Monday, December 14, 2020

A Party of Hatred

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have certified their votes and named slates of electors. As members of the Electoral College, those electors will meet today in their respective states to formally cast their ballots for President and Vice President -- the next step in the process of finalizing Biden's victory. Each of the state’s top election official will then send those ballots to Washington, where Congress will count them on January 6. Once that happens, Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President on January 20 at noon. Sadly, however, I believe Donald Trump will continue to cry about the 2020 presidential election being stolen from him until his dying day. Just because we elected Joe Biden as President doesn’t mean we are rid of the cancer that is Trumpism and Donald Trump.


Paul Waldman wrote an editorial recently in the Washington Post in which he asked, “If you were dropped in from another country without knowing anything about the United States and surveyed our current political moment, what would you conclude about the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement it represents? As 2020 comes to an end, what is conservatism about?” On a side note, this question reminds me of an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine titled “Little Green Men.” In the episode, a temporal anomaly sends Quark, Rom, and Nog to 1947 Earth, where they are held prisoner in Roswell, New Mexico. The episode is an interesting look at what an outsider would have seen if they found themselves on a military base in the United States at the beginning of the Cold War. If Ferengis landed in the United States today, they would probably love the idea of a Donald Trump presidency because Trump represents the worst of Ferengi society. The Ferengi civilization centered around the concept of greed and earning profit and was built on free enterprise, in which earning profit was the sole meaningful goal in life, superseding all other endeavors no matter the cost to others.


Putting my Trekkie geekiness aside, let’s get back to Waldman’s question. During the nearly four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, no misdeed has been deemed too vulgar or corrupt for conservatives to defend. Now the Trumpists are waging outright war against democracy itself. You might be tempted to answer the above question with “Nothing.” I have said this numerous times, the Republican Party barely exists today and has been replaced by the delusional ideology of Trumpism built solely upon greed and hatred. Before the rise of the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, and Donald Trump, a Republican running for any office from dogcatcher all the way up to President would respond when asked what it meant to be a conservative by saying some version of the same four ideas: small government, low taxes, a strong military, and traditional social values.


While conservatives still believe in those principles, no one today could seriously argue that they are any longer the primary goals of the Republican Party. Instead, the one thing that unites the right and drives the Republican Party is hatred, especially of liberals. For years now, Republicans, and some Democrats, have not run on what they believe but what they hate. Negative partisanship — being more motivated by your dislike of the other party than by affection for your own — has consumed American politics. Republican hatred has consumed every policy goal, every ideological principle, and their commitment to this country. The difference between Republican hatred and Democratic hatred is that Democrats hate inequality and discrimination. In contrast, the Republican Party hates anyone that doesn’t fit their idea of a homogenous American society (i.e., white Christian superiority). Democrats believe in fundamental fairness; Republicans do not. 


Republicans have now turned their hatred of liberals into the hatred of democracy, the Constitution, and decency. When 18 Republican state attorneys general, more than half of House Republicans, and multiple conservative organizations all demand that the results of a presidential election where no fraud was found be simply tossed aside so that Trump can be declared the winner, something more profound has been revealed. The Republican Party has proved that its hatred of liberals is so foundational that it will abandon any pretense of commitment to democracy if democracy allows for the possibility that liberals might win an election. They have come to regard Democratic voters as essentially undeserving of having their will translated into power, no matter how large their numbers. This hatred of democracy for all may not be new to the Republican Party, but now, they’re willing to proclaim it even after they lost a presidential election by 7 million votes and a 306-232 electoral college margin. Forget all that inspiring talk about the genius of the Framers and their vision for democracy; if having an election means that the people Republicans hate might win, then the election must simply be nullified.


Everyone probably knows by now that the Texas Attorney General tried to have the Supreme Court throw out the election results — which the justices rejected Friday evening. However, we can’t get complacent and believe it was the final blow to Trump’s attack against democracy. It is not a matter of all’s well that ends well. What was alarming about the Texas effort was that it gained the support of so many others. Seventeen of 26 Republican state attorneys general. Nearly two-thirds of House Republicans, including the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy (Calif.). Every one of these individuals has forfeited any claim to believe in anything but fealty to Trump and their own political self-interest. (Who were these men and women who signed legal briefs supporting treason? Click “Read More” at the end of the post to see all of the names.) Because nothing could be less conservative, less consistent with supposed Republican principles, than urging a court to overturn a democratic election. For decades, Republicans have condemned what they saw as activist judges, but now, they are begging judges across the country and even the Supreme Court to become activist judges if it gets them what they want. Nothing could be less consistent with conservative principles than contending that one state should be able to instruct another about how to conduct its elections — or that federal judges should referee such claims. 


You might think that the Republicans signing on to a profoundly anti-American crusade against democracy are doing so out of fear as much as conviction, but the two are not mutually exclusive. All elected officials worry about contradicting their base, but in today’s Republican Party, that worry is almost wholly divorced from policy. Yes, you’d get flak if you voted to raise taxes, but the greatest danger comes from failing to fight the left with sufficient vigor. Horrifyingly, that danger is not only electoral but physical. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania state Senate said she was told that if she refused to sign a letter demanding that Congress toss out her state’s votes in the presidential race, “I’d get my house bombed tonight.” It might not actually happen, but the point is that Republican officeholders understand well what their party values above all else and what kinds of transgressions will not be tolerated.


Trump has often cited the extraordinary loyalty he has received from his party’s voters; it’s one of the few things he says that’s true. But it isn’t because of Trump’s conservative policies and actions. If you ask a typical Trump supporter what they love about him, they don’t mention some substantive policy position (though some will say he is anti-abortion, but I think that’s because they are ashamed of their homophobic and racist reasons). They will usually answer that he is a fighter. The petty squabbles, the insulting tweets, the deranged conspiracy theories — the things that the Never Trumpers and most other Americans find repulsive and offensive are exactly what endears him to the Republican base, which speaks volumes about their character and morality. Trump fights angrily, bitterly, and endlessly because he is driven forward by his hatred of the people his supporters hate and the adoration he receives from their support. That’s what the base loves, and every other Republican knows it.


The fundamental Republican rhetoric for the 2020 campaign, starting with Trump but going all the way down the ballot, was that if Democrats were elected, then it would not be bad or even terrible, but apocalyptic and the end of everything you cherish. Towns and cities would burn, religion would be outlawed, America as we know it would cease to exist. These horrors were not presented as metaphors but as the literal truth, and the voters ate it up. In the face of that potential apocalypse, who could possibly care about mundane policy goals? The importance of everything else pales next to the urgency of stopping the cataclysm that would engulf us all if Democrats were to hold power. I received a call from my mother a few months back saying almost this exact thing. The Republican Party and the conservative movement are all about hatred today, and it might take a long time for them to change. 


With all of the lawsuits and attempts to overturn the election, Republicans have gone beyond the indulge-the-toddler-while-he-cries-it-out phase of this election debacle to a dangerous new stage: Incentivize the toddler. Reward his bad behavior. Encourage his belief, as poisonous to democracy as it is delusional, that the election was stolen. Republicans are laying the groundwork for a contentious new phase in American democracy.


Even when all of their tactics fail and Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President, they will move on to another phase of legal and political guerrilla warfare in which no tactic, no lie, no baseless claim is off-limits. Democracy cannot function this way.

The Traitors:

First, the attorneys general, the chief law enforcement officers of their states, who joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in this legal monstrosity: Eric Schmitt, Missouri (he goes first because Missouri filed the brief); Steve Marshall, Alabama; Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas; Ashley Moody, Florida; Curtis Hill, Indiana; Derek Schmidt, Kansas; Jeff Landry, Louisiana; Lynn Fitch, Mississippi; Tim Fox, Montana; Doug Peterson, Nebraska; Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota; Mike Hunter, Oklahoma; Alan Wilson, South Carolina; Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota; Herbert H. Slatery III, Tennessee; Sean Reyes, Utah; Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia.


Second, the House members, including Republican leaders McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise (La.); Jim Jordan (Ohio), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee; Kevin Brady (Tex.), ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee; Rep. Gary Palmer (Ala.), head of the Republican Policy Committee; and Mike Johnson (La.), who organized this constitutional abomination.


