Republicans Have Lost Their Way

Michael Gerson is a ‘neo-conservative’ Republican.  He served as the White House Director of Speechwriting and a senior policy advisor for nearly six years under President George W. Bush and is now a columnist for The Washington Post.  Like other Republicans and former Republicans, Gerson is no fan of Donald Trump and he makes no bones about it.  In his latest column, he takes on the Republican Party of which he is a member, and his assessment is spot-on.


The GOP’s agenda under Trump: Voter suppression, pandemic denial and a personality cult

Opinion by 

michael-gersonMichael Gerson

Columnist

Oct. 19, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. EDT

One of the most symbolic moments of campaign 2020 was when the apparatus of the Republican Party strained and groaned to produce a platform reading, “RESOLVED, That the Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention.”

It was, in its own content-free, witless way, an assertion of power. The party that had produced a platform every four years since 1856 had become, well, anything President Trump wished at the moment. It was a declaration and recognition of personal rule.

After nearly four years, it is fair to ask: With the GOP as putty in Trump’s hand, what form has it taken? What are the large, organizing commitments of the GOP during the Trump captivity?

One would have to be voter suppression. What began, for some, as an effort to ensure ballot security has become a campaign to control the content of the electorate by limiting its size.

Not long ago, I would have regarded this as conspiracy thinking. At some point, however, a pattern becomes a plot. There have been Republican efforts to make voting more difficult in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma. These have included: complicated absentee ballot processes, strict voter ID rules, obstacles for voters returning from prison, objections to the broad distribution of ballots and logistical obstacles to early voting. The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, set the example of shamelessness by limiting vast counties to a single ballot drop box. The president has attempted to destroy trust in the whole electoral enterprise in preparation for legal challenges to mail-in votes.

Again and again, Republicans have used, or attempted to use, the power they gained from voters to undermine democracy. This has a political intention but (for some) it also has an ideological explanation. It is the logical electoral implication of nativism. If too much diversity is the cause of our national problems, it can be fought by restricting immigration or by restricting the democratic participation of minorities. In either case, these are actions motivated by Republican fears of being swamped by people they can’t relate to and voted into obsolescence. So the GOP seems to expend more energy and creativity on discouraging minority voting than it does on doing minority outreach.

The second characteristic of the new GOP is denial of a pandemic in the midst of a surging pandemic. Trump and many other Republicans think they can win only if American voters forget about more than 219,000 deaths* from covid-19 and the utterly incompetent federal response to the crisis. It is hard to recall any American presidential campaign that depended so directly on the outbreak of mass amnesia.

Trump’s recent campaign visit to Wisconsin was remarkable for its brazenness. On a day Wisconsin saw its highest level of new infections during the pandemic, Trump told a crowd that had to be screened for coughs and fevers that the country was “rounding the corner” on covid-19 and that their state was insufficiently open. This is denial pressed to the point of lunacy. It is the elephant urging people to ignore the elephant in the room.

The third organizing commitment of the GOP under Trump is loyalty to his person. At the beginning of his term, there was a Republican attempt to understand the populism that elected Trump and draw its policy implications. That ended quickly. The president made clear that the only thing that really mattered about populism was its end product: himself.

Populist causes — such as discrediting the media and “owning the libs” — are instruments to protect Trump from attack and project his own power. His whole term has been the chaotic and brutish attempt to find the people who would take his whims as law. And elected Republicans (except the admirable Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah) have been ruled by the fear of Trump’s tweeted tantrums. As Trump seems headed toward electoral failure, a few Republicans are recovering their own voices. But it won’t be easy to escape this taint. Years of complicity with Trump’s assault on American institutions is less like a bad haircut than an infected tattoo.

Some would add a conservative judiciary to this list of GOP commitments, and there is a case to be made. But this is no longer advocated in the context of moral conservatism, as it was in the Reagan era. The goal now is to secure conservative judges from a morally anarchic administration. A cause has been reduced to a transaction.

What should we make of this GOP agenda: voter suppression, disease denial and a personality cult dedicated to a con man? It is the weakest appeal to the public of any modern presidential candidate. The Republican Party may win or lose. But it deserves to lose.

*Note that as of this writing, the death toll in the U.S. from coronavirus is at least 225,570.

28 thoughts on “Republicans Have Lost Their Way

  1. Thank you for sharing!!.. at issue is there is change in the winds be it socially, climate, etc and there is a element of Americas society that do not want change, thinking only of themselves… with Trump in office, center stage and playing a role, they know all they have to do is kiss his backside, fuel his ego and he will try to give them what they want, ignoring 200+ years of American history and the consequences of his actions… 🙂

    “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom”. (Isaac Asimov)…

    Hope all is well in your part of the universe and life is all that you wish for it to be!!…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dutch … I consider you an astute observer of human nature … so, tell me … why are so many people afraid of change? The world has evolved and changed for centuries, but today some seem locked into the world they grew up in some 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago, and they reject change without even bothering to ask if it might be for the betterment of life on this planet. Why? I’m at a loss to answer that question. All is okay in my part of the universe … and yours?

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      • Alas, dear lady, for me to be able to answer your question I would need to completely understand the workings of the human brain and unfortunately that is above my pay grade.. 🙂 🙂

        Most, if not all, of those with closed minded ideologies are not interested in the planet as a whole, just about themselves.. the only time they will make any changes is if it affects them directly.. in the past they have been able to “hide”, but not so anymore… hopefully in time cool heads with take command, wisdom will prevail and life will be better on “the third rock from the sun”… 🙂

        I am doing okay here, preparing for winter while chasing dreams… 🙂

        Life Is Now….

        Time flies, and memories fade.
        People change and new friendships are made.
        Only the true remain forever at our side.
        Eventually the disappointment and pain will subside.

        It is all about the journey and what has yet to come.
        Life is what you make of it; you are what you’ve become.
        Life is too short to hold onto regrets.
        Forgiveness is key even though you may never forget.

        Cherish the good and remove the bad.
        Some people don’t realize till it’s gone what they’ve had.
        Moving on is a way of life.
        There will always be obstacles, pain, and strife.

        You must believe that you are strong enough to fight.
        You have to believe in yourself to do what is right.
        Always do for YOU no matter what you do,
        Because in the end the only one who has your back is you.

        Never be afraid to take a stand,
        And always be willing to lend a helping hand.
        A little bit goes a long way.
        All it takes is a smile to brighten someone’s day.

        Your chance to live is now, so what are you waiting for?
        The world is yours for the taking and so much more.
        Endless possibilities are forever at your disposal.
        The chance to live another day is life’s golden proposal.

        Never let anyone tear you down,
        And never let anyone steal your shine and make you frown.
        So will you sit in the shadows and let darkness win again?
        Or will you rise up and make the light your friend?
        (Hollianne Boucher)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahhhh … and here I was so sure you did completely understand the workings of the human mind! Well, I do think you’re right about those who care about nothing and nobody but themselves, and perhaps it’s just my mood of the moment, but the number of those people seems to be increasing. Sometimes, I am glad I’m old. I do love that poem, though … I printed it to save … thank you!

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          • Well, I believe that there are those elements in society (religious, social, etc) that use “fear” as a weapon and perhaps had influence on many that may been more open minded… 😉

            Here on the path fear is just another word in the dictionary “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” ( Louisa May Alcott)…. and follow our dream… 🙂

            In history’s past on the path I had a dream
            Of the world in harmony it did seem,
            Accepting one as who they believe and are
            One’s life’s choices, no one did bar.

            Free, to climb a mountain, to touch a star
            Free, to search the universe, where answers are,
            Free to venture through life, with open eyes and mind
            Another creature’s belief, will not blind.

