By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
Having chosen, for decades, to sow disinformation to the easily gulled, creating preferential feelings for falsehoods among the flock, the Republican Party is now reaping the horns of a Gordian whirlwind. A course correction by the Republican Party isn’t as simple as saying, “Make it so.” They are, in other words, hoist on their own Picard.
Of such a cynical and condescendingly dishonest attitude toward their voters, Trump and QAnon were the inevitable result. And now they’re damned if they dump, damned if they don’t. For those of us who’ve been warning about what was coming, this ought to be a time of overflowing schadenfreude.
It’s not. America’s ability to confront challenges has always depended on having opposing parties operating in good faith to find workable middle ground. Until the Republican Party began on its scorched-earth Gingrichian path decades ago, that was generally the case. Now, though, the support of QAnon and people with similar conspiratorial fantasies has become so integral to maintaining today’s Republican Party’s base that they’re stuck with them. Despite the desire of a few within the party and many true conservatives who are leaving it, there seems no way back to assiduous participation. It’s still the party of Trump and his cult of the deceived.
The dilemma’s horns on which they’re Pamploned is no better demonstrated than by the schizophrenic squirming of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Both-Ways). First, he led his members in rejecting the results of the Electoral College, even after the insurrection threatened their lives and democracy. Briefly brave, he then declared that Trump bore responsibility for inciting his mob. After which, he decamped to Mar-a-Loco for abject genuflection, earning from Trump the same feculent grin we saw when he played poor Mitt into thinking he had a shot at Secretary of State. (tinyurl.com/s-e-grin4u)
Back in D.C., McCarthy held a late-night congregation of House Republicans, during which Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., in hot dihydrogen monoxide from the rank for voting to impeach Trump for his dereliction, escaped from a secret-ballot vote to remove her as leader of the Republican caucus. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Q-Ga., on the other hand, loved for her enthusiastic support of killing Nancy Pelosi and other baby-biting Democrats, for 9-11- and school-massacre-denialism, almost eclipsed by belief in Jewish-controlled space lasers causing forest fires, received a standing-ovational tap on the wrist. And a “great” call from Trump. (Still promising, in public, never to apologize, she did, evidently, behind closed doors.) (tinyurl.com/yesnoapology)
The party that had previously stripped committee memberships from Steve King (R-Cantaloupes) for less insane and threatening words, refused to do the same to Ms. Greene for far worse. Different times, different constituency.
Dependent as they are on the Greene wing of their supporters, can the Republican Party return to rationality? If some, including M. Mitch McConnell, would like to see it — he called her out forcefully — it’s not looking good. Why? Because the media that rake it in by peddling conspiratorial thinking, stoking fact-free anger and victimhood, are responding to insurrection by making it worse.
Said Republican pollster/sloganeer Frank Lunz: “Fox has succeeded for years in straddling the line between a quality news organization and the opinion side. But Trump won’t let that happen anymore, and neither will his supporters. They want their ‘news’ to affirm them rather than inform them.”
Affirm, rather than inform. Nutshell. Desperate to stop the flow of viewers to even more affirming sources like OAN and Newsmax (now attacking each other), Fox is ridding itself of its “news” wing, making more space for the vitriol. It’s what gets Trumpist eyeballs. Thus Mr. McCarthy’s pilgrimage to see Florida man. Thus, letters to the editor in this paper, regurgitating what they’ve swallowed, crook, lying and clinker: Democrats are the hypocrites (cf. [compare] Garland/Barrett); they spent their time “harassing” Trump rather than legislating (cf. hundreds of bills spiked by the aforementioned Muscovite); Democrats want illegals to vote (cf. reality); the election was stolen (cf. DOJ review); we won’t stop the insurrection till BLM stops demonstrating (cf. planet earth). Affirmed, not informed. Fox’s move proves it’ll only increase.
What else explains Trumpist/Covid-deniers blocking access to vaccination sites, forcing their way, unmasked, into grocery stores, claiming they’re protecting “freedoms”? Like the capitol-defiling, police-beating murderers, these are people willing, based on lies, to harm themselves and others. Constitutionally.
Having lost the presidency and Senate, Republicans are seeking a more truthful, less obstructionist agenda. Kidding. In state after state, they’re turning to legislation making it harder for Democrats to vote and easier for the delusional. That’s where we’re heading. Where it ends is too awful to think about.
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.