REFLECTIONS/Jonathan Gramling

Jonathan Gramling

End of Republican Party?

For those of us who follow politics, we could see this wave crashing over the Republican Party for a long time now. It really began with the election of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledging to stop every piece of legislation that Obama put forward, even the economic recovery/stimulus bill that was needed to stop a the economic free-fall that America — and the world — was experiencing at the time.

There was no loyal opposition, no allowing the president to put in place the people he wanted for his administrative team unless they were guilty of some high crime or misdemeanor. The nominations of Obama’s judicial picks were blocked because they didn’t meet a political litmus test and not because they weren’t good and competent jurists.

I remember when former Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge Louis Butler, a fine and sound jurist, was blocked by the McConnell forces.

Even then, McConnell and the Republican Party were planting undemocratic seeds within the political process.

And then there were the Tea Partiers, funded by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers showing up at the town hall meetings of U.S. Reps and Senators trash-talking the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare. While many of them from the lower socio-economic strata clearly benefitted from Obamacare, especially in places like West Virginia, they were even now drinking the Kool-Aid of propaganda and screamed that Obamacare was socialist. You are a victim of propaganda when you go against your own best interest due to a belief that isn’t quite based on reality.

And it has been this continuous propaganda, aided immensely by the creation of a right-wing media network, that has lifted many a Republican off sound rational footing to again work against their own self-interests.

Take Wisconsin, for example. Shortly after Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republican Party were swept into power in Wisconsin government, they declined to accept billions in Medicaid expansion. In Wisconsin, the Republican Party has used stereotypical depictions of African Americans and other people of color to garner their political power, blocking measures that would help the African American community. And so they blocked Medicaid expansion with the support of their right-leaning political base. And yet many in that base and their families would benefit from affordable healthcare.

Again it’s whipping up negative racial imagery to consolidate political power. And people are so enthralled with this imaginary world that they fail to see what it is doing to their real worlds.

The “election reforms” of the 2010s is another case in point. When African Americans and other people of color began to influence the election of local to national leaders — epitomized by the election of Barack Obama — Republicans resolved that people of color were not going to be choosing America’s leaders. And so voter ID, absentee ballot, restricted voting hours and other measures were put in place. I am sure that these measures impacted some poor Republican voters, but it was calculated that it would hit Democratic voters of color harder. Again, some Republican voters pay attention to this make believe racial world, this alternative reality and support measures that restrict their own democratic participation.

Republicans continues to build upon this alternative universe during the 2016 presidential election, the election of Donald Trump and through the 2020 elections when Trump lost. Trump knew he was going to lose in the summer of 2020 and so he began to build upon the false narrative that fraud was going to cost him the election. And in his alternative reality, Trump won by a landslide. And a majority of the Republican Party believed it. I mean think about it. Thousands upon thousands of polling places somehow quietly conspired to cheat Trump and give the election to Joe Biden and no emails, texts or voice mails showed up detailing the mass conspiracy? Some of my closest friends have trouble keeping a secret when asked to do so let along thousands and thousands of people. To give this scenario any kind of legitimacy is downright insane.

And then there was the January 6th insurrection to keep Congress from formally accepting the Electoral College vote and name Joe Biden president. Trump had been urging people to come to Washington for weeks and had urged people to march down to the U.S. Capitol and prevent the steal. I remember seeing him on TV that day urging the crowd on. And then the mob of self-described Trump supporters rushed the Capitol building with some of them screaming to ‘Hang Pence.’ And they tried to break into the House Chambers and about 130 Capitol Police were injured and five people died.

And yet Republicans insist that nothing happened or Black Lives Matter did it. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson went way out there trying to create an alternative universe that they had nothing to fear. They tried to make it sound as if nothing happened at all, that it was a typical tourist day.

And now the Republicans want to scuttle the January 6th Insurrection Commission, a commission that had been agreed to by Democrats and Republicans before Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell said they were opposed to the commission.

And if I were them, I would probably oppose it too because in the January 6th Commission alternative universe would collide with reality. And in the face of the facts, the alternative universe cannot stand. And it will tear the Republican Party in two. Either Trump will be shown to be the lying, cheating crook that he is or Republican candidates in 2022 will have their votes against the commission highlighted with the violence of January 6th in the background. I don’t see them getting gains in the House or the Senate.

McConnell was blinded by Supreme Court picks and power. And now he is powerless to prevent the destruction of the Republican Party due to its greed and ruthlessness. There is no pity here.