WaPo publishes op-ed arguing some ‘Trump supporters’ want to ‘transform the GOP into an American Hezbollah’

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The Washington Post published an op-ed Tuesday by professor Daniel W. Drezner, arguing that some Trump supporters are ok with making the Republican party into “an American Hezbollah.” Hezbollah, which originated in Lebanon, was designated a U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997.

In his piece, Drezner argues that President Donald Trump incited Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, showcasing a new brand of the Republican party that he brands “an American Hezbollah.”

“In some ways we are seeing an emergent strategy. A significant fraction of Trump supporters are comfortable transforming the GOP into an American Hezbollah — a political party that also has an armed wing to coerce other political actors through violence,” Drezner writes.

“If you think that this is an exaggeration, let’s consider what we have learned over the past week,” He adds, citing a number of reports of armed protests planned by Trump supporters for the inauguration.

Drezner then points to some lawmakers who are “rattled” by the potential threats, including members of the Republican party. For example, Drezner writes, “Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) told Reason’s Matt Welch about some of his colleagues: ‘They knew in their heart of hearts that they should’ve voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.’

“Are these ‘armed protesters’ merely a radical fringe of the GOP?” he asks, “Only if you think the president of the United States is also on that fringe. They are doing exactly what Trump asked them to do in his Ellipse speech: Be more extreme.”

However, “It is not just Trump,” Drezner argues, pointing to Trump’s GOP allies in Congress, who he says also incited violent riots. One example he gives is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-NC, who recently told a group of young conservatives, “Call your congressman. You can lightly threaten them and say, if you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you.”

“In 2021, too many of its members and leaders are acting as though the only way Republicans can win power is through an exit to violence,” Drezners writes. “The more they lean on the exit option, the less viable their voice becomes, and the more likely they will eventually exit.”

Drezner adds, “A strong majority of GOP elites do not think Joe Biden’s victory was illegitimate, but a solid minority do believe it. That minority seems inclined to turn to violence as a solution. The majority within the GOP has a choice to make: They can discipline their own insurrectionists, or they can go the way of Hezbollah and become a violent nonstate actor.”

There are reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell believes Trump should be impeached and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could be pressuring Trump to leave office. If that is true, Drezner says, it would be breaking from the GOP faction that’s heading in the direction of Hezbollah.

“This is a good sign that McConnell and McCarthy prefer voice to exit — because if Republicans choose the latter option, then Americans will have to read up on the history of Lebanon’s civil strife.”

Follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer