New data from Pew makes abundantly clear why.
More than 6 in 10 (63%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think that the party should not be too accepting of elected officials who openly criticize Trump. Three in 10 say the party should not accept any criticism of Trump from its elected officials.
Compare that to the 6 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who say their side should be at least somewhat accepting of elected officials who criticize President Joe Biden and you have some sense of just how much the Republican Party has devolved into a simple cult of personality.
What’s remarkable — at least to me — is that the utter fealty to Trump expected by the bulk of Republican voters has continued even though the former President is no longer in office.
Despite his lack of political office and his much-debunked claims about the 2020 election being fraudulent, Trump’s grip on the party base and, therefore, its elected leaders remains firm.
The political incentive for a Republican to cross Trump publicly in this sort of environment is close to zero. Whether it’s Jeff Flake or Justin Amash or, more recently, Liz Cheney, stepping out of line to offer a critique of Trump ends badly — in raw political terms — for the person willing to take a stand.
The “smart” thing to do politically given how Republicans feel about Trump is to keep your head down when you disagree with one of the former President’s many impolitic comments or apostasies of once-untouchable conservative belief.
That is also the opposite of leadership. Which is why the Republican Party is struggling to define what, exactly, it stands for these days.
The Point: There’s no room for dissent in the current iteration of the Republican Party. That should worry every single person who cares about the GOP’s future.