This morning, one of my favorite Washington Post opinion writers, Greg Sargent, penned a piece, How Trump’s toxicity continues to poison the Republican Party, that makes it clear why the historical precedent of the President's party losing seats in the midterm elections is not in play this cycle. Trump is, after all unprecedented-- not a retired president, but an enemy of the state who is still denying he lost the election. "[T]he GOP refusal," wrote Sargent, "to fully renounce that lie-- the refusal to tell voters the plain truth that they should have absolute confidence in the 2020 result-- is the toxin coursing through the bloodstream of this new standoff. It is fueling GOP voter suppression everywhere, which is pushing big companies into a condemnatory posture, which is sparking an angry GOP backlash... By making it harder to vote, Republican lawmakers are responding to Trump’s false claim that he lost the presidential election due to minority voter fraud, and they’re carrying on Trump’s efforts-- this time proactively-- to limit votes in minority-heavy areas from being counted. The Republican attack is blatant enough that it has forced corporate America, under boycott threats from consumers and pressure from Black executives, to respond."
Republicans are eager to dismiss the corporate posture as “woke virtue signaling.” But it’s far more likely we’re seeing bigger cultural forces at play, ones Trump helped set in motion, ones shoving Republicans into revanchist retrenchment on the wrong side of this deepening divide.
The current battle didn’t suddenly unfold in a vacuum. It represents a convergence of several big cultural streams-- all of which pushed corporate America to take sides, with prodding from Trump.
Trump’s attacks on kneeling football players, his demand that NFL discipline them and his call for a boycott in response, compelled some NFL corporate sponsors to voice qualified support for the players’ right to protest.
Last spring, the Black Lives Matter protests, combined with Trump’s furious response and his effort to depict urban America as sliding into violent anarchy, pushed some big companies to publicly voice support for BLM’s goals and condemn structural racism.
Then came Trump’s months-long GOP-backed effort to overturn the election, followed by his incitement of the violent storming of the Capitol, which prompted dozens of companies to issue statements siding with democracy.
Now over a dozen companies have defended voting rights amid the latest GOP voter suppression wave. But in the backlash to that voter suppression, we’re seeing a convergence of several cultural pushes, against both pernicious structural racism and in defense of democracy.
It’s hard to imagine we’d be seeing this level of corporate pushback right now without all that backstory-- which Trump prodded along. As Green notes, Trump’s “racially divisive presidency” is forcing corporations to “take sides or endure brand-destroying boycotts,” which could further cleave the GOP from its traditional “pro-business suburban voters.”
Unlike Greg Sargent, Max Boot is not one of my favorite Post editorialists, even if I've been increasingly interested in what he has to say. Today's column asserts that the Trumpist GOP is unsalvageable-- "a horror show"-- and that mainstream Republicans should start identifying as Biden-Democrats. He references John Boehner's new memoir stating that "the crazies" have taken over the Republican Party and that the "party's center of gravity has shifted to kooks such as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (who blamed Jewish space lasers for wildfires) and low-rent hucksters such as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (who reportedly shared nude photos of his sexual conquests with his colleagues and is under investigation for possible sex trafficking)."
Most Republicans don’t care that Trump locked up children, cozied up to white supremacists, tear-gassed peaceful protesters, benefited from Russian help in both of his campaigns, egregiously mishandled the pandemic, incited a violent attack on the Capitol and even faced fraud complaints from his own donors. A new Reuters-Ipsos poll finds that 81 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of Trump. Wait. It gets worse: 60 percent say the 2020 election was stolen from him, only 28 percent say he is even partly to blame for the Capitol insurrection, and 55 percent say that the Capitol attack “was led by violent left-wing protestors trying to make Trump look bad.”
This is a portrait of a party that can’t be saved-- at least in the foreseeable future. The GOP remains a cult of personality for the worst president in U.S. history. It has become a bastion of irrationality, conspiracy mongering, racism, nativism and anti-scientific prejudices.
So what should a sane, center-right voter-- someone who might have voted for the GOP in the past-- do under those circumstances?
...[C]entrists have a binary choice: Support either an increasingly extremist and obstructionist Republican Party or a Democratic Party that, under President Biden, is working to solve our most pressing problems.
...It’s possible to oppose Biden’s plans on fiscal conservative grounds, but Republicans have no standing left on that issue after supporting Trump’s $1.9 trillion tax cut during an economic expansion. Likewise, Republicans have lost all credibility on free trade by supporting Trump’s trade wars and on foreign policy by backing Trump’s neo-isolationism. What do they have left? Scare-mongering rhetoric (every Democratic initiative is a sign of “socialism”) and culture wars (Dr. Seuss, Major League Baseball) to distract their base.
But while Biden hasn’t gotten any GOP votes in Congress for his agenda yet, he has won broad approval from the country at large. At 53.1 percent, Biden’s approval rating is higher than Trump’s ever was. Polls show that 73 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus and 60 percent of his handling of the economy. There is also broad support for his infrastructure plan, with 64 percent backing tax hikes on corporations to pay for it.
Biden is governing from the “new center,” while Republicans are increasingly catering to the far right with shrill, divisive rhetoric and antidemocratic actions such as bills to restrict voting. Under those circumstances, those of us on the center-right can’t afford a third-party flirtation. We need to become Biden Republicans.
As if the Democratic Party hasn't moved far enough right already! Imagine, if you dare, what the already too corporate-friendly congressional delegations are going to start looking like with lots of "Biden-Republicans" participating in Democratic primaries!