- The GOP “leadership” has followed their most extreme supporters down the rabbit-hole into an unreal and un-American fiction.
- As a result, the GOP leadership’s only path to the Executive Office necessitates their abandonment of America’s norms of political behavior and the adoption of tactics used by fascists and authoritarian politicians.
- Given the political status quo, we should not expect to see much “political compromise” in the House and the Senate.
The leadership of the Republican Party, at least since President Reagan, have attempted to enrich America’s most wealthy demographic. As this constituency is no more than 1-2% of the electorate and insufficient to propel their candidate to the Executive Office, Republican Presidential candidates have championed right-leaning policies as a means of accruing a critical mass of electoral support. For several reasons beyond the scope of this essay, I do not believe the Republican leadership has/had any strong personal commitment to these social issues but, of necessity, have aligned with a right-wing political base as a means to an end.
For their political survival, the Republican Party “leadership,” rather than lead, chose to follow their political base down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, racism, negativism, and now violence, as that was the easiest and most expedient path to remaining in power.
From 2009-2012, the Republican leadership hitched their wagon to The Tea Party which championed lower taxes, less federal regulations, smaller government, and intellectually bereft “Constitutional Originalism.”
The GOP “leadership” then adopted the values of the MAGA crowd and Christian Nationalism and abandoned any fealty to objective reality and promoted the belief that a Democrat electoral victory was de-facto proof of electoral fraud, Democrats promoted pedophilia, and the GOP began disenfranchising Democrat voters.
More recently, the Republican “leadership” has chosen to cast aside all GOP historic values so they could efficiently descend down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and support (and/or refuse to condemn) QAnon, The Proud Boys, The Oath Keepers, The Boogaloo Boys and other domestic terrorists who have use force or advocated the use force to overthrow the Federal Government.
With the GOP leadership under the thumb of their most extreme right wing “supporters,” the GOP leadership understands that their path back into the Oval Office will evaporate if they offer any political policies or proffer political compromises which might alienate their most radical constituents. They also understand that their base is mad and thinks all other political demographics are below contempt. Thus, the GOP’s leadership’s path to the Executive Office is to fuel this firestorm of hate by utilizing the time-tested tactics employed by authoritarian and fascist politicians since 1930s, which is to:
- Frighten the electorate.
- Polarize the electorate.
- Demonize one’s political adversaries.
- Denigrate the electoral process and democratic institutions.
- Promote governmental paralysis.
- Vilify subject-matter specialists so as to facilitate the creation of false narratives.
If the GOP can create this frightening sociopolitical environment then it opens the political door to the politician who proclaims: “I am the only one who can fix this mess.”
Authoritarian and fascist politicians who have used this fear-mongering strategy and said “I am the one…” include: Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1930s), Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1930s), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Xi Jinping (China), Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela), Recep Erdogan (Turkey), Kim Jong-un (North Korea), Viktor Orban (Hungary), Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines), Donald Trump (2016).
We see an attempt to frighten the American public in the GOP’s fear-mongering campaign slogans:
Democrats discarded your vote:
- Stop the Steal
Democrats encourage immigrants to take your job:
- Build the Wall
- Secure the Border
- America First
- Great replacement theory
Democrats encourage violence:
- Blue Lives Matter
- Law and Order
- Protect the Second Amendment
Democrats will force you to change your culture:
- Defend Western Civilization
- Critical Race Theory is Racism
- Stand for the Flag, Kneel for the Cross
Democrats will force you to live near “them:”
- Biological sex, not gender identity
- No Men in Women’s Bathrooms
- Traditional marriage only
- Family values
- Stop the Woke
- Stop Gay Grooming
The Federal Government is incompetent/wasteful/evil:
- Drain the Swamp
- Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem
On the political policy front, the Republican Party leaders have adopted policy positions which have (and will) adversely impact the health and welfare of the vast majority of their constituents including:
- A refusal to consider an assault weapon ban.
- A refusal to consider bipartisan immigration reform.
- A refusal to mitigate impending climate disaster.
- Repeated efforts to eliminate healthcare coverage.
- Repeated efforts to thwart public health initiatives.
This is being done in response to support of the GOP’s most extreme political supporters and because the Republican Party’s path to power is predicated on political paralysis, societal mayhem and worse.
For this strategy to succeed, the Republican leadership needs to make it appear to the general public that they are reasonable and want political compromise. But to reduce the risk of political compromise actually happening, they have and will refuse to provide a detailed blueprint of their policy solutions, as that would show the Democrats where the “compromise solution” might be found. And should the Democrats abandon all of their principles and agree to everything the Republicans want, the Republicans will quickly move the political goal posts further to the right so as to thwart the enactment of any public policy that might temper public anxiety and unrest – the Republicans need chaos, not solutions.
We have seen this scenario play-out innumerable times. For example, in 2007 and again in 2013, comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform bills were introduced in the Senate, only to be shot down by the GOP because the GOP needs the appearance of immigration chaos as a rallying cry.
If Republicans are true to form, it is highly unlikely that a majority of the Republicans will agree to any bill which will avoid a national default, as that would enrage the GOP’s far-right constituents and it would mitigate economic chaos which is so essential to the GOP Presidential candidate (Trump has already condemned any compromise with the Democrats).
Maybe there will be a handful of House Republicans who will vote with the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, but I doubt that number will exceed 5*. The Republicans need economic chaos to win.
Political exigencies along with a lack of long-term and creative political thinking have forced the Republican “leadership” into a very small and un-American political box. There is no quick fix for them – only a long slog though the political wilderness with no guarantee of arriving at the intended destination.
America’s media needs to explain to the American public that America is socially and politically polarized because political paralysis, societal mayhem and worse are now the Republican leadership’s only path to political power. The public also needs to understand that the GOP has shifted so far to the right that most GOP Senators and House member who partake in a “political compromise” would be committing professional suicide.
23 May 2023
I was wrong about the number of House Republicans who would vote to raise the debt ceiling. On 5/31/2023, 149 Republicans voted in favor and 71 voted against raising the debt ceiling.
While many believe I am being histrionic in my accusation that Trump, DeSantis and their supporters have become “fascists,” I want to call your attention to a tweet from Bill Kristol, who is the “godfather of conservatism” and a thought leader for Republicans.