It’s been said many times that the nation is heavily “divided,” and that we live in a time when the nation is highly “polarized”over political issues. We are told this all the time, but if we are to be honest with ourselves the nation is not simply divided by an honest difference of opinion: The truth is that the GOP has lost their damn minds.
The situation is simple: The Republican Party, both its politicians and its voters, has collectively decided that it’s fine for Donald Trump to use his office to run an illegal extortion scheme against a foreign leader in an effort to cheat in the 2020 election. The moral rot of the Republican Party, and its cultist loyalty to a criminal president is the sole reason for this situation. Democrats are — rather too reluctantly! — trying to do something to stop the bleeding.
But to read mainstream news coverage, one would think the real problem is that both sides are irascible and bitterly divided, and that there’s some reasonable solution that involves everyone joining hands and finding some way to compromise.
The simple fact is that you can’t compromise with crazy.
Most press stories play the “both sides” angle. They tell one side of the issue and then pretend that there is a valid argument to be made on the other side, when there simply isn’t. When GOP Rep. Francis Rooney, instead of blindly defending Trump, suggested that it would be good to “get all the facts first” it was treated as an act of heresy.
Even showing mild interest in the facts, however, led to Rooney getting drummed out of the party by Republican leadership in his district, who saw his curiosity about truth as “an act of supreme disloyalty to a leader they say they have come to revere more than any in their lifetimes.”
“I think it’s better when people think,” Rooney told Witte when asked if he thought such cultish behavior is good for the country.
Nothing of this sort, or even close to it, is going on with the Democrats. On the contrary, the 2018 midterms, in which the newly elected Democrats who helped take the House of Representatives ran the gamut from centrists to socialists, was a reminder of how ideologically diverse the coalition is. The Democratic presidential primary, too, makes that candidates from the center, the left and everywhere in between are getting support in the polls.
We’ve similarly seen Rep. Justin Amash ceremoniously drummed out of the GOP once he openly admitted that he had actually read the Mueller report and found it highly troubling, and also with Rep. Will Hurd when he expressed doubts and concerns about Trump’s actions and behavior.
Rather than thinking critically and individually, a mindless lockstep obedience to dear leader is expected of the rank-and-file GOPer, where they are required to defend each and every action of Trump’s, no matter how inappropriate or criminal.
The prime example of this lapdog behavior is Sen. Lindsay Graham, who has stated that he has “no problem” with Trump’s sketchy phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that he hasn’t read any of the released deposition transcripts because, he says, “it’s all a bunch of B.S.”
Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t plan on reading the deposition transcripts of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
According to CBS News, Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill that he’s “written the whole process off” and that he thinks “this is a bunch of B.S.”
Graham also claims that Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland’s sudden about-face on quid pro quo indicates that this man, who donated $1 million to Donald Trump inauguration, is now “in cahoots” with the Democrats, even though that makes literally no damn sense.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he wasn’t interested in reading Sondland’s written submission, but as TPM noted, the senator was willing to go on Fox News last night to raise the prospect of a new conspiracy theory.
When Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked the notorious Trump defender about Schiff saying that the release of testimony transcripts prove that the “most important facts are largely not contested,” Graham said “that statement is full of crap” before stoking a conspiracy accusing Sondland of switching up his testimony because of a “connection” with Democratic operatives.
“Why did [Sondland] change his testimony?” Graham said. “Was there a connection between [Sondland] and Democratic operatives on the committee? Did he talk to Schiff? Did he talk to Schiff’s staffers?”
For some reason, Graham kept referring to Gordon Sondland as “Sunderland,” suggesting the Judiciary Committee chairman hasn’t yet gotten around to learning the relevant players’ names.
Graham went on to suggest he still believes there was “no quid pro quo” – despite all of the painfully obvious evidence to the contrary.
Then there is the fact that most congressional Republicans fully approve of Trump’s domestic policy on spending and taxes. They support his policies on the environment and regulation, are fully willing to ride the post-Obama jobs wave with him, and don’t much care about how he handles foreign policy.
