Trump’s big lie is Republican Party cannon now

On Sunday, JD Vance – the author and muse of Ron Howard who became the GOP gubernatorial candidate – attempted to repent for committing the cardinal sin of post-2016 Republican politics: saying something mildly critical of Donald Trump in the past. “In four years, I hope people will remember that it was those of us who sympathized with Trump’s voters who fought him the most aggressively,” Vance tweeted in March 2016. At the time , the Hillbilly elegy the author positioned himself as the reasonable alternative to the populist turn of the GOP: Vance portrayed himself as an Appalachian-born venture capitalist who knew the magic words poor people had to hear to rise by their bootstraps, coincidentally a sort of folkloric wisdom that flattered the sentimentality of wealthy liberals. Trump, Vance argued, was “unfit”, its attacks on immigrants were “reprehensible” and its policies ranged from “the immoral to the absurd”. When the time came to offer an endorsement, Vance backed Evan McMullin.

Vance’s decisions at the time likely ensured that he would float seamlessly in the elite areas he had become accustomed to. For a Republican running in an Ohio primary – or almost anywhere else, for that matter – in 2021, the rules have changed: these comments now represent a serious electoral handicap. And so, Vance made a pilgrimage to Fox News to recant his previous beliefs and obtain forgiveness. “Like a lot of people, I criticized Trump in 2016,” he said. “And I ask people not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I was very open that I said these critical things and I regret them, and I regret for mistaking the guy. ” Vance’s apology came relatively late. Republicans have been purged for less since 2017: In contemporary GOP politics, full allegiance to Donald Trump is mandatory.

The demands go far beyond support for the former president. Loyalty to Trump in 2021 also means loyalty to The Big Lie. Vance hopes to reinvent himself as a Republican Trump and has adopted the language of the New All-Out Culture War. Victory, he said earlier this year, “will force us to completely replace the existing ruling class with another ruling class … Unless we overthrow them in some way, we will continue to to lose. Without simultaneously embracing the idea that the election was stolen from Trump, however, Vance’s redemption efforts aren’t quite over.