Thursday, November 23, 2017

Is Trump Leading Republicans to Slaughter?

It is Thanksgiving Day - a day for family and friends and hopefully a little bit of love for one's fellow citizens.  Yet even as families gather, Congressional Republicans are taking only a brief respite from the effort to harm countless middle and working class families and the elderly through a tax plan that benefits the very wealthy and large corporations. Most Americans oppose the plan and groups like AARP - which represents the most dependable voters - are condemning the savaging of Medicare and other social programs.   Der Trumpenführer - who estimates show might enjoy a billion dollar benefit - is of course supporting the effort and is supporting alleged child molester Roy Moore because Moore's vote is "needed for the tax bill."  A lengthy piece in Newsweek raises the question of whether Trump is leading the GOP to a slaughter.  I for one, hope that such is the case.  When I left the GOP as the Christofascists (and the white supremacy they brought with them) were ascendant I concluded that only the ruin of the party could excise the cancer.  Here are article highlights:
The prophet led the faithful into the jungle, where he promised they would find salvation. . . . That place was called Jonestown, a village hacked out of the jungle of Guyana. The Reverend Jim Jones did not manage to turn the settlement into the earthly paradise he’d promised his parishioners. In 1978, after a shootout that left visiting U.S. Representative Leo Ryan and four other members of a visiting delegation dead, Jones ordered his followers to perpetuate one of the most grotesque acts of mass murder in American history. “How very much I've tried my best to give you a good life,” he opened his final sermon, laden with dark grievance, as 900 people prepared for their deaths. “But in spite of all of my trying, a handful of our people, with their lies, have made our lives impossible.”
 Time now for the necessary and obvious caveats. Jonestown was a horrific act of homicide. No matter how much you dislike Trump, he is not Jim Jones. His impolitic tweets at North Korean despot Kim Jong Un notwithstanding, he does not harbor a death wish, either for himself or for the country. He probably has more compassion than his critics are willing to concede. And yet his influence on the party he now leads may well prove the political equivalent of Jonestown. Having assumed control of the GOP, Trump may now destroy it: its national infrastructure, its fundraising capacity and, most of all, its support from the American public. A Gallup tracking poll in early October found that only 24 percent of respondents identified as Republicans. That’s the lowest level of affiliation for the party in two years, a lack of popularity that is especially remarkable because Republicans control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. But whatever the case, the GOP appears to have made a fatal mistake in allowing itself to be seduced by his populism. All the glories of Trumpism will belong to Trump, while all the failures will be passed off to a hapless band he sometimes calls “the Republicans. “Republican leaders have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump,” says Will Marshall, founder of the centrist organization New Democracy. . . . . Attempts by others to mimic his convictions have been pathetic, transparent and unsuccessful. In Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, a creature of K Street boardrooms, ran a campaign of Southern racial grievance and anti-immigrant fearmongering. He lost by 9 points to Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam a few weeks ago. Many prominent Republicans believe their party has come to resemble the adherents of Jones, drifting ever further from reality. Trump, meanwhile, has shown no interest in reconciling the disparate factions of the GOP, hectoring leaders of his own party on Twitter as if they were obscure backbenchers . . . .
The GOP “will face obliteration in 2018,” says Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who served as chief strategist on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. When we spoke recently, Schmidt blamed the party’s fortunes on McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, a duo that he says “make Neville Chamberlain look like Churchill,” a reference to the British prime minister famous for capitulating to Adolf Hitler in the Munich Agreement of 1938.  “You were given the choice between war and dishonor,” Churchill said in response to Chamberlain’s cowardice. “You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”
Bruce Bartlett, who served as a senior adviser to Ronald Reagan, told me he wishes there were a Republican who’d utter a basic truth: “Our party is being killed by these idiots” in the Trump administration. And a few have, including Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee. They have both chosen to retire, however, aware that their anti-Trump positions would likely engender a ferocious primary battle.
Bartlett thinks fears of electoral defeat shouldn’t discourage critics. “It’s better for us to lose power for a generation than to continue this fraud.”
Many Americans dislike Trump’s vision for the nation, but they like the Republicans’ vision even less. Only 17 percent of Americans supported the Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. While the Republicans refuse to enact any tougher gun laws, Gallup finds that 60 percent of American support stricter gun laws. The vast majority of Americans rejected the Republican tax cut plan, with support as low as 25 percent in some polls. . . . It fell to Bartlett, the former Reagan adviser, to admit that correlations between tax cuts and economic growth were “a myth.” But once you’re in the jungle, the way out isn’t easy. The vacated Republican seats may entice Bannon-funded candidates who are true believers in Trumpism. That could turn the marriage of convenience between DJT and GOP into a suicide pact. Insurgent candidates such as former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, who has been accused of child molestation and sexual misconduct, could prove far more devastating than establishment incumbents who may not share Bannon’s nationalist vision but will maintain Republican majorities in Congress.
Speaking last weekend in Arizona, unaware that a microphone had been turned on, Flake admitted to a fear shared by most of his establishment peers: “If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.”
“It's increasingly hard to see how they recover from this,” says Charles Sykes, the onetime conservative radio host who has left the party and written about it in How the Right Lost Its Mind. “By pandering to the Trumpists, they have isolated themselves from the majority of voters. And this association with Roy Moore will be radioactive.”
Trump may do for conservatives what Stalin did for American radicals, forcing them to re-evaluate their convictions. The onetime eager socialists of City College in the century’s first decades became the neoconservatives who formed the backbone of the Republican Party through the George W. Bush presidency . . . . Trump may try to blame Democrats for this dour national mood, but voters aren’t likely to be fooled. “The Republican brand is shattered for the millennial generation and young people,” Schmidt told me. “It’s shattered for all time for Latinos, with African-Americans. And it’s shattered not because of Trump’s terrible behavior, but because of the absolute cowardice of the leaders of the Congress”. Richard Painter, who served as the ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, wrote on Twitter that he intends to remain part of the loyal opposition to Trump. “I am staying a Republican,” he wrote. “Will not let GOP be taken over by Russian collaborators, racists, pedophiles and outlaws. Will oppose all elected officials who do not stand up for the rule of law.”
In response to that tweet, someone replied with the image of a tombstone for the Republican Party. The cause of death, the doctored tombstone declared, was Donald Trump.

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