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ASPartOfMe
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05 May 2021, 9:39 pm

The Republican Self-Harm Complex by Noah Rothman for Commentary

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On paper, it makes little sense for any political operation to tether itself to a twice impeached, one-term president who maintained the worst average job-approval ratings in modern history. It makes even less sense when you consider that president’s signature domestic political accomplishment: presiding over the loss of that operation’s control of both chambers of Congress in record time. If that political outfit’s prime directive is to win elected offices so it can see to its voters’ interests in power, it would avoid shackling itself to so much political dead weight.

Insofar as this describes the present state in which the Republican Party finds itself, we must conclude that the party’s objectives aren’t purely political anymore. Not, at least, by any classic definition of what constitutes politics.

If the GOP were singularly devoted to retaking both chambers of Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024, its issue set is glaringly obvious. It’s the persistence of school closures, remote learning protocols, half-days, and “zoom in a room” proctoring in defiance of everything we know to be reasonable protocols. It’s the unjustifiably massive spending programs and giveaways to Democratic constituent groups under the guise of COVID relief. It’s the rising cost of consumer goods, the threat of inflation, and the administration’s own admission that borrowing costs will go up as a result. And, most important, it’s a forward-looking optimism about this country, which is not racist, not economically moribund, and is emerging from, not languishing in, the depths of a pandemic.

But all that conventional politics—bread-and-butter pocketbook issues and unconditional patriotism—isn’t what gets the Republican activist class out of bed in the morning. What energizes them is the notion that they are beset on all sides by a hostile culture. Of that impulse, Donald Trump was the perfect avatar, and it helps explain why the GOP just can’t quit him. So, when one of their members reminds them of their addiction, it represents an intolerable threat to their own self-conception.

That has contributed to the backlash against Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney. Her sin, we’re told, is that she isn’t “carrying out the message.” Cheney is supposedly backward-looking, obsessed with the Trump years, and stubbornly incapable of just moving on. In truth, her offense is that she is one of the few in her conference who is focused on the future.

Historical revisionists aren’t interested in moving on; their very identities are bound up in the re-litigation of a particular moment in time. So, when Republicans insist without evidence that Trump has every reason to believe that the 2020 election was marred by malfeasance and when state-level parties audit the vote again in pursuit of a predetermined conclusion (yes, still), they’re the ones living in the past. But that is precisely what the Republican base wants.

Given the GOP’s unenthusiastic response to the most hedonistic spending spree in American political history, we can only conclude that the party’s voters aren’t interested in governance at the moment. What they care about is culture. Thus, we get the party’s most visible members dedicating themselves to advancing Democratic policy prescriptions because they just might stick it to the people they don’t like. Thus, we are privy to unending assaults on the purveyors of entertainment products who kowtow to woke sensibilities—an admittedly frustrating condition about which the political class can do precisely nothing but inveigh. And thus, we get the assault on Liz Cheney’s position, in part, because Republican voters still really like Donald Trump.

So, in a sense, Cheney is off message, if only insofar as she has a message. That message has generally had two elements: First, that the GOP should adopt a single-minded focus on criticizing the party in power’s initiatives and, second, that the Republican Party should not touch that hot stove again. The party’s voters have no tolerance for that kind of implicit rebuke.

They much prefer the idea that there was no rebuke—not by voters, not by history, and certainly not by Republicans of good conscience. It’s not as though they do not know in their hearts that the GOP’s affiliation with Trump quickly reached the point of diminishing returns. Most do.

Gasp! What ugly condescension! That’s just the kind of haughty arrogance the party’s pro-Trump wing despises. They’re determined to show that they’re not listening to anyone who reminds them of the negative consequences of their actions. So, they’re gonna test their luck with that stove, even if it means getting burned again.


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Tim_Tex
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05 May 2021, 11:07 pm

Nobody is going to vote for a party that consistently tells people “no”, whether it be no to full abortion rights, to LGBT rights, to full voting rights, to fighting climate change.

Voter suppression and gerrymandering are the only way they can win, even in their “safe” states.


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Kraichgauer
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06 May 2021, 12:45 am

One gets the impression Republicans must enjoy their self inflicted pain.


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auntblabby
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06 May 2021, 1:22 am

just bloody-mindedness, or the sincere ignorance/conscientious stupidity that MLK warned us about.



naturalplastic
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06 May 2021, 3:14 am

If I were a GOP politician what would I do?

