Friday, February 12, 2021

The Republican Problem

Republicans have a chance to take back their Party, but I doubt they will do that. The Republican Party leaders could take back the Party and get back to the traditional values of the Republican Party (even though I see much of their beliefs about social welfare and the economy as misguided). Republicans have been mostly reprehensible to me in the last 20 years, but at one time, they did believe in a platform and a set of standards. The fringe elements of the GOP date back much farther. In the 1950s, Republicans led by Senator Joseph McCarthy incited the Red Scare claiming there were communists everywhere and going on a witch hunt throughout the United States. We know now that Sen. McCarthy’s infamous "list," which supposedly named communists who had infiltrated the heart of the United States government, was completely fabricated. On February 9, 1950, McCarthy told a crowd of 275 at the Ohio County Republican Women’s Club that the U.S. State Department was “thoroughly infested with communists” and brandished papers he claimed were a list of 57 such subversives. No such list ever existed. The Red Scare eventually ended when Republican Senators stood up to McCarthy. The Senate censured him but not before he had ruined thousands of lives with his accusations of communism. 

McCarthy is just the most famous of the examples of Republican extremism gone too far. Another example happened on July 14, 1964, supporters of Barry Goldwater, who was about to accept the Republican nomination for president, unleashed a torrent of boos against New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as he spoke at the Party's national convention in San Francisco. Some might remember this event, but what is usually forgotten is why Rockefeller, who had lost the nomination to Goldwater, was standing behind the lectern in the first place. He was there to speak in support of an amendment to the party platform that would condemn political extremism. The resolution repudiated “the efforts of irresponsible extremist organizations,” including the Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and the John Birch Society (JBS), a rapidly growing far-right grassroots group obsessed with the alleged communist infiltration of America.


The resolution failed, which testifies to the GOP’s long-standing reluctance to separate themselves from the extremists who congregate at its fringes. But the fact that such a resolution was debated at all—in such a visible venue, with such high-profile advocates—also says something about Republicans today. In the past, the GOP had a stronger core of resistance to extremism than it’s had in the era of the former president, QAnon, the Proud Boys, and the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene. The history of JBS shows us that this radical element has been a part of the Republican Party since the middle of the last century. In case you aren’t familiar with the John Birch Society, it is a radical right and far-right American political advocacy group supporting anti-communism and limited government. Canadian author Jeet Heer argued in The New Republic that while its influence peaked in the 1970s, "Bircherism" and its legacy of conspiracy theories have become the dominant strain in the conservative movement. Politico has asserted that the JBS began making a resurgence in the mid-2010s, and JBS itself has argued that it shaped the modern conservative movement, especially the former president's administration.


The question of how Republicans deal with the extremists in their ranks is now more urgent than perhaps at any other point since the Birch Society’s heyday in the 1960s. So far, little has been done to uproot these fringe elements. Representative Kevin McCarthy and other GOP leaders have shown no interest in acting against House members who promoted or spoke at the rally ahead of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And while GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans have criticized Greene—a relatively easy target—almost all have signaled that they will not vote in the impeachment trial to impose any consequences on the former president for his role in inciting the attack. McConnell sees himself in a desperate position to preserve the Republican Party and has warned Republican colleagues in private conference meetings the GOP faces a new "John Birch Society" problem that the Party must aggressively purge.


Those who care about the traditional values of the Republican Party could jointly stand together and denounce the previous president, his supporters in the Senate and the House, and the fringe extremists who have devoted themselves to perpetuating the previous president's lies at any cost. If they voted to convict in the impeachment, denounce extremism, then they could have a chance to take back the Party. If they do not stand up for what is the right thing to do and convict the previous president, the fringe extremists that have plagued the Party since the middle of the last century will overtake the Party and drive it further to the right. The problem I see is that McConnell and others in the Republican Party have allowed the extremists to grow like a cancerous tumor. McConnell said himself that the "Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country." The problem is that his analogy is too apt, and I think the cancerous tumor has been left untreated for so long until it is terminal. That was evident in Greene’s response. On Twitter, Greene wrote, "The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully. This is why we are losing our country."


The Republicans could take a stand during this impeachment trial. They could turn against the extremists in their Party. I realize that they will not eject any Congress members for their extremism, but they could ostracize the extremists for their actions. They could censure them, though I think that too is unlikely. What they can do is to give them so little influence in Congress that opponents can use it against them in their next election. Maybe once they do this and take back the Republican Party along more traditional lines without the extremism, they can finally come into the twenty-first century and possibly become decent human beings. Either way, I'd rather have the traditional business Republicans than the fringe elements who seem to control the Party today.


JiEL said...

Thank you for your historical anlysis of the GOP.

I knew the McCarthy part but not much about the GOP history in the 60's and even in the 2000's.

