So what was weak this week?
–I could start each one of these posts with a Trump entry, and that by itself is a measure of how sad things have gotten. Instead, I want to get at the reaction to Trump. Specifically one reaction to Trump, from a person I usually like, Peter Beinart of The Atlantic.
Why Liberals Should Vote for Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio would be a terrible president. His tax proposals make George W. Bush look fiscally prudent. He acts as if America can use sanctions, war, or the threat of war to bludgeon its adversaries into submission despite the devastating failure of that approach since 9/11. He has been dishonest and gutless on immigration. He has flirted with climate-change denial even though his hometown now regularly floods.
Still, if I lived in any of the nine Super Tuesday states that allow non-Republicans to vote in their GOP presidential primary, I would cross over—forfeiting my chance to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders—and vote for Rubio. Other liberals should do the same. Those who can should write him checks. Whatever it takes to stop the nomination of Donald Trump.
Sorry, Peter. I like you, man. But no. Why not? Because I really don’t want to be the GOP’s enabler.
See, the GOP has been fucked up, and fucking up, my entire adult life. A few months after I was born, Nixon’s goons were breaking into Democratic headquarters while Nixon was secretly bombing Cambodia for no good reason. Later on came Reagan and SDI and Welfare Queens and AIDS denial. After that was Bush I, Gulf War I, and pretending a recession wasn’t happening. Oh, and let’s not even start with the toxic waste explosion that was W.
Every time we endured a presidency or two of the GOP fucking up, Dems had to come in and fix the mess. Sometimes I feel like we’re the maid. We just cleaned this place up. Can’t the GOP keep it clean when we’re out of power, for five minutes?
The GOP has been sinking into this toxic soup of nativism and racism for at least half a century, when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act and sent hordes of revanchist white southerners first into George Wallace’s arms, then into Nixon’s. Over the years, they’ve moved ever further to the right, reading out of the party anyone suspected of moderation. Back in the 1950s, there were voices like Eisenhower and Dirksen to cool out the lunatics. Even into the 1980s we had Howard Baker and William Weld. But they’re long gone now. Hell, even Dick Lugar, as right wing a Senator as ever there was–who also happened to be a foreign policy expert–lost a primary to a Tea Party nut job. His crime: helping President Obama move an arms control treaty through the Senate.
Donald Trump is not really the GOP’s problem. The GOP’s problem is that they had already become dependent on the anger and paranoia of white men, which they fed and fed to keep their electoral numbers up in spite of the U.S.’s changing demographics, long before Trump came along and capitalized. The GOP is an addict. Racist, nationalist paranoia is their drug. Watch the other candidates, who for some reason pretend that there was no racism in the party before Trump showed up.
“When I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party and as a country, I will speak up, so today I want to be very clear about something,” Ryan said.
“If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln.” –Paul Ryan
This from the guy who ran on a ticket that took an endorsement from Donald Trump four years ago, back when he was one of the leading advocates of birtherism, and who ran a campaign based on racial dog whistle rhetoric about the “makers” fighting the “takers”. Speaker Ryan, have you met your party? Have you met you?
Because the GOP is an addict, the worst thing the rest of us can do is cover for them. Why should we liberals help them nominate Marco Rubio? He wouldn’t do anything for us in return, and he’d allow the Republican party to kid itself into believing that it’s got it’s racism problem licked. It’s okay, they’ll say. It never really needed any help anyway. All of us “playing the race card” were just panicking, like the left-wing sissypantses that we are.
No, the GOP needs some tough love. It needs to hit rock bottom. Maybe it’ll die doing it. (In using this addiction metaphor, I’m reminded that I had a cousin who did himself in that way not too long ago.) I’d like to think that Trump is rock bottom, that his candidacy will make conservatives rethink who they’ve been and what they’ve done for so many decades. Maybe the GOP itself will vanish, to be replaced with another, more responsible, less anger driven and nihilistic conservative party. Maybe then they’ll rediscover their inner Eisenhower, Baker, or Lugar, and we can return to the business of running this country with a modicum of respect for each other, and for the reality we share.
I’d like to hope. For now, I’ll be voting for Hilary to kick Trump’s ass this fall and see where it goes from there.