A former editor of mine wrote a Facebook post today suggesting that the way Republicans (especially, Senate Republicans) could save themselves from likely annihilation in 2020 was to vote to convict President Donald Trump if/when the House forwards Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, followed by a quick and furious pivot back to longtime conservative platform planks like fiscal responsibility.
What follows below is my response to that suggestion.
There is no separating Trump and the Republican Party.
Did any of you watch The Strain when it aired as a TV show from 2013-17? The Master can and frequently does change forms, but the parasite (and the effect that parasite has on the host) remains constant. The modern Republican Party is an evil, with a debilitating sickness, like the parasitic infection in The Strain. It is a disease of the mind, the spirit, and the character infecting far too many Americans. First there was Ronald Reagan; then the Bushes with their team of neo-cons seeking a New World Order; then the weaselly wonks like Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, and Mitch McConnell.
Now, there is Donald J. Trump.
Same evil, different skin.
The Republican Party under Donald Trump has reached the apocalypse stage with the rallies, the chants, and the narcissistic/insane leader (imagine if Jim Jones has become POTUS and moved his followers to DC instead of Guyana). The suggestion is that Republicans should hit “reset” and go back to pretending to be fiscally conservatives with a “shining city on the hill” view of America as a global leader for good?
Look, Republican bedrock principles have remained the same since Reagan.
1. Being rich is good. Being poor is bad. And both financial groups DESERVE their financial status, as rich people work hard while poor people are lazy.
2. Woman are inferior to, and should be subservient to, men. This is most important when the men are white, and the rule really applies not just to women but to anyone NOT a white male.
3. LGBTQ are just a bunch of letters signifying perverts and pedophiles so watch your kids, except in church, as priests and pastors would NEVER be gay nor molest your children. And if it does happen, the children lured or enticed the adults who could not resist because, you know…the devil.
4. Any skin color but white is a sign of intellectual inferiority, and likely, of a savage and/or criminal nature.
5. There should be two sets of rules when dealing with race, regardless of issue. For example, rich white people do cocaine because they work so hard and are so successful (again, rich) that they need a temporary escape so they can get back to the trading pits and the boardrooms and make MORE money. Let’s not ruin their upstanding lives by a criminal possession charge. Poor black people smoke crack because they are lazy junkies. Let’s make sure they are homeless, have no welfare, no treatment options, let’s take their kids, AND give them decades-long sentences for “intent to distribute” even though they technically had fewer grams of cocaine than the rich guy in the Porsche.
Yes, there are fiscal conservatives. Yes, there are religious warriors. Yes, there are Libertarians attracted by Republican desire for smaller government. The party once needed those to claim a majority. In some places, though much fewer now, they still might. But at the core of the Republican Party is patriarchy, and white-supremacy, and a tendency towards brutal and public violence when either of those tenets is threatened.
It is a great point and hopeful point about what the Republican Party SHOULD do, were they as patriotic as they claim or had the character they demand of so many on the left.
First, that is NOT who they are, and why would we want them to go back to pretending they are something they are not, so they do not lose elections and destroy the party? I, for one, do not want them to fade back into the darkness, to crawl back under their rocks.
Ever see Inglorius Basterds?
Lieutenant Aldo “The Apache” Raine led the First Special Service Force, a team of Jewish-American soldiers tasked with waging a terror campaign against the Nazis. As a way of heightening that terror, Raine and his team often let one Nazi from a captured squad go free, so that soldier could relate the atrocities Raine and his ‘basterds’ had committed. Raine carved swastikas into the foreheads of German soldiers he captured and released because, after he war, those soldiers would take off the Nazi uniform. He wanted a way for the world to still know who and what these people were.
I don’t want people who spent the first half of this decade laying the groundwork for Trump and the second half defending and idolizing Trump to be able to wrap themselves in conservative fiscal policy and retreat to being “good Republicans” in public. They have permanently damaged America.
Every empire dies the same, with greed and rot and the tearing down of the very institutions that built that empire. Maybe the American empire survives this time, but if not, the last 50 years since Nixon first took office will be remembered as the denouement.
Second, WHY should Republicans change when we (as citizens) have given them no reason to change?
Republicans made crushing unions a policy plank as far back as the Reagan years, and sought to kill U.S. (union) manufacturing (to boost corporate profits and stock prices) through trade deals like NAFTA (George H.W. Bush). Union workers (especially in Blue Wall states) put Donald Trump into office because he promised he could bring back UNION jobs in steel, autos, and manufacturing. This is like an old and hobbled slave seeking comfort from the same master who whipped him relentlessly for 40 years.
George W. Bush and the Republicans started a horribly destabilizing global war on terror that still rages without victory or end in sight nearly 20 years later, they effectively rebooted the Cold War (which we are unfortunately losing this time around) and they destroyed not just America’s economy but the entire world’s economy by the end of 2007. For that, voters punished them with two years of Democratic control (2009-11). That brief setback allowed Republicans to come back swinging with the Tea Party (another attempt to cloak their racist underpinnings in fiscal policy), to showcase their opposition to the ACA, while avoiding overtly making the next election about their hatred of a black president. This set the stage for massive victories in 2010 which led to Republicans controlling first the House and eventually the Senate AND winning so many legislatures that their gerrymandered redistricting after the 2010 census set them up for the entire decade. And as the SCOTUS keeps refusing to fix those gerrymandered electoral maps, places like my current state of Michigan will likely continue to see Republicans dominate statehouses despite routinely winning 40-45% of the votes in statewide elections.
