This election is not about Donald Trump. I say that because Trump is not a problem, so much as a symptom. Our problem is the Republican Party, and has been for a while. A good, solid, sane political party could not nominate someone as horrible as Trump.
The current GOP is an example of what happens when you cultivate a “base” of people who not only doesn’t care much about knowledge and intelligence, but who actually despises the concept. Hillary wasn’t insulting these people by calling them “deplorable;” what else do you call people who take pride in their willful ignorance and who denigrate people who actually want to learn something? The reason current Republican politicians sound as stupid and bigoted as they do is because they need their stupid, bigoted white “base” to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning anything. And since “winning” is the only thing they seem to understand or care about, expecting any sort of moderation from them is little more than a pipe dream.
That is why it’s not enough to just beat Trump. Beating all of them – including Senators, Congresscritters, governors and state legislators – is enormously critical. If they couldn’t count on winning, even with their nutjob “base,” they’d have to change their politics. And that would be a good thing for everyone.
The current Republican Party is in no way “conservative.” The party has been taken over by radicals to the point that GOP moderates have become independents or Democrats. One reason the Democratic Party has moved to the right is because progressives largely abandoned the party, and conservatives have joined in with Democrats, because there is no longer a place for real conservatives in today’s GOP.
It will only get worse unless we put a stop to it. We can’t wait for them to implode; we have to actively defeat them to make them go away. it. They won’t change their politics as long as they keep winning elections. Think about it; how are they going to change within the next couple of election cycles? They can’t just change their message and expect everyone to flock to them; who would believe it? Long before Trump showed up, the entire GOP has shown tremendous disrespect to just about every demographic group except rich white men for so long, do they really think they’ll suddenly be forgiven if they just say the “right things”? Even if there was no Trump, does anyone think black people would listen to a bunch of ass-kissing from Republicans and just forget the century of disrespect they’ve endured? Would Hispanics suddenly embrace the party wholeheartedly, and forget the images of “illegals” sneaking over the border to steal “American Jobs”? Would gays just suddenly forgive the decades in which GOP politicians demeaned them and compared them to molesters and pedophiles and come to embrace the party anytime soon? Come on, get real. The GOP is already dead. Progressives are responsible for propping them up.
Trump was able to catch on because there is a lot of dead weight in the current incarnation of the Republican Party. Why would’t they have so much? They’ve spent decades catering to the worst elements of our society because they only care about winning. And the only reason they win is because they say things that make reasonable people want to stay home from the polls.
We thought the Willie Horton ad was as despicable as the GOP could get when we saw that, but they’ve consistently topped themselves since and that kind of crap has actually become Republican orthodoxy. If you think Trump is an outlier, think again. He’s more crude than the rest of them, but when you look at his policy positions, there isn’t one that hasn’t been a regularGOP position in the last few decades. Hell, if you think about it, even the misogyny he’s spouted, while more crude than previously, has been seen many times before. Look at the Republican arguments over what type of rape is “legitimate.” Republicans always advocate to force raped women to carry their attacker’s baby to term. Republican images of the poor as lazy moochers aren’t exactly new and they are focused primarily on women of color. Republicans have called women “sluts” for years for a variety of reasons.
The Republican Party has featured and even promoted deplorable people for years. Think Ann Coulter, Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Cliven Bundy, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ted Nugent; all of them came well before Donald Trump. They have been catering to birthers and teabaggers for years, as if their “ideas” were legitimate. They openly celebrates the 1% richest people in our society and castigate the other 99% as “shiftless.” Their “base” cares far less about the truth than about being told what they want to hear, and the party leadership has never had a problem catering to that. It’s not like Donald Trump is the first liar to run under the Republican banner.
We do have some serious problems with government, but if you’re taking aim at Democrats now, you need to stop and take a deep breath because that’s not where the problem is. We can’t continue down this road. There was once a sense of equilibrium in the system, and the extremist nuts were kept in check by the moderate voices in each party. Now, the inmates are running the asylum. And the asylum is the Republican Party. Donald Trump may be the worst warden of the asylum in history, but he’s not the first nut to be in charge of the asylum.
This country cannot make progress with a party as nutty as the GOP’s running the show. And make no mistake; as long as the GOP has enough power to block Democrats, nothing is getting done. All progressives must return to the Democratic Party and actually participate. That doesn’t mean simply standing on the sidelines and making demands, and using our votes as hostages. We all have to actually register as Democrats and take part in nominating the best Democrats we can. That means we have to understand that the “best possible” won’t always be a hardcore liberal. We have to eventually get a Democratic supermajority in both halves of Congress, but we also have to be aware that it will take a few election cycles to accomplish that, and that means we need patience. Then, we need to win again and again, and stop putting Democratic politicians on a two-year time limit. The only way the GOP will send their current “base” packing is if we keep beating them. Over time (again, we need patience), moderates will eventually reclaim the Republican party, and many of those who left the GOP before will rejoin, including many of the Blue Dogs many progressives seem to hate so much.
Even before that happens, however, the changes in this country will be massive. We will need time to reverse a generation of neocon-dominated politics, but getting rid of the GOP starting now will bring major changes from the first. But we need to continue being patient and let the process work its magic. By the mid-2020s, we can have the parties back to where they should be, and the right wing will be relegated to the fringes once again, which is where they belong.
Everything will take time, and a concerted effort on our part. Politics is a process, and there are no shortcuts. We have to renounce the right wing ideology and force the Republican Party to change itself. For that to happen, it has to lose, and it has to lose often. It has to be a lot more than just making Hillary Clinton president. Republicans need to go. All of them. And we can’t let them back until they can play nice.