Beyond Salvation?

As far as I can tell, today’s Republican Party has no actual platform, no ideologies of its own, but instead is simply against anything that Democrats support, and vice versa.  What the former guy did to that which was once recognizable as a legitimate party with actual views, has left a party that is no longer in control of its senses.  Max Boot, writing for The Washington Post, shows us just how low the Republican Party has gone, and one must question whether there is a future for the party outside of conspiracy theories, racism, incoherent rants and obfuscation.


The Republican Party is beyond salvation — even without Trump

Opinion by 

Max Boot

Columnist

April 20, 2021 at 1:05 p.m. EDT

That was a very telling comment that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) posted on Twitter last week. He noted that tweets from President Biden’s account “are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional” and that his “public comments are largely scripted.” In Cornyn’s mind, this “invites the question: is he really in charge?

On one level, this shows a senior Republican senator — someone who is seen as a staid establishmentarian — trying to spread smarmy insinuations that the president has lost his marbles and is being manipulated by shadowy leftists. That’s an article of faith on the conspiratorial far right that has now migrated to the mainstream despite the total lack of any substantiating evidence. When called out by Chris Wallace on Fox News, Cornyn retreated to the usual, despicable defense of conspiracy theorists: “I simply asked a question.” I didn’t say the moon landing was faked — I was only asking if it was!

But what is even more disturbing about Cornyn’s tweet is the upside-down assumption that it’s normal for a president to spew deranged, ungrammatical, abusive tweets — and that there is something wrong with a president who refuses to do so. Most people thought that President Donald Trump’s tweets were bonkers — but for a large portion of the GOP, they have now become the standard by which his successors will be judged. Republicans have gone down the rabbit hole where sanity and sobriety are inexplicable and indeed suspicious.

This is a sign of how the Republican Party is adjusting to post-Trump life. It has embraced Trumpism without Trump. This is not really a set of policy preferences; the GOP in 2020 passed on a platform beyond allegiance to the Orange Emperor’s whims. It is more of a mindless, obnoxious attitude — it’s all about “owning the libs,” spreading conspiracy theories, and waging culture wars as a way to rile up the rabid base and keep the cash register ringing.

Three of the major tenets of the Trumpified GOP have been on public view the past week — if you can bear to watch.

Hostility to science: Watch the video of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) yapping at Anthony S. Fauci, one of the nation’s leading infectious-disease experts, like an enraged chihuahua. “Dr. Fauci, when is the time?” Jordan kept asking. He wanted to know when it was “time to pull back on masking” and “physical distancing.” “When do Americans get their freedoms back? … What is low enough? Give me a number.” Fauci tried to explain that restrictions could be lifted as infection rates got lower. But for Jordan, this had nothing to do with eliciting information — it was all about showing his contempt for a leading scientist and demonstrating that he is much more exercised about prudent public health restrictions than about a virus that has already killed more than 567,000 Americans. It’s no surprise that vaccination rates are lower in counties that Trump won than in counties that voted for Biden.

Racism: Some of the most pro-Trump members of the House tried last week to start an America First Caucus. “White People First” is more like it: Their manifesto declared that “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.” There was so much blowback that the America Firsters backed off. But, as my colleague Aaron Blake notes, the white supremacist “replacement theory” — which claims that shadowy elites are importing people of color to replace native-born Whites — has gained wide adherence in the GOP. It has been pushed recently by everyone from Fox News’s Tucker Carlson to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who recently wondered (there’s that question again!) if Democrats “want to remake the demographics of America to ensure — that they stay in power forever.”

Authoritarianism: The Big Lie has become Republican orthodoxy — just like tax cuts and conservative judges. Polls show that 78 percent of Republicans don’t think Biden legitimately won and 51 percent say Congress “did not go far enough” to support “Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.” Little wonder that so many 2022 aspirants — including leading Republican Senate candidates in Ohio, Alabama, Missouri and North Carolina — are pushing the falsehood of the stolen election. The willingness to deny the election outcome — and thereby to reject democracy itself — has become the new litmus test for Republican primary voters.

This is by no means the whole of the GOP — but the Trumpy wing is by far the most vocal, militant and important. The “mainstream,” by contrast, is weak, vacillating and uncertain. Former House speaker John A. Boehner is a case in point: He denounces the “crazies” who have taken over, but he admits that in 2020 he voted for Trump — the leader of the crazies — because “I thought that his policies, by and large, mirrored the policies that I believed in.”

