How does one fix a hole in the head? No, not a literal hole, but an empty space that would be better occupied by some precise knowledge useful for providing context in weighing serious issues. Let’s get specific.
Until Donald Trump took over the party in 2016, there were members who mistakenly believed that “Republican” stood for something. Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell led the ideologically rigid conservative wing of the party. Since Trump proved more liberal than Hillary Clinton on a number of issues, and belief-barren voters elected him, we now know that their ideology was a meaningless flapping of mendacious lips. Conservatism doesn’t matter to them. Only winning does.
Co-conspirator Bible thumping backers of the party pretended to love Jesus so much that they support Republicans who traditionally declare their love for the almighty far more vociferously than Democrats. But when Trump, who can’t spell “Jehovah” and thinks “the Good Book” refers to “The Art of the Deal,” co-opted the party, the thumpers caved in to his hypocrisy, showered him with their adoration, and compared him favorably to Jesus. His foul, inarticulate mouth proved no deterrent. Christian principles don’t matter. Only winning does.
So what is going on here? If the thoughts and actions of the Republican Party and the evangelicals are so demonstrably hollow, what gives them a sense of who they are and what they believe? Thanks for the softball question. Republicans – even the pseudo Christians – see themselves as instruments through which big money can assume an ever-expanding role in government (Grover Norquist speaks for all Republicans when he says, “I want to shrink government down to a size that I can drown it in a bathtub”). Paul Ryan, for example, has just introduced a budget that will give you and me a $900 break on our taxes. Millionaires and billionaires will get 265 times as much. That is the same Paul Ryan who adores the Russian atheist Ayn Rand. Her philosophy was, and I paraphrase, “If you aren’t filthy rich, extraordinarily brilliant, and Clark-Gable handsome, capitalism has no use for you.”
And it’s the selfsame Paul Ryan who is working to defeat a bill to require those giving financial advice to place customer interests before their own. It’s the very same Paul Ryan who works tirelessly to defeat financial regulations (including repealing Dodd-Frank) and to allow the financial community to resurrect the little trick they learned in 2008: Let the gullible public pick up the tab for our monumental stupidity and assume all the risk while we give each other million-dollar bonuses.
At almost no risk of oversimplifying, the belief system of the Republican Party is built on one idea - that money flows exclusively to those elected officials who strive to make the rich richer by making the poor poorer. They call that “wealth redistribution.” Impoverishing the near destitute and those about to join those ranks may not sound like a high calling. But it appears to be enough of a driving force to build cohesiveness into the party of Lincoln and Reagan (who, if they reapplied, would not be accepted by the party they molded).
Democratic rhetoric and its ideas are not perfect, but robbing the poor and the middle class to give to the rich is a practice that party has rejected. And they don’t feel they’ve exceeded their quota if they have more than one idea on complex issues. Use this information to plug that hole in the above-mentioned head. And hold onto the pity you feel for me; save it for the vulnerable workers who mistakenly thought things couldn’t get worse, however salacious their candidate.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.