By W. Timothy Weaver, Ph.D.
I see the GOP’s devolvement into what appears to be a form of insanity, one resembling paranoid schizophrenia in which delusions become reality, as just another form of politics. It is somewhat novel to watch a party find ways to appeal to the least able among us, yet, those are the people who keep this morally bankrupt party in power. They and the elite minority who benefits from keeping Republicans in office are now the GOP constituency. Then, I remember John Adams rallying the rabble of Boston to rise up against the British. The Republican Party is not the first to discover how to awaken the underclass and use them to their own ends. We are not, as the cable talking heads proclaim to sell ads, losing our democracy. This is democracy.
We are, however, losing one of our traditional political parties. It is no longer a party interested in governing and legislating. It isn’t interested in grand views of a nation we desire—shining city on the hill, and all of that. Since Bush’s prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind, the only major bills the GOP has pushed and fought for are tax cuts for the rich and a panoply of social hot button regulations and Supreme Court challenges.
The GOP has become the grievance party. They discovered in Trump that grievances move the rabble. The more they stir up grievances the higher the turnout of their voters. I don’t see this as being nearly as dangerous as Rachel Maddow and Nicole Wallace of MSNBC. I see it as a political strategy of last resort but one that works. Lying and distortions of the truth are simply part of this strategy. There seems to be little interest in the GOP in anything else except tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, approving radical right wing judges who are willing rule in their favor, and blocking by any means necessary progressive legislation long overdue the working and middle classes.
However, like the song says, the fundamentals will apply as time goes by. Both parties retain historic goals of gaining power and controlling the levers of government. The Republicans are simply convinced that they can gain and stay in power and carry out their real mission, i.e., extend ever more privileges to the privileged, by becoming more grotesque and perverse. Grotesque and perverse appeal to the rabble and the rabble are keeping them in office.
This is not new. It is not even anti-democratic. The appeal is to those of simple minds and little capacity to examine how shallow is their thinking. The word for this is alexithymia, a condition in which some are unable to dig into their own thought process and critique it. When told that election “integrity,” as carried out by the Cyber Ninjas, is God’s will, and Donald Trump is God’s messenger, they believe it.
Appeals to the basest of human instincts is now standard practice in GOP campaign speeches. It has taken on the image of derangement. These people sound like they are as nutty as their adoring fans. Note the last hearing in which Congressman Gosar was seen wildly swinging his head around and babbling nonsense about the rigged election. Yet, none of this is the least embarrassing to GOP members. It is simply their new ticket to the show.
Even Republican politicians like Representative Scalise, who once had a glimmer of integrity, can carry on a conversation with a reporter that could have been dialogue in the movie, a Beautiful Mind, as John Nash sinks into schizophrenia. Scalise would not admit that Biden won the election. Then, we see a recent video of Congressman Biggs debating Jamie Raskin by arguing that the crazy Arizona audit did not show that Biden won Arizona by even more votes.
These were once people who acted reasonably. They remain the same people but now engage in nonsensical babble because they full well understand that they were appealing to voters who score in the lower half of the bell curve. This is strategy. It’s ugly and absurd to watch a political party reduce itself to the lowest common denominator but this is survival for a slowly dying entity. It is how a party has been forced to devolve into a sham party in order to stay in power and protect the interests of the high and mighty.
It is clownish, comical, and incomprehensible to most of us, and it is to the men and women in politics who have left even a modicum of decency and pride. They simply cannot stomach this shameful degrading of oneself to solicit votes. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and a host of traditional Republicans writers and commentators just can’t do it. But others can! And, thus we witness the corruption of Republicans cowed by Donald Trump.
Lying, dissembling, deceiving, twisting facts and spouting destructive misinformation are the tools in the new GOP arsenal. It works for they know their base will believe it and act on it. Lies and misinformation are mother’s milk to the Republican voters who are in plain English, dopes. This does not exclude plenty of college educated Republicans. They are either too lazy to dig into the lies and find out for themselves they are being duped, or they are in too many cases educated beyond their intelligence. Expect the party to stay with this strategy as long as it works, and it will work for a good long time if we believe PT Barnum, “A suckah is born every minute.” The folks who paid to see the bearded lady are the new Republican electorate.
The small minority of Republicans who know better and have integrity and values nonetheless standby and secretly applaud the genius of the new Republican Party. Why? They are the beneficiaries. They know a good thing. They are the privileged who would willingly degrade themselves, and happily applaud those who do it for them. They do so in order to maintain their elite privileges, privileges distributed to them through government favors such as the big GOP tax cuts under Reagan, Bush and Trump, and Paul Ryan’s revised tax code.
If there be targets, these people should be the targets of our enmity.
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