Soon-to-be former Senator Jeff Flake is selling his book and he would very much like for you to believe that he's not on board the Trump Train as it heads over the cliff at full speed ahead. In an interview with NPR, Flake laments his party's inability to be honest and in an op-ed for Politico, he does his level best to sound like one of those dirty liberals on MSNBC:
Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process? With hindsight, it is clear that we all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump.
But Trump is not the one who made the right wholly dependent on reductionist rhetoric. Republicans with the help of Fox News, AM Hate Radio, Drudge and Breitbart have eroded the critical thinking skills of conservatives to the point of moribundity. We all marveled at the stupidity of Sean Spicer pointing to the difference in size between the ACA and the GOP's repeal and replace bill as "proof" the Republican bill was better:
But this ridiculous tactic is not new. Here's former Speaker of the House John Boehner using the size of the bill as a prop to attack the ACA during the Obama administration:
The talking point was that a bill that affects roughly 1/6th of the entire US economy was too large. It was exactly the kind of oversimplified answer to an infinitely complex question that Flake rails against but it worked wonders on Republicans because that's what they've been conditioned to respond to. Nuance and complexity became the enemy of conservatism and Republicans were just fine with that until Trump seized control of their narrative by outsimplifying them.
To be fair to Flake, he does present us with a fairly accurate after action report on how the Republican Party fell so low. It's so accurate that, again, it might as well have been written by a liberal:
It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.
Flake is 100% correct about everything here except that last bit. Republican voters may be in denial (and that is debatable) but Republican politicians are not. They know and understand very well what they're allowing to happen and they, for the most part, simply do not care. One cannot witness the spectacle of a Supreme Court seat being stolen and feign ignorance. One cannot participate in the secretive process that led to the crafting of a healthcare bill with a 12% approval rating and be surprised that our democracy is weakening. One cannot turn a blind eye to Trump's obvious crimes and corruption and then be aghast that our system of government is dangling by a thread.
Maybe Flake will be the first, ahem, snowflake in a Republican avalanche that will bury Trump. It's still possible that they will finally turn on him and end his cancerous presidency. But the longer they wait, the more complicit they are and the harder it will be to convince the public that they were unwilling victims of the Mad King's depredations. They pulled that trick after the fall of the House of Bush in 2008 and they won't get away with it again.
Maybe if Republicans hadn't spent the past few decades undermining the intellectual integrity of the American public with propaganda and flat out lies, Trump wouldn't be on the verge of destroying their party (and our country). But they did and you can be sure that we on the left are going to hold them accountable for what they've done no matter how many crocodile tears Jeff Flake sheds.
There are 461 days left to the 2018 elections.
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