Today a likely cavalcade of batshitery gets under way in Cleveland at what is being called the Republican Party national convention. While the name "republican" is still attached to the party, what we will see unfold has little to do with the historic Republican Party or the party in which I was an activist for the better part of a decade years ago. The death of the GOP has not happened overnight and, in my view, began when the so-called GOP establishment welcomed the Christofascists into the party base. Over time, white supremacists were welcomed too as was the celebration of ignorance. Donald Trump is merely the result of the cancerous strains that have been allowed to metastasize. A column in the Washington Post looks at some of the GOP's history even as we will see it die before our eyes this week. Here are excerpts:
The Republican Party came to life as the bastion of “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men.” It was a reformist party dedicated to stopping the spread of slavery and to fighting a “Slave Power” its founders saw as undermining free institutions.
The new political organization grew out of the old Whigs and reflected the faith that Henry Clay and his admirer Abraham Lincoln had in the federal government’s ability to invest in fostering economic growth and expanding educational opportunity.
“The admixture of Whig and Democratic politics inside the Republican Party,”writes historian Sean Wilentz in “The Politicians & The Egalitarians,” his recently published book, “created a forthright democratic nationalism, emboldening the federal government, for a time, at once to stimulate economic development and broaden its benefits.”
Republicans who are not in the least progressive have reason to mourn what is likely to come to pass this week: the transformation of the Party of Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower into the Party of Trump. Some are bravely resisting this outcome to the end — and good luck to them. A fair number of leading Republicans have stated flatly that they will never vote for Trump. Their devotion to principle and integrity will be remembered.
But so many others in the party have found ways of rationalizing support for a man who plainly does not take governing, policy or even what he says from one day to the next seriously. It is comical but also embarrassing to watch politicians and consultants fall all over themselves to declare that Trump is “maturing” because every once in a while, he reads partisan talking points off a teleprompter. This is seen as a great advance over the normal Trump, whose free-association rants refer to his opponents as “lyin’,” “crooked,” “sad,” “weak,” “low-energy” and — in the very special case of Sen. Elizabeth Warren — “Pocahontas.”
Many Republicans oppose Trump because they see him as the one candidate most likely to lose to Hillary Clinton. But others fear something worse: a Trump victory. They know that his presidency would represent a grave danger to the republic, a repudiation of the most noble Republican aspirations, and the end of their party as a serious vehicle for governance. The GOP can survive a Trump defeat. It will never get over being permanently defined by his politics of flippant brutality.