            Free to boldly walk the lands, both far and near
            All the while following ones dreams, without fear,
            Not to be accepted by social ideology, you see
            But the love, kindness, knowledge within, of a spirit born free.

            Free, for ones humanity to embrace
            Not being labeled by belief, gender or race,
            Free, for one’s dignity not to be denied
            Though there’s many a mortal, who has tried.

            Here on the path it’s not a dream, but a reality
            To follow ones dream, with a open heart, you see,
            Free to love another without fear, as it should be
            For here on the path, one is born free.
            (Larry “Dutch” Woller)

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  2. America is SO f**ked up! Here in inconsequential British Columbia ( inconsequential as far as loud mouth Americans view Canada ) we’re holding a provincial election. Last time round ( pre-COVID ) 6,500 residents requested mail in ballots, this time round over 700,000 requested mail-in ballots ( me included ). nobody said peep, not so much as a whisper of fraud or impropriety.We’ll politely wait for final results and accept results with confidence. Even the homeless are encouraged to vote, teams of trained officials actively canvas marginalized neighborhoods on election day facilitating unconventional collection of ballots. We call it democracy, nobody raises an eyebrow. Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You guys are so much more sensible than the people of the U.S.! I still don’t understand the way in which average people, median income earners, allow themselves to be bulldozed by corrupt politicians. Sigh. You guys understand the principles of a democracy … people in this country think it means they can do anything they please whenever they please, and that their own ‘rights’ supersede the rest of ours’.

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  3. it’s the democrats who have lost their way.
    vote every single one of them out of office. this is the face of tyranny. The republicans aren’t much better but it doesn’t take anything to be better than these scum sucking parasitic psychopaths.

    Now I really wish I had voted for trump. things like this will start to happen more and more if biden is voted in, wait and see.

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    • Scott, as an independent and former Republican (and Democrat early on), both parties have some good ideas and both parties have some bad ideas. We also cannot paint parties based on those who choose to be extreme in actions.

      While both parties stretch the truth and exaggerate, the key difference is my former GOP party governs off untruths. I said this when I left the party twelve years ago, well before Trump. The stance on climate change alone drove me away, but embracing evangelicals and the NRA, are just examples of a party that tended to make things up moreso than the Dems. I do not mind people being more conservative than me, but we need to govern off facts.

      Then along comes Trump. Trump is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my life time including Richard Nixon who was a crook. Five biographers said Trump has a problem with the truth. Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for him said in 2015 (maybe 2016) “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” Plus, he lacks empathy and decency per conservative David Brooks, and also runs a White House which is equal parts “chaos and incompetence” also courtesy of Brooks.

      A key judgement of his mercurial nature is he cannot keep people having the highest turnover rate among any president. But, General Mattis said it well when he noted “Donald Trump does not even try to unite us.”

      I voted for Biden this week as he is a moderate Democrat and a decent human being. After the lights of the Town Hall died down last week, Biden was seen talking with people who had more questions. He is not perfect, but we will be in better hands with him than the current incumbent. That is my two cents. Keith

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  4. I read his column frequently. I’m thinking about starting the first colony on Venus if the Turd manages to stay in office another day longer than necessary to get him on a rocket ship for Pluto. He wants to be king so let’s give him his own planet as far away from ours as possible. I don’t think this country would survive another four years of his stupidity and idiotic remarks!

