The Sad, Sad Acceleration Of The Remaking Of Trump’s GOP
Written by WPVR on March 16, 2019
On Thursday, by a large bipartisan majority, the Senate approved HJ 46, the resolution of disapproval for Trump’s phony state of emergency declaration. A dozen Republicans voted with every single Democrat against Trump. The Republicans on Trump’s shit-list today: Lamar Alexander (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Lee (UT), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Randy Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Marco Rubio (FL), Pat Toomey (PA) and Roger Wicker (MS). But not two of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2020, Thom Tillis (NC) and Cory Gardner (CO).
If you go by their 538 Trump adhesion scores, the biggest Trump suck-ups in Congress are Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, both of North Dakota, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, David Perdue of Georgia, John Cornyn of Texas and Pat Roberts of Kansas. The 7 of them vote with Trump no matter what; they’re like broken machines stuck on “grind America into the ground.” (Only two Democrats get anywhere near Trump-suck-up status, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom are with Trump more than they’re against him. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly were in that camp too– and lost their seats for their efforts.) Thom Tillis and Cory Gardner, on the other hand, are pretty garden variety Republicans. Gardner’s score is 90.3% and Tillis’ is 94.6%– far Trumpier than some of the senators who voted for the resolution, like Rand Paul (71.6), Mike Lee (77.7), Mitt Romney (70.0), Susan Collins (72.3) or Lisa Murkowski (78.9).
Friday, North Carolina media started dumping all over Tillis for his cowardly and hypocritical flip-flop. WRAL:
A month ago Sen. Thom Tillis was one of the first Republicans to say he’d oppose President Donald Trump’s border emergency. It violated the Constitution’s separation of powers. He wasn’t going to cede the legislative branch’s constitutional responsibility.
Thursday with his vote to the contrary, he said “never mind.”
Looking at the likelihood of a difficult re-election campaign next year, the last thing his chances of returning to the Senate needed was the added possibility of a potent GOP primary challenger– an open threat Trump promised Republicans who opposed him.
At about the same time Tillis was back-tracking, Republican Rep. Mark Walker, who represents the state’s 6th Congressional District and was rumored as a GOP primary challenge to the incumbent senator, had his office issue a brief statement. “Congressman Walker is humbled to have the support and consideration of conservatives across North Carolina but is not planning to primary Thom Tillis.”
After the vote, N.C. GOP Chairman Robin Hayes offered Tillis more reassurance. “We look forward to supporting President Trump and Senator Tillis as they work to secure our borders and fix the broken National Emergencies Act.”
So, Tillis kicked the Constitution into the back seat and drove into the sunset with the President. It was quite a turn-around for someone who’d taken to The Washington Post’s op-ed columns to declare there was “no intellectual honesty” in supporting Trump when he’d objected to what he considered presidential excesses during Barack Obama’s administration.
“Congress has allowed executive overreach to continue unabated from one administration to the next because both sides are fine with it as long as they agree with the policy goal,” Tillis said in a statement a month ago. “While I agree with President (Donald) Trump’s policy goal, I don’t believe in situational principles.”
What Tillis says he believes and what he does are now revealed to be VERY different things– particularly when a re-election is on the line.
…If the senator goes looking for the definition of “situational principles,” now, he may find his picture beside it in the dictionary.
The New York Times dubbed him “Senator Hypocrisy (R-NC)” in a Friday morning editorial. Cory Gardner is faring just as badly back home in Colorado. The state’s biggest newspaper, the Denver Post, which endorsed him in 2014, basically withdrew the endorsement on Thursday evening, blaring in an editorial Our Endorsement of Cory Gardner Was A Mistake. “We endorsed Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 because we believed he’d be a statesman,” they wrote. “We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring ‘fresh leadership, energy and ideas.’ We see now that was a mistake– consider this our resolution of disapproval. Gardner has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader. He has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: ‘a political time-server interested only in professional security.’… Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall. Put simply this is a constitutional crisis and one of Colorado’s two senators has failed the test.”
In our endorsement this November of former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora who was soundly defeated by Rep. Jason Crow, we stuck by someone who had shown a willingness to oppose that which he found morally reprehensible in his own party.
In contrast, Gardner was a never-Trumper in the primary who in recent months endorsed the president’s re-election campaign even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to unveil the worst of this administrations web of lies and deceit. Tuesday’s vote was the last straw.
We no longer know what principles guide the senator and regret giving him our support in a close race against Mark Udall.
Trump’s bumpersticker tweet before the balloting: “A vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!” White House aides texted it to GOP senators to make sure they’d see it. The failed effort “was a reminder that White House aides have long acknowledged the futility of speaking for or negotiating on the president’s behalf, a position they now are openly conveying to lawmakers: passing along his tweets rather than attempting to twist arms or hash out a compromise themselves… The Republican revolt on the Senate floor followed a haphazard and erratic persuasion effort from Trump that offers a vivid encapsulation of how this White House has struggled to influence Congress. In the days before the vote, the president initially made few moves to try to stem GOP defections. Trump told senators that he knew they wouldn’t be able to override his veto and appeared to see little upside to cutting a deal on his signature issue. He made little effort to whip wavering GOP senators during a Wednesday afternoon meeting on trade, and said they could vote however they pleased. By Wednesday evening, however, he had grown disturbed by the brewing condemnation from his own party.”
Friday morning, the NY Times ran a piece by Stead Herndon about how the quality of Republican candidates is changing in response to Trumpism. He wrote that “Far from the power centers of Washington, the early 2020 primary states or the money-rich coastal cities that fund many national campaigns, a shift in the political winds is growing stronger. The Republican Party and its candidates, particularly in state and local campaigns, are increasingly being reshaped in President Trump’s image, adopting his laundry list of political opponents and his willingness to go to great lengths to spite them. But the most common reflection of Mr. Trump’s brand of grievance politics… was the pervasive belief that the country is being undermined by undeserving outsiders and the Democrats who represent them.” It’a an ultimately ugly, divisive message of Know-Nothingism. And Herndon uses last Tuesday’s state House special election in northeast Pennsylvania, a Lackawanna County district north and west of Scranton.
The results weren’t a shock. The district has been trending blue and Democrat Bridget Malloy Kosierowski beat Republican Frank Scavo III decisively. More interesting was what a Trump-like campaign Scavo ran. “Many of Mr. Scavo’s supporters,” wrote Herndon, “were upset that he had drawn significant negative attention for his series of bigoted Facebook posts over the past four years, including ones that painted Muslims as ‘infidels’ and others that promoted conspiracy theories like ‘Pizzagate,’ the false story that Democrats ran a child sex trafficking operation out of a Washington pizza parlor.”
“Democrats are rats!” yelled Mr. Scavo’s wife, Caren [drunk], a local hair stylist who had started crying. She and others contended that he should have doubled down rather than apologize for the posts, as he did in the closing days of the race.
“I’m furious,” said Laureen Cummings, an Old Forge resident who is also a county commissioner. “Our poor president is getting hammered and the same thing happened to Frank.”
Another man interjected: “This is our tea party!” Big applause followed.
Here, among Republicans in the northeastern Pennsylvania region that has suffered with the gutting of the steel industry and the ravages of the opioid crisis, Mr. Trump’s language is endlessly repeated. He is not ensnared in several investigations of possible wrongdoing, but the victim of a “witch hunt.” The discovery of Mr. Scavo’s anti-Muslim Facebook posts was the work of the “fake news media.” The federal bureaucracy is the scheming “deep state.”
But the most common reflection of Mr. Trump’s brand of grievance politics– and the reason Mr. Scavo’s loss was treated as an existential threat in that Old Forge banquet hall– was the pervasive belief that the country is being undermined by undeserving outsiders and the Democrats who represent them.