As I’ve said before, this is a party that is beyond salvation. I just wish Republicans didn’t insist on proving that bleak judgment right with dismaying regularity.

The Ugly Face Of ‘Nationalism’

I could have been quite content to never hear the name “Marjorie Taylor Greene” again for as long as I live.  However, yesterday she flew face-first onto my radar and aroused such disgust that I truly wished for the opportunity for my fist to meet her face.  She and two others, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas (both of whom have crossed my radar before) have started a new House caucus that they are calling the “America First Caucus”.  Just the name itself raised my hackles … you’ll remember the former guy using that terminology many times, and I find it to be an arrogant, bigoted term.

So, to start with, just what is a ‘caucus’?  Congressional caucuses are voluntary groups made up of lawmakers seeking to advance certain policy agendas. While the groups operate outside of the formal congressional legislative structure, many, such as the ignoble House Freedom Caucus, have found success influencing debate and amplifying their voices.  There are at least a hundred caucuses in the House, most consisting of only 2-3 members, some only having a single member, and typically promoting a single idea, such as the “Arts Caucus” or the “House Specialty Crops Caucus” … yes, I’m serious!  But some, like the aforementioned House Freedom Caucus, have a hundred or more members and a broad agenda.

The 7-page document outlining the “America First Caucus” policy agenda begins …

“The America First Caucus (AFC) exists to promote Congressional policies that are to the long-term benefit of the American nation. The North Star of any policy proposal will be that which serves the American people, and any consequential analysis of policy platforms must be based on this first principle.

As this implies a degree of ideological flexibility, a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

There is racist, bigoted language throughout the document.  In a section on immigration, the document describes the United States as a place with “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and argues that “societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.”

The document calls to suspend all immigration, saying such pauses are “absolutely essential in assimilating the new arrivals and weeding out those who could not or refused to abandon their old loyalties and plunge head-first into mainstream American society.”

On infrastructure, the caucus calls for the construction of roads, bridges and buildings that reflect “the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom.” 

I strongly urge you to read the document, for it is filled with racist, bigoted rhetoric.  Interestingly, a few other congressional Republicans weren’t too happy with it, either.  Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose ideology is typically far to the right of center, said …

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles.”

GOP conference chairperson Liz Cheney, the third highest ranking House Republican, responded with …

“Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.”

Democratic Representative Ted Lieu’s response was spot on …

“As an immigrant, I served on active duty in the US military to defend your right to say stupid stuff. What makes America great is that we don’t judge you based on bloodline, we look at your character.”

Last February, the House voted to remove Ms. Greene from her committee assignments based on her promotion of QAnon conspiracy theories, so she has had virtually nothing to do (yet We the People pay her $174,000 per year), and this caucus is presumably the result.  Trouble is that what Ms. Greene fails to understand is first that this is a nation of immigrants … immigrants from all over the world, not just “Anglo-Saxon” countries.  Second, she needs to understand that this is the 21st century, not the 18th.  We are all in this world together … air travel, the Internet, and other technologies have shrunken the globe and what one nation does can easily affect every other nation on the planet.  In the sections on the environment and energy, the document reads …

“The America First Caucus supports conservation of the environment and our national lands for the benefit of our nation. Having said that, we should not cripple our country’s manufacturing sector through agreements such as the Paris Climate Accords. We oppose the globalist, vague, and irrelevant policies being pushed under the guise of combating climate change.

While it is vital to preserve our environment, we should not use it as an impetus to destroy the energy industry that hires millions of hard-working Americans. Our elected officials should stand proudly with America’s struggling coal country against job-killing regulations, and welcome the ongoing shift towards clean coal. In addition, the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines will promote North American energy independence …”

Ms. Greene literally has zero qualifications to be in Congress, and even fewer qualifications to opine on things of which she has no knowledge.  Her ‘caucus’ is based solely on emotions, personal opinions, and uneducated views.  I had hoped that the people of her district in Georgia would vote her out next year and rid us of this terrible disease, but reportedly, she is raking in the campaign donations, so perhaps that dream is dead.

Ms. Greene’s ideology, such as it is, would close us off from the rest of the world, make this nation isolated and shielded from new ideas, cultural sharing, and protection of neighbors and allies.  And it would disenfranchise nearly half of the people in this nation.  There is no place in this country for the type of hateful ‘nationalism’ (another word I deplore) that Ms. Greene and her cohorts are proposing.  NONE!