Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Donald Trump (or more accurately, Steve Bannon) is obviously horrifying. But so is the entire Republican Party. Yes, the Democrats are a long way from ideal and politics is a dirty game on all sides. That said, who except for the very worst among us right now doesn’t wish we were fighting to make a Democratic White House and Congress move forward? Instead, we’re in a struggle to minimize the distance we get dragged backward. The reality is, that’s not just an executive branch issue. The GOP has been an absolute nightmare since about 1964, and this administration is just the least polished turd of the modern era. Trump (again, I mean Bannon) couldn’t fulfill his vision without the party onboard. Good thing they don’t have any actual decency or ethics to stop them from going with the program.
So how is the GOP doing its part to screw over anyone who isn’t lining its pockets or furthering its death cult intentions? Here’s a list of five ways Republicans reaffirmed their awfulness this week.
1. CPAC tried, and failed, to pretend it had morals.
Every year, the Conservative Political Action Conference offers a safe space for right wingers to strategize about how to make America white again. Recognizing that their methodologies differ, but their end goals are the same, white nationalists have increasingly appeared at CPAC as both attendees and speakers, scaremongering about nonexistent “global jihad,” bemoaning multiculturalism as a “modern political disease,” and wondering aloud why African-American slaves weren’t more grateful to their masters.
It’s no surprise 2017 conference organizers invited Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional provocateur who peddles hatred under the guise of free speech, to bring his brand of racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny to the stage. The invite was rescinded when footage of Yiannopoulos advocating for “cross-generational” relationships between “younger boys and older men” was unearthed—if that’s what you can call video that’s been available on YouTube for years. On the heels of the controversy, the alt-right troll also lost a six-figure book deal and his job at Breitbart. The good news to come out of the incident is that a right-wing—and media industry—that seemingly has no morals or standards does indeed have a low to which it will not sink. The bad news is, that low is child molestation.
A few days later, Richard Spencer, who’s been a guest of CPAC before, was tossed out of the conference as organizers continued their too-little, too-late effort to wrest their movement from the so-called alt-right they were complicit in elevating. One organizer reportedly described the alt-right as “horrible,” “venomous,” and “repulsive.” Proof of their insincerity is that Dan Schneider, executive director of the organization that stages the summit, attempted to paint the alt-right as a beautiful gathering that has recently been “hijacked [by a] hate-filled, left-wing fascist group.” Exhibit B lies in the fact that Steve Bannon, who bragged about turning Breitbart into “the platform of the alt-right,” remained on the speakers’ program.
2. Steve Bannon continued to call for the end of everything.
Speaking of President Bannon, he and some guy named Reince Priebus shared the stage at a CPAC discussion before an adoring standing-room crowd. Bannon has previously said he wants to “destroy the state,” “bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” He expanded on that vision during Thursday’s appearance, first taking aim at the “corporatist, globalist media,” whom Bannon said were “all crying and weeping” on election night. For the press, Bannon vaguely threatened, “It’s going to get worse every day.”
“They are absolutely dead wrong about what’s going on today because we have a team that’s just grinding it through on [what] President Donald Trump promised the American people,” Bannon said, his scythe apparently left backstage. “And the mainstream media better understand something: all of those promises are going to be implemented.” He went on to state that a key goal of this White House is “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
If it seems like the appointees to every Trump cabinet position—from the climate change denialist now heading the Environmental Protection Agency to the public school opponent heading up the Department of Education—were put in place to destroy their charges, that’s not far off the mark. “If you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction,” Bannon stated.
After all, who needs federal agencies ensuring we have democratic education, or clean air and water? Who cares about protections for civil rights? As Daily Kos notes, Bannon is well aware there’s no substitute institutions that can perform the role filled by our federal agencies. Bannon essentially wants to eliminate oversight for corporations and eradicate legal protections that get in the way of industry profit. It’s a frightening vision of a dark future.
3. Louie Gohmert exploited Gabby Gifford’s shooting for his own cowardly ends.
Republican members of Congress were supposed to spend this week in their home districts, doing the bare minimum of listening to the people who pay their wages. Some legislators showed up to hear from their justifiably irate constituents. But lots of Republicans, especially Tea Party GOPers, chickened out of face-to-face town halls. Tennessee Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., who was all in favor of protest when it came dressed in tricorner hats and racist sandwich boards, has done a 180.
