Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The hate and nonsense debt has come due

Yesterday, I noted how Joe Scarborough asked if this was how the party of Lincoln dies. Today, Josh Marshall at TPM explains what has happened to bring the GOP to this point.

Note that he doesn't talk about the underlying causes of all this. He doesn't mention the Republican Party's notorious "Southern strategy" at all. But he explains what has happened to create this "Trump problem" for the GOP:
It's a build up of what we might call 'hate debt' and 'nonsense debt' that has been growing up for years.

This crystallized for me after the last GOP debate when Trump told Chris Cuomo in a post-debate interview that the IRS might be coming after him because he's a "strong Christian." Set aside for the moment how this unchurched libertine was able to rebrand himself as a "strong Christian." What about the preposterous claim that he is being persecuted by the IRS because he is a devout member of the country's dominant religion? Republicans simply aren't in any position to criticize this ludicrous claim because they have spent years telling their voters that this sort of thing happens all the time - to Christians, conservatives, everyone the liberals at the IRS hate. And this, of course, is just one example of hate and nonsense debt coming due. Shift gears now and they're "RINOs."

Take Trump's plan to deport 11 million people living in the US illegally or build the planned Trump Taj MaWall. As John Kasich has futilely tried to explain in debate after debate, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, this is simply never going to happen. Such an effort would be more on the order of a post-War World II population transfer than anything remotely like a conventional immigration enforcement action, costing probably hundreds of billions of dollars and perhaps even constituting something approaching a war crime. As for the Wall, of course, in the real world net immigration across the US-Mexico border has actually gone into reverse in recent years. More are leaving than coming. But in the Republican/Fox news world, hordes of feral Mexicans are still streaming across the Southern border - them and a layering of ISIS death squads who fly from Ankara to Belize and then walk to the Arizona border.

But this is just the hate and nonsense debt coming due from 2013. You can either let the status quo go on or you can devise a way to regularize at least the majority of people who are here illegally. There's no other option. Unless you just want to say 'No Amnesty' and pretend the problem will go away with 'self-deportation' or some other such nonsense. And that of course is precisely what Republican congressional leaders did. All Trump did was say openly, clearly, more coherently what Republicans were already saying themselves, while also saying out of the sides of their mouths that somehow they'd get to the mass deportation later.

The truth is virtually Trump's entire campaign is built on stuff just like this, whether it's about mass deportation, race, the persecution of Christians, Obamacare, the coming debt crisis and a million other things. At the last debate, Trump got pressed on his completely ludicrous tax cut plan. He eventually said growth (which if you calculate it would need to be something like 20% annual growth on average) would take care of the huge budget shortfall it created. But Republicans can't really dispute this point since all of Republican campaign economics is based on precisely the same argument. What about Obamacare? Can Marco "Establishment" Rubio really get traction attacking Trump for having no specific plan to replace Obamacare when Republicans have spent the last five years repeatedly voting to repeal Obamacare without ever specifying a plan to replace it with? On each of these fronts, the slow accumulation of nonsense and paranoia - 'debt' to use our metaphor - built into a massive trap door under the notional GOP leadership with a lever that a canny huckster like Trump could come in and pull pretty much whenever. This is the downside of building party identity around a package of calculated nonsense and comically unrealizable goals.

There's more, of course, but that's a pretty significant excerpt. I like the metaphor (which, if you read the entire column, is actually about computer programming).

This won't be a trap for the Republican Party if they win the election, though. They're upset now because they think that Trump won't have a chance (and, admittedly, because Trump is such a loose cannon that they have no idea what he might do).

But this is the same party that used - and still uses - racism for political advantage. Do you really think they'll have any ethical concerns about Donald Trump? No, they'll certainly end up on board with Trump if he ends up as their nominee. And so will most Republicans, I suspect.

Plus, I've already heard young Bernie Sanders supporters say that Trump would be better than Hillary Clinton. It might just be talk, and it's probably just a small number of complete idiots anyway, but... who knows?

I can't help but remember that George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 after we already knew what a complete disaster he was for our country. After that, I've had zero confidence in the American public. And the off-year elections in 2010 and 2014 bore that out, don't you think? Both because of the people who voted Republican and the people who let the Republicans win because they couldn't be bothered to vote at all.

This is like sitting in a courtroom, charged with a crime you did not commit, and wondering what kind of jury you've ended up with to decide your fate...


Jim Harris said...

I couldn't believe George W. Bush got reelected either. Can you imagine an alternate history where Nader didn't run, and Al Gore beat Bush in 2000?

Of course, pundits were saying the GOP was done for when Obama was reelected. I never can predict anything about politics.

I voted for Hilary today. I preferred Bernie, but I decided to vote for the person most likely to beat the GOP.

WCG said...

"Of course, pundits were saying the GOP was done for when Obama was reelected."

I know. Republicans were in a panic. So what did they do? GOP leaders met and agreed to do nothing Obama wanted, no matter what it might be. If he wanted it, they'd oppose it. Period. No matter what that did to our country.

This was before he'd even taken office, while America was engaged in two wars and with our economy collapsing into a black hole. They hoped to make America such a hell-hole - while blaming everything on the president - that voters would completely forget about George W. Bush.

And it worked. Well, it worked well enough. I couldn't believe it! But Republicans won again less than two years later. And that gave them even more leverage to harm our country.

They did not take back the presidency - not in 2012, at least - but they took back Congress and dominated in many states. They did not succeed in preventing the economic recovery, but they slowed it significantly, and then they blamed Barack Obama for that!

Yes, I was surprised when Bush was re-elected in 2004, but that was nothing compared to my surprise that this cynical, even treasonous (what do you call deliberately harming America for political advantage?), tactic of the GOP actually worked.

2004 was nothing to my surprise that the Republican Party went from worrying about its very survival to triumph, and so quickly,... and with such destructive, cynical, and downright evil tactics.

How stupid can the American people be?

Re. Bernie vs Hillary, I think I agree with you. And I'm considerably less enthused about Bernie than I used to be, just from listening to some of his supporters!

Anyway, I tend to agree with him slightly more on economic issues, but overall, I think that Hillary would make a damned good president. Of course, either one will face the same unified opposition that Obama has had, no matter what they try to do.

And the Republican Party has attacked Hillary Clinton nonstop for two decades now. It's had an effect, even with many Democrats, but it's hard to imagine they can do much more.

They haven't even started on Bernie Sanders yet, and I suspect that they can't wait! An atheist socialist Jew who looks like the mad scientist in Back to the Future? (No, he isn't a self-described atheist, but that's what I often hear, even from his supporters.)

Sadly, negative campaigning works. At least, it works on far too many ignorant voters. Bernie hasn't faced that, not yet. Hillary has, for decades now. Whatever Republicans can claim about her, they already have.