While former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, was being arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, Americans were making it clear, once again, they’re not buying what Trump or the GOP are selling.
Cable news networks were blaring Trump in court, Trump in a car and Trump at Mar-a-Lago whining about his legal problems. But in Wisconsin, voters were carrying Democratic-backed Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz to victory in the race for a state Supreme Court seat, giving liberals control of a court that has leaned conservative for 15 years.
In Chicago, Brandon Johnson, the more progressive of the two Democratic candidates in the city’s mayoral race, won. A notable difference in that race was Johnson’s opponent, Paul Vallas, focused much of his campaign on a tough law-and-order message often associated with Republicans. It didn’t work.
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felonies:Give him same benefit of the doubt he gave Clinton
And let’s not forget Tennessee
On Monday, thousands of students marched to the Tennessee State Capitol calling for more gun control in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Nashville.
In last year’s midterm elections, Republicans dramatically underperformed as voters pushed back on the party’s attacks on abortion, voting and LGBTQ rights, as well as its ongoing support of Trump.
Tennessee GOP targets LGBTQ:Tennessee Republicans target America’s greatest threat: Drag shows. That’ll save us!
If you start lining these developments up, it’s not hard to spot a trend.
Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly … hard to understand
After Protasiewicz’s sizable victory in Wisconsin, Ben Wikler, the state’s Democratic Party chair, tweeted: “It’s an earthquake. And you know what causes earthquakes? Tectonic shifts.”
Away from the Trump circus, it certainly feels like a shift is happening.
What Trump’s arraignment really means:Trump’s entire presidency was ‘unprecedented.’ His arraignment is just plain embarrassing.
The go-to Republican scare tactics – Socialism is coming! Crime is rampant! The family is under attack! – aren’t working. And when the face of your party becomes the first former president ever indicted, the old “party of law and order” line falls a bit flat.
Trump’s Republican Party offers no hope, only grievances
Republican lawmakers spent the day howling about the injustice of the charges against Trump. And Trump spent Tuesday night at his Florida resort delivering an almost tragically whiny, lie-filled speech bemoaning the various criminal investigations he’s facing, dragging those listening into his own personal pit of grievance and despair.
It was, in theory, a campaign speech, but there was nothing positive, no hope for a brighter tomorrow. Just selfishness and anger, which seem to be the only two things on the GOP menu these days.
Ron DeSantis, the Republican Party’s No. 2 contender, isn’t much better
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seen as the only person who might pose a threat to Trump in the Republican primary, even though the governor hasn’t officially entered the race. What is he going to run on?
Well, this week he signed a bill allowing Floridians to carry concealed guns without a permit. And on Monday, the state Senate passed a DeSantis-backed bill to ban abortions after six weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
So … less gun control and more draconian restrictions on abortions? These are not things majorities of Americans want, another example of the GOP failing to see – or care about – what’s happening around them.
Isn’t it clear Donald Trump’s act has worn thin?
Supporters continue to wrap Trump in a warm embrace. But voters rejected him in the 2018 midterms, the 2020 presidential election and, de facto, in the 2022 midterms. Do GOP officials think the fourth time’s the charm? Do they think all Trump needed to broaden his appeal beyond his slavish base was several dozens of felony charges and a televised airing of grievances?
Wisconsin voters chose Protasiewicz and gave liberals control of the state’s Supreme Court because they care about issues like abortion rights, fair elections and Republican gerrymandering.
Chicagoans rejected the candidate endorsed by the police union and sided with the candidate who promised a more “holistic approach to public safety.”
The young people who filled the halls of the Tennessee statehouse weren’t demanding looser gun laws. They represent a generation fed up with mass shootings and politicians who do the bidding of gun manufacturers. They represent current and future voters whose numbers will only grow.
And in the five states that had abortion-related ballot measures in the 2022 midterm elections, voters across the board came down in favor of protecting abortion rights.
There seems to be a shift in America
Trump got all the attention Tuesday. It was undoubtedly a historic moment.
But by nightfall, he was wearily reading conspiratorial nonsense off a teleprompter and babbling woe-is-me claptrap that seemed to bore even the hardcore fans in attendance.
It’s the same stuff, over and over. That’s today’s Republican party: either walking in place or walking backward, ignoring the possibility that, across the country, something has shifted.
Ignoring the fact that more and more people are deciding they’d much rather walk forward.
More from Rex Huppke: