By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
It’s a serious question, the answer to which is of consequential importance to our country: Is the Republican Party past the point of no return to normality? It feels impossible, by now, to think it ever could. What would need to happen?
Consider Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. Suddenly powerful, the empress of election denial and vaccine refusal, she considered 9/11 an “inside job,” suggested no plane crashed into the Pentagon, blamed California’s forest fires on space lasers controlled by Jews. Who, the minute she slithered into D.C., filed articles of impeachment against President Biden, under whose leadership Donald Trump’s failing economy has turned around (35 percent of America’s total debt was added during Trump’s single term), the pandemic was brought under control, unemployment continues at record lows, who hasn’t yet fomented insurrection or tried to bully a foreign leader into getting dirt on an opponent. Plus, her posts on social media are among the most inflammatory, conspiratorial, and false of any right-winger. Which is a very high bar.
“I will never leave that woman,” said caponized Speaker Kevin McCarthy. “I will always take care of her.” What better example of decline is there than the elevation of such a person, not to mention McCarthy himself, to a position of controlling influence in that party? And whereas he has the title, having agreed to populate the Rules Committee with people of her ilk, he retains little of the power of the speakership. “Rules” is the committee that, among other powers, decides which legislation makes it to the floor.
Say what you will about Nancy Pelosi — considered, even by some on the right, one of the most effective speakers in history — she’d have never let it happen to her. Will that group of hostage-taking radical nihilists ever produce legislation that becomes law? More importantly and even less likely, legislation that will benefit any but themselves and their dark money benefactors? We’ll find out soon enough. Enough, one expects, to turn control of the House back to Democrats in two years.
Because they can’t help themselves. Lies and promises of retribution (and sub-rosa deals) got them where they are. In their safely gerrymandered districts that elected them because of, not in spite of, their mendacious cruelty, there’s no going back. Their act plays well locally, but even with their nationwide voter suppression, to believe it’s winning national strategy is to have given up entirely on what’s left of American conservatism.
Their trademark hypocrisy is already showing. When Trump was “president,” the debt ceiling was raised three times without controversy. Now, presumably to cause economic pain for which they’ll blame President Biden for not “negotiating” with their hostage demands, they’re using it like kidnappers. And, as more documents are turning up in strange places, they’ve turned their hypocrisy up to 11. Silent about Trump’s behavior, MTG said Biden’s is treason, a capital crime. Mike Pence, who harshly criticized President Biden for having them, answered “I did not,” when asked if he took any classified documents home. About which Ted Cruz said this: “Oh look, the Mike Pence story, it’s still early. You know, Mike Pence, as you noted he is a good friend, he’s a good man. … That is very different from what Joe Biden has done.”
But no one can flip the script like Trump, who counts on and still receives unwavering support from his party, if less unanimously than previously. When it was revealed that the FBI agent in charge of investigating Russian influence and found “nothing” was on the take from Russian agents, Trump shouted, on his “truth” platform: “The FBI guy after me for the Russia, Russia, Russia HOAX, long before my Election as President, was just arrested for taking money from Russia, Russia, Russia. May he Rot In Hell!” Think about that for a moment, longer than which it ought not take. Maybe Trump figures Hell is where they’ll meet so he can thank him. But he definitely figures MAGA Republicans will fall for his Orwellian double-speak.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, No. 2 in polling for 2024’s Republican presidential nomination, seems to believe even more than House Republicans, that authoritarian thought control is the road to power. In his Florida, teachers feel obligated to remove books from classrooms. Not “some” books. All (tinyurl.com/booksgone2u). And Advanced Placement courses on Black history are banned, “because lessons on race must be taught in ‘an objective manner,’” and not “used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.” That slavery was bad, for example? (Washington Post: tinyurl.com/nohistory4u)
What would need to happen to return that party to sanity? As red states continue efforts to suppress Democratic voters, actual conservatives would need to dissociate from the insanity and, if only for now, vote Democratic (Yarn: tinyurl.com/2future4u).
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.
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