The Republican Party, trapped in a right-wing media bubble that bolsters its most extreme and alienating factions, blew its opportunity to make big gains in the 2022 midterm elections. And the party shows little sign that it is interested in changing course.
The Republican National Committee announced on Tuesday that it is commissioning a post-election review of the party’s dismal performance and launching a new “Republican Party Advisory Council” to help direct its strategy going forward. Both bodies are stocked with representatives of the GOP’s most extreme elements.
On the council, diehard Trumpists are repped by the former president’s longtime adviser Kellyanne Conway, Christian nationalists by evangelical leader and anti-LGBTQ bigot Tony Perkins, and fascists by Peter Thiel disciple Blake Masters. And the review will be co-chaired by Harmeet Dhillon, an election lawyer, 2020 election conspiracy theorist, and Fox regular who has made at least 314 appearances on the network since August 2017, including at least 56 this year.
Dhillon discussed the review in yet another appearance on the network on Wednesday night and telegraphed that it would do nothing to disturb Fox personalities or their viewers. Prime-time host Laura Ingraham introduced her by celebrating that “someone with common sense is going to be leading the GOP’s autopsy.”
Dhillon used the opportunity to debut “some very specific ideas of things that we need to change in order to win,” which were purely mechanical. She complained that “we are not doing what the Democrats do, which is making sure that we hunt down every Republican ballot and get it to the polls,” and said that the party needs to “get smart” about funding its candidates, pointing in particular to how Masters was “ripped off by Senate leadership.” She further called for moving the RNC’s functions “out of D.C. and back into the country” and conducting “more lawfare.”
She also nodded along as Ingraham said that “the America First folks at the RNC have to be more powerful and stronger than the old establishment types.”
In a Twitter thread after the appearance, Dhillon called for an “Elon-style review of consultants & culture” to weed out anyone who is not “totally energized & psyched to elect Republicans popular w/our base.”
Dhillon’s diagnosis is not that GOP primary voters picked bad candidates like Masters who failed because they creeped out the electorate, but that they selected good candidates like Masters only for the party establishment to knife them in the back. Her solution is to purge dissenters and shrink the size of the party’s tent down to true believers who are ensconced within the right-wing media bubble.
This doesn’t make sense. The GOP had popular outgoing governors who spent their years in office cultivating a more moderate brand – but the base wanted and nominated extremists to succeed them who ended up losing to Democrats. It put forward extremists for key swing state Senate and gubernatorial races who were popular with Fox hosts but couldn’t make the sale with voters.
The party simply can’t admit that it ran bad candidates because that would amount to an indictment of its base and the right-wing propagandists who influence their votes. No one should expect the GOP to exit its bubble any time soon.