Political party

The GOP is no longer a legitimate political party

US News and World Report chronicles how the fringe became mainstream in the Republican Party. The title of their story says it all: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene moves from GOP Fringe to Front.

The backstory here is fascinating and dark

The GOP is no longer a normal political party with a one-size-fits-all philosophy of government: rather, it has become a coalition of interest groups, each seeking its own ends. How did we get here, and where will this crisis of political governance lead America?

It all started with the billionaires. Sure, back then they were only worth hundreds of millions, but in today’s dollars they were billionaires even in the 1950s. President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote about them in a letter to his right-wing brother Edgar in 1954, midway through his presidency.

“If a political party tried to abolish Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would hear no more of that party in our political history. There is a small splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are HL Hunt (you may know his background), a few other oil millionaires from Texas, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

What Eisenhower never anticipated, however, was that five corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court would rule that billionaires buying off politicians was mere “free speech” rather than political corruption and kickbacks. -wine. If he had lived to see it happen (he died in 1969), he would have been deeply shocked.

Today, these far-right billionaires have outsized influence in the GOP. They are pouring hundreds of millions into elections this fall, and every Republican politician must bow to them and their low-tax, unregulated desires to gain or hold political office. Cross them and you’re grilled in GOP politics.

But billionaires are not enough to create a political party and win elections. So when the GOP went on sale in 1978 after Lewis Powell wrote the ruling in the Supreme Court’s Bellotti case authorizing it, the Republicans around Reagan formed a coalition of voters large enough to win the election. . They are:

  • southern white racists. It was, for the GOP, a low hanging fruit. A group identified in the 1960s by the Goldwater and Nixon campaigns, Kevin Phillips explained to the New York Times in 1970 how it would work: don’t need more than that… The more black people register as Democrats in the South, the sooner black-phobic white people will leave the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without this inducement from blacks, whites will revert to their old comfortable arrangement with local Democrats.
  • Homophobes and misogynists. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, this group was actively courted by hateful right-wing radio hosts like Limbaugh with their “Hillary Clinton Testicle Lockbox” and “Feminazi” slurs. There are enough men who are insecure about their own sexuality that hating women and gay people has become a popular sport, especially when the women’s and gay rights movements have gained momentum in that time.
  • Lower middle class white workers. It was the result of genius branding widely promoted by Lee Atwater at the time. Harness the brands of NASCAR, the NFL and country music, which were reliably Democratic well into the 1980s, tricking working-class white people into thinking the GOP was their home.
  • Upper middle class whites. Ironically, this is the group that has been screwed the worst by Republican fiscal policies, but they reliably vote Republican either way. While billionaires today only pay about 3% in income taxes because of the loopholes they paid Republicans to break the law, people like surgeons who earn a few hundred thousand dollars a year often pay 50% or more in taxes. Which, of course, makes them all the more vulnerable to the GOP’s tax-cut mantra, even though this group typically receives only a small share of the cuts.
  • authoritarian disciples. This group has flourished since the 2016 Trump campaign. They are people who are openly skeptical of democracy, and instead want a strong father figure to lead them and tell them how to think, act and vote. They make up the majority of January 6 traitors (although there is a lot of overlap with racists) and are willing to follow the next authoritarian leader to replace Trump (a position for which DeSantis, Hawley, Scott, Cotton and Cruz are in competition).

Because the GOP has no unifying philosophy other than hate, fear, and bowing down to billionaires and their giant corporations, the politicians who make up its ruling class are also fractured.

Neoliberalism was their unifying philosophy in 1980, and Reagan cemented this system with his presidency: he still controls most of the American political and economic system and also dictates most modern Supreme Court decisions.

But, although they generally don’t recognize the word neoliberalism, this system which includes the outsourcing of jobs, massive tax cuts for the rich (“trickle down”), the privatization of government functions and the gutting of the net Social Security has fallen out of favor among most voters. (See: The Hidden History of Neoliberalism: How Reaganism Drained America.)