Herndon didn’t see fit to mention that Lackawanna County has not exactly embraced Trump, despite the crackpot Republicans getting drunk and addicting themselves to opioids while nursing their racist grievances. In 2016 more voters cast ballots for Bernie (17,265) than for Trump (14,406) in the primaries. In the general election, Lackawanna went for Hillary 50.2-46.8%. Even the disastrous Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Katie McGinty– an EMILY’s List concoction– beat GOP incumbent Pat Toomey 52.9% to 39.8% in Lackawanna. And in 2018 Lackawanna gave Democrat Bob Casey at 61.1-37.9% landslide victory over Republican Lou Barletta in the Senate race and Democrat Tom Wolff and 64.6-34.1% win over Republican Scott Wagner. And in the House race, Matt Cartwright won all 3 of the biggest counties in the district but completely crushed it in Lackawanna. So… not everyone in this part of the state is a KKK sympathizer. Still, Herndon wants to lead his readers into believing Lackawanna County is a racist bastion and emphasized that “In conversations with Mr. Scavo and his all-white supporters, this was not a race-blind anxiety, but a conscious fear around what they see as the replacement of traditional, white American culture. The message was constantly amplified by ominous reporting and commentary from conservative, pro-Trump media outlets.”
He asserts that “to many in Lackawanna County, which has long trended Democratic but only narrowly went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, such feelings are integral to the worldview of local Republicans.” Yeah, Hillary was a terrible candidate– who still won– but Lackawanna went heavily for Casey, Wolff and Cartwright. Presumably Herndon’s editor’s had no idea. He wrote that in “In Old Forge, the region’s most conservative bastion… mayor, Robert Legg, is currently embroiled in scandal after he posted on Facebook that the New York governor, Andrew M. Cuomo; the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi; and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, are treasonous and ‘should be shot.'”
The Republican National Committee and its affiliates have long insisted that they remain a big tent, open to people of all races and backgrounds. However, some former Republican leaders, pollsters and former candidates say Mr. Trump has brought formerly fringe sentiments of explicit nativism and racism to the fore– and the result is a party that is growing more racially monolithic in an increasingly diverse age.
During last year’s midterm elections, Republicans fielded a nearly all-white slate of candidates for governor. In the House, 90 percent of the Republican caucus is now white men, while about two-thirds of the Democratic caucus is not.
But locally, Mr. Scavo’s supporters– many of whom vocally supported Mr. Trump’s re-election– are unsure such a dichotomy is a problem. Mr. Scavo said his fatal election mistake was taking the advice of outside Republican groups and not going with his gut, which would have focused less on eliminating taxes and promoting smaller government and instead prioritized more Trumpian issues such as the wall on the southern border and MS-13 gang violence.
Across the country, other Republican state officials have gone further, including an Arizona state representative, David Stringer, who said this year that “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in the state’s public schools.
Daniel Squadron, the former New York state senator who leads Future Now, a national organization to help elect Democrats to state legislatures, said he cautioned people against thinking the wave of overt white identity politics is simply an offshoot of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Squadron pointed out that, in the Pennsylvania race, Mr. Scavo’s controversial social media posts began before Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Other candidates in this mold, such as the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, won support of local Republicans even though Mr. Trump had endorsed Mr. Moore’s opponent.
“It’s not about Trump,” Mr. Squadron said. “It’s about a mind-set, a conspiracy theory, an ethnonationalism that Trump reflects.”
“We should stop thinking of these races as ‘Trump-ized’ because they’re about ‘Pizzagate’ and racial and ethnic division and fear-mongering,” he said. “That’s just how races are run on the Republican side these days.”
Mr. Scavo and his supporters largely agree. Mr. Scavo called himself “pro-wall, not pro-Trump,” and Mr. Bolus said he worried the Republican establishment fails to understand how fiercely Mr. Trump’s supporters are committed to their cultural ideals.
They especially hate Hispanics and Muslims and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are driving them out of their minds. They came up in Herndon’s interviews with the local yahoos. A new Gallup poll shows that hard core Republicans– especially males– are being driven crazy by Ocasio. Overall, Democrats like her and so do women, millennials and people of color but by a huge 68% margin, Republicans just hate her. Old white conservative males seem to be making her the bane of their existence. Ocasio isn’t the first Democratic Socialist who old white conservative males have hated: