I was going to post a piece on health care policy this week. It’s actually written already, but when I went in for edits, my heart wasn’t in it. I have a feeling health care policy debates are going to be around for a while. But these past few weeks present an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve reached the point where aversion to Nazis isn’t a given.
Let’s talk about Republicans.
After the Golfer-in-Chief defended Nazis and white supremacists in his infrastructure (no, really) press conference on Tuesday, many Republican elected officials decided that this was too far. What had been a trickle of criticism from the esteemed Grand Old Party became a steady stream as public statements and tweets issued forth from Capitol Hill expressing the Members’ general distaste for Nazis. And, unchanging as the tide, in rolled the stories about how unhappy the Republicans were with their fearless leader. “Ryan, House and Senate GOP outraged by Trump’s press conference,” declared Politico. “Trump faces rising tide of Republican dismay over Charlottesville,” said Bloomberg News. “Mitch McConnell’s secret fury over Charlottesville response highlights GOP’s Trump dilemma,” reported USA Today.
And what a dilemma it is. In one corner, Nazis and white supremacists. In the other, the support of Nazis and white supremacists. Congratulations, Republicans, for having the courage to state that people who think that other people aren’t people are bad. Let’s all take a second to thank the Party of Lincoln for finding time between preventing minorities from voting and turning away refugees at the door to really stand up for what’s right because here’s the truth: the Republican Party is at least as culpable as our First Tweeter for what happened in Charlottesville.
Wielded so often as a cudgel against the left, it is ironic that the Republican platform since at least 2008 has been exclusively identity politics. The GOP has been a racist party for decades, but it was at least veneered with conservative ideology and ideas about the role of government. Their messaging has since dropped all pretense of “limited government” or “fiscal responsibility” in favor of: “Vote for us so we can get the black guy out of office and give the country back to white people.” Indeed, the Dear Leader first garnered national political headlines by claiming that Barack Obama, because of his name and the color of his skin, had no right to be President of the United States. Republican leaders (mostly) denounced the claims, and then when election time rolled around, pulled their town cars up to Trump Tower to get Donny Jonny’s endorsement, because they knew that he commanded the respect of our nation’s worst people. And lo and behold, they were right. The overt racists, the bigots, the fascists—these are the sort that Republicans have been courting, lending support to, and kissing the ring of. They have cheerfully exploited people’s worst impulses and sowed hate and division in order to win votes.
So you’ll excuse me if I’m not standing up and applauding Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and their lackeys for their “moral outrage,” because I know—everyone knows—that whatever is said now doesn’t matter, and that come election time, Republican strategy will be the same: stoke the fears of white people by vilifying poor folks and minorities and telling them that immigrants are coming to kill them, rob them, and take their jobs.
The GOP fuels itself with intolerance, with ignorance, with bigotry, and with hate. Donald Trump and co. are the natural progression along a path the Party has trod for years, knowing the consequences and not caring. They are morally bankrupt and intellectually barren and are not worthy of governing a water utility, much less a country.
November 2018 can’t come soon enough.
After working in Washington, D.C., for two years, Andrew Orlebeke (’10) is in graduate school in Seattle, Washington, studying public policy. In addition to public service, he has a passion for traveling and an abiding love of sports.