It's rich that star columnist George "Chickenlips" Will has left the Republican Party because of the likely nomination of Donald Trump. He told the Federalist Society on Friday that he would change his registration to unaffiliated because the party that would have such a standard-bearer "is not my party." In a later interview, he said, "Make sure he loses. Grit (your) teeth for four years and win the White House."
I usually decline to extend [the real-estate developer's] brand by calling him by name, but here I am making an exception for clarity and economy of writing.
Beyond the unseemliness of a working journalist being registered as anything but an independent, Will's statement and even its forum tell us much — but not as he intended.
Columnists such as Will and the vast right-wing infrastructure that includes the Federalist Society (its specialty is the law and courts) have spent decades creating this moment. Decades of seeding the politics of racial antipathy through the Southern Strategy. Decades of teaching Americans to hate their government and be misinformed about its essential place in our society, history, and economy. Decades of creating devils (Hillary!) — and, yes, the left is capable of this, but doesn't have the reach of right-wing media. Decades of pushing policies that defunded schools, ruined our infrastructure, destroyed the middle class. All this was funded by a dark conspiracy of billionaires intent on repealing everything from the New Deal through the Nixon administration.
And this was mere prelude to the actions of the Republican Party in the Obama years. Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, we saw the frightening Nuremberg-lite rallies ginned up by Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Things got so bad that an embarrassed John McCain was forced to contradict an old bat who kept saying Obama was a Muslim terrorist. Palin led the party's final exodus from knowledge ("elitism!"), history, common sense. George Will didn't disown any of this; none of it offended his bow-tied Tory sensibility.
Then seven-and-a-half years of scorched-earth policy, where the GOP Congress regularly held the nation's economy and government hostage, even threatening default. Even minor appointments by the president were held up for years. The GOP-controlled House voted at least 60 times to repeal Obamacare, offering no alternative for uninsured Americans. Mr. Obama faced the unprecedented situation where his nominee to the Supreme Court could not even get a hearing. The party bigs and their puppetmasters helped fund the creation of the Tea Party — giving voice to an eager cohort of angry whites — ensuring a GOP so extreme that today Ronald Reagan couldn't win a Republican school-board primary. Not a peep from George Will. He was out to the ballgame.
All this and more. Yet now they are shocked, shocked! that Trump has appeared. As far as I can tell, their only legitimate beef is that Trump is a vulgarian who doesn't quote Edmund Burke and use dog whistles instead of a megaphone. Oh, and that Trump might be using what passes for conservatism as a convenient hustle to bamboozle the conservaproles and win the White House, but he isn't a true believer (indeed, the old Donald was quite heterodox). If the latter, it would be a rare case of Trump taking over a bankrupt enterprise rather than causing it.
The major media are working very hard to make Trump an anomaly from the Republican Party, rather than its logical outcome. At the same time, their false-equivalency, "both-sides-do-it" coverage risks normalizing Trump and the GOP as it has become, an enormous danger to the republic.
When forced to cover Trump's offensive blurts, they imply there is a sensible, moderate Republican Party that has been hijacked by Trump. But where is the evidence for this?
Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush all oppose women's reproductive rights, deny mainstream science on climate change, support ruinous austerity, want to gut "entitlements" such as Social Security, endorse Citizens United, are hostile to cities, would privatize the public's lands, enact draconian anti-immigration measures, despise the commons and the safety net, and would spend ever more on the Military Industrial Complex. To a man, whatever wiggling they might make to on Meet the Press. The nullity that is John Kasich is little better, as his tenure as Ohio governor has proved.
The "sensible, moderate Republican leader" they imply is out there is too old and would have no support from the angry talk-radio base: George H.W. Bush.
Behold the Party of Lincoln. This is the radical menace it has become. The only difference is that Donald Trump says out loud what most Republicans silently believe. This is one reason he swept aside the empty suits challenging him in the primary. He is the Republican Party, the Party of Trump. The base loves him. At least Jan Brewer gets credit for intellectual consistency (bet you never thought you would see the words "Jan Brewer" and "intellectual" in the same sentence).
Will did give away the long game about gritting one's teeth for four years, then taking the White House. The viciousness displayed against That Black Man in the White House will be transplanted toward That Bitch in the White House. To most Republicans, every Democratic president is illegitimate.
And this should cause some soul-searching in the Democratic Party. As moving as it was to see Rep. John Lewis, who was brutally beaten in the Civil Rights era, lead a sit in on the floor of the House, this — and the whole theater of the left — is no substitute for winning down-ticket elections. And that means from the school boards and state legislatures on up. Winning the White House merely postpones national suicide, with the added, and essential, power to appoint Supreme Court justices. If they can get a vote.