Surely now and more than ever due to the devastating influence of Qanon and those conspiracy therories on the internet, the Republicans are now, as you said, in danger with this cancer that had become very damageable pushed by the ex president for the last few years and even before he was in office.

The outcome of this impeachment «farce» is going to be a shame on the Trumplican party and will probabily sign the death of what was their party in the past.
They have a very short view ahead thinking of their reelection and judgement of their base.
Finaly it's all abour their own asses and never in the interest of the USA's citizens.

More incomprehensive, as I think I heard on CNN, is that around 30-35 senators are not coming back in the 2022 election.
Why aren't they voting to impeach and let their legacy to help the Republican party to get rid of that toxic influence which will lead to the chaos and the end of that party.

35% of Republicans in a survey would follow Trump in the formation of a new party, 30% are not decided and the rest would remain in the party.

He said he would drain the swamp but he did worse by putting the GOP in such a deep swamp and I could say, in deep «sh,,,t»

Joe said...

JiEL, I think there are only 4 Senators retiring. One-third of the Senate (33-34 seats) will be up for election in 2022. Senate elections are staggered so that only one-third are up for election at a time.

naturgesetz said...

Even conservative Republicans, such as William F. Buckley, jr. and his magazine National Review, denounced the JBS over 60 years ago. As a former Republican, I find it sad that so few iin the party today are willing to stand up to the extremists. Of course, a large part of the problem for them is that the extremists make up so much larger a segment of the grass roots of the party now than was the case back then. Even Barry Goldwater was no John Bircher.

JiEL said...

Thank you do¸for the info, as a French speaking man, I maybe mixed up the numvbers.

At the bottom, it's really sad to see the Republican party sliding in this dark side of politic and not being able to purge and purify their ranks from those toxic weeds.

Dave R said...

They will not take a stand for that would mean judging themselves the way they like to judge others. Instead, they are splintering into which will start blaming their failure on each other. They are the spitting image of the president they long to worship.

JiEL said...

What came out on a survey is that 30% of the Trumplicans would follow Trump if he set another party. 30% of the Republicans are neutral of the idea and 30% would remain in the Republican party.

That means the Republican party is on the verge of hitting an iceberg and sink....

Anonymous said...

The defense team really served up a lesson on hypocrisy on Friday. Just kept showing video after video of dems using the exact same language and rhetoric that they claim to hate.

2ndWave said...

I'd like to add my "I agree" to everything in your post, and in the 7 preceeding comments. Also, to add my 2 cents: Michael Moore, the movie producer, had a post on Youtube a few days after January 6th, in which he made an extremely compelling case that all those events "were an inside job," meaning that Trump had direct support among some of his republican supporters. He develops this point very well. When I read Joe's blog, and all the ensuing comments, I couldn't help but see Moore's point reinforced. It further explains why most repub senators won't convict Trump, they know that their conviction of him will follow up to bite them in their backside. And Trump, being as ruthlessly vindictive as he is, will make sure they suffer some consequences.

2ndWave said...

Follow-up: I just saw "Anonymous's" comment, and for the record, I strongly disagree.

JiEL said...

Anon, you seem to have the same brainwash mind as all those Retrumplicans that are blinded by the kind of misleading fake facts as Qanon and Trumps lies about the election.

Now, the defense tried to divert the subject sayint this isn't an «insurection» but a common riot by bad poeple that wher there before Trump's Washington speech. Well if those were planing before that speech, you have to go back weeks and months before to hear Trump yelling on all stages that IF he's not elected it's because the election was rigged.

No doubt that he insited groups like the Proud Boys to «stand by» and with his all time hate messages, he did build that crescendo that led to the Capitol riot to overcome the issu of the electoral process.
To try that kind of agressive coup is calles «insurection» to try to reverse the will of the voting democratic process.

Narrowing it only on the Trump speech and the Capitol riot is not what should be the main point in this process but more about how ALL the time, this fake president was always using hate words against people that weren't on «his» side and so many times he said ridiculous things during all of his presidency.
One of his sadest moment of his presidency was the denial of the pandemie and his outrageous manners he did to avoid to take real actions to make USA in security to face that threat.
All those deaths are in direct consequences of his non action because he put the economy, his own fortune too, infront of the health of ALL Americans.

He didn't only try to remain in office no matter what but the Senate should also sue him for genocide so many Americans and many of them are colored people too.

Justice in USA is failing in so many ways that it's scary and almost the same as in Russia.

Joe said...

Anonymous, the defense team did not serve up a lesson in hypocrisy. They served up a red herring. If you do not understand the concept of a red herring, it is a statement or argument that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question. Hypocrisy, however, is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform. The House Managers presented factual evidence and presented it within the context of the charges against the former president. The defense on the other hand attempted to show hypocrisy using numerous statements out of context and failed to show how it was either germane or led to a violent insurrection against the US government and Constitution. They failed to do this because the evidence did not exist, and thus it is a red herring not hypocrisy.