Hours before former President Donald Trump reenters the public stage with a speech at CPAC, the country’s largest conservative political conference, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) warned fellow Republicans that the party will continue to lose if it continues to “idolize” the former president. Cassidy was one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial earlier this month for inciting the violent insurrection on January 6.
“Over the last four years, we lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency,” Cassidy said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, adding that the last time such a losing streak occurred in four years was at the beginning of the Great Depression with then-President Herbert Hoover. If Republicans “idolize one person we will lose,” Cassidy noted. “And that’s kind of clear from the last election.”
But Trump easily survived his second impeachment trial this month as most Republicans stood by him. Even after excoriating the former president and pointing to his responsibility for the January 6 insurrection, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently that he would support Trump if he were the party’s nominee in 2024. And Republicans who decided to buck Trump over the Capitol attack are being attacked by their own party and colleagues who remain loyal to Trump. The state Republican Party in Louisiana said it was disappointed in Cassidy’s vote to convict Trump after the impeachment trial. There are no signs that the Republican Party is moving away from the former president, who transformed the party into a cult of personality around him.
One particularly literal example of idolization of Trump by some of those who attended CPAC was a golden statue of him that was created by the artist Tommy Zegan. Its appearance gave rise to numerous references to the Biblical story of the golden calf which symbolizes God’s wrath against false idols.