Mike Pence was reportedly “beside himself.” Paul Ryan disinvited the nominee from his big shindig in Wisconsin today. Rep. Chaffetz and other prominent Republicans publicly withdrew their support. Though a bit more profane than usual, the video is entirely consistent with everything we’ve known about Donald Trump all along. Why are Republicans suddenly outraged by this?
Before we wind up the GOPLifer blog in a few days (fingers crossed), here are a few last thoughts on this incident and its implications:
Republicans didn’t care how vile Trump is when they thought he might win.
There’s a sick, disturbing power-worship in the way Republicans have handled Donald Trump, going all the way back to his campaign announcement. The way they cower when it looks like he’s winning and pounce when he looks weak is revolting behavior in a bunch of adults. Mike Pence wasn’t “beside himself” because he had learned something new about the man he agreed to support. He was upset because it was finally clear that Trump was collapsing, and that the rubble would come tumbling down on him. These people following Trump, many of whom I had respected until very recently, are disgusting.
Our election cycle isn’t nearly as long as we think.
Media coverage and the fevered hype from those of us who pay attention makes it seem like Americans spend half of each Presidential term electing the next one. That really isn’t the case. Only about one in three of the Americans who will vote for President bothers to tune in to the primary process. Our election cycle actually runs from just after Labor Day to November. A minority of the country is paying attention before October. If it seems like the whole character of the process changed after Labor Day, that’s because the rest of the country suddenly joined the party. Keep that in mind in 2020.
Don’t act surprised.
Did you hear Donald Trump’s speech announcing his candidacy? Did you read his comments about POW’s? Did you see the way he treated Megyn Kelly after the first Republican debate? Did you see his comments about the Khan family? Have you had the slightest awareness of his multiple messy divorces and sordid private life? What does it take to make Republicans feel something for another human being? No one has the slightest basis on which to act surprised. We have all been on notice since day one that this man is a horrid, destructive cretin. For some reason, millions of Republicans were willing to set that aside and make him our President. For Republicans who are shocked this morning, ask yourself why. Why were you willing tolerate this?
The Trump scandal no one cares about.
As a private citizen, Trump played a significant role in the campaign to railroad the Central Park 5, including a concerted effort at the time to reinstate the death penalty. Years after we discovered to our shame that those teenagers had been wrongly convicted, Trump this week defended his role in the case and insisted that they are guilty. My fellow Republicans, THAT’s the man you were proposing to place in command of the Justice Department. Again, no one in the GOP cares when Donald Trump says (or threatens to do) horrifying things to racial and religious minorities. This is a problem, folks.
Maybe “political correctness” isn’t such a bad thing.
Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t OK for people to go around spouting bigoted, ignorant slurs about other human beings they don’t understand. Perhaps the world might be a better place if we gave the slightest thought to how the words we choose affect other people. Here’s a thought for my friends still in the party: if Republicans weren’t so cavalier about so-called “political correctness” you might be winning this election.
Time for a “Pro-Life” headcheck
I’ve argued for a long time that America doesn’t have a politically relevant pro-life voting bloc. Scratch the surface of the so-called pro-life movement and waves of misogynistic spiders come pouring out. It is impossible to conceive of a political movement genuinely interested in the dignity of life that would line up behind a man who pours out invective against refugees, religious minorities and women. Yet, even this weekend, those sick, confused bastards keep defending him.
This would be a better country if we recognized that Tim Kaine is a far better intellectual ambassador for the pro-life movement than Mike Pence. As Republicans pick through the rubble of this election cycle, hopefully someone will explore whether a minimally self-aware pro-life movement might offer some hope for the future.
Republicans face a frightening empathy gap
The greatest challenge for Republicans in coming years, if the party is going to remain intact, is empathy. While the rest of America works its way forward toward a culture capable of respecting and protecting people beyond the bounds of clan, tribe and race, Republicans remain trapped inside a tribal fortress. Republicans seem like nice people, people like Mike Pence and Paul Ryan, who are nonetheless bafflingly incapable of grasping the humanity of people beyond their kinship groups. Black people are real human beings who feel things. Muslims are just like you. Mexicans want good things for their children. These simple statements seem to stick in the throats of Republican leaders. Why? Seriously, why is that so hard?
The challenge facing the Clinton Administration.
Hillary Clinton is about to assume leadership over a nation of people who didn’t particularly want her in charge. Many of us who will be voting for her feel confident about her competence and intelligence, but there is nothing in her policy agenda that attracted us. She hasn’t threatened to do anything stupid, criminal, cruel, or insane, which makes her an empirically superior choice over any of her rivals for the White House. That’s her campaign in a nutshell.
That isn’t her fault. She seems like she was prepared to run and win a campaign based on policy and vision and ideas. But this is how events played out.
I am not exactly your average low-information voter. I have degrees in Political Science and Law and have been an active political volunteer for almost three decades, but I don’t even know what her tax plan looks like. When your house is on fire, do you ask what kind of water the firemen plan to use? I’m confident I’ll pay more taxes under Clinton than Trump. Frankly that seems fair. I’ll happily write a check to hold off Fascism (or its cousin, Idiocracy) for a few more years while we all work out some alternative plans.
Politically, this means that a very large chunk of the support Clinton leveraged to reach the White House will have evaporated by Inauguration Day. She will launch her Administration under the shadow of Churchill Syndrome – “thanks for rescuing Western Civilization, now when do you plan to leave?”
She is a remarkably capable political operator. She will need every ounce of those skills to build a governing coalition from the alignments she rode to victory.
That is all. Enjoy your weekend. If things come together we should have a new site ready by early next week.