The words “greatness” and “Republicans” only go together so long as one is being sarcastic. If the GOP had in word and deed remained “The Party of Lincoln”, it would have been entirely impossible for them to ever have become the Party Of Trump. The Republicans are not now the Republican Party that Lincoln joined and led. Ironically, the Republicans are now the very people who most opposed Lincoln. Don’t believe me? Ask historian Heather Cox Richardson. Ask for someone who actually believes that democracy demands government of the people, by the people, for the people and I’ll show you a Democrat. But then, Democrats see America’s diversity as a plus. That’s who “the people” are in that equation. Republicans want to limit who those people are to people who look and act exactly like them. Even if Republicans were, to a person, remarkable, after a while, they’d stop being remarkable because “remarkable” itself would stop meaning anything. Not that we have to worry. The last thing on earth Republicans are is “remarkable”. Unless by that we mean “remarkably corrupt”.
Being corrupt is always a kajillion times easier than maintaining one’s integrity because surrendering to greed is so easy in moments of weakness. Americans who continue to identify as “Republicans” have no use for American representative democracy. They have no use for America’s remarkable diversity – the very thing that actually makes America exceptional. Their bottom line is they have no use for a future where they have to share power with all those diverse Americans. Hell, the GOP has no interest in democracy itself because it’s just too unpredictable. Unreliable. If keeping political power at all costs is your end game? Democracy is a loser of a proposition. That’s probably why Republicans work so hard and so relentlessly to destroy it.
The thing we always have to remember about conservatives is that their core impulse is to CONSERVE. To hold onto something that was and may not continue to be for much longer unless they actively do something to keep it alive. It’s not a bizarre way to think. It’s entirely understandable. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to think especially when you live in a diverse world and country like ours.
I take conservatives at their word: they want to conserve. But, if the thing they want to conserve is political power so that the country stays as it was when white, Christian, land-owning men had all the rights, privileges and power, the rest of us simply aren’t going to go along. Not any more. What’s a conservative to do when the marketplace of ideas soundly rejects virtually all the wares they sloppily laid out on their little folding table at the idea marketplace? Conservatives, if they weren’t so defensive, might think about innovating their way out of the problem. But innovation by its very nature threatens conservatives because the very first thing innovation will do is initiate change and, if change threatens you…
Conservatives have a very real problem. How does one make holding onto the past relevant to the present and future? Harder problem: how does one make holding onto the past – when your group held all the power – relevant to the present when all the other groups demand power, too?
Conservatives and conservatism don’t have any ideas to offer. That’s why they gerrymander voter suppress instead. But it’s also why they ran for school boards and other local leadership posts. That was smart of them. They took advantage of democracy’s power while the majority weren’t paying attention to what can happen when a willful minority does such a thing. It still doesn’t make it right. Or genuinely democratic.
When Mitch McConnell announced that, as Trump did in 2020, the GOP would approach 2022 with no agenda to speak of, he was giving himself away. Not hard when you have so few cards in your hand and most of them are severely tainted. What do Republicans believe in other than power for power’s sake? Oh, right – money for money’s sake. That, right there, is the recipe for mediocrity. Belief in nothing. It’s also a recipe for authoritarianism. Authoritarians want everyone to believe that they are the only cure for the very chaos they created. If they hadn’t created the chaos themselves, they wouldn’t have the example of chaos to point at as the reason why they have to “do something” to stop it (aside from just stopping). It’s all kabuki, of course. Performance art performed by artless people.
Grab a handful of Democrats and you’re likely to come away with a super talented hand of people. Val Demmings, Stacy Abrams, AOC, Katie Porter and Elizabeth Warren (just a taste of what the Democrats have on their side) are all dynamic, effective political leaders. They’re smart, well-informed and willing to think outside the box to serve America’s needs and solve its problems. By comparison, the GOP has sexual assault enabler Jim Jordan, statutory rape suspect Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar (a man so bonkers literally everyone else in his family feels compelled to warn the world about him), racist harpies Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert and a Senate caucus literally over-brimming with pasty, old white men and their pasty, old corruption.
As those pasty, old white men will tell you, nothing scares or threatens them more than a new idea or a better way of doing things. The Republican love for mediocrity isn’t just laziness at work, it’s necessity. The last thing they ever want is for more and more of the American electorate to realize how dangerous and deluded they are. That’s not going to change no matter what we do – though prosecuting them and putting them behind bars will slow what they’re doing to America.
In a way, Republicans are like a QWERTY keyboard. Designed to be inefficient back when typing machines couldn’t handle an overly efficient typist. The whole point of the QWERTY layout was to force typists to slow down. Not for the typist’s benefit, for the machine’s. Republicans can’t help being equally ass backwards. Inefficiency, greed and corruption are entirely organic to them. So is mediocrity. It fits them like a second skin.