Jeff Flake is not the story. A Republican Party now stripped of Trump objectors is the story

What the Washington Post bills the last stand of the Never-Trump brigade could just as accurately be called the death throes of the former Republican Party: With the retirement of the last few whimpering voices of Trump opposition, House and Senate Republican lawmakers have now purged themselves of anyone that might unnecessarily upset the petty blowhard that now defines not just their party, but their ideology.

That ideology? Whatever Trump wants is now what Republicans want too. Death to his enemies! All glory to his private clubs!

“It’s my belief that where he’s taking our party is in a dangerous direction, both in electoral consequence, which we saw with the midterms, and, more significantly, with regard to the conservative movement,” said [Rep. Mark Sanford].

Mind you, Republicanism did not have very far to fall. It was the widespread adoption of conspiracy rhetoric that allowed a fathead like Donald to latch onto the movement as just one more grifter wandering in to fleece the rubes. It was the ritual burning of Bush’s would-be compassionate conservatism at the stake that allowed the party to at long last adopt a new stance, declaring that the government doing anything for the poor or refusing to grant anything to the rich was now to be declared “socialism,” or worse. It was the relentless promotion of anti-intellectual vapidity, turning Fox News into the world’s biggest crackpot chain letter, that convinced voters that anyone with a lick of expertise in any given field was, by definition, not to be trusted.

None of that, however, necessarily predicted that party leaders would go all-in on barely veiled corruption. That is their own invention. From aggressive gerrymanders to voter-suppression efforts to court-packing to the Bush-era efforts to restaff the Justice Department along partisan lines to the current sore loser rounds of suddenly stripping governmental power selectively from whatever elected positions Republicans have lost, the party long ago decided that it was democracy itself that was the root of its problems, and something that needed to be curtailed if the nation was to be saved from the scourge of the wrong people voting for the wrong things.

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