This left the GOP rudderless. Their persistent cries of racists and homophobes — including efforts to ban books and the teaching of American history — helped Republican politicians win primary elections, but hurt Republicans electorally with their constituents. better educated and with higher incomes.

Likewise, their embrace of Catholic anti-abortion doctrine has repelled many former Republican female voters while failing to further energize or increase the numbers of the fringe who hold this issue with bigoted zeal.

As a result, in addition to Sen. Rick Scott’s proposals to end Social Security and Medicare within 5 years and other calls for tax cuts, Republican politicians in the state and in the federal office have been reduced to simply opposing everything the Democrats do or want to do.

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Republicans are now so devoted to knee-jerk opposition to anything Democrats pass that they have literally driven hundreds of thousands of their own supporters to their deaths ridiculing masks and vaccines during the worst pandemic in more than a decade. ‘a century. This lack of a clear ideological foundation across the GOP has opened the door to:

  • Predatory Crooks (Mehmet Oz, Matt Gaetz, Rick Scott),
  • Wannabee stars and fame seekers (Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Ted Cruz) and
  • Poutine Autocrats (Blake Masters, Doug Mastriano, Ron DeSantis).

Donald Trump, filling all three categories simultaneously, has predictably become the “King of Thieves” in the GOP: Those aspiring to replace him are finding it’s a damn hard act to follow, making Republican voters even more vulnerable to each of these three GOPs. factions.

With Trump in crisis and absent from the ballot this year, the democracy-hating autocrats of the group are offering everyone else a simple formula to retain their wealth, fame and power: rig the election. While the idea would have been blasphemous just a few decades ago, even in GOP circles (which represents the Republican defector types of the Lincoln Project), it is now embraced in what remains of the Party.

When the Supreme Court legalized voter list purges in 2018, every Republican-controlled state jumped on the bandwagon. Estimates of the number of Democratic voters who will find themselves purged from the rolls this fall range from a low of 3 million to a high of 15 million (10 million is probably a reasonable estimate). Democratic voters in Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Arizona will be particularly hard hit.

While Democrats have dedicated themselves to registering people to vote for decades, Republicans have consistently removed voters from the rolls without any consequences. Having democracy removed from your philosophy of government makes rationalizing such behavior not only easy but attractive.

So where will this lead the GOP and America?

Some argue that America today is a lot like Italy in 1929 or Germany in 1934, but Mussolini and Hitler had clear philosophies of governance. The two countries were united by their leaders around a kind of genuine (albeit toxic) nationalism.

But this is a very imperfect analogy. The two autocrats expanded the social safety net in both countries (including free university and free health care) and launched huge public works projects like the German Autobahn and the infamous train system on time in Italy.

In 1938, Hitler graced the cover of TIME magazine for the second time and was arguably the most popular politician in German history. Mussolini spawned a similar fanatic following.

Neither leader reportedly encouraged party members to embrace foreign leaders like Republican politicians like the 57 House Republicans and 11 Senate Republicans who openly rejected aid to Ukraine and embraced Vladimir instead. Cheese fries.

The simple reality is that today’s GOP, having abandoned Eisenhower’s “moderation” and depending on hate and fear to drive its base, is in crisis. Being so close to having the power to destroy American democracy may seem to belie that fact, but it’s true.

If the Democrats beat the Republicans in a blowout next month, will the GOP reform? Will it be turned into a rump party? Or, like the Nazis in the early 1930s when they suffered electoral setbacks at the hands of Socialists and Communists, will fanatics and authoritarian grassroots GOP supporters be dual-energized, leading to a resurgent Republican Party and even more fascist?

For the moment, impossible to know. But having a clear vision of where we are and how we got here will surely help us navigate this uncertain future.

Independent Media Institute

This article was produced by Economy for alla project of the Independent Media Institute.