The news that the Republican National Committee no longer intends to write a policy platform, as in at all, is not surprising. The party had still been using the 2016 party platform before the decision was made to just nix the idea of having policy stances altogether. That led to the unfortunate spectacle of the Republican Party’s own platform bashing the lawlessness of the “current administration” in extremely frothy terms.
It was either patch up that mess or stop having an issues-based “platform” altogether, and patching up that mess would have required a Republican convention committee to determine just what the party actually stood for in the year 2020, and there was not a chance in hell that was going to happen.
It is literally impossible for the party to write down, on paper, a list of policy stances it intends to take when each and every stance might be summarily erased by the buffoonish Donald Trump declaring on camera that actually he strongly believes the opposite thing—upon which declaration Republican lawmakers will immediately fall in line to declare that they, too, support the new thing and not the old thing. It would be a recipe for future humiliation, nothing more.
It only stands to reason, then, that the party would choose to abandon policy stances to instead declare that they are now officially for Whatever Donald Trump Says On Any Given Day.
The official Republican reason for abandoning the party platform is that the pandemic, which Donald Trump is handling just fine thank you very much, has made such a clusterfuck out of the nation that they could not manage to gather more than a “small contingent of delegates” to debate the platform. Now, one might think that with maaaany months of preparation available beforehand, from the moment it became clear that the Republican convention might not be able to go on as originally planned, that there would be a means by which delegates could meet and discuss a new proposed platform using some of this newfangled technology we keep hearing about these days, but no. That would require some bare minimum level of national competence, and anyone who has shown even a stitch of competence during the Trump era has been driven out of the party with great vigor.
If Trump couldn’t handle any pandemic preparation beyond “have Jared Kushner do it, then give up after Kushner screws it up,” was there even the slightest chance the Republican Party as a whole could manage a pandemic Zoom meeting?
Curiously, though, the newest statement of apathetic party fascism (which is peppered throughout with complaints about the media being mean and dishonest, because of course it is) claims that while a “small contingent” of pandemic-braving delegates cannot properly convey the “breadth of perspectives” within the Republican Party, it has zero qualms about having a small contingent of delegates declare what the party is for.
“WHEREAS, The RNC enthusiastically supports President Trump,” declares the party, “RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.” And that’s it. That’s the only policy stance. By God we’re not sure about the policy details, but “had the Platform Committee been able to convene in 2020, would have undoubtedly unanimously agreed to reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration”—now that is a statement Dear Leader’s least significant toadies can make without having to bother with debating it.
I mean, that pretty much cuts to the chase, doesn’t it? Policy stances hard. Praising Dear Leader easy. From now on, it is resolved that whatever the rapist, international extortionist, and tax cheat determines to be his next and newest policy decision, we unanimously agree that we think that too. And if it involves a pool boy, we’re going to support that too.
This feels like it should be … funnier, right? Republicanism making an official declaration that they’re going to give up on policies due to the inconvenience and just blanket-endorse whatever Dear Leader both has done and might do is indistinguishable from the cruelest political satire. It’s a political cartoon come to life—and somehow the rest of us, in what once was the real world, are looking through the panel out into a new reality made up of caricatures and scribbles.
Republicanism has had a great many heroes, and tends to worship anyone who can string three words together in service of thinly veiled greed or racism (see: Reagan, both counts), but the idea of the party going all-in for the Trump Steaks guy, as advised by the My Pillow guy, as also advised by everyone who never saw the last major recession coming, and only getting more vigorous in their praise as a literal pandemic tears through the nation as direct result of Dear Leader’s bungling—I mean, come on.
The fealty isn’t funny, though, because it is a genuine threat. The fealty has included the United States Senate blocking investigations into some criminal acts and abetting others. It includes the Department of Justice doing the same, and making no particular effort to hide that it is doing so. It includes having trade wars on a whim, insulting allies for a momentary thrill, and systemically undermining the free press day in and day out in an effort to damage the ability of the public to even differentiate between fact and convenient fiction. The fealty has, now, a running death count.
To be sure, they are all incompetent. To be sure, they have purged the party of anyone who does not consider lead paint a condiment. The extent to which the convention is a haphazard wreck is already evident from Trump’s first-day takeover and ramblefest, premised on no greater strategy than he felt like it. But the internal destruction of the party of greed and racism isn’t even something that its enemies can celebrate, because they managed to glide effortlessly into the only agenda that would be worse.