May 28, 2024

It’s a revealing post. Trump is not really trying to chasten Greene, let alone excommunicate her. Right now, he and his allies have—for arguably the first time in his political career—decided that intraparty dysfunction hurts his political chances and therefore must be avoided. That’s why Trump has backed Johnson. It’s also why his criticism of his decision to pass the aid bill for Ukraine (and Israel and Taiwan) was, by his standards at least, relatively muted. But once the election ends, Trump has little reason to play nice with his fellow Republicans, and every reason to go back to his old method of doing things, which is rewarding members of his party only for their blind loyalty.

Trump has become the figurehead, and near dictator, of the Republican Party by adopting Greene-like tactics. He is openly extreme and contemptuous of compromise of any kind. For all the talk of his novelty, this strand of Republican politics predates him. It should be familiar to anyone who has watched Fox News over the last three decades or who has heard the term “RINO”: Republican in Name Only. You don’t gain success in the GOP by meeting in the middle or working across the aisle. You do so by insisting that total victory is not only possible but existentially important—and that anyone who thinks or acts differently should be jettisoned from the party.

Johnson has, to be fair, had surprising success bucking the extreme wings of his party. But that has largely been a necessity: He had to find a way to keep the government open and did. Packaging aid to Israel with aid to Ukraine was the only way that it would pass both chambers of Congress. But Johnson is hardly a sign that the party is moderating: He is, himself, rather openly extremist, someone with reactionary views about abortion, gay rights, and the separation of church and state (or lack thereof). If you are looking for someone to fight for the middle in American politics, it is not Mike Johnson.