Thursday, January 14, 2021

Little New Under The Sun

With House Republicans on Tuesday making sounds that they were sufficiently displeased by Donald Trump that they would consider impeachment, Chris Cuomo (video below) stated

Tonight, there is reason for hope. Things are very much in flux. But we have never heard what we have tonight. Republicans may want their party back from Trump... Turns out now even die-hard Trumplicans are doubting their dedication.

Things do remain in flux. However, GOP members of Congress do not need to get their party back. It never went anywhere. Now in exaggerated form, it is close to what it has been for decades.  The day before the comment by the somewhat sanguine CNN host, Paul Krugman wrote that since "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" in 1964, "the big thing that has changed since (Richard) Hofstadter wrote is that" 

one of our major political parties has become willing to tolerate and, indeed, feed right-wing political paranoia.

This coddling of the crazies was, at first, almost entirely cynical. When the G.O.P. began moving right in the 1970s its true agenda was mainly economic — what its leaders wanted, above all, were business deregulation and tax cuts for the rich. But the party needed more than plutocracy to win elections, so it began courting working-class whites with what amounted to thinly disguised racist appeals.

Not incidentally, white supremacy has always been sustained in large part through voter suppression. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see right-wingers howling about a rigged election — after all, rigging elections is what their side is accustomed to doing. And it’s not clear to what extent they actually believe that this election was rigged, as opposed to being enraged that this time the usual vote-rigging didn’t work.

But it’s not just about race. Since Ronald Reagan, the G.O.P. has been closely tied to the hard-line Christian right. Anyone shocked by the prevalence of insane conspiracy theories in 2020 should look back to “The New World Order,” published by Reagan ally Pat Robertson in 1991, which saw America menaced by an international cabal of Jewish bankers, Freemasons and occultists. Or they should check out a 1994 video promoted by Jerry Falwell Sr. called “The Clinton Chronicles,” which portrayed Bill Clinton as a drug smuggler and serial killer.

So what has changed since then? For a long time Republican elites imagined that they could exploit racism and conspiracy theorizing while remaining focused on a plutocratic agenda. But with the rise first of the Tea Party, then of Donald Trump, the cynics found that the crazies were actually in control, and that they wanted to destroy democracy, not cut tax rates on capital gains.

And Republican elites have, with few exceptions, accepted their new subservient status.

You might have hoped that a significant number of sane Republican politicians would finally say that enough is enough, and break with their extremist allies. But Trump’s party didn’t balk at his corruption and abuse of power; it stood by him when he refused to accept electoral defeat; and some of its members are responding to a violent attack on Congress by complaining about their loss of Twitter followers.

Yet, Cuomo remarked (at 4:23 of the video) "members of the GOP considering whether to finally amputate Trump is meaningful."

In the end, there were ten Republican members of the House voting to "amputate" Trump while 207 voted to maintain the leadership of the President who openly and publicly, with malice and forethought, encouraged the overthrow of the federal  government. With 211 in the caucus, 4.7% of GOP members supported the quaint notion of a democratic republic.

Moreover, that constituted 95% of Republicans backing President Trump with one foot out the door. It was one week before, whatever influence he might continue to have, the fellow will lose all power.

In a mere 7 days (6 days now), the President will  no longer be the third most powerful person on the planet but instead private citizen Donald Trump. And still: 10.

Krugman wrote additionally "it’s not clear to what extent they actually believe that this election was rigged, as opposed to being enraged that this time the usual vote-rigging didn’t work."

Undoubtedly, some Republicans do believe that the election was rigged, notwithstanding the thoroughly overwhelming evidence that it was not manipulated.  However, this is the political party they helped build or, in the case of the younger members, decided to join and represent in Congress.

It is a Party which has long admired the authoritarian style and probably will continue to do so. With their guy leaving office and corporate donors uncomfortable, Republican senators may (though not likely) break with form, discover the importance of the rule of law, and provide the 17 or 18 (out of 50) votes needed for conviction.

Until then, however, 10. Ten out of two hundred eleven. It is not becoming a new party now. It did not become a new party because of Donald Trump.  Not for decades grand, it still is the Grand Old Party.

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