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What on Earth Happened to the Republican Party?

by D.J. McGuire

I was away from home – at a science fiction convention in North Carolina, no less – when the President of the United States demanded four members of Congress leave America for “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” (CNN) – never mind that three of the members were born in the United States. It should surprise no one that all four of them are not white.

What did come as a surprise was the near complete silence of Republican elected officials on the matter. As far as I know, as of 4:30 PM on Monday (as I write this), one Congressman from Texas and a state legislative leader in Wisconsin make up the entire group of Republican “electeds” who have raised their voices in criticism. The rest are fully engaged in Operation Ostrich.

How on earth did it come to this?

Greg Weiner discusses cause and effect in The Bulwark. His thoughts are quite close to mine, especially here:

There should be lines that this or any president cannot cross without incurring criticism from his own side. That’s because the boundary between neutrality and tacit consent—between their failure to condemn and the suggestion that they condone—may be faint, but it exists. Enabling, like pornography, is difficult to define, but sensible observers generally know it when they see it. Among of its markers is the refusal to use one’s influence to improve a situation one purports, at least privately, to deplore.

How this can’t be a line for so many Republicans just utterly baffles me. These were people who spent no time at all howling rage at primary challengers, bloggers, and anyone else who critiqued their views on taxes … or spending … or even nomination methods. Yet the leader of the party engages in, as Weiner calls it, “bigotry—call it ‘racism,’ call it ‘xenophobia,’ or call it ‘the kind of behavior that forces conservatives into such distinctions,’ ” without nary a peep.

The closest thing we get – even on my other blog, Bearing Drift – is a pox on all houses post from my Bearing Drift colleague. Don’t get me wrong; he was at least willing to rule out voting for Trump in 2020 – a solid step above the deafening silence from Republicans as a group.

Still, the idea that “identity politics” was exclusively a Democratic invention simply does not stand up to historical review. No Democrat was behind the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Democrats opposed the WASPish nativism of the Whigs and Know Nothings of the antebellum era. The fellow who ran for President in 1884 opposing “rum, Romanism, and rebellion” was Republican James G. Blaine. Identity politics has been part of America – and a tool used by both Democrats and by their opponents – since the First Party System itself.

More to the point, there is a serious difference between members of an ethnic group using their political power at the polls to address majoritarian-imposed inequality and the outright racism in which the president indulged on Sunday. Again, back to Weiner:

…there is nothing inherently unwise in choosing to stay on the sidelines rather than be sucked into the unrelenting conflict between Trump and his critics. If anything, one of the president’s uglier influences has been to draw everyone into perpetual combat, and the Reluctant Trumpers’ refusal to rush the field for every play is often prudent.

But there are moments when their voices are needed and when their silence is consequently indistinguishable from acquiescence. If this is not one, it is difficult to conjure what might be. Xenophobia of the kind Trump expressed is a particular offense against American values. Moreover, its normalization is especially dangerous amid the creeping spread of ethno-nationalism.

Republicans need to ask themselves if they would be rationalizing their silence if they were not in the same party as Donald Trump.

If not, they need to get to the real question here: Should they really stay in that party?

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

A Fake News Intervention

by Kevin Kelton

Hi. Come in and sit down. I’m here – we all are here – because we love you and we need to tell you something. This may be a little tough to hear, but hear me out.

We know you and we see you. You are bright, educated, and consider yourself relatively smart, sophisticated, worldly, and informed. You’ve voted Republican most of your life (or at least over the last decade or so) because you love your country and truly believe in conservative political philosophy. While you think of yourself as open-minded and are still somewhat open to voting for the right Democrat, you’ve always hated the Clintons, and you came to particularly resent and despise Hillary during the 2015-16 campaign as you learned more and more about her true evil intent – from her “illegal” email server to her support for Muslim terrorists to the highly corrupt Uranium One deal, her secret concussion, The Clinton Foundation “slush fund,” how she and the DNC cheated Bernie to fix her nomination, the “highly suspicious murder” of that poor young DNC staffer who was about to spill the beans, and all her other “crooked” behaviors that were revealed to you day after day by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, conservative media outlets and blogs, and of course by your close, trusted friends on Facebook and the links with the salacious headlines that they reposted and urged you to read…day after day after day.

YOU WERE DUPED. And you still don’t know it (or do but can’t accept it) because you are still being duped by the same powers that filled your brain with fake news and utter nonsense. You think you were immune to the more far-fetched conspiracy stories. But you’d click anyway, at first just once or twice to see what people were saying. But soon you were doing it regularly – as each click got you more and more intrigued. You say to yourself, oh, I never really believed that stuff.  You just thought they were funny and had a slight “ring of truth,” even though you didn’t really buy into them.

It was just recreational web surfing. It was fun; it was harmless. You could stop anytime you wanted.

But you absorbed it all – fake new story after story after story – and it clouded your judgment and subtly changed your perceptions. Your mind was slowly poisoned, so slowly you didn’t realize it was happening. You still sincerely believe you are smart, informed, and your belief system is right and true. But you have been brainwashed and used by people smarter than you. You are a walking, talking disinformation campaign and you don’t even know it. You are part of a massive, worldwide disinformation pyramid scheme.

You are a Russian bot in human form. And you don’t even realize it.

Consider this an intervention by a friend. You are on a very self-destructive path. You are a disinformation addict, and the disinformation pushers have you hooked just like a junkie. You shoot-up regularly on Twitter, Facebook, and with Fox News and other disinformation cartels who are playing you like a fool and cashing in on your addiction. Only in this case, you won’t die from your overdose. You’ll only kill the nation you love. Look at what happened to Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen – two other “smart men” who got duped and hooked, and saw it destroy their lives. Learn from their mistakes.

We all love you and are here for you. But you need to make a change, and make it fast. So please read these articles and start to turn your life around now. 

Senate Report on Russian 2016 Disinformation Campaign Shows Its Scale and Sweep

Michael Flynn, James Woods, Ann Coulter Regularly Shared Content From Russian Fake News Accounts

Fake News Ecosystem Still Thrives in 2018

Mainstream Advertising Pushing Fake News

Kevin Kelton is a former Saturday Night Live writer and cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast. He also runs the Facebook political group, Open Fire Politics.