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Any room today for honest Republicans?

April 27, 2021

Brad Raffensperger is the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia, who committed the political sin of performing his sworn and legally obligated duty, in the face of Trump’s crooked attempt to pressure him otherwise. For that, he and some other Republican officeholders now are damned by their own party. Trump’s continued influence is raising a simple question: When will there be room in the GOP for politicians who have enough integrity not to bow to his corruption? Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are leading the fight for that space. Max Boot thinks it is a lost cause:

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.

On the surface, that is not a battle over political orientation. I have only little knowledge of how the Republicans named above fall on the various issues that characterize today’s GOP. I read and learn from writers who apply a variety of political lenses: that capitalist growth is what matters most, that liberal democracy must prevail, that nationalism is important, that local communities need more power, that urbanism is the future, that Marx’s focus on class conflict still carries some weight, that technological change will foil many of those previous views, that the history of how we reached our current state determines what comes next, that any past beyond those living is irrelevant, that the social world is so complex that politicians should work only toward pragmatic change with short-term benefit, that politicians who don’t push for large change are wasting their time. All those and even more diverse views can be carried with integrity. Or to put it the other way around, I think it generally is a mistake to link integrity with some political outlook, or to find it lacking in others.

But. One of our major political parties today is dominated by a conman. It was Trump’s constant bullshit that made him hero and leader for a movement caught up in conspiracist thinking. How does the political party swept along find a path away from that? In the short run, I suspect Max Boot is right.

Update #1: Romney narrowly avoids censure, but encounters significant opposition from Republicans who still support Trump.

Update #2: Charlie Sykes points out that Romney asked the right question of the audience. And they clearly showed who they are and what the GOP now is about. Which poses some hard questions for Romney and any other Republican with a modicum of integrity.

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