In 016 the GOP elite all hated Trump, but went along with Trump because the grassroots GOP voters all flocked to him in a massive groundswell.

The GOP elite still sticks by Trump for that reason even though the grassroots love some of Biden's policies.

If I were a GOP congressman myself I would probably try to have my cake and eat it to.

I wouldnt be able to support Jesus himself if Jesus had lied about loosing the election, and had encouraged an insurrection against American democracy.

So...I would probably announce that "the old man obviously lost his marbles around election day. So he is like your beloved parent who gets alzheimers. I know. Its sad. But we all have to put him away in the old folks home now, and no longer follow Trump the man. But...by golly I am still loyal to Trump the legend, and...we can still adhere to Trump's ideology (whatever the heck that may be)!

Any politician with even mediocre skills could do the right song-and-dance to both embrace and divorce Trump at the same time I would think. And getting Trump behind them is what the GOP needs to do. But therein lies the rub. Without Trump the GOP is dead in the water with no impetus...I suppose.



cyberdad
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06 May 2021, 3:34 am

What I do know is they are selfish and self-centred and love authority regardless of how corrupt.



auntblabby
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06 May 2021, 3:40 am

they are mammon worshippers who hate and fear those who don't worship mammon.



Mr Reynholm
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06 May 2021, 9:47 am

American politics is like going to see the Harlem Globetrotters.
Its not a real basketball game, its theater.
The Republicans are the Washington Generals and the Democrats are the Globetrotters. The players for the two teams are probably interchangeable, it makes no real difference. There is lots of trash talk, and foot work but in the end the Globetrotters win. That is what the the fans want and that is what the owners want. Its all Theater.



funeralxempire
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06 May 2021, 9:58 am

No, they just invited the crazies to take over the party a decade ago and they've been dealing with the decline into irrelevancy.

Oh well, I'm sure this guy will do well in a general election:

Image


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roronoa79
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06 May 2021, 3:08 pm

They've prioritized triggering the libs over effective governance. They can't win the culture wars, so they're hoping to legislate their way to cultural victory. This plan only seems feasible because they delude themselves into thinking they are still the Silent Majority.
I would wager they are right that most moderates are not keen on every left-of-center social or cultural stance, but most moderates seem to recognize that the GOP's positions are still worse. Most moderates do not seem to share their belief that the major problems facing american society are queers, abortion, and anti-racism.
They've doubled down on social issues bc that's what their base wants. Providing clear solutions to their base's economic woes is hard. Getting them whipped into a frenzy about the gays and anti-confederates is easy.


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King Kat 1
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08 May 2021, 1:36 pm

For some reason I thought of this. Yeah, The GOP are narcissist's to the core in terms of there leadership. Not to mention, how they just spout idiocy. They deny Climate change, refuse to take COVID 19 seriously, and advocate for economic policy's that fail time and again.


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Tim_Tex
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08 May 2021, 4:52 pm

roronoa79 wrote:
Most moderates do not seem to share their belief that the major problems facing american society are queers, abortion, and anti-racism.


Or in our governor’s case, dick pics.


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naturalplastic
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09 May 2021, 4:49 am

Tim_Tex wrote:
roronoa79 wrote:
Most moderates do not seem to share their belief that the major problems facing american society are queers, abortion, and anti-racism.


Or in our governor’s case, dick pics.


What are you talking about?

Is your governor...on a crusade against online dick pics?

Or...
is he like Anthony Wiener, and is one of the pols who was caught making dick pics? :lol:



funeralxempire
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09 May 2021, 2:26 pm

I believe the GOP are helping America every time they strive to drive moderates and anyone who still believes in objective reality from their party as RINOs. They need to ensure people understand what they're actually after. 8)


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King Kat 1
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09 May 2021, 2:32 pm

I could be wrong but It seems The GOP is digging themselves a bigger hole as of late, any suggestion of moderation will get you pitch forks and hellfire in that party. I feel in the mid terms, this sense of purity could cost them and if it does, I will laugh my ass off.


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naturalplastic
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09 May 2021, 2:43 pm

If you caught "Meet the Press" this morning you would have seen Ms. Cheney saying that "The GOP can no longer live with Trump", and you would have seen a dozen other GOP Congressfolks including Mitch McConnel say "the GOP cant live without Trump".

The sad thing is that both statements are probably true!