March 10, 2021
New Orleans No matter what, it seems that when we are talking about Trump, it’s all about the money. In the latest stop on his revenge tour, his lawyers have filed cease-and-desist orders against the Republican Party and their Senatorial and Congressional campaign funds demanding that they not use his name or likeness in any of their fundraising efforts.
Like most of Trump’s lawsuits, this one is more like a press release or a Twitter substitute than litigation with any likely merit. Trump has spent decades building his brand, and as an ex-president virtually everything he does is in the public domain. He was a Republican when it suited him, so certainly the Republican Party can acknowledge and claim him as one of their own. Why they would want to these days is an open question, but once again, we’re back to talking about the money.
Former President Trump and his advisors understand that the care and feeding of the donor base, particularly small donors, is their real source of power and potential control of the party apparatus. They understand that campaign operatives come and go with the cycle, but controlling the potential stream of cash to prospective candidates can buy loyalty to Trump or whoever manages the purse strings, even if money doesn’t buy you love. The $250 million windfall that Trump raised with claims of undoing the election results is more than simply a proof of concept.
Trump claims his true believers need to donate to his new PAC, because sending their nickels and dimes to the formal party coffers supports RINOs – Republicans in Name Only. What hereally wants is money through his accounts for TINAs – Trump in Name Always. The heck with the Grand Old Party (GOP), he’s clear that he wants this all to go to POT – the Party of Trump.
True, the cynics in the legal and journalistic community can’t help pointing out that with his new financial structure he could use the money for anything he felt like. He could pay himself and his family. He could use it to bail out his businesses. It’s funny money. We should be so lucky if this was just another Trump family grift. More dangerously, Trump with a mountain of cash is way more dangerous to the political class and – not to be too dramatic – to the future struggle for democracy.
Republican senators of a slightly more moderate cast than some of the more strident mouth breathers are already calling it quits in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and even North Carolina and Georgia. They are unable to toe the Trump line and be mouthpieces for his grievances and grudges. The loudest drum-beaters will have advantages in Republican primaries and that spells trouble for all but those who are true blue. Anyone dreaming of a split Republican party or a separate party for Trump and his radicals can forget about it for now. Trump is clear. He may or may not run again, but he definitely wants to run the Republican Party and keep it hewing to the far-right edge of the road where MAGA hats are still part of the official uniform.