Issue 51

 The End of the Donald and the Republican Party as We Know It

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Tea Party Republicans before release of the video

The final days of the 2016 presidential election feel like the denouement of a dark moment in American politics. There’s always been a give and take battle between the left and right, between progressives struggling for equality and justice and conservatives protecting the interests of the wealthy power brokers.  And there have certainly been many times when the balance of power shifts slightly one way or another.  Somehow there was always an underlying confidence that the backbone of our democracy was strong and that despite deep schisms, a sense of civility surrounded the process.

The historic election of President Obama eight years ago changed all that – it was the straw that broke the Eagle’s right wing. The nation’s passenger side front tire came off, setting the wheels of political chaos in motion.  It started with the racist denial of the legitimate leader of the free world in the form of the birther movement, led by none other than the Donald… which soon begat the Tea Party.  Lies compounded so routinely through Fox News and elsewhere that even eight years later more that 60% of Trump supporters believe the President is a Muslim and can’t be trusted.

The Tea Party did not represent the majority of Republicans but used threats, innuendo, and bullying to coerce the leadership to gain power (many of the same tactics the Donald has used in his business and political career). The gloves of civility were shed…at his first state of the Union address, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson called Obama a liar.  The Republicans managed to take over Congress in 2010 and soon Republican Congressional leaders declared their main goal was not governing, but ensuring Obama’s defeat.  By 2015, Speaker John Boehner realized he’d lost control of the party and resigned.

And then came the penultimate Tea Party victory.  After a brutal conservative slug fest, aka Republican primary fight, Birther in Chief Donald J. Trump clawed his way to the top of the heap. Almost no Republicans felt empowered to rebuff his increasingly over-the-top racist, xenophobic, march toward power.  They rationalized his accusations that Mexicans were murders and rapists (that one seems particularly ironic today) and did not rebuff his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the country.  They gave him a pass when he disparaged the parents of a gold star war hero.  They looked the other way when time after time, Trump despicably demeaned and disparaged women.  They ignored his deplorable mocking of a disabled journalist.  And even McCain, Romney, Cruz, Christie, Bush, Rubio, etc. somehow managed to overlook his personal insults and (albeit awkwardly and tentatively) endorsed his candidacy.  With all of his blatant indiscretions and hate mongering many have wondered what it would take to reveal the Donald with no clothes.

trump-and-hillary-first-debateHillary easily handled him during Debate #1 and began to put some distance between them in the polls. Everyone was looking to see whether the Donald might actually spend some time preparing for the second round and perhaps recover some ground.

trump2But just two days before the rematch, the now infamous three-minute hot mic video in which Trump reveals his true, disgustingly crude, misogynist self for all the world to see went viral.  A performance so vile that even Houdini couldn’t pull off the sleight of hand needed to hide the true nature of his personality.  So “unpresidential”, the most powerful accelerator in the world couldn’t spin the story to distract from the consequences.

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Trump offered a lame, half-assed “apology” claiming it was nothing more than locker room talk (as American as apple pie), denied he did the things he bragged about on the video, and tried to deflect by saying Bill Clinton was guilty of worse sins.

Once again the party of “family values” embarrassed itself with the hypocritical revelation of who they really are.  It’s ok to be a racist and even a sexist who demeans women.  But this time the latest exposure was too vulgar even for the Tea Party.  So, like a suicide bomber the Donald blew himself up and may very well have caused significant collateral damage to the down ballot races.  Facing a tidal wave as ferocious as any Hurricane Mathew could muster, GOP leaders (and especially those hoping to be re-elected) are jumping overboard, right and farther right, hoping that they can grab a piece of driftwood and make it on their own.  Here is just a small sample:

“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video.  I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.” Mike Pence, Republican nominee for Vice President

“[Trump’s] behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”  John McCain, Republican Senator of Arizona, seeking re-election.

“I cannot and will not support  a candidate who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, facing a close re-election bid.

“I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump.  Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump.”  Republican Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada, who also is in the middle of a closely contested race,

“The Republican Party is caught in a theater fire; people are just running to different exits as fast as they can,” Steven Law, a longtime lieutenant of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and head of the GOP “Super PAC” American Crossroads

But they waited too long to abandon ship and many won’t be able to avoid the gravitational pull of the Donald’s shit storm as it goes down.  Let’s remember that this is the same party that following Romney’s devastating defeat declared it can no longer ignore minorities and women.  Clearly, they learned that lesson well.

