MEMBERS ONLY: The Party of Unrepentant Assholes

by Bob Cesca

Early Wednesday, following Doug Jones’ surprising victory over accused child rapist Roy Moore in Alabama, Donald Trump tweeted this: “If last night’s election proved anything, it proved that we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates to increase the razor thin margins in both the House and Senate.”

What Trump is talking about here is the GOP strategy of running candidates who more closely resemble Trump’s politics and Trump’s horrendously destructive attitude. Simply put: the Republican Party seems as though it’s doubling down on running unrepentant assholes for national office. Frankly, at this point, I’m okay with that given how it’s been mostly a disaster so far.

There were several factors that led to the defeat of Moore and his obvious Trump-influence. Primarily, African-American voters turned out in record numbers to vote for Jones, who’s successfully prosecuted KKK members. Likewise, Moore’s own history of preying on underage girls severely damaged his candidacy, and rightfully so. How Moore’s not in prison continues to baffle me.

But there’s one thing no one’s really talking about today: the brutal repudiation of Trumpism. And by “Trumpism,” in this context, I’m talking about the act of behaving like a searingly unforgivable asshole. Without question, Trump is the world’s biggest asshole. Whether he’s punishing restaurant table servers, screwing airline travelers, rescinding children’s healthcare, raising taxes on natural disaster victims, insulting Native Americans, shrinking National Parks, murdering hibernating bears or accusing U.S. senators of offering sexual favors in exchange for contributions, we’ve never seen a monster quite like Trump in the White House — perhaps ever.

Roy Moore clearly borrowed heavily from the Trump playbook and it made his unconstitutional deeds that got him kicked off the bench, along with his sexual misconduct seem even worse that it was, and no one really thought child rape or defying the will of a federal court could be made worse, but there it is. 

One example was when Moore defended Vladimir Putin by repeating an argument similar to Trump’s when Bill O’Reilly called the Russian dictator a “killer.” If you recall, Trump, in all of his counter-intuitive glory, replied, “There are a lot of killers,” as if to project the accusation back onto the United States. Roy Moore, when asked the same question replied, “Well, we promote a lot of bad things, you know.” He continued, “Maybe Putin is right. Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”

Moore has also attacked the news media, just like Trump, with the overused “fake news” gimmick. Related to this aspect of Trumpism, Moore refused to concede the election Tuesday night, thus sidestepping the traditional process of the Associated Press and other A-list news outlets calling elections after experts determine who won and who lost. For decades, this is how we do it in America: so-called “decision desks” staffed with seasoned nonpartisan professionals look at all the numbers and collectively decide, at least preliminarily, the winners and loses of elections. And this is generally abided by the candidates from both parties. Not Tuesday night, however, when Moore led his supporters to believe there was still a chance to win despite the forecasts of the “fake news,” including that of Fox News Channel itself.

Voters in Alabama, as with Virginia and New Jersey last month, have decided that enough is enough. No more assholes. The very fact that a Democrat won in deeply-red Alabama should scream out to Republican leadership that we’re done with the erratic, unstable, marginal crackpots who are following in Trump’s footsteps. It was (apparently) fun for upper-middle-aged white people to experiment with a comic book supervillain — a Twitter troll who knows nothing. 

But Trump’s razor thin, Russia-backed victory appears increasingly to have been a one-time event. A temporary break with sanity, rather than an inescapable descent into group madness. At least, that’s how it seems with Alabama in the rearview mirror. Now, knowing the incompetence and destabilization that Trump has foisted upon the American system at nearly every level, perhaps voters in key demographics are screaming, “Enough!” — they’re rising up and refusing to allow Trumpism to flourish. Thank goodness.

The Republican Party is suffering from a crisis of character. Whether it’s abandoning regular order in Congress, or deliberately delaying the confirmation of Merrick Garland, or whether it’s Trump’s psychotic abandonment of presidential behavior, or whether it’s the ill-conceived decision of Trump supporters to back alleged child rapist Roy Moore, the party has once again painted itself into a corner by enabling and exploiting the racists and uneducated freaks and weirdos on the periphery of the discourse — just as they did with the tea party, which, itself, rocked the party internally, and not in a good way. Both the Trump movement and the tea party movement have crippled the GOP establishment, and only because the establishment allowed itself to be crippled by making deals with the MAGA devils lurking in the darkest depths of the Republican lunatic fringe.

Now, do you think they’ve learned their lesson after a pro-choice Democrat won in Alabama? Of course they haven’t. In fact, we can expect the Republicans to run a long roster of Trump clones next year. How do we know? Trump said so today on Twitter. Again, he said “we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates.” Naturally, he means candidates who are willing to stupidly climb aboard the out-of-control MAGA train. And if you thought the whole Trumper MAGA thing was decimated on Tuesday, just wait until next year after Trump has suffered many more incoherent and dangerous meltdowns, on top of impending indictments in the Russia investigation — perhaps even the president himself. 

Admittedly, I might be feeling a little overconfident after Tuesday, but I think there’s reason to be excited about the prospects of the midterms, especially knowing how the GOP refuses to abandon its demons. Always remember, though: Don’t get happy. Despite being the party of assholes and racists, the Trump-Republicans have plenty of tricks in their arsenal and they’ll use every single one if it means protecting their orange messiah in the White House, along with his nightmarish agenda.

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