There is No Republican Party
Those waiting on Republicans to come to their senses, discover their consciences, or pivot to some new direction have it all wrong. The GOP has reached the end of its existence as a political party
The golden statue was a bit on the nose. A gleaming idol for the sacreligious worship of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States and the undisputed, unchallengable leader of the Republican Party.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, as the GOP has lost all subtlety in its dive into the abyss. Metaphors have given way to screaming literalism, a sweaty, desperate, constantly-contradicting, throbbing anger and shameless pursuit of power and wealth. With bloodshot eyes and while holding conservative tomes from yesteryear, this Republican Party will sell every principle they espouse and then do it again just for pennies on the dollar.
This is so disturbing and offputting only because it is the exposure of generations of bad faith and gleeful nihilism that has been hiding under the surface of star-spangled visions of soaring eagles and Sunday picnics in the park. The essence of horror is misplaced trust and comfort. The nap while the killer is just out of the camera’s view. The call coming from inside the house. We have been living with these people, working with these people, at the political and economic mercy of these people, for so very long and now that the mask has slipped there is little to do but wonder how we could have ever felt safe for even a moment.
Many of us grimaced as the early days of President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition efforts were marked by the drumbeat of seeking “unity.” After watching the Republican Party fully embrace Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, domestic terrorists, and double-over in laughter over children being thrown into concentration camps, it felt…odd hearing that we should make nice or even begin to trust them.
Of course, it was political maneuvering, messaging on the part of an incoming president presiding over a broken country, but it was only a matter of hours before Republicans jumped on the olive branch and seized it as a weapon. Any proposal by Biden or the Democratic Party - Democrats, for the record, have compromised their own principles over and over again in search of “bipartisanship,” only to cede the political discourse to a GOP working in bad faith - was instantly derided and the call was “where’s the unity?”
Anyone paying even a little attention to the past few years knows there is absolutely no dealing with this group, that there are no principles to be found, no actual agenda beyond deregulating and cutting taxes for the wealthy, and that the body proper of the GOP is a transforming mass that has no purpose or direction other than seeking more and more power.
Frustration with Biden and the Democrats, other than their continued insistence on getting in their own way, mostly centers around a public denial of this undeniable fact, as well as a reluctance to call the Republicans what they are: a political party that reached its ideological conclusion only to continue functioning as a representative of the wealthy and powerful and a burgeoning fascistic threat.
To watch the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is to witness a continuous, radicalizing grift. In the past, CPAC was mostly a place where the Right Wing could congregate, catch a few panels on destroying taxes and government as a public good, smash a couple of bottles of expensive wine, and reminisce about the good ol’ days where men like William F. Buckley would drink one too G&T’s and let the racial slurs fly.
Now, it is the party of Donald Trump, a gloating parade of excess, self-congratulation, and, this is especially disgusting, the place where the wealthy and powerful get onstage and talk about how they aren’t wealthy or powerful enough. It is an aggrievement machine, the territory where men who’ve been given literally everything, men like Donald Trump, Jr., a talentless, charmless, sad spectacle of a man, can tell thousands in attendance who laugh at every bad half-joke he tells, how his Instagram posts should get more likes and engagements.
There is no actual politics here. It is a meeting of angry, repressed people who only find meaning in what they oppose. Instead of pushing policies or agendas, CPAC has become a haven for riffing on “Cancel Culture,” a myth that only matters to white grandparents and parents who watch Fox News in fear their past behaviors or the behaviors of their Don Jr.-like scions will catch up to them before their in their graves.
It was inevitable. In the 20th century the intellectuals and ideologues of the Republican Party recognized their inability to win elections based on their ideas or policies. Elites like Buckley and the East Coast WASPs he represented were explicitly business-minded with little interest in helping anyone but themselves and their friends at the country club. As Civil Rights and the anti-war movement took shape, however, they saw an opening to reach out to disaffected whites and use their rage and aggrievement as a means of gaining power, profit, and control.
Since then, it has been an uneasy and anxious alliance of contradictions and inconsistencies. The GOP’s core has always been the protection and promotion of the wealthy and powerful, but over the years they’ve lost control of the party’s apparatus, leading to a mishmash of white supremacist paranoia and faux-populist rage that devours itself daily and produces nothing but confused and unbridled anger. Its own illogical nature can produce nothing but violence.
The GOP is not a political party. It literally has no platform. There is no ideological drive beyond dismantling government as a public good, acting on behalf of white, patriarchal, capitalist supremacy, and seeking absolute power.
This is a runaway train, hurtling, hurtling, hurtling into the distance because there is nothing else for it to do. And, like any runaway train, there are only two possible outcomes as to what will happen. It will either be mercifully stopped before it hurts someone or it will crash in a fiery, tragic heap that will undoubtedly take some lives with it.