So the landscape is changing before our eyes but what comes next is hard to know.  Trump is history (as are his surrogates Chris Christie and Rudolf Giuliani) but his loyalists will probably continue to look at the world through conspiratorial glasses and claim the whole thing was rigged.  The conservative Christians will likely double down on their “family values” platform and remain faithful to the likes of  their latest hero Mike Pence. The remnants of the rest of the GOP led by Paul Ryan is adrift somewhere in between.   It’s difficult to imagine these diverse factions getting on board together in the near future but as we saw in Obama’s first term, ignorance and hatred are powerful motivators.

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Published on October 10, 2016 at 11:23 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Paul, if only it were so.

    The GOP isn’t dead – it is exposed, wounded and divided on the national level, just like a certain other big party which also isn’t dead, but is losing people as more voters identify as unaffiliated.

    Both parties might be dead or very different if they weren’t sustained by big “donors,” many of which purchase shares in both parties. So they’re not exactly live and vibrant.

    What we’ve got is two Zombie parties on our hands. If “none of the above were on the ballot,” I believe it would win at least a plurality.

    I know the GOP’s demise has been a liberal pundit talking point over the past year, but very few in Punditland saw the Tea Party coming, or Bernie, or Trump (or Obama for that matter). And I don’t buy their takeaway from the comments of the past few days which you’ve quoted.

    Those Republican “leaders” now squealing about Trump have no more sway with voters than union leaders have with their members.

    Trump’s base is more set than ever in its alternate reality where conniving Clinton enables rape while Trump, a smart and successful man, was just making macho talk. His unfiltered personality is probably his main attraction. They don’t like the calculated bullshit Republicans any more than we like the calculated bullshit Democrats. And who could argue with Trump’s response that Paul Ryan is a weak leader?

    And I disagree with your dismissal of the Tea Party. I agree, its tactics aren’t nice, but in many areas, it certainly does come closer to representing most Republicans than does the corporate wing of that party. That’s why established GOP figures were unseated in primaries by Tea Party upstarts. And that same grassroots frustration with DC GOP establishment is why Trump is the nominee.

    I’m not saying he’s going to win. HRC is the likely winner because Trump has record-setting unfavorability, which has to have gotten even worse. But I believe HRC has the second highest negative ratings of any candidate in history.

    To the extent there is any large-scale electoral enthusiasm this year, it is either anti-Trump or anti-Clinton sentiment, and if HRC keeps her clear lead in the polls, turnout could suffer and that could be a factor down-ballot. When turnout is low, Republicans have historically benefited.

    In the meantime, the GOP controls and is not only ruining many states like mine, but stalling the few progressive federal initiatives on health care, the environment, etc. And I understand that Zombie Cuomo is no picnic either.

    The challenge is figuring out how force the Democratic Party to morph more quickly into something other than the consultant/big-money-driven power broker it is, with no clear program or grassroots appeal. Or instead use our energy to form an effective new force. Bernie’s “Our Revolution” is just a PAC – very sad about that.

    And, just to keep things cheery, I believe politics and power will be deeply affected in the coming decade by the huge arsenals assembled by right wing individuals/groups in many parts of the country.

    I don’t know who said it, but I recently read a quote, “democracy isn’t dead – it’s a job.” Alas, it’s also a struggle and while we have the youth, they have the guns. I guess it usually is that way. Most of the time, if your side has the most guns, it means you’re on the wrong side.

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  2. Paul: Regarding your determination that “Trump is history,” I can only say, “From your lips to God’s ears.” But… I don’t think we should discount his potential to rise from the ashes. Here’s why: Some of the people who will vote for him will not admit to this when asked by pollsters. Too much complacency can cause some people to stay away from the polls. Many people who can’t stand Trump will vote for third party candidates. And the potential for the right wing to pass off convincing last minute lies and exaggerations about Clinton remains. I will remain on edge till the last vote is counted. Then… I plan to meditate for as long as possible.

    Editor’s response: Thanks Stevie, your points are all well-taken…I do believe the Donald is toast but I don’t think we can be complacent or take it for granted.

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  3. Unfortunately, I don’t think Hillary delivered a knockout punch last night at the debate. You’d think she could have given that Donald was already down.

    Editor’s response: Agreed…For obvious reasons Hillary was stepping lightly trying to avoid the land mines that surround her too. Let’s face it, she’s not the perfect candidate and has some significant baggage… but until the SS GOP goes down, I’m not going there.

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