Opinion: The GOP isn't doomed. It's dead.
They missed and failed — and deserve to spend the next several years in political purgatory. The chaos now enveloping what's left of the Grand Old Party after four years of catering to an unstable president is theirs to own. Where conservatism once served as a moderating force — gently braking liberalism's boundless enthusiasm — the former home of ordered liberty has become a halfway house for ruffians, insurrectionists and renegade warriors.
What does Trump have on these people, one wonders? The continuing loyalty of so many to a man so demonstrably dangerous can't be explained by "the base," a word never more aptly applied. What secrets were shared by Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who, after blaming Trump for the Jan. 6 mob attack, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago this week to make amends? It seems that The Don, yet another appropriate nickname, need only purse his button lips and whistle to summon his lap dogs to Palm Beach, there to conspire for the next Big Lie.
The party's end was inevitable, foreshadowed in 2008 when little-boy Republican males, dazzled by the pretty, born-again, pro-life Alaska governor, thought Sarah Palin should be a heartbeat away from the presidency. The dumbing down of conservatism, in other words, began its terminal-velocity plunge, with a wink and a pair of shiny red shoes. Palin cast a spell as potent as the poppy fields of Oz, but turned the United States into her own moose-poppin,' gum-smackin' reality show.
Forget Kansas. We're not in America anymore.
Eight years of Barack Obama added insult to injury and paved the way for Trump — a gaudier, cinematic version of the "thrillah from Wasilla." Seizing upon our every worst instinct, he turned Palin's lipsticked pig into a herd of seething, primitive barbarians. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is warning of yet more violence by domestic extremists, presumably from the ranks of the mob and QAnon conspiracists who stormed the Capitol with blood on their minds.
For Donald Trump, you went down this road? Either Trump has a stockpile of incriminating videos — his people have people, you know — or today's Republicans are the weakest, wimpiest, most pathetic crop of needy nincompoops in U.S. history.
Suddenly, the "good ones" are worried about their newest member, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a QAnon-promoting female version of Trump — only without the charm. You begin to see how this monster mutates like a certain virus into ever-more-dangerous versions of itself. Among other things, Greene embraces the conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were staged. One struggles for words, but I'll settle for "creep."
Recently unearthed video shows Greene chasing David Hogg, the Parkland student who rose to public prominence as a gun-control activist after the February 2018 shooting, goading him to respond to her insinuation that his ability to get appointments with U.S. senators when she couldn't obviously meant he was a public relations spawn and not a survivor of a terrorist attack.
I confess to early uncertainty about Hogg, who was preternaturally adept at media management and public speaking, suddenly materializing from the fog of horror. But the notion that he was somehow complicit in a manufactured act of mass murder is beyond the pale even for the farthest right.
Good work, GOP. You got yourself a live one. Naturally, Greene has been assigned to the Education and Labor Committee.
Going forward, not only will House Republicans be associated with a colleague who "liked" a Twitter post calling for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's murder. They'll be attached to QAnon, which promotes the extraordinary fiction that Trump was leading a war against Satan-worshiping pedophiles and cannibals, whose leadership includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and, oh, by the way, yours truly, as well as U2's Bono.
To those Republicans who can read: You own all of this. The party isn't doomed; it's dead. The chance to move away from Trumpism, toward a more respectful, civilized approach to governance that acknowledges the realities of a diverse nation and that doesn't surrender to the clenched fist, has slipped away. What comes next is anybody's guess. But anyone who doesn't speak out against the myths and lies of fringe groups, domestic terrorists and demagogues such as Trump deserves only defeat — and a lengthy exile in infamy. Good riddance.
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The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.