So, yesterday I received and read Robert Draper’s book, Weapons of Mass Delusion, When the Republican Party Lost its Mind. Draper has been writing about D.C. politics for years, and I thought this book would be an overview on how the Republican Party continues to support Trump and, in the process, has substituted the acronym MAGA for the acronym GOP.
Actually, what the book is really about is how someone as crazy and delusional as Marjorie Taylor Greene could come into Congress less than two years ago and not only become one of the party’s most visible members, but even get mentioned as a Vice-Presidential candidate for 2024.
Either the GOP is now so mangled by January 6th and the continued never-say-die ministrations of Donald Trump, or Greene has the best PR staff that any member of Congress has ever had, or the Republican Party has completely shifted far-right, or maybe a combination of all three.
After all, Greene comes from a patch in Georgia which will always send a Republican to Congress, so it’s not as if putting up with her bullshit gives the GOP leadership a shot at the majority that otherwise they might not have.
On the other hand, the Republican Party has never been all that comfortable with women playing an equal political role with men. So, for example, the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees gender equality, has sat without being ratified thanks to opposition from Southern states controlled by the GOP.
Which brings up a question about the shenanigans of Marjorie Taylor Greene. Will Greene’s media presence force the GOP to move to a more extreme, alt-right position which is what Draper’s book seems to say?
To give that question a proper perspective, let’s go back and look at previous instances when the GOP appeared to be tilting to the far right.
In 1964, Barry Goldwater ran a campaign with the basic message being something about maintaining state’s ‘rights.’ In fact, his campaign was basically an effort to build a base around people who were pissed off at Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963.
Goldwater got clobbered and it took the GOP twelve years to produce another alt-right personality, Ronald Reagan, who got screwed out of the nomination in 1976 but then successfully headed up the national ticket not once, but twice.
Except there’s only one slight problem with the constant attempt to paint Reagan as some kind of ‘revolutionary’ conservative who pushed the GOP to the far right. Reagan was such a conservative that he signed the largest, single increase in personal taxes ever passed by Congress in peacetime, namely, the 1983 increase in the payroll tax to keep the social security trust fund from going broke.
This takes us to 1994, when Newt Gingrich gained the first GOP majority in the House for the first time in forty years. Gingrich came up with something called the ‘Contract with America,’ which called for tax cuts, reductions in welfare benefits and a mandatory balanced budget, among other conservative ideas.
The only legislation from this so-called contract was a major reshaping of federal criminal codes, a different version of which was actually passed by Clinton and the Democrats before they became the minority party in 1995. Gingrich was elected Speaker in 1995 but was accused of ethics violations in 1998 and resigned from Congress in 1999.
From 2000 until 2015, when Trump announced his Presidential run, the GOP was what it had always been – a Party whose domestic agenda was tax cuts and nothing else, and a foreign policy which for the most part didn’t really exist. There was always an alt-right fringe element involved (read: the Tea Party), but nobody was talking about Christian nationalism or Deep State conspiracies led by George Soros until Trump came along.
I hope the election next month will actually give the GOP a slight edge, if only because as the majority rather than the minority party in Congress, voices of alt-right crackpots like Marjorie Taylor Greene have a better chance of getting heard.
And I am convinced that we will suffer the indignities and stupidities of creatures like Greene, Boebert, Gaetz and the rest of the alt-right clown act for a couple of years, and then it will be business as usual for another decade or more.
In 2018, Greene posted an online video in which she said that the 2017 shooting that killed 58 people at a Las Vegas rock concert was staged, copying more or less what Alex Jones was saying about Sandy Hook.
In 2018, she posted another video in which she claimed that the crash of a jetliner into the Pentagon on 9-11 also didn’t occur.
Know why it took the GOP twelve years to recover from Goldwater and almost thirty years after Reagan left to come back to earth? Because it takes a long time to nurture a political movement which believes that the world is really flat.