Hank Rishel
3 min readAug 13, 2021


The national Republican Party is in a peculiar position. Thanks to Donald Trump the party constantly makes the news. Thanks also to Donald Trump, the party has become a hopeless minority. There is no major population group projected to grow that can be identified as Republican.

It is true that Trump attracted new voters who did, in 2016 and after vote for Republican candidates, but they are a weak political reed indeed. Many were previously inactive working class Democrats. They came out to vote not because they were attracted to the Republican Party but because they were attracted to the profane colorful Trump.

It was reasonable that they would not have been attracted to the Republican Party in 2016 because that party had done nothing for them. And, there has been no evidence since of any Republican effort to actually do anything for them (there has been an effort on the part of some Republican candidates to cultivate their racism). Their emotional tie is really to the increasingly irrelevant Trump.

National Republican candidates are obsessed with the need to appeal to Trump’s working class followers. At the same time they must attempt to hold traditional Republican identifiers who, particularly in suburbs, are drifting away. Their dilemma is that they can offer neither group anything real.

So, locked in a permanent minority, Republicans, with little to offer any of their voters, can only hope to win by suppressing the voting turnout for Democratic candidates. That is what they are trying to do. Nearly all of these attempts to suppress the Democratic vote are clearly aimed at minority voters. It says something about the political state of the races in this country that an effort to clearly aim at the suppression of the mainstream white vote in the same conservative states would be quickly labeled unacceptable.

But, the Republicans have created a real problem with their own voting turnout. Trump and the Republicans can offer their voters virtually nothing. So, in order to hold on to Trump’s often less than well educated followers, Republican candidates feel that they have to create targets for their voters’ frustration and their anger.

Donald Trump clearly believed that his electoral success in 2020 depended on a continuing healthy economy. If he were to have been honest about the dangers of a potential pandemic, the economy and most particularly the stock market would have suffered. So, for his followers, vaccination was turned into a symbol of government overreach. Republicans should reject it.

And, they have rejected it! Approximately ninety three million adults have refused vaccination. Many of his followers believe that vaccinations are some kind of government plot; that being vaccinated would be a mark of disloyalty. Even with friends and relatives dying around them they resist.

Donald Trump has insisted that part of the reason he did not more clearly win in 2020 was because thousands of dead people voted. It is true that nobody has been able to find more than an infinitesimal number of them but they have to exist somewhere. Many Republican spokesmen insist on it.

So, here is the irony of it all: Because of Republican legislatures’ insistence on it, particularly those in conservative southern states, endless efforts are being made to keep potentially Democratic voters from voting; presumably including those maddening dead ones. But, because the Trump administration politicized the pandemic and discouraged thousands of people from getting free vaccinations, many potential Republican voters will have, in fact, become dead ones.

Should Donald Trump run again in 2024, their deaths in those conservative Southern states would probably not keep him from winning some states (there would be enough live voters to give him majorities and their states’ electors). But in states where the parties’ voters are more evenly distributed, those voters, tragically lost because of political game playing, could make a difference.

There is some reason for hope: Many of the efforts to suppress Democratic voters probably will fail to pass legal muster and be rejected by judges. It also may be that Democratic voters angered by an obvious effort to reject their votes may render the suppression efforts counter-productive. It is also possible that Trump loyalists faced with the reality of a renewed pandemic will choose in time to be vaccinated.

Although it is sometimes difficult to see, people are always rational. The Trump voters’ attempt to be loyal by resisting life saving vaccination does have a kind of rationality. Moving to accept vaccination will be rational too. If voters should respond by rejecting obvious dishonesty and misdirection on the part of some elected officials that can be seen as a triumph for rationality. And, that is important. Democracy depends on it.

H.J. Rishel




Hank Rishel

Retired political science professor of 40+ years. Educated at Olivet, UofM, MSU, Northwestern, & Harvard. Hoping to make politics a fun & exciting topic for all