Friday, October 09, 2015

The GOP's Self-Created Chaos

Reactions to Kevin McCarthy's surprise removal of himself from consideration to be the next Speaker of the House continue.  The biggest issues and reflections are (i) who can possibly restore order, if not sanity, to the Republican Party, and (ii) how did the GOP become so insane and out of ouch with reality.  It seems that there is some consensus - at least outside of the GOP - that the party establishment bears responsibility.  Most however, refrain from getting at the real root cause: the empowerment of the Christofascists and evangelical Christians in the Republican Party.  When I resigned from the Virginia Beach City Committee, I stated that until the party once again honored the concept of the separation of church and state, I could not be a member of the GOP.  In the intervening years, things have only gotten worse.  With the rise of white evangelicals and Christian extremists, we have seen the attendant rise and acceptance of racism and white supremacy within the GOP (the "Tea Party" is merely a label to hide the real nature of the insane party base).   What is frightening is that there seems to be no way to stop the metastasizing cancer that these people represent.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's self-destruction as a serious political party.  Here are excerpts:

At this point, I worry we’re going to start finding members of the Republican establishment curled up in their beds, eyes clenched shut and ears covered with trembling hands, moaning “make it stop, make it stop, make it stop.” 

Pity their suffering, but remember that they brought it on themselves.

The insurrection that propelled billionaire Donald Trump into the lead for the GOP nomination and ultimately made House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) surrender his gavel in frustration rages on unabated. This was no mere summer skirmish. If anything, the rebellion is gaining strength.
It is dawning on the party grandees that their most recent predictions of Trump’s demise, like earlier ones, were wrong.

And there is a reason for Trump’s success that goes beyond his skill at burnishing his personal brand: He is saying what much of the GOP base wants to hear. 

The party establishment has only itself to blame. From the moment President Obama took office, Republicans in Congress have been selling the base a bill of goods. They demonized Obamacare and cynically swore to repeal it, knowing they could not. They balked at sensible immigration reform, deciding instead to do nothing. They engaged in Pyrrhic brinkmanship over the budget and the debt ceiling, fully aware that in the end they would have to back down.

Promising to do the impossible was an effective short-term strategy for raising money and winning midterm elections. But if you keep firing up your supporters and letting them down, they become disillusioned. They begin to think the problem might not be Obama and the Democrats. It might be you.

That same dynamic is happening in the House, where Boehner’s decision to walk away has emboldened, not chastened, the ultraconservative revolutionaries in the GOP ranks.

In the Democratic Party, the conflict is ideological — left vs. center-left. In the GOP, the struggle looks existential. 

Put another way, it’s not hard to imagine a party in which there’s room for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and you can easily imagine one supporting the other as standard-bearer. But a tent that can hold, say, both Trump’s view on undocumented immigrants — hunt them down and kick them out — and Bush’s support for compassionate reform? That’s not a political party, it’s a food fight.

The Republican establishment may ultimately find some way to drag one of its presidential candidates through the primaries. But chaos, Trump has shown, is the GOP’s new normal.

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