And having these majorities also allowed for massive voter purges, more felon disenfranchisement, pointless but painful voter ID laws, the list goes on. Republicans were punished for decades of horrible policy with two years of being a minority. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, they emerged transformed and after the 2016 election would be more powerful than at any point since the Depression.
So, did they REALLY suffer for their decades of sins?
Mitch McConnell stole a SCOTUS seat. The Russians (and those duped by Russians and Republicans) allowed Trump to be elected which stole another SCOTUS seat. These Justices will ultimately decide if what Trump and Republicans are doing is legal. The ONLY recourse we have as citizens is to vote these Republicans out and make sure the rules are clarified so a decade like this cannot happen again.
Finally, the suggestion that Republicans vote to remove Trump and pivot to their avowed core policies ignores a significant Catch-22 Republicans face.
Trump is still wildly popular with the Republican base and still possesses the world’s loudest bully pulpit. Trump is almost as popular among Republicans as Obama was among black Democrats. Republicans in red districts (or states) cannot, in an election year, turn on Trump and face months of Twitter wrath as they keep their fingers crossed there are 67 votes to remove Trump. And certainly, none seeking re-election would dare oppose Trump before the general election ballots were finalized as they would face an immediate (and likely, successful) primary challenge if they did.
Basically, they can’t turn on him until he is gone (and even then, will he be silenced?), yet he will not be gone unless they turn on him.
If he survives this impeachment, there is no way the party has a different nominee in 2020, so any who dared oppose him will need to run in red districts or states with the Scarlet Letter of that impeachment vote haunting them AND without any Trump support. If you think Trump would not choke-off RNC (and Russian) support for those who opposed him, think again. Though grudgingly, Trump shares fundraising proceeds with the RNC, and his rallies generate big bucks. The RNC spends money where TRUMP says they spend money. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Hitler, MOVE, did they seek peace and reintegration when it all turned against them or did the leaders choose to go down in a final act of defiance even if it took all their followers down too? Except losing would not be a suicide mission for Donald Trump in 2020, even if the GOP went down in flames. No, the cowardly captain does not go down with his ship. He is the first to the lifeboat. Trump would play the victim and create a right-wing media monster to rival (and likely, top) Fox News with himself as kingmaker pushing his own son towards the 2024 nomination.
Gerrymandering has made probably 375 seats in the House absolute locks for one party of the other. Demographic changes have made probably 90 or more Senate seats absolute locks. Reagan appealed to independents because many of his coalitions were in their infancy and he needed the help. Forty years later, Trump does not need independents. And why would he target them anyway if he needed a boost?
Which is easier, to find a substantial group of intelligent independents and win them over with facts and policies and a plan that was good for all Americans OR to find a bunch of angry white people and to give them someone (immigrant, POC, liberal, Democrat, Socialist) to blame, basically making election day a Klan rally without the hoods? The latter has worked beautifully for Republicans.
I lived in KY for five years. Mitch McConnell’s approval rating is at 18%. He is going to slaughter Amy McGrath if she is the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2020 and Donald Trump is on the top of the ballot. If Trump falls to impeachment and it is Pence or another Republican, would the coattails (Trump won KY by 30 points in a state that leans 23% red) still be long enough to keep Mitch in power? Basically, WITH Trump on the ballot, McConnell is a lock for re-election, and while the Republicans MIGHT lose the White House, they likely keep the Senate and Democrats only add a few more seats to their House advantage. So, back to a Democratic POTUS being blocked at every turn by McConnell, including on replacing Ginsburg and maybe Thomas should the seats come open. That helps McConnell fire-up the Republican base in 2022 (the Democrats next, best chance to retake the Senate) and 2024 (the next POTUS election). Trump, McConnell, and Republicans will absorb a minor loss in 2020 knowing that when the liberal wave fades and the hatred and anger resurface, they will push through changes that will last decades (like SCOTUS seats and other lifetime appointments) making minor blips in the electoral history irrelevant.
The “do the right thing” plan demands two key things: character from Republicans and consequences from voters. Yes, it is early in the impeachment process so things might look a lot different by the time (IF) the Senate takes a vote, but so far history has shown both of those things in short supply. We Democrats need to put aside our internal differences and crush all Republicans and any moderates/independents who supported Trump, not reincorporate them into a coalition.
We sure don’t need folks like Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Jeff Flake (if he were still in the Senate) casting votes from the cloakroom as they lack the courage to confront Trump face-to-face but still desire to be seen as the “saviors” riding in from the right, putting politics aside to do the right thing for America.
Yes, we NEED heroes.
Yes, we need defiance of Trump and patriotism and a sense that the oath taken actually MEANS something.
But those heroes will need to come from our side of the aisle, or our side of the ballot in 2020.
I referenced The Strain earlier, and I just remembered there was also a story arc where the uninfected, after having waged nuclear war and still having failed to defeat the infected, tried to coexist with them in a “partnership.” The partnership failed because just like Republicans, the infected really only changed their outward strategy. The reality was they were continuing to pursue their murderous objectives towards global domination in the shadows, let the resistance die down and the remaining opposition can be neutralized before they can regroup.
Just like in The Strain, there can be no peace, no partnership with Republicans, as there is no cure for their particular disease once infected; there is not even a treatment.
There is isolation, or there is extermination.