As Democrats swore in a new senator from a blood-red state Trump won by a landslide, the GOP erupted into an embarrassing civil war between Trump, Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, and a host of others.
In December of 2017, Democrats elected a senator in Alabama for the first time in 25 years. It was another successful election, following New Jersey and Virginia, showing Republicans that a blue wave of voters is ready to vote out Trump-era Republicans in the 2018 midterm election.
On the same day that Doug Jones was officially sworn in as a U.S. senator, the Republican Party openly broke out into civil war, with Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and Mitch McConnell all publicly firing at fellow conservatives.
Jones was sworn in by Mike Pence, fulfilling his constitutional role as president of the Senate. The moment forced Pence to come face to face with the embodiment of Alabama voters repeatedly rejecting him.
Pence, along with Trump, pushed Alabama Republicans to select Luther Strange as the nominee for the special election to replace Jeff Sessions. Instead, voters chose Roy Moore whose nomination had been championed by Steve Bannon and Pence endorsed the candidate, only to see credible allegations of child molestation surface.
Republicans like Trump willfully supported Moore anyway, cementing the connection between the party and pedophilia.
And then they lost.
As Jones was sworn in, news reports began to surface about Bannon’s extensive comments about Trump. Bannon said the Trump team’s decision to meet with Russians at Trump Tower during the campaign was “treasonous,” along with other unflattering revelations about the dysfunctional and bigoted Trump team.
Trump fired back, thundering that Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my Presidency” and blaming Bannon for the GOP loss in Alabama even though Trump had strongly advocated for Moore.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been complaining about Bannon’s involvement in Republican primaries via his Senate Leadership Fund, chimed in, amplifying Trump’s anti-Bannon statement and gloating with an animated GIF of McConnell on Twitter.
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) January 3, 2018
GOP mouthpiece and serial liar/race-baiter Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report, weighed in with anti-Bannon sentiment as well, describing Trump’s former chief strategist as a “schizophrenic” who “has been walking around with a small army of bodyguards.”
Donald Trump Jr. complained, “Andrew Breitbart would be ashamed of the division and lies Steve Bannon is spreading!”
Republicans face major headwinds in 2018. Trump is and has always been an unpopular president, widely distrusted and reviled by the American people. His party has just passed an extremely unpopular tax bill, weighted in favor of billionaires and against the middle class.
And his party just lost a Senate race in the heart of the Republican Party’s electoral stronghold, a state that Trump easily won by 28 percent even as he lost the popular vote nationally by 2.1 percent.
That isn’t a situation in which Republicans want their leaders and supporters and media outlets in open warfare against each other, as Democrats and progressives are unifying to vote them out of power. But that is the state of the Republican Party, in the first week of 2018.