I should have a post up soon about the last week of Donald Trump’s catastrophic August Until then, I want to share this important point by Tom Socca in Slate this morning. I’m sure other smart pundits and academics have brought this up in articles, books, and lectures. However this is a great way to explain how the GOP went through a radical change in the decades preceding Trump. This change, of course, paved the way for Trump and future GOP leaders. It shouldn’t be surprising that it goes back to the to first Democrat to win the White House after a 12 year drought - Bill Clinton. We know that the GOP treated Jimmy Carter as an illegitimate president while he was in office, and for decades afterward. With Clinton, the disrespect extended to what could have (should have) been interpreted as a constitutional crisis: the Federal government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996.
At the time, the feeling was that the House, led by Newt Gingrich, was throwing a tantrum and they would come around to accept the fact that they would have to work with Clinton. But they sent strong signals that forever changed the GOP. The GOP no longer had to work with anyone. They could seriously obstruct the mechanisms of government. Don’t like a policy or the Affordable Care Act? Shut down the government. Or how about ensuring that a Democrat can never nominate a Supreme Court justice if the GOP holds the US Senate? That’s the new rule. or how about the recent scenario in Oregon where the GOP realized that it couldn’t stop a carbon tax bill from becoming law. They just disappeared (and the Democrats inexplicably took the bill off the Governor’s desk, which is another story).
Ronald Reagan floated the idea of doing away with anything founded by Democrats. That includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, AMTRAK, the EPA, and the Civil Rights Act. Today, the idea has progressed under this logic to oppose anything that was not only led or founded by Democrats, but anything that is shared, or meant for everyone on US soil. That would include National Parks and Monuments, highways, public roads, municipal water systems, and even the Statue of Liberty, the example that Socca uses this morning.
I have written here that today’s Republican party would rather burn the Republic down rather than respect a political party that represents the majority of citizens. We intellectuals are finally constructing the history of how our Republic caught fire 25 years ago. The party divide is logical, but also mad. It extends to the media we consume, the sneakers we wear, the cars we drive and the restaurant brands we choose. It’s logical. It’s mad. And it’s also unsustainable, as the Republic burns.