Barbarians at the Gate
I join other pundits in making the observation that, although the Trump phenomenon is astonishing in its offensiveness, we shouldn’t be all that surprised. Another thing that shouldn’t surprise us much is the breathtaking hypocrisy of the GOP stalwarts trying somehow to square the circle by simultaneously denouncing their nominee, The Tiny Tangerine Titan, and endorsing him. Trump’s offensiveness is merely the bombast with which he delivers the talking points that have been the Republican worldview since Reagan first blew his dogwhistle about “welfare queens”; racism and contempt for anyone who can be seen as “other” have always been at the core of the Republican message and philosophy and Trump is only saying it out loud rather than with a wink and a nod.
That’s why it really set one’s teeth on edge when the Republican House Speaker, who has (as was inevitable) recently endorsed Trump, said that one of Trump’s recent racist outrages “came out of left field”. A big surprise? The Republicans have never been in line for beatification as a result of their rigid adherence to principles of truth and honesty; but that whopper is almost in a league by itself. The GOP, the party of white working class male privilege; the party of Archie Bunker; the party whose nominee started his campaign with a promise to build a wall on the Mexican border; the party whose operatives overtly acknowledge ethnic and minority voter suppression as a means of increasing their share of the vote; that party’s elected Speaker was surprised by one more racist remark by the most overtly racist candidate since George Wallace? Seriously?
All this hypocrisy ought to be telling us something and the rest of the country and the world should be taking it in. They will eventually, of course, but the question is whether the obvious will sink in before November. The party of Lincoln, the Republican Party, is utterly morally bankrupt; it is bereft of any claim to ethics, integrity, or honesty; it is now a dumping ground for nutjobs, bigots, racists, conspiracy theorists, and misanthropic sociopaths; it is all but done as a genuine political party.
The hypocrisy of the Republican stance with respect to their nominee is so transparent that the party’s leaders have given up even pretending that they have, or ever have had, the country’s best interests in mind. Congressman Chris Stewart, who once called Trump “our Mussolini” has now endorsed him. Party stalwart Rand Paul, who is on record as having said that Donald Trump was less qualified than “a speck of dirt” to be president, has endorsed him. And let’s not forget Bobby Jindal, ex Republican governor of Louisiana and vice chair of the Republican Governor’s Association; he said that Trump is a “madman who must be stopped”; he endorsed him too. I guess one way to stop a madman is to vote for him and to encourage others to do the same. And then there is “Little Marco”, taunted and ridiculed by Trump; he also wants you to know that you should do as he is doing, and vote for Trump. And of course there is Paul Ryan himself; outraged and shocked at the nominee’s racism and overt bigotry – he wants you to vote with him for Trump.
Apparently Trump was almost right. If he were to do as he believes he could, and shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue, I suspect he actually would lose some votes. I don’t think he would lose any party endorsements, though. The depth of the hypocrisy demonstrated by the shambolic remnants of the GOP is such that a complaint would only be heard if the shooting victim was a white male Republican. And that would only be because of the lost vote. The Republicans have put the country on notice that their degenerate party is of more significance than any other consideration, up to and including the country; the country they swore in their oaths of office to put ahead of everything else.
That on their list of priorities, the country comes after their systemic racism and their political party, was made manifest during the Obama presidency when the GOP swore to undermine the president at every turn. Their stated mission at first was deny him a second term; in his second term it was to deny him any accomplishment or victory. These patriots went so far as to hold the country at ransom, threatening to shut down the government and refusing (contrary to the Constitution) to pay bills which they themselves had incurred in Congress. That Congress was far and away the least productive Congress in the history of the US, having done virtually nothing whatsoever except to pass a few porkbarrel bills for their own constituents and steadfastly refusing to do anything worthwhile. Nevertheless, Obama prevailed and turned the economy around, brought in a rudimentary form of national health care, tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden, and opened the doors to greater equality under the law for all Americans. One cannot help but wonder how much could have been accomplished had the Republican Congress not filibustered, refused to hear, or simply ignored every bill, nomination, and initiative proposed by the president or any Democrat. The Obama years might well have been a halcyon period of US history.
The Republicans could not have been more clear in telegraphing their contempt for their oaths of office, their president, and, saddest of all, their country and their fellow citizens. But that message has been sent. It has been doubled and tripled down. The Republicans would rather see their country collapse into anarchy under the steady hand of a madman who previously needed to be stopped than see a non-Republican in the White House again.
They don’t care about governing. They have no coherent vision or any way of achieving it if they had one. They are nothing any more but a loose rabble of misfits, outcasts, and bewildered and angry socially marginalised leftovers on the ground beside the evolutionary ladder; and it’s terrifying that there are enough of them to make a credible run at the presidency. Nevertheless, they will not prevail. Trump and his cohort of incompetent anti-intellectual sociopaths will lose in November to a majority of the country that still has some vestige of intelligence and critical thinking skills. There are still enough people of conscience and sense in the US to reject a breathtakingly ignorant, narcissistic, racist fascist.
But what’s scary is this: that demographic is shifting. I think there’s a chance for civilisation to overcome the barbarians at the gate this time; I’m not so sure about 2020. And 2024 is even less certain.