As a child who was prone to going down rabbit holes, I was obsessed with stories about unexplained phenomena. I consumed books about subjects such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, ghost stories, the Bermuda Triangle, extrasensory perception, spontaneous combustion, unidentified flying objects, alien life, and the existence of a higher power.
When I became a man, I put away childish things. I do, however, still occasionally traverse rabbit holes, such as the voting machine hacking, the mystery of how Terra Morehead is not locked in a prison dungeon, and the biggest myth of them all — the myth of the Republican party.
Have you ever met a real Republican?
I’ve long believed that the Republican Party was a collective apparition even though tens millions of Americans have somehow been suckered into accepting its existence as fact. I’ve heard that they exist. I’ve even met some people who claim to have seen some of the elusive Republicans roaming in the wild. But after examining all the available evidence, I can find no proof that there was ever truly a Republican party.
To be sure, the conservative principles upon which the Republican Party is based, are 100 percent real. I also fully understand that there are voters who share this outlook and believe the Republican Party actually does these things. But just as there are people who believe Tupac is alive and the earth is flat (which is a rabbit hole I once went way too far down), believing in something does not make it true. And the truth is, a Republican Party that upholds conservative values is as real as the Hogwarts Student Government Association or Santa’s United Elf Workers’ Union
And however you feel about America’s Kumquat-colored commander in chief, ever since Donald J. Trump took office, perhaps his biggest accomplishment has been exposing the fact that the America-loving, conservative party is, and has always been, a lingering illusion that exists only in the imagination of America.
Like a fantastical movie that is “based on a true story,” Trump’s presidency has revealed that the Republican Party’s conservative basis is as real as the kinda true tale of the family who celebrated the purchase of a new home by getting drunk and fabricating the hoax that would become The Amityville Horror.
The Republican platform is also a scary work of fiction that describes a mythical place haunted by 56 liberty-loving, dead Founding Fathers who believed in freedom (even though 41 of them owned slaves), hated taxes, and were divinely inspired by Christianity (even though it appears nowhere in the Constitution).
Anyone with a cursory knowledge of American politics is likely familiar with the tenets of Republicanism. The fictional Republican Party is based on the ideology of Conservatism, which is a real thing, and rests on a foundation of five pillars:
- The Constitution: The Republican interpretation of the Constitution is a very strict reading that gives individuals unimpeachable rights, including the right to freedom of religion, assembly, speech and most notably, the right to own guns. Everything else, in their opinion, including abortion, voting rights, civil rights, education and criminal justice, should be left up to the individual states. As expressed in their platform, freedom “means returning to the people and the states the control that belongs to them.”
- Fiscal responsibility: The Republican Party says it hates debt and deficits. Therefore, the Republican Party hates government overspending. Because they are so fiscally conservative, they are not in favor of large government programs such as Medicare, welfare and social security. It’s not that they don’t care about the poor and less fortunate; it’s the costs that concern them.
- Small government: They also dislike federal government overreach, cronyism and affirmative action because, again, in their opinion, the Constitution says almost everything should be decided by the individual states. According to the Republican platform, taking back “their country” means “relieving the burden and expense of punishing government regulations” because “merit and hard work should determine advancement in our society.”
- Family values and Christian conservatism: Republicanism is rooted in the belief that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Constitution. Family values, Christian values and God are buzzwords in the party. They are strong proponents of “law and order,” because a good Christian follows the rules. They also love America, the troops, the flag, the troops. Wait, did I mention the troops?
- Free market capitalism and financial conservatism: Conservatives believe that a free, unimpeded market is the key to financial growth. The platform states that they “oppose tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare” and that they support lower taxes on corporations and small businesses because they help the economy.
It all sounds good and seems relatively harmless. Even if you don’t share these principles, one can still recognize the fact that Republicans simply have a different economic, social and financial worldview from the socially liberal or politically progressive.
It is all bullshit.
There is no party in America that has ever adhered to this ideology. The GOP touts these principles but, upon closer examination, they have never done any of this. The peddling of the Republican snake oil has been a lucrative business for more than two centuries, but it is slowly coming to an end.
Thanks to Donald J. Trump, the entire Republican ruse has now been exposed.
To be clear, the Republican party is not changing. There has always been a cabal of old white men seeking to maintain power and supremacy with smoke and mirrors. Although Republicans will argue that they were the party of Lincoln, the Civil Rights Act and Martin Luther King, the truth is that the ideology of the pre-1960's Republican Party is 180 degrees different from the current Republican Party.
In one sense, they are correct when they say Republicans fought for the Voting Rights Act, The Civil Rights Act and an end to segregation, although the truth is a little more complicated, given that those historic laws were passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president. (The voting record shows that southern politicians, regardless of party, opposed the laws, while others supported them). The Southern and rural portions of the Democratic Party opposed integration on the grounds of racism disguised as states rights. The Confederate-loving, Southern heritage advocates in the Republican Party of today would have hated Abraham Lincoln.
But when Democratic Party members finally began voting for racial progress, the most racist members of the Democratic Party left. After trying to form their own parties, such as the Dixiecrats, dedicated to maintaining white supremacy and segregation in the name of “states rights,” they finally gave up and said: “Fuck it. I guess we’ll just be Republicans then.”
And that’s how we got here.
Nothing has changed since then, and their willingness to even acquiesce to Trump’s demands proves there is no ideology in the Republican Party.
The supposed advocates of Constitutional freedom have no problem supporting the Second Amendment when the NRA rolls in wheelbarrows of money, but they are the same conservatives who back a president who signed an order banning people from entering the country because of their religion. They are willing to gerrymander, subvert Barack Obama’s constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court justice and use any means necessary to suppress the vote of any citizen who won’t cast ballots in their favor.
They love the troops (I might not have mentioned that before) but didn’t chastise the president for calling the widow of deceased soldier La David Johnson a liar after she revealed Trump forgot her husband’s name. They said hing when he attacked another Gold Star Family. They remained silent when Trump reneged on a $25,000 pledge to support a fallen soldier’s family.
They are for religious freedom but love saying “radical Islamic terrorism” while keeping their lips sealed when Islamophobes attack Muslim mosques. They are for freedom of speech, including the right to hold white supremacist rallies, but hate when someone kneels during their precious anthem or marches while asserting the value of black lives.
When it comes to fiscal responsibility, the GOP has allowed a serial bankruptcy filer and self-described “King of Debt” to do whatever he wants. Republicans have always paid lip service to the national debt, but have increased it far more than Democratic presidents, who don’t push it as part of their mantra to voters.
Yes, it is true that under Barack Obama, the national debt grew by 74 percent. But that still doesn’t match his Republican counterparts.
According to the Balance, during the George W. Bush presidency, the federal debt increased by 101 percent during his eight years in office. Before him, Bill Clinton’s presidency only saw the debt increase by 34 percent. But they all pale in comparison to the largest grower of the federal debt since Franklin Roosevelt: Republican Lord and Savior Ronald Reagan saw the federal debt increase of 186 percent during his presidency.
That fact would be astounding if it were not for the fact that Trump’s trillion-dollar budget, passed by a Republican House, Republican Senate and signed by a Republican president, will add more to the deficit in Trump’s first four years than what was added during Obama’s two terms.
And there are many who will remind you that a Republican Congress helped Clinton balance the budget and eliminate the federal deficit - which is true only because Republicans reluctantly agreed to a large tax hike that fell mostly on the rich.
Their free-market capitalism has been reduced to giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations that will add $2.3 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But it is not truly a “free market” because Republicans have sat idly by while Trump has crippled businesses with nonsensical tariffs and trade wars. They have been silent while he enriches himself and his children.
But don’t worry, Trump said he can just print more money. That should work, right?
And what happened to family values?
He cheats, he steals, he obstructs justice, he insults, he grabs women by the... I’m still trying to figure out how that works. And most of all, he lies. The party elected a man with three wives, multiple sexual assault allegations and a history of boldface bullshit that makes pathological liar Tommy Flanagan look like Mother Theresa.
And the entire Republican party says nothing.
Even though they are supposedly for law and order, they are conspicuously silent on his continued attacks on the Robert Mueller investigation. They helped him ruin the careers of FBI agents such as Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe. They defend his refusal to order an FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault charges against Christine Blasey Ford. They watched silently as he eviscerated a fellow Republican lawman, James Comey. They watched him throw racial slurs at a sitting judge.
Republicans talk about middle American, small-town values, the “deep state” and big crony government and then confirmed a millionaire princess with no education or experience for Secretary of Education. They were cool with a former Exxon CEO being Secretary of State, a restaurant CEO in charge of the Department of Labor, and another millionaire CEO in charge of Commerce.
Yet they have offered no resistance. As each day of the Trump presidency passes, they become more tolerant of his anti-conservative actions. They stand in lockstep with Trump because he is not destroying Republican values, he has simply exposed a simple fact:
There were never any Republican values to begin with.
It was always a mirage.
The Republican Party is a myth fabricated by men who just want to keep themselves in power. Their goal has never been to protect the Constitution, Christian values or America itself. Trump has proven that they don’t care about any of that. The few who have opposed him have been marginalized to the point of leaving office, like Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.); or made to heel, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
Being a Republican is no different from being a Scientologist, a ghost hunter or an activist against black supremacy. Whether one believes in the evil lord Xenu, poltergeists, reverse racism or the Grand Ole Party, they are all matters of faith, urban legend and outright fiction.
Of course, my mind can be changed.
Maybe someone can show me where Republicans like “deficit hawk” Paul Ryan have reduced federal spending instead of presiding over a House budget that would make Beyonce and Jay-Z have to apply for payday loans. Maybe one of the people who believes in American exceptionalism could convince me that George W. Bush and Trump weren’t viewed by the international community as barely-literate imbeciles.
Perhaps someone can create a new form of mathematics that will disprove the fact that for the last 50 years, GDP, living wages, economic growth and unemployment numbers have been better under Democratic presidents. Maybe they can find a letter that shows how much Jesus loves Republicans or...
Perhaps there is a single shred of evidence that shows that the Republican Party exists; that they actually do the things they say they stand for; that they are not simply a bunch of cigar-smoking, power-thirsty snake oil salesmen who have managed to delude half of the country into thinking that Jesus, the Founding Fathers and Bigfoot want their government to snatch babies, kill health care, sell guns, suppress votes, take from the poor and hand it all over to rich, powerful, white septuagenarian billionaires.
I’m willing to go down that rabbit hole.