Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Delusional World of Breitbart and the GOP


As a former Republican - for new readers I was a city committee member for the GOP in Virginia Beach for eight years - it seems that each passing day has me more horrified at what the Republican Party has become.  It was bad enough when the Party gave up all pretense that its agenda was anything less than to steal from the poor and give to the rich so as to restore America to the worse elements of the Gilded Age.  Then there was the pulling back of the curtain to reveal an embrace of racial and religious based hatred not seen in decades.  Now, the latest degradation of the GOP is that it has become the party of treason, a party where colluding with a hostile foreign government and giving away America's role in the world is not only fine, but to be embraced. Leading the way in the transformation of the GOP has been right wing news - Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, lead the way with assists from Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart - and the Christofascists and white supremacy who have slithered out from under the rocks they have hidden beneath.  A New York Times editorial summarizes this hideous and delusional world that now is the Republican Party.  Here are highlights:
The revelation that Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer promising information that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton was a true bombshell in an era when we have become almost inured to them. Here was proof that members of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign had, at the very least, been eager to collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
No one could gainsay the facts: Mr. Trump’s own son published them on Twitter.
As recently as five or 10 years ago, every major news outlet would have treated this set of facts as front-page news and a dire threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency. The conservative press and Republican voters might disagree on certain particulars or points of emphasis. But their view of reality — of what happened and its significance — would have largely comported with that of the mainstream. You’d have had to travel to the political fringe of right-wing talk radio, the Drudge Report and dissident publications like Breitbart News to find an alternative viewpoint that rejected this basic story line.
Not anymore. Look to the right now and you’re apt to find an alternative reality in which the same set of facts is rearranged to compose an entirely different narrative.
On Fox News, host Lou Dobbs . . . . described the Donald Trump Jr. email story, with wild-eyed fervor, like this: “This is about a full-on assault by the left, the Democratic Party, to absolutely carry out a coup d’├ętat against President Trump aided by the left-wing media.” [O]ver the last several years the conservative underworld has swallowed up and subsumed more established right-leaning outlets such as Fox News. The Breitbart mind-set — pugnacious, besieged, paranoid and determined to impose its own framework on current events regardless of facts — has moved from the right-wing fringe to the center of Republican politics. There have been mileposts along the way: the populist revolt on the right that killed bipartisan immigration reform in 2013, the toppling of House Speaker John Boehner in 2015. And, of course, the rise of Mr. Trump, whose attacks on the mainstream media have conditioned his supporters to dismiss as “fake news” any reporting that is critical of him or his administration — Mr. Trump has even criticized the coverage of his son’s Russia liaison, where the basic facts aren’t in dispute, as coming from the “fake media.”
The full scale of this transformation still hasn’t registered, but it’s evident in President Trump’s approval ratings. Despite six months of White House strife, precious few legislative achievements and a metastasizing Russia scandal, Republicans have largely stood by their president. While his national support has dipped below 40 percent, his approval rating within his own party remains strong: Republican support for the president has hovered around 85 percent since his inauguration.
[T]he transformation of the Republican mind-set encompasses more than just news or politics. Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Breitbart News, liked to say that “politics is downstream from culture.”  Culture has always been a driving obsession of the conservative underworld of Breitbart and its ilk.
One reason that an alternative view of reality has taken such deep root among Republicans is that they seem to be focusing more on the broader culture. Last week a new Pew Research Center poll showed that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now believes that colleges and universities — the flash point of our current culture wars — have a negative effect on the country. At least so far, the news that Donald Trump Jr. was prepared to accept Russian help to subvert a United States election doesn’t appear to have changed this state of affairs. If you’re not a Republican, watching Republicans react to the news can feel a bit like witnessing a mass hallucination. There’s no guarantee that this will endure. Even on Fox News, there are scattered signs that the latest Russia developments may finally be breaking through — at least to a few folks. . . . . But of course the conservative ranks have always included principled NeverTrumpers, whose resistance to the Republican drift has been mostly ignored by the rank and file. Don Jr.’s travails will be a good test of the resiliency of the new Republican worldview. If special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence of Russian collusion, it will be followed by a bigger test measuring just what it takes to snap out of a mass hallucination.

I truly do not understand what is wrong with today's Republicans.  As I type this post, I am surrounded by photos of my  late parents and grandparents who would be sickened by what we are witnessing and a political party that they supported for many decades. 

One comment on the Times editorial sums up what decent, moral people should be doing vis-a-vis the GOP, although I would extend the boycott to any Republican at any level:
I am a former Republican who cares about Russia --- a lot. Since 1972, I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate.   Those days are finished. The GOP has become the party of corruption, cruelty and bigotry. Its members are stuck in time, and have not evolved socially since 1960.   That is why I will never again vote for a Republican for national office. The GOP is no longer worthy of consideration by this loyal American.
Here in Hampton Roads, Virginia, with its huge military personnel presence, how can members of the military vote for traitors?  I simply cannot comprehend it.  What is wrong with these people?

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