These are just some of the headlines we’re seeing in big media today following The Washington Post’s publication of an extremely lewd, behind the scenes conversation recorded ten years ago between Donald Trump and Billy Bush prior to a taping of a soap opera cameo. Multiple high profile Republican elected officials who had grudgingly or conditionally endorsed him withdrew their support Saturday after Trump failed to demonstrate any genuine remorse for his comments.
Meanwhile, top members of the Bush administration called on Trump to quit the race, which he proceeded to angrily and loudly refuse to do.
“There are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video; no woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behavior. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences,” said Senator John McCain, the party’s presidential nominee, in a statement renouncing his endorsement of Trump.
Sorry, Senator McCain, but you cannot deny your culpability here. This is a mess of your party’s making. The seeds for Donald Trump’s nomination were sown long ago. Trump is merely the raw, reptilian manifestation of the nasty and destructive politics that have come to define the modern Republican Party.
The Republican Party began as an antislavery party in the 1800s; many of its leaders were the stalwart progressives of their day who yearned and fought for greater freedom and equality for all Americans. Alas, those days are ancient history.
Today, the Republican Party represents the worst of America. It has been taken over by a prejudiced, xenophobic right wing movement that cannot even be called conservative because its members are not for conserving anything at all.
Many Republicans say Donald Trump doesn’t speak for them. But he is their nominee. And not by accident, either. Trump is not a fluke. Trump is, again, the manifestation of what Republican politics have morphed into.
Trump openly espouses views held by the party’s base. To them, Trump’s raunchy, derogatory commentary is unfiltered and refreshing.
The modern base of the Republican Party consists of people who want to ban an entire religion from this country — something the Constitution of the United States explicitly prohibits — deport millions of families who came here seeking better lives, deny women control over their own bodies, and exacerbate America’s gun violence epidemic by allowing and encouraging firearms to be carried everywhere.
Given their extreme views and their militancy, why would the Republican base find Trump’s horrific comments about women from 2005 problematic?
Many Republican voters are fiercely loyal to Trump, as we saw in Wisconsin just this weekend, where Paul Ryan faced a crowd angry that he had disinvited Trump from making a joint campaign appearance with him.
They’re not unhappy or disgusted that Trump gloated about groping women eleven years ago — they’re unhappy that Paul Ryan is not openly embracing Trump in the wake of the publication of those comments, as they are.
At statehood, Washington was a Republican state, and the Republican Party was home to a strong progressive wing for much of the twentieth century. But those days are long gone now. The governorship of Dan Evans is a distant memory. Today’s Washington State Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump and Tim Eyman, not Dan Evans (or even Slade Gorton).
Washington State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison’s response to Trump’s lewd comments was — and I’m not kidding — to claim that Trump “was a Democrat” when he made his remarks. Even if that were true, it would not excuse what Trump said, nor would it justify Hutchison’s indefensible decision to continue supporting a man who deserves no one’s money, no one’s time, and no one’s vote.
It’s hard to believe Hutchison was once a newscaster or a candidate for King County Executive. She’s now a minion for the least qualified person ever to be nominated by a major party for the office of President of the United States. How embarrassing.
The Republican Party is so hostile to progressivism and pragmatism now that it would be surely be unrecognizable to a time traveler from even the 1970s.
The Republican Party’s extreme rightward shift has created huge problems in American politics. When each party had a progressive wing and a conservative wing (in some regions of the country, not all) they were more balanced. Progressives and partial progressives could work with each other across party lines to achieve things. That is increasingly difficult and uncommon everywhere, but especially in Congress.
Now that the Republican Party has been take over by the extreme right, the Democratic Party is the only option now for anyone who wants to belong to anything remotely resembling a “big tent” political party. That’s not a good thing.
We really need at least two parties committed to governing pragmatically. And we don’t enjoy that now given what’s happened to the Republican Party.
The two-party system seems likely to endure — it’s already survived a Civil War, the Gilded Age, two world wars, and a depression — so if that’s what we’re going to continue to have, it’d be ideal for those two parties to be a) an unabashedly progressive party free of neoliberalism, and b) a loyal opposition party containing a mix of partial progressives and reasonable conservatives.
Right now, one of our major parties has become a vehicle for neofascism, while the other faces what you could say is something of an identity crisis.
This is a dangerous development for American politics. This is a dangerous moment in our country’s history. Two men who believe in very un-American ideas (Donald Trump and Mike Pence) have gotten unacceptably close to the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States. And again, not by accident. They had help.
Established Republicans like John McCain, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell may not want to admit it or accept it, but they and the Republican Noise Machine enabled Donald Trump’s rise. Trump is their true reflection. They all deserve to go down together, and be replaced by a new two-party system that unequivocally repudiates neofascism, xenophobia, and misogyny.