Brian Kemp of Georgia and Doug Ducey of Arizona, and Republican election officials in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania. Will you censure all of these Republican leaders, too?
Lastly, on the absurd assertion that the rioters engaged in “legitimate political discourse,” may I point out the following: more than 725 rioters from nearly all 50 states have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the storming of the US Capitol. Five deaths are directly attributable to events of that day; approximately 140 law enforcement officers were treated for injuries. It could take millions of dollars to repair the damage caused by the rioters, according to congressional testimony by the architect of the US Capitol.
Yet, you and your committee label this “legitimate political discourse”? It would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive — and dangerous.
I have sat in your chair and dealt with a president, former presidents and White House staff. Never has the party been on such a destructive path as that paved by Trump: his way is a road to perdition — bitter revenge, directed at loyal members of our party on the federal, state and local levels.
But there is a better way forward.
First, I ask that at your next RNC gathering you rescind this ridiculous resolution. At the very least, reword the odious “legitimate political discourse” portion to apply only to those who peacefully demonstrated that day. You indicated afterward that this was the committee’s intent, but it says what it says and you should adjust the language accordingly.
Second, besides holding Biden and the Democrats accountable for their missteps on issues ranging from Covid-19 policy to immigration to inflation, we should heed the lessons of winning elections, principally of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s recent victory in Virginia. Youngkin demonstrated that a pro-taxpayer, pro-parent message resonates with voters. His campaign was devoid of Trump’s preferred messaging — spreading the “Big Lie” about the 2020 election and attacking fellow Republicans who deviate from that messaging.
Third, there is a notable increase in support for spending on law enforcement among Americans — be they Black, White, Hispanic and Asian. We need to recommit our party to law and order and exert maximum pressure on liberal district attorneys in cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco whose policies on what crimes to prosecute and how serious to take the rise in certain crimes are seemingly doing little to alleviate Americans’ fears on crime.
Fourth, let us not practice our own version of cancel culture on Republicans deemed insufficiently loyal to a president who was defeated for reelection — and during whose term saw Republicans lose control of both Houses of Congress. This is hardly a winning formula.
I respectfully submit these alternatives and wish your recent RNC meeting was centered on these ideas. You have a tough job. I wish you well and look forward to Republican success in the midterm 2022 elections.
Richard N. Bond, former RNC chairman (1992-1993)