August 5, 2022 Wayne Northey

Opinion | The GOP is sick. It didn’t start with Trump — and won’t end with him.

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Image without a captionBy | Columnist

August 4, 2022

image above: Trump is sick. So is the GOP., by

WN: This statement nails it, in terms of the enormous malaise of the GOP:

Republicans have become the voice of White people, particularly those without college degrees, who fear the loss of their way of life in a multicultural America.

The next points to the horrific fallout from them:

In the process, Republicans became Destructionists: They destroyed truth, they destroyed decency, they destroyed patriotism, they destroyed national unity, they destroyed racial progress, they destroyed their own party, and they are well on their way to destroying the world’s oldest democracy.

excerpts:

This essay was adapted from “The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party” by Dana Milbank. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday. All rights reserved.

Many Americans were shocked that Trump, after first considering a plan to seize voting machines, had orchestrated an attempted coup, knowingly dispatching armed attackers to Capitol Hill and then refusing for 187 minutes to call off the assault. And many Americans have been shocked anew to see elected Republicans, after initially condemning Trump’s attack on democracy, excuse his actions and rationalize the violent insurrection itself as “legitimate political discourse.”

But a sober look at history might have lessened the shock, for the seeds of sedition had been planted earlier — a quarter-century earlier — in that same spot on the West Front of the Capitol.

But the biggest cause is race.

On Sept. 27, 1994, more than 300 Republican members of Congress and congressional candidates gathered where the insurrectionists would one day mount the scaffolding. On that sunny morning, they assembled for a nonviolent transfer of power. Bob Michel, the unfailingly genial leader of the House Republican minority for the previous 14 years, had ushered Ronald Reagan’s agenda through the House. But he was being forced into retirement by a rising bomb thrower who threatened to oust Michel as GOP leader if he didn’t quit. “My friends,” a wistful Michel told the gathering, “I’ll not be able to be with you when you enter that promised land of having that long-sought-after majority.”

Republicans have become the voice of White people, particularly those without college degrees, who fear the loss of their way of life in a multicultural America.

Newt Gingrich had almost nothing in common with the man he shoved aside. [Robert H. Michel] was a portrait of civility and decency, a World War II combat veteran who knew that his political opponents were not his enemies and that politics was the art of compromise. Gingrich, by contrast, rose to prominence by forcing the resignation of a Democratic speaker of the House on what began as mostly false allegations, by smearing another Democratic speaker with personal innuendo, and by routinely thwarting Michel’s attempts to negotiate with Democrats. Gingrich had avoided service in Vietnam and regarded Democrats as the enemy, impugning their patriotism and otherwise savaging them nightly on the House floor for the benefit of C-SPAN viewers.

Other factors sped the party’s turn toward nihilism: Concurrent with the rise of Gingrich was the ascent of conservative talk radio, followed by the triumph of Fox News, followed by the advent of social media. Combined, they created a media environment that allows Republican politicians and their voters to seal themselves in an echo chamber of “alternative facts.” Globally, south-to-north migration has ignited nationalist movements around the world and created a new era of autocrats. The disappearance of the Greatest Generation, tempered by war, brought to power a new generation of culture warriors.

But the biggest cause is race. The parties re-sorted themselves after the epochal changes of the 1960s, which expanded civil rights, voting rights and immigration. Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” began an appeal to White voters alienated by racial progress, and, in the years that followed, a new generation of Republicans took that racist undertone and made it the melody.

It is crucial to understand that Donald Trump didn’t create this noxious environment. He isn’t some hideous, orange Venus emerging from the half-shell. Rather, he is a brilliant opportunist; he saw the direction the Republican Party was taking and the appetites it was stoking. The onetime pro-choice advocate of universal health care reinvented himself to give Republicans what they wanted. Because Trump is merely a reflection of the sickness in the GOP, the problem won’t go away when he does.

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