    Liked by 3 people

    • If you start a colony on Venus … can I come live there, too? Please, please, please??? But, the better idea is sending him to Pluto … I feel sorry for the poor Plutonians, but … sigh … he must go! The country would likely survive, but would no longer be recognizable as a democratic republic, rather would have joined the ranks of autocracies such as Russia, North Korea, China and the Philippines. That’s Trump’s goal … to give himself unfettered power. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Start checking the ads for rocket ships that will hold as many of us as want to settle on Venus. I don’t mind being alone part of the time but would hate to be the only one there forever! I’m looking for sustainable tanks of oxygen that will last for several years until someone can build a factory that can produce O2 on Venus. I really would rather he be sent to Pluto though since I’m afraid of flying. Are we really still a democracy? I’m wondering if that is an option now. Biggest fear is that he will take over even if he loses. He doesn’t take defeat well. I would hate it if they had to send troops into the White house to pull him kicking and screaming out to the nearest mental institution. Someone could get hurt in that process.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Okay, I’ll be on the lookout for a slightly used rocket ship, but I think there are none that would hold more than a few of us. Oh … oxygen … I rather forgot that there is none on Venus. Perhaps it really would be best to find that rocket ship, kidnap Trump and put him on it, and point it at Pluto. If it doesn’t make it all the way to Pluto and disintegrates somewhere in space … oh well 🤷

          The strands of democracy that are woven into our Constitution are wearing quite thin. We still have a foundation that calls for democratic principles, but another four years of Trump will shred those … Trump himself has already said so. Sigh. Hugs!

          Liked by 1 person

          • That would be a better way to do it. Especially since I’m afraid of flying and of heights so would be dealing with heights on this planet and on Venus as well. And disintegration is another fear of mine. Trump seems to like flying so I’ll just let him found that colony but on Pluto rather than Venus. And with his money he can supply his own oxygen. He uses more of it that both of us put together with all of his whining so it is only fair that he supply his own.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I wasn’t afraid of flying until 9/11 and haven’t been on a plane since. I’ve always been afraid of heights, though! I’m the only person I know who gets chest/arm pains from the first step on the little kitchen ladder! Yes, we will simply send him over to Pluto … we’ll tell him there are a lot of gorgeous women there who are simply dying to meet him!

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                    • I have heard his name and most of his publicity seeking antics for several years and knew when he decided to buy his way into the White HOUSE that we would have problems. I voted for one of the Independent candidates in 2016 which was in effect throwing my vote away, but I just couldn’t vote for either of them that year. Turd still hasn’t learned how to shut his mouth and stop spouting nonsense so if he ever walks out the door of the white house willingly he should be sent off to a nice, safe for the rest of the world, mental facility to spend the rest of his life in a nice rubber room where he can’t hurt anyone else.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Sigh. No, he still hasn’t learned how to shut up … he thinks somebody wants to hear his whining, and self-aggrandizement. Heh heh … you are kinder than I, for while you want him to have a nice padded room, I want him to have a guillotine! (I wasn’t always this cruel … only in recent years). Hugs! ❤

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I hear that! I’ve only had these feelings in the past couple of years. I used to be able to ignore fools but now find it impossible to keep my mouth shut when I encounter them. As long as he is behind bars, or even better some high walls, like take the one he wants around Mexico and build it about four feet square with him in the middle. He could then enjoy his wall for the rest of his miserable life. Throw in a few mice to keep him company and for added nutrition if he doesn’t like slop and he will be set for life.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Oooohhhh … I like your plan for him! It’s funny … I was saying in another comment that I don’t think I even like me very much any more … I used to be kind, but now rarely a day goes by that I don’t wish death on someone. 😥

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, Michael Gerson speaks the hard truths. Will he be heard by those who need to? This neoconservative writer follows David Brooks as my favorited conservative pundits. Gerson, to his credit, was the first conservative pundit of which I am aware, that called out the danger that is Donald Trump. He did this well before the 2016 election. Yet, voices like his are inappropriately discounted when they need to be heeded. The only thing I would disagree with above, is the GOP has been at suppressing votes largely after the 2010 mid-term wins which helped them when majorities in both chambers of many states. That is when the cookie cutter ALEC voter suppression laws were getting passed in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, it’s interesting that I find myself agreeing with some of the conservative journalists of late, like Gerson and George Will, to name two. David Brooks is another. Yes, I think the voter suppression came along with the Tea Party movement, though in truth, it has been going on for a long while, just not to the extent it has been over the past decade.

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