Most Republican lawmakers were sent to Washington to fight for spending cuts, lower taxes and conservative judges. Why would any of them stand against a president who has delivered on each count? Trump has taken an ax to domestic spending programs for the poor — his Agriculture Department just proposed new cuts to food stamps; he signed a tax cut that funnels trillions to the highest earners; and he stacked the federal judiciary with right-wing ideologues. It’s hard to imagine a better outcome for a conservative politician
When Trump occasionally deviates from conservative orthodoxy — or otherwise bucks the party’s consensus — Republican lawmakers try to push him back in line. Earlier this year, Senate Republicans didn’t hesitate to challenge the administration on its plan to impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods imported from Mexico. “I will yield to nobody in passion and seriousness and commitment for securing the border,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said to reporters at the time. “But there’s no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes.”
Likewise, Senate Republicans took a collective stand against Trump after the White House announced his plan this week to withdraw American forces from northern Syria, clearing the path for Turkish military operations against Kurds in the region. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, warned Trump against a “precipitous withdrawal”; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the move “a big win for Iran and Assad, a big win for ISIS”; Ben Sasse of Nebraska said the president “needs to know that this bad decision will likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children.”
Even when they do speak up in opposition to Trump’s policies (as they have with Syria), that opposition only goes so far. They do not oppose it so strongly that they would seek to pass legislation to protect our allies, the Kurds, from being abandoned by Trump. They have spoken up, but when it comes to actually doing anything about it the complaints soon grow mute.
This lack of reaction strikes me as highly familiar. Republican supporters of Trump have shown a definite incurious streak where they are literally averse to knowing the details of his malfeasance. It’s not just that they have an alternative opinion about the facts of the case: It’s that they refuse to know the facts of the case. They eagerly drink up the propagandistic pablum that is spewed by Fox News and repeat their easily chanted slogans like a pack of well-trained Pavlovian dogs. “Lock Her Up.” “Build the Wall.” “Read the Transcript.” This has congressional Republicans trapped as they fear being primaried if they stray too far afield, but the dogmatic nature of the rank-and-file has easily reached cult-like devotion.
There’s also this to factor in: For many Republican members of Congress, the president is more popular among Republican voters in their districts and states than they are. Even in the districts of moderate Republicans, Trumpist true-believers are the most vocal supporters of the party, the ones who do the essential grass-roots work. So to go crosswise of a sitting president of one’s own party invites political trouble, which most politicians seek to avoid. That is especially true when it comes to Mr. Trump, who specializes in savaging Republicans — and everyone else, for that matter — who dare to criticize him.
“They don’t want to get bludgeoned,” a person who served in Congress told me. “Their mind is looking for a rationale for not having to do it.” In addition, this person added, Mr. Trump has “conditioned people in the base so much so that it’s just ‘us versus them’ and that if you give an inch on him, you’re just giving the other side what they want. You’ve made yourself a ‘useful idiot.’”
“It’s easier to stay with the tribe,” this individual told me. “It’s easier to stay with the team.” Even when the leader of the team is thoroughly corrupt.
Trump has expertly capitalized on the combined sense of entitlement and grievance of the GOP base. They sense that they are being dictated to on morality and being “woke” by the coasts, that they are being left behind economically, abandoned and forgotten. Trump speaks to that grievance, and constantly expresses that same “us vs. them” mentality on a near-endless basis.
They see the left as a massive attack and assault on their values and their livelihood, taking away their jobs with onerous regulations and the Green New Deal and taking away their incentive to succeed by raising taxes on the rich. The battle is zero sum and no holds barred. They see the left as monolithic, as ever oppressive, always demanding more and always cutting corners with their inherent corruption.
They look at situations like the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and presume that Christine Blasey Ford was simply a liar who was deployed as a plant by Democrats. She showed up at the last minute in the hearings, a clear surprise intended to throw Kavanaugh off base. And they saw Kavanaugh’s angry, petulant reaction to the accusations as justified.
Trump supporters are mad.
They have been screaming at the GOP to FIGHT against the demonic Democrats this entire time, during the Kavanaugh hearing. But did they listen? No.
Instead of holding the vote when they should have, ignoring the goofy #MeToo stunt, they caved, and virtue signaled to the left, trying to show them how moral and fair they were.
And while they did that – the dirty Democrats set them up – used the time to prep and trot out accuser #2, and now the GOP is left standing there, weak, and defeated….and Trump supporters are screaming even LOUDER, “FIGHT.”