The rest, listed in order of their home state: 


Alabama (Robert B. Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Bradley Byrne)*

Arizona (Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko)

Arkansas (Eric A. “Rick” Crawford, Bruce Westerman)

California (Ken Calvert, Doug LaMalfa, Tom McClintock)

Colorado (Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn)

Florida (Gus M. Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Ross Spano, Michael Waltz, Daniel Webster, Ted Yoho)

Georgia (Rick Allen, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Douglas A. Collins, Drew Ferguson, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Austin Scott)

Idaho (Russ Fulcher, Mike Simpson)

Illinois (Mike Bost, Darin LaHood)

Indiana (Jim Baird, Jim Banks, Trey Hollingsworth, Greg Pence, Jackie Walorski)

Iowa (Steve King)

Kansas (Ron Estes, Roger Marshall)

Louisiana (Ralph Abraham, Clay Higgins)

Maryland (Andy Harris)

Michigan (Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, Tim Walberg)

Minnesota (Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn, Pete Stauber)

Mississippi (Michael Guest, Trent Kelly, Steven M. Palazzo)

Missouri (Sam Graves, Billy Long, Vicky Hartzler, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason T. Smith, Ann Wagner)

Montana (Greg Gianforte)

Nebraska (Jeff Fortenberry, Adrian Smith)

New Jersey (Gregory Steube, Jeff Van Drew)

New York (Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin)

North Carolina (Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Greg Murphy, David Rouzer, Mark Walker)

Ohio (Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, Robert E. Latta, Brad Wenstrup)

Oklahoma (Kevin Hern, Markwayne Mullin)

Pennsylvania (John Joyce, Frederick B. Keller, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Glenn Thompson)

South Carolina (Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Tom Rice, William Timmons, Joe Wilson)

Tennessee (Tim Burchett, Scott DesJarlais, Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann, Mark Green, David Kustoff, John Rose)

Texas (Jodey Arrington, Brian Babin, Michael C. Burgess, Michael Cloud, K. Michael Conaway, Dan Crenshaw, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Lance Gooden, Kenny Marchant, Randy Weber, Roger Williams, Ron Wright)

Virginia (Ben Cline, H. Morgan Griffith, Rob Wittman, Ron Wright)

Washington (Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse)

West Virginia (Carol Miller, Alex Mooney)

Wisconsin (Tom Tiffany).


They may not be capable of shame, but you should know who they are.


*Of the Alabama Republican Congressional Delegation, two did not sign the amicus brief: Martha Roby (most likely because she is leaving office) and Mike Rogers (who has been considered one of the most moderate Southern Republican, even if he is extremely anti-LGBTQ+, receiving a zero out of 100 rating from the Human Rights Campaign).


naturgesetz said...

There are, of course, exceptions to your characterization of Republicans, most notably the Republican election officials and state ;egislators who refused to be cowed into undoing pro-Biden results in their states. Then there's the veto-proof majority in the Senate for the Defense Authorizatio bill which Trump had said he would veto — a sign of Trump's holp on the party loosening ever so slightly.

Yesterday I saw a very ironic video, A speaker was addressing a peo-Trump demonstration, and he called Republican officeholders who were not doing all they could to undo the Biden victory Republicans in Name Only. Since these Republicans had not come through for Trump, he said it was time to "destroy the GOP." The crowd started chanting, "Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!"

Anonymous said...

Well, it is over - Biden has secured the electoral college votes he needs. I have some comments on the larger significance of the election in historical terms but somehow they don't seem to gibe with the triptych of the gentleman posted above. So, another time, Roderick

Joe said...

naturgesetz, you're right. This is an overgeneralization. There are, of course, always exceptions, but no one can deny that those exceptions are in the majority. As for the Defense Authorization bill, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who votde in favor of the bill, but would vote to sustain a veto, insisted that Republican House members will back the President if he vetoes the legislation. I have to wonder how many other Republicans will do the same. Republican Senators have shown over and over again that loyalty to Donald Trump is more important than principles. Lindsay Graham refused to vote on the bill, so he didn't have to defy Trump. I honestly don't understand those who want to destroy the GOP in an effort to replace it with Trumpism. I do think that many of those supporting Trump's fighting the election results is because the Vice-President elect is black and a woman. The fact that Obama was black fueled a lot of the hatred in the party and is part of the reason Trump was successful. What is really crazy are the Republicans in Georgia who are staying that the Dominion voting machines are the reasons for Trump's loss and Republicans should now vote in the runoff. I wish a lot of Republicans would follow that, but they are contradicting themselves.

Roderick, I am very happy that the Electoral College vote is now official. Even though Republicans are setting up alternate electors and plan to send them to Congress, they will not make a difference because they will not be certified. The constant roadblocks are just slowing down the process, but the Electoral College yesterday made it very clear: Joe Biden will be the 47th president on January 20.

KelticOne said...

I would include State rights as a core Conservative principle. The Corollary to small Fed Gov. The 106 Reb. Reps who cosigned the Texas attempt of sedition should spend the next 2 years in reeducation camps. Maybe Te-rump could get China to host.

p.s. love the blog; keep up the faith and the good work...

