Wednesday, July 24, 2019

How far the Republican Party of Trump has fallen

The G.O.P. Is Now a Personality Cult writes Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times. As such, he says, The party no longer stands for much of anything. (With thanks to our Roving Reporter, Sherry Moreau.)

Trump’s 2016 slogan was MAGA - Make America Great Again. Millions of Americans bought that line and voted for him. But then Trump pivoted and did something entirely different. He transformed the GOP into a cult. It is no longer the political party of our fathers that valued family, fiscal restraint, and national security. Kristof expands on each of those themes showing how far Trump has dragged down the GOP. Those millions who voted for him, you see, are perfectly happy to enthrall themselves to Trump as monarch thus betraying the values once embraced by the Republican Party.

Snippets follow.

The tragedy of today’s Republican Party lies partly in how far it has tumbled from its heights.

This is the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. It is the party that built interstate highways, championed family planning, founded the Environmental Protection Agency, opened relations with China, confronted the Soviet Union and managed the collapse of Communism.

It is the party that under Ronald Reagan welcomed refugees. It is the party of men who exemplified decency like George H.W. Bush and adherence to a moral compass like John McCain.

At a rally in 2008, McCain corrected a questioner who called Barack Obama untrustworthy and an “Arab.” “No, ma’am,” McCain told the crowd. “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

Today that Grand Old Party has devolved into a personality cult surrounding a racist demagogue who incites a mob to chant about a Somali-American member of Congress: “Send her back!”

A mindless chant reveled in by said racist demagogue. The chanters either don’t know (or worse don’t care) that their target is a duly elected congresswoman who gained citizenship long ago. And her three fellow congresswomen, also of color, were born here in the US of A. And what do other nominal Republicans have to say about this racism? Not very damn much.

Elected Republican officials — with a very few brave exceptions, like Representative Will Hurd of Texas — protest the label “racist,” but not the racism. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even says that President Trump is “on to something.”

Yes, Trump is on to something: He has seized on the ugly nativist streak that runs through the anti-Catholic riots of 1844, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942. Most men grow after becoming president; Trump has not only shrunk but has also miniaturized party elders with him.

A recent analysis in The Times by Sahil Chinoy found that the Republican Party is far to the right of mainstream conservative parties in Britain, Canada and Germany, and to the right even of groups like the National Rally (formerly the National Front) of France. On the international spectrum, the G.O.P. is not a center-right party but an extremist force.

Think of how the Republican Party used to define itself: pro-family, tough on fiscal policy and strong on national security.

On family policy, Republicans tore children from immigrant parents at the border and are now trying to rip apart health insurance for 21 million Americans. … The Republicans sued to end the health insurance law because of a revulsion for Obama, and they are incoherent about the consequences. …

On fiscal policy, Republicans disgraced themselves in 2009 during the Great Recession when not a single G.O.P. member of the House of Representatives backed a desperately needed fiscal stimulus. … Then under Trump, those same Republicans approved a tax break that was far costlier, with the benefits disproportionately going to corporations and zillionaires. …

On national security, Republican firmness toward Russia disintegrated the moment it was needed, when Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. The Obama administration shared intelligence about Russian interference with 12 congressional leaders in September 2016, seeking a bipartisan warning (including those running elections around the country) about Russia’s actions. Republicans led by McConnell blocked any serious response, thus enabling Russia’s assault on American democracy. Meanwhile, we have a president who vigorously defends Russian President Vladimir Putin and jokes with him about getting “rid” of journalists. In polls, Republicans are more than twice as likely to approve of Putin (25 percent) as of Nancy Pelosi (9 percent).

Folks, we need a center-right political party in this country. Yet today’s Republican Party isn’t the steadying force of the past but is rather a blood-and-soil movement that stands for nothing larger than one bombastic hothead.

That’s why the 2020 election will matter so much. One of America’s great political parties has lost its compass and its concern for the issues that once defined it. Only if it is walloped at the ballot box will it, perhaps, wake up and rebuild itself to become again the principled conservative party that America needs.

Yes, we need to make America great again but the only place to start is to dump Trump in 2020.

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