Former President Donald Trump's rise to power transformed the Republican party from one claiming to value fiscal responsibility and states' independence to openly embracing overtly racist rhetoric, defending an onslaught of lies, and supporting the federal overthrow of a peaceful transfer of power.
By and large, Republican elected officials have remained loyal to Trump, with only a few willing to step out of line, usually at the expense of their careers. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming was censured by her state's Republican party and removed from her role as GOP Conference Chair for her public opposition to Trump. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the GOP nominee less than a decade ago, is now persona non grata and was shunned from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for his vote to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial.
Now, Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio—once thought to be a rising star in the Republican party—has announced he won't seek reelection, avoiding a primary against a Trump-endorsed candidate in 2022.
"While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor in my decision."
In comments to the New York Times following the announcement, Gonzalez warned that Trump was
"[a] cancer for the country. ... I don't believe he can ever be president again. Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal."
It was only a matter of hours before Trump issued a statement demonstrating the toxicity against which Gonzalez warned.
"RINO Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who has poorly represented his district in the Great State of Ohio, has decided to quit after enduring a tremendous loss of popularity, of which he had little, since his ill-informed and otherwise very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting President of the United States, me. ... Good riddance to Anthony, he can now get himself a job at ratings-dead CNN or MSDNC!"
The news made waves on social media, and some said this wouldn't be the last the country sees of Gonzalez.
His decision said a mouthful about the current state of the GOP.
Democrats' razor-thin majority faces an uphill battle in 2022.