It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this point that Trump is not some pernicious force in American politics. He is, instead, just a symptom of a Republican Party that has lost all of its moorings to liberal democratic government. This has not been a surprise to me. In the early 1990s I noticed conservatives talking about how democracy wasn’t that great. And for good reason! They saw that what they believed in as not popular.
But I bring this up because most Americans do see Trump as some outlier. My father, for example, hates Trump but absolutely cannot see that other than being personally coarse, Trump is a standard issue Republican. Indeed, Trump is in many ways better than you garden-variety Republican. Let’s look at the case of Chai Feldblum.
Feldblum is a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Obama first put her on the board, but Trump just waved her through for her second term. And why wouldn’t he? She is an LGBT advocate and a lesbian. And Trump really doesn’t have problems with the LGBT community. (Obviously, if it comes to it, Trump will demagogue anything and anyone.)
But standard-issue Republican Mike Lee has a problem with Chai Feldblum: she’s anti-religious! So he’s holding up not just her confirmation but two others. I’d go through his complaints, but there really isn’t anything to them.
It’s really just what I’ve talked about with regard to the supposed War on Christmas. The problem for conservative Christians is that not treating Christianity as the One True Religion is the same as attacking it. Saying “Happy holidays!” isn’t good enough. They want, “Happy holidays but remember that unlike those other religions, Christianity is true!”
That’s what Mike Lee is up to. Feldblum has called for more inclusive kinds of group structures: “partnerships, households, kinship relationships, and families.” Notice: families is in there. But the fact that it isn’t the only structure that is in there is not good enough for Mike Lee and the other Good Christians™ with all their Christian Love™.
It’s a shocking thing, really. Mike Lee wants to limit the franchise of marriage — explicitly. Yet he has the hubris to say that Feldblum is the one who is an opponent of marriage.
This is Mike Lee! He’s been a Republican in the Senate for 8 years. Certainly, he has been considered conservative. But there was no outrage because nothing really stands out about him compared to other Republicans.
The GOP Is the Problem
And that’s the point: the Republican Party is horrible. The difference between a Donald Trump and a Mike Lee is that Trump is obvious in his vileness and Lee is worse in his vileness.
Yet if Mike Lee had been president, I don’t think that the Democrats would have picked up 40 House seats last month. And this is terrifying.
Let’s face it, the next Great Demagogue will be a whole lot smarter than Trump. And he’ll be smooth! People won’t be marching in the street because he seems like an okay guy. Sure, we may disagree with him but at least we can speak reasonably with him. And then he will instruct the military to shoot migrant children at the border.
Seeming Reasonable Isn’t Enough
But isn’t it better when our beastly behavior comes from a man who seems reasonable?
Well, no; no it isn’t.
And this is why we have to continue to focus on the Republican Party itself and the way that it is destroying our country. We must destroy the Republican Party before it can destroy the United States as a relatively free and democratic country.