Trump: A Perfect Republican
Trump embodies many of the nasty or deceitful trends that have long moved the Republicans away from the path of political virtue.
- Trump embodies many of the nasty or deceitful trends that have long moved the Republicans away from the path of political virtue.
- Trump and the Republicans are incapable of governing the country -- even though they now control all branches of the US government.
- The Republicans are not opposed to deficits -- they are opposed to taxes, especially on the rich.
- The Evangelicals hate sin, but they love Trump. According to which sense of morality are they so enamored of him?
- In just one year, Trump has managed to destroy the dignity and gravitas of the office, dumping the presidency into the gutter.
The Republican Party is now the Party of Trump. That is astonishing insofar as there was a “Never Trump” movement ahead of the 2016 election, when many Congressional leaders were highly critical. All this is a thing of the past now. Critics have thrown in the towel and came to love Trump.
But far from being an aberration, Trump is actually a perfect embodiment of the Republican Party. If he wasn’t their President, he should’ve been their mascot.
Republicans officially pride themselves on supposedly being the party of sound principles, as in being pro-business, fiscally responsible, defending family values and American power in the world. A long while ago, that was indeed the case. Now, any reference to principles is mere mockery.
The race-baiting tradition
The transformation began half-century ago. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights legislation in 1964, he said to an aide: “We’ve lost the South for a generation.” Richard Nixon grabbed the opportunity, developing his “Southern Strategy,” which is a fancy term for relying on race-baiting for electoral purposes.
Ronald Reagan completed the process, making the South entirely Republican. To put it another way, the Party of Lincoln has become heavily dependent on the white Southern vote.
This is why Trump’s racism — along with the anti-immigrant bias that is curiously skewed against people of color — fits in well with a major portion of the Republican base and especially with Southern political leaders.
But there is more to it. Another part of the Republican Party’s base is non-college-educated white males. They responded to Trump’s anti-Immigrant, anti-foreigner and, ultimately, racist message because they have seen their jobs disappear and their wages and standards of living decline sharply. At the core, they fell for his message of wanting to bring back the America of their youth — an America where whites are privileged, with very few immigrants and very few imports.
What about the Republicans and responsible government? Well, they spent eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency essentially preventing any legislation from passing — both for ideological reasons and because of the color of Obama’s skin.
Then-House Speaker (and Republican leader) John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (a Southerner) openly declared that their mission was to prevent the U.S. government from functioning.
Trump’s political coming out party, long prior to his decision to run for President, was his campaign on disputing Obama’s U.S. citizenship. Thus, his core connection to the Republican leaders in the Congress is that he holds a similar grudge against his predecessor and is trying to dismantle everything he managed to accomplish.
While that is a measure of their and his deviousness, they also share a great deal of political incompetence. After all, Trump and the Republicans are incapable of governing the country — even though they now control all branches of the U.S. government.
The Republicans’ embracing fiscal discipline is another myth. Ronald Reagan, while railing against “tax and spend” Democrats, boosted government spending and started running massive federal budget deficits. Debt as a percentage of GDP, which stood close to 30% when Reagan took office in 1982, rose to over 50% by the end of his second term.
Surpluses were achieved only by Bill Clinton, a Democrat. They were then frittered away by George W. Bush, another Republican, via massive tax cuts and extremely costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Against this backdrop, it is entirely natural that the current crop of “fiscally responsible” Republicans fell in with Trump’s tax cuts and massive spending increases. They will widen the U.S. federal budget gap to an unprecedented $1 trillion in 2019 — and that at the height of an economic boom.
Another recession of the kind that happened in 2008 could push the Federal deficit to $2 trillion.
The message is clear: The Republicans are not opposed to deficits — they are opposed to taxes, especially on the rich. Here too Trump is a mainstream Republican, practicing for himself what the party preaches to the nation: He is a billionaire and he apparently has not paid any taxes for years.
What about social conservatives? The Evangelicals hate sin, but they love Trump. They pretend to be God-fearing, but are unconcerned that their leader has children by three women on whom he cheated with porn stars and Playboy bunnies. According to which sense of morality are they so enamored of him?
Here, too, Trump fits into the Republican stream of “talk one way, act frivolously in the ooposite direction.” Hardly a week goes by without some anti-gay preacher being found in the company of a male prostitute or an anti-abortion crusader revealed to be pressuring a girlfriend to have an abortion.
In any case, the Evangelicals seem more concerned with gay marriage, the use of bathrooms by transgender people, abortions and Muslims. The old-fashion whoring is probably no longer a sin in their book.
One would suppose that, evangelicals aside, all the buffoonery, the pathological narcissism, the moronic tweets, the chaos in the White House, the ignorance and the incompetence of their President would at least make establishment Republicans feel embarrassed?
Not really. Since Reagan, the Republican Party has been imbued with an anti-government ideology. Grover Norquist, a prominent Republican, famously declared that he wanted to get the government so small that it could be “drown in the bathtub.”
Trump is offering up his own version of that. In just one year, he has managed to destroy the dignity and gravitas of the office, dumping the presidency into the gutter. Indeed, all the U.S. comedy programs on nightly TV have become pointless. They have morphed into reality shows that are always behind the curve on made-by-Trump buffoonery. It will be difficult for the next U.S. president to be taken seriously either by Americans or by the country’s allies.
Now even the neocons cave
The only group of Republicans that had long resisted Trump’s dubious charms have been the neoconservatives. Prominent neocons were outraged by Trump’s attacks on America’s closest allies and praise for the world’s dictators, especially his cozying up to Vladimir Putin. Neocons believe that Russia remains America’s most important strategic rival.
But this may be about to change as well now that John Bolton, the former UN Ambassador and neocon’s neocon, has been appointed Trump’s National Security Advisor.
Lest we forget, the neocons were the ones who got the United States into Iraq, and Bolton even today doesn’t believe it was a mistake. Back in 2003, they wanted to go all the way to Tehran — Bolton appears all in favor of that now.
Even before Bolton, Trump’s love affair with Israel’s Netanyahu and his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem must have endeared him to many neocons since they are heavy supporters of the Jewish state.
In general, there isn’t a huge leap from their aggressive foreign policy to Trump’s America First concept. And connections between the neocons and Trumpism were established even before Trump.
John McCain’s 2008 presidential run was a case in point. McCain is a conservative and a foreign policy hawk with excellent neocon credentials. But he chose as his running mate Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin, who was an early incarnation of Donald Trump.
So the last anti-Trump bastion in the Republican Party is about to fall.