Ex-Lt. Gov. Duncan: How fellow Republicans reacted to my Biden endorsement

Many Republicans are embarrassed about things we should be proud of and proud of things we should be embarrassed about.
Ginger Howard lost to Amy Kremer for a Georgia seat on the Republican National Committee. (Hyosub Shin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Ginger Howard lost to Amy Kremer for a Georgia seat on the Republican National Committee. (Hyosub Shin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The split-screen reaction playing out in the presidential race in Georgia has been jarring and illuminating. This past weekend at the state Republican convention, party faithful chose Amy Kremer, an organizer of an event on the Ellipse that preceded the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, to a Georgia seat to the Republican National Committee.

Kremer attacked the incumbent, Ginger Howard, for perceived insufficient fealty toward former president Donald Trump, urging Republicans, “to stand up and fight.” Keep in mind that Howard was one of the voices demanding the Republican National Committee repay the state party the more than $1.5 million in legal fees shelled out to defend Georgia’s 16 fake Trump electors. It was enough to persuade the rank and file, who ousted Howard in favor of Kremer.

I read about these events in the newspaper. After endorsing President Biden, this lifelong Republican is about as welcome at the 2024 Georgia GOP convention as a Phillies fan in the seats at Truist Park.

Credit: Geoff Duncan

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Credit: Geoff Duncan

It’s been a whirlwind of events since. I had the privilege of speaking at my oldest son’s convocation ceremony at the University of Georgia. Even for this proud Yellow Jacket, it was a true honor. My middle son graduated from high school last week, while I was coaching my youngest son in a baseball tournament this past weekend.

Long story short, we’ve been out and about since endorsing Biden and had an opportunity to gauge the reaction, which falls into one of three buckets.

Category one is the levelheaded Republicans fed up with Trump’s iron grip on the party. These are the type of people, many from the suburbs, still showing up in droves and casting ballots for former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley. In last week’s Republican primaries in Maryland and Nebraska, Haley received 20% and 18% of the vote respectively. It was a similar result in Indiana the week before.

Put another way, Haley — who dropped out of the race more than 10 weeks ago — is still drawing the support of one in five Republican primary voters. It’s more than enough to tip the balance of power in November.

Category two are the Republicans holding their nose and voting for Trump because they view Biden as the worse option. Their reasons vary, but it typically involves Biden’s age or a sense that the country is amiss. The sense of “normalcy” Biden promised hasn’t materialized, despite the Dow Jones International, S&P500 and Nasdaq composite hitting record highs. The anti-Israel riots rocking college campuses coast to coast has exacerbated a sense of unease, with even comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld getting heckled during a commencement address at Duke University.

Last but not least, there is category three: the card-carrying Trump die-hards. They don’t often say much to me. At least to my face. They prefer less confrontational means of communication such as social media posts or expletive-laden voice mails. To a T, their common hallmark is anger. It’s less about conservative governing principles or making a difference and more about “owning the libs” and defeating the “other team.”

This disgruntled group has plenty of channels to channel their rage. Social media, criminal trials, conspiracy theories, world chaos and Donald Trump, a candidate whose grievance-driven politics has been a calling card since descending the gold escalator in 2015.

For weeks, Trump fed a loud, angry crowd their daily serving of red meat from outside a New York City courtroom. Regardless of the outcome in court, history will not be kind to Trump. Like first-class passengers on the Titanic ignoring suggestions to find a lifeboat, the MAGA faithful is headed to the bottom.

For those who believe the world is asunder and anything is better than four more years of the same, remember that Trump is no longer the outside fresh voice. We know what another four years of Trump looks like because we lived through the first act. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, or perhaps even worse, according to early indications about what a second Trump term could bring.

To borrow a line from Seinfeld’s commencement address last week, today, many Republicans are embarrassed about things we should be proud of and proud of things we should be embarrassed about. Instead of taking our medicine and beginning the healing process, the majority of our party is falling in line with a morally bankrupt man we should have run away from three losing election cycles ago. If past is prologue in 2024, Republicans only have ourselves to blame.