There are decent Republican people. There are Republican voters and politicians and writers who promote principles of public decency. But there aren’t enough of those individuals to have prevented the Republican Party, as a national institution, from becoming one that welcomes and encourages violence and white-supremacist racism.
The party’s pre-Trump history is obviously not spotless. But 10 and 20 years ago the Republican party was usually forced to marginalize and disavow its openly racist, fascist elements, if only for reasons of political expediency. Not so anymore. Consider:
- The party has almost universally supported the agenda and personality cult of Donald Trump, who once bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Trump has been credibly accused of sexual assault by 14 women and has been accused by six others of entering changing rooms in which he knew that teenage girls would be undressed.
- One of the president’s senior advisers, Steve Bannon, has reportedly endorsed a book about race war—beloved in the neo-Nazi community—which refers to black individuals as “niggers” and “rats.” Bannon openly supports white nationalist goals such as reducing the number of Asian American CEOs and was heavily involved in creating the career of white nationalist and Nazi fetishist Milo Yiannopoulos.
- Trump’s son, who was a key part of his campaign, repeatedly conducted campaign outreach to open, unapologetic white supremacists. The president himself conducted an exclusive campaign Q&A with a notorious internet forum rife with white supremacist hate speech.
- Congressman Steve King, who has repeatedly endorsed white-supremacist talking points and praised European white nationalist parties, was once considered a nuisance by party leaders but has been embraced and promoted by Trump.
- The Trump administration reportedly recently hired a woman whose most recent job was running an anti-immigration group that was founded by a white supremacist and has long-standing connections to the sewer world of race science.
- Eyewitnesses from Fox News, of all places, say the newest Republican congressman—Montana’s Greg Gianforte—body-slammed and punched a reporter who had approached him to ask a question about the American Health Care Act on Wednesday night. Gianforte was almost immediately charged with assault by a local sheriff who had donated to his campaign. Then, on Thursday, he was elected to Congress, where other Republicans appear ready to welcome him with, at most, the suggestion that he “apologize” for engaging in the spontaneous beating of someone who was trying to ask him a question about public policy.
Are there elected Democrats who express dubious views and commit crimes? Yes! But when those individuals get caught, they resign. They become, for example, “disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner.” But the idea of disgrace is no longer a relevant concept in a Republican Party whose leaders and voters collectively condone and encourage violence against women, violence against the press, and the expression of white-supremacist views. That’s not hyperbole, or a cheap shot—it’s just reality. Happy Memorial Day!