They see Democrats as craven and desperate, willing to throw the entire country into an impeachment tailspin while neglecting the “real” issues of health care and prescription drug prices. It doesn’t matter that the House has passed 306 bills so far this legislative session, including healthcare and prescription drug bills.
The facts don’t matter. The truth doesn’t matter.
This is not something you can argue with them about. They are absolutely convinced that the Ukraine call was “perfect,” as Trump insists, and it doesn’t matter that everything that was stated by the whistleblower has been confirmed by other witnesses during the deposition testimony. The whistleblower complaint stated that the goal of the Zelensky call was to:
- initiate or continue an investigation2 into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden;
- assist in purportedly uncovering that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine, with a specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm Crowdstrike,3 which initially reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC’s networks in 2016; and
- meet or speak with two people the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General Barr, to whom the President referred multiple times in tandem.
The whistleblower never mentioned any “quid pro quo.” And yet despite federal law protecting the identity of whistleblowers, right-wing media outlets have published the name of a CIA analyst they suspect of being the person who filed the report, and Don Jr. has tweeted it out publicly.
Democrats and some Republicans have called for the whistleblower to remain anonymous, noting that the law protects whistleblowers and arguing that outing the whistleblower would endanger him.
Yet, some of Trump’s closest allies have called for the whistleblower to be exposed. And Breitbart on Wednesday published a piece noting that RealClearPolitics reported on the alleged identity individual, citing anonymous officials, and linked this official to Obama adminstration officials. Trump Jr. then tweeted out Breitbart’s story.
The whistleblower’s lawyers, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, responded Wednesday with a statement asserting that they “will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the President.”
That’s on top of Don Jr.’s claim that “If his name was Hunter Biden, he’d be rich.” Of course, he must have completely forgotten that he’s rich too when he went on his trip to Indonesia to make a Trump-branded business deal with foreign officials in attendance.
On August 13th, Don Jr. attended a pre-launch event to kick off the development of two Trump-brand properties in Lido and Bali, Indonesia. While Donald Trump Jr. denied claims that his trip to Indonesia this week posed any conflicts of interest between his business and the Trump Administration, social media posts from the event show two Indonesian government officials and several other people with close ties to the Indonesian government seized the opportunity to attend an event with the son of the United States president.
Those officials in attendance were the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti and Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan. Among the other high-profile guests was the projects’ developer Hary Tanoesoedibjo’s daughter, Angela Tanoesoedibjo, who has reportedly been considered for a position with President Joko Widodo’s cabinet. Also in attendance were former Ambassador to the United States Dino Patti Djalal, Golkar Party Chairman Aburizal Bakrie, and Dede Yusuf, who served as Vice Governor of West Java, home to the future Lido resort.
But again, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about us vs. them: Owning the libs. Punching the hippies. Facts are fungible.
However, there is a bright side. Just as we’ve seen with Republicans like Joe Walsh, Justin Amash, Jeff Flake, and others, there are those who have principles, who do care about facts, and who are living in the same real world as the rest of us. Many of these people no longer call themselves “Republicans” and are now considered Independents.
Trump has literally driven them completely out of the party. As things stand right now, only one-quarter of the country identifies as being “Republican.”
The general understanding of the American electorate is that it’s about a 50-50 split, half Democrat and half Republican. There are third parties, of course, but we assume that about half the country belongs to one of the two parties.
That’s not the case. More Americans now identify as independents than as members of either political party, according to June data from Gallup. In fact, only about a quarter of the country identifies as Republican, and about 3 in 10 identify as Democrats.
The trend is pretty clear: Membership in each party has declined over the past few years. The most recent figures in each poll are lower than the average since 2012, which itself is lower than the average since 2006. The figures are volatile, but the trend doesn’t favor the parties.
A larger and larger portion of the electorate, particularly led by millennials, now considers itself as Independent, with some recent Gallup figures showing that group as large as 43%.
Someone who doesn’t have a pat, canned answer to every potential question is someone who is more likely to listen and hear you when you speak. Someone who isn’t already convinced that the Fake News/Deep State has an agenda to twist and fool them just might potentially be able and willing to hear the truth, and to pay attention to the facts.
Perhaps, with an open-minded group from diverse backgrounds, we can come together to analyze and address the issues with clear eyes. Perhaps we can come together and once more make America as great as it has the potential to be.
Perhaps we can vote out the GOP and start making sense again.