“I do not intend to give more publicity to those on the far left who have so much hatred, anger and frustration in them,” Duncan, who is hopefully in his last term, told the Washington Post. “I have never seen so many more sore losers as there are today.”
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who is the worst, took things a step further by exploiting the Gabby Giffords tragedy, just so he wouldn’t have to be yelled at. In a statement, Gohmert’s far more articulate press person lazily repeated lies about “groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid” who are wreaking havoc at town halls. “The House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed — just as happened there.”
Earlier this month, Gohmert voted to repeal a rule that keeps guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, like Jared Lee Loughner, the paranoid schizophrenic who shot Gifford.
Gohmert’s cynical use of Gifford’s story for political convenience was promptly called out by the courageous former senator herself.
“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public,” Giffords said in a statement. “It’s what the people deserve in a representative…To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”
4. Republicans in 11 states are trying to make protesting illegal.
GOP legislators around the country are responding to protesters’ demands by pressuring Trump to release his tax records, investigating his potentially treasonous ties to Russia and opposing his billionaire Wall Street cabinet nominees.
Just kidding, they’re not doing any of that. Not even close.
Instead, they’re doing all they can to ensure President Bannon gets away with whatever he wants, and without the annoying sound of dissenting voices to distract him. To that end, Republicans in 11 states are trying to push bills making protesting illegal.
In Washington, state Senator Doug Erickson is trying to create a new felonious crime called “economic terrorism” for people who “intentionally break the law…by obstructing economic activity”—or, you know, what’s more commonly known as “protesting.” North Dakota’s Keith Kempenich is seriously trying to pass a bill that would allow drivers who run over protesters, like those opposed to the pipeline, to get off scot-free. GOP senators in Arizona have proposed a law that would make everyone taking part in an otherwise peaceful protest responsible for property damage, and penalized at the level of a racketeering charge. In North Carolina, state Senator Dan Bishop wants a law that would imprison people for shouting at lawmakers, in reaction to a demonstration where protesters yelled “Shame” at ex-governor Pat McCrory. Republicans in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Virginia are pushing more laws like this.
It cannot be said enough that the party of people who spend an inordinate amount of time moaning about “political correctness” and “safe spaces” are like the human versions of Fabergé eggs.
5. Iowa state Senator Mark Chelgren is trying to kick liberals out of academia, which, good luck with that.
Last year, a conservative group launched the Professor Watchlist, a website that purports to catalog the “names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.” Essentially it’s designed to scare progressive educators into shutting up, because the one thing the right wing hates almost as much as equality and justice is free speech.
Iowa state Senator Mark Chelgren is pursuing a similar idea. Chelgren wants to have a political test for college and university professors to make sure there aren’t too many liberals teaching on campuses.
“I’m under the understanding that right now they can hire people because of diversity,” Chelgren told the Des Moines Register. “They want to have people of different thinking, different processes, different expertise. So this would fall right into the category with what existing hiring practices are.”
“We do have a Constitution and it’s there for a reason, and it’s to try to protect equity and to make sure that we don’t judge people on the basis of their race or religion, their creed, their political beliefs,” Mary Mascher, a Democratic senator from the state, told the outlet. “We never ask that question when someone’s hired: Are you a Republican, Democrat, or independent, or Green Party or socialist or any of that. And I think that would be clearly discriminatory.”
“The most disturbing aspect of Chelgren’s legislation, however, is that it is outright fascist. Republicans haven’t even spent two full months in power at the Iowa Statehouse and they’re already trying to impose a one-party rule in the state in perpetuity,” Pat Rynard, of media outlet the Iowa Starting Line, told Law Newz.
In conclusion, it would be great if Republicans would just admit they love McCarthyism, being told what to do and big government that serves their narrow-minded beliefs, and hate freedom, instead of putting on a big show of thinking otherwise. It would save us all a bunch of time.
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.
IMAGE: White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (L) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R) watch as U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria