What do voter suppression measures, anti-trans bills, repealing mask mandates, and tax cuts for the wealthy have in common? They’re among the top GOP priorities—and they’re all sham solutions for imaginary problems:
- Voter fraud is rare to non-existent.
- Trans folks are not transitioning to infiltrate girls’ bathrooms or sports.
- Masks are still necessary to fight this pandemic.
- And rich Americans, for fuck’s sake, don’t need any more goddamn money.
Why aren’t more GOP voters angry about this? Why aren’t they upset that their legislators are wasting our time and tax dollars on empty objectives? And what does the modern GOP even stand for?
Like most Americans, I’ve nearly lost the plot of Republican machinations. Their platform used to be real: small government, fiscal conservatism, strong national defense, support for small businesses, and traditional family values. But these days, most elected Republicans have abandoned their principles, lied to their constituents, and erected a golden Trump idol at the heart of their party.
I get it: there’s a serious charisma gap in the GOP and they haven’t found someone to fill that Trump-sized hole in their presidential prospects. But promoting the lie that the 2020 election was stolen is disgusting—and it will cost the party dearly when conservative voters demand more of their leaders. Dr. Seuss, Potato Head, and other “cancel culture” spectacles are there to distract folks from the GOP’s negligence of important priorities.
Just this week, Senate Democrats passed a Covid-19 relief bill without a single Republican vote—this is despite its widespread support among a majority of voters. A Morning Consult poll found that 53 to 59 percent of Republicans supported the $1.9 trillion bill (depending on how the question was worded). And 71 to 77 percent of voters supported it overall.
With more than 526,000 Covid-19 deaths, a stagnant economy, a looming eviction crisis, and a dispirited nation craving government relief, you’d think that the GOP would step up. But most of these Republican “leaders” are focused on anti-democratic priorities, especially maintaining their power by passing voter suppression bills.
On March 2, 2021, GOP lawyer Michael Carvin revealed his party’s intentions in his arguments to the Supreme Court. Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked him, “What’s the interest of the Arizona RNC here in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct ballot disqualification rules on the books?”
He responded, “Because it puts [Republicans] at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”
That is the predominant focus of today’s GOP leadership: to suppress as many votes as possible. Not fighting the pandemic, not affordable healthcare and education, not infrastructure, and certainly not increasing the prosperity of the American people.
Of course, voter suppression isn’t a new Republican tactic. Restricting voting—especially among people of color—has been a long-time pet project of the GOP. In 1980, conservative activist Paul Weyrich told evangelical leaders, “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
How do Republican voters feel about this? Doesn’t it feel anti-American that the less popular of two parties continually suppresses the vote? Do the ends (tax cuts for the wealthy) justify the means (cheating in elections)? Are they proud of their leaders?
We see this playing out in state legislatures all over the country. There have been over 250 bills proposed in 43 states just this year to restrict our access to the ballot.
Consider this: Trump’s pathetic lickspittle, Mike Pence, just published an op-ed in The Daily Signal, a 7-years-old, right-wing propaganda outlet. (Google it. I’m not linking to that garbage.)
You’d think that the former Vice President might be welcomed into more respectable conservative publications such as The Wall Street Journal or The National Review, but the liability of publishing his bullshit outweighed the prestige of his former office.
Pence’s article contained gems of American unity such as, “Leftists not only want you powerless at the ballot box, they want to silence and censor anyone who would dare to criticize their unconstitutional power grab.” Those are strange words from someone who was almost murdered by a Trumpist mob on January 6—all based on the lie of election fraud.
Pence, like many Republicans, is terrified by the passage of the “For the People Act” (HR 1). The bill aims to expand voting rights, facilitate voter registration, limit gerrymandering, and strengthen campaign finance laws. Rather than embracing this bill—which is supported by 67 percent of likely voters, including a majority of Republicans—GOP leaders have lied about HR 1’s contents and tried to stoke fear with their favorite fairytale: election fraud.
So I ask again: What is the GOP leadership’s current guiding philosophy? Why did the party of status quo and conservatism allow Trump to launch its base into the fringe of crazy town? And why do they seem intent on staying there?
Most elected Republican leaders have given up or doubled-down on the lies their constituents believe: QAnon, climate change denialism, xenophobia, an anti-socialist “blue scare,” and election theft all play prominent roles in their arsenal of horseshit.
Author Timothy Snyder wrote, “A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing it would do better.” GOP leaders have no universal values. Most are playing obedient civil servants to Trump, a rapist and inveterate liar.
Republican voters should be furious that their party’s leadership has been hollowed out by a grifter and charlatan. Those within the GOP who double-down on these imaginary problems aren’t team players—they’re dishonorable and complicit. But those who champion a return to the GOP standing for something—anything real—should be applauded.