Opinion | Is the Republican Party now just a cult of cowards, bullies and blind worshippers?
By Philip Yeung, university teacher
The Republican Party was once the party of Abraham Lincoln. Now it is the party of Donald Trump. Once, it was the party of a saint. It is now the party of Satan. Where Trump leads, his flock will follow. Republicans in Congress had had the chance to twice impeach the highly impeachable Trump. But fear of upsetting the Trump base costing them their political careers has kept them reluctantly submissive or hypocritically supportive of a morally bankrupt leader. Always beyond the pale, its congresswoman, Marjory Tailor Greene swears that "I will vote for Trump even if he is in jail." This is the party with a truth intolerance.
In simpler times, a whiff of scandal was enough to torpedo the career of a high-flying politician. Poor Gary Hart, he was felled by a garden variety extramarital affair. That was then. This is now. In the age of Trump, falsehood and legal woes can mysteriously boost one's electoral chances. Trump taunts "I need one more indictment, to ensure my election". He is riding his criminal indictments to a hopeful electoral victory. What has happened to the party of law and order? From selfless idealism to self-seeking amorality, this is how low American politics has sunk.
Before being released on bail, Trump was pointedly forewarned by the judge to abstain from threatening witnesses who might testify against him. But no sooner was the stark warning delivered than Trump openly defied it, blathering on social media: "If you come after me, I will come after you." This public disdain for judicial authority is an unheard-of challenge to the American administration of justice. The world is holding its breath for the other shoe to drop: will he or won't he be jailed?
When Trump ran in 2016, he ran on the promise of "draining the swamp" in Washington. But it turned out that Trump is himself the biggest, slimiest swamp there is. Unlike others, this Trump swamp is undrainable. He has utterly redefined American politics.
There is not a single moral fiber in the ex-president's body. The criminal charges against him are mounting and multiplying weekly, if not daily. And yet he commands an army of diehards. On the day he faced arraignment, a supporter outside waved a banner with a simple, chilling message: "Trump or Death!"
Even by third-world standards, Trump belongs in the jail house, not the White House. What kind of leader is crazy enough to tell his supporters that "I am being indicted for you"?
Trump portrays himself as a "stable" business genius, and therefore entitled to run the country again. But in truth, he has the Midas touch in reverse. In an unlosable gambling industry, Trump somehow managed to bankrupt all three of his casinos. His now defunct Trump University was embarrassingly sued by students for educational malpractice and settled out of court for US$25 million. All bluster, zero substance, and no soul, he is running on an insatiable appetite for absolute power. The tidal wave of criminal charges against him has failed to cool his fans' ardor, but has instead enhanced his electability. Pundits agree, the laws of political physics don't apply to Trump. Somehow he is inexplicably converting his legal liability into tangible financial and political assets. I am now thoroughly convinced that the Republican Party is no longer a political entity but a cult in the death grip of a deranged manipulator. The signs of a cult are all there: the total suspension of disbelief and the absence of reason among its blind and unquestioning followers.
This party of entrenched negativity is populated by cowardly opportunists like "little" Marco Rubio and "lying" Ted Cruz, both previously at the receiving end of Trump's brutal insults. They have both obsequiously thrown in their lot with this nasty pound-for-pound power puncher who habitually hits below the belt.
Where are the party's positive values? Rubio, for one, has whipped up an anti-China hysteria, favoring sanctions, targeting Hong Kong, having cajoled Biden into barring its Chief Executive from attending the upcoming APEC summit. By nature anti-immigration, republican governors from the border-states are trucking refugee claimants cross-state to dump them onto Democratic-controlled jurisdictions. A dangerous denier of alarming climate change, it is a science denier. Without a vision, Trump is selling his Make America Great Again nonsense to his gullible groupies. MAGA is only making America madder, not smarter or hotter overseas. It is poised to self-destruct. This party of self-seeking politicians may fool its simple-minded rural red-neck tribal followers, but fooling the entire world is a bridge too far. America's moment in the sun has passed.
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