Joe said...

KelticOne, yes, states rights have always been part of the core Conservative principles, but often they have used states rights as a code word for discrimination. They don't want the federal government telling them they have to treat everyone fairly. I think all of those Representatives should at least be charged with treason and attempting to overthrow the government. It won't happen, but it should. At the very least, the House should refuse to seat them in January (if not sooner), which both houses of Congress have every right to do.

Also, I am glad you enjoy the blog. I do my best. I'm just glad/suprised that I have people who are actually interested in what I have to say. I have been called boring more than once in my life.

Anonymous said...

What is most disappointing about what Republicans are doing now (running solely on their hatred of the opposition) is that they're just doing what Democrats have been doing for at least the half century I've been watching politics. All my adult life, Democrats have been reading from the following script: "Republicans are conservative because they are evil. Conservatives are greedy, hate low-income people and those of other races, and have hearts of stone. The only reason for conservatives to exist is to show the world how much better we liberals are. No deviation from this view is permitted. No other possibilities will be considered." // I had hoped Democrats would get better with time. Instead, Republicans have gotten worse, egged on by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, and culminating in the orange-haired fiasco. Sigh. // The reason people are interested in what you have to say, Joe, is that there is thought behind what you say and not just kneejerk dismissal of the opposition's talking points. Though I would remined you that the states' rights people in the South have traditionally been Democrats.

Joe said...

Anonymous, I agree with most of what you say. Growing in the South and witnessing firsthand the shift from a solid Democratic South to a solid Republican South, I saw southern politicians using tasteless attack ads campaigning with increasing wilder accusations against their opponents. At one point, voters got tired of it, and whoever was the most outrageous and tasteless lost. But as the Republican Party began taking over the South, their ads switched from being character assassinations to being, "We hate this candidate's liberal ideas and because they are a Democrat." It worked. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party still uses politics of opposition and hatred. They increasingly hurt the southern Democrats, who are moderates and might have a chance of winning if people paid attention to what they believe. However, because all Republicans have to say now is that such and such Democrat supports (insert whatever wild unattainable idea the progressives have now). Doug Jones should have never lost in Alabama. He is a moderate at best, but he is also a strong civil rights advocate (one thing seen as a strike against him). He won only because people had a backlash against Roy Moore, not for his hate speech, but because he was a child molester. As soon as they nominated a mere crooked Republican, not a child molester, to run against him, Jones lost. He didn't lose because of what he believed in; Jones lost merely because he is a Democrat. That is something I fear will happen in the Georgia Senate runoff races.

In my comment above, I said, "states' rights have always been part of the core Conservative principles." I specifically did not say Republicans. That is because Southern Democrats were the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. However, in recent decades, those conservative Democrats in the South have switched to the Republican Party. Just look at Richard Shelby. Many older southern Republicans started their careers as Democrats because they knew they could not win as a Republican. The South seems only to be able to support a one-party system. I know of a particular lifelong Democrat in Alabama who wanted to run for Commissioner of Agriculture, but to win, he knew he had to run as a Republican, which he did, and he won. He is now classified as a Republican, and he's the Commissioner of Agriculture. He knew his qualifications would not matter if he ran as a Democrat, but the R behind his name would win him the general election. I'm not saying he was not a conservative Democrat, but he had always supported the Democratic Party.

Joe said...

I’d also like to add that dog whistles have always been a significant part of the Southern political tradition since outward racism is deemed unseemly these days. Southern politicians know they need to be more subtle about their racist, so they use dog whistles. However, you will still see Southern politicians rail against the LGBTQ+, immigrants, Muslims, etc. Race may not be ok to use publicly anymore, but everything else is still deemed socially acceptable by many in the South. I often heard people in the South use the word Democrat instead of saying a black person, or worse, the N-word. Democrat became synonymous not with political views but with race. Republicans are winning in the South because they feed the fears and insecurities of the people who see their backward way of life slipping away from them as the country becomes not more liberal but more accepting. They are terrified of acceptance of LGBTQ+, immigrants, Muslims, etc. But they are finding it increasingly harder to say so. They are now back to claiming that Democrats will establish a godless, communist country and take away everything you own and destroy religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. One, most people don't understand the difference between socialist and communist, and they also can't understand that we don't want their twisted and perverted version of Christianity rammed down our throats and made law. It's all about playing on fears and hatred. Currently, Republicans are being successful with this strategy, and it won't change anytime soon as long as it's working.