The role of physical threats in Trump’s domination of the GOP

It has been widely accepted for a long time that Donald Trump rules the Republican Party by fear. What’s been less examined — but should be — is how much it’s not just fear of political peril. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) on Thursday night became the latest high-profile Trump critic to head for the exits rather than attempt to win a Republican primary in the Trump era. Gonzalez, who is in just his second term, will retire after having been one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump. This is a pattern : Republicans willing to stand up to Trump in very public and career-jeopardizing ways, but not being prepared to press their case to actual voters in the next election. And as the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin notes (and our own Philip Bump expands upon ), it has the impact of probably only increasing Trump’s dominance over the party, by reducing the ranks of his critics in the GOP caucus. But in the same Times story, Gonzalez suggests it’s not quite as simple as risking losing at the ballot box. He also cites the threats that have become too commonplace since his vote to impeach: [Gonzalez] made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when […]

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