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Alternet, March 10, 2019

The religious devotion of the Trump base to their secular god demonstrates that between 30 and 40 percent of Americans are unfit for participation in Democratic society. For the sake…

The religious devotion of the Trump base to their secular god demonstrates that between 30 and 40 percent of Americans are unfit for participation in Democratic society. For the sake of job preservation, the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress have become equally as zealous as their voters in their insistence on ignorance, delusion and racism as criteria for political judgment. Given that polite people across the political spectrum can agree that disenfranchisement is not a legal or moral option, the most relevant question of contemporary debate is, “how do we deal with these people?”The mainstream press and liberal punditry appear devoted to ducking this inquiry, even as the consequences of avoidance invite further decay of democracy, political violence and social catastrophe. Everyone from editorial page writers for the New York Times to Rachel Maddow act as if the moment Donald Trump drops back down the gold-plated manhole out of which he crawled to claim the office of Lincoln all the country’s injuries and infections will magically heal. The ugly reality, and more challenging truth, is that Trump is not the actual threat, but only its most forceful manifestation.

A recent leak of the president’s daily schedule reveals what anyone rational would have assumed — Trump is lazy and egocentric, devoted more to “executive time,” which includes hours angrily tweeting while watching television and shooting the bull on the telephone with his sociopathic chums, than he is to governance. Several reports also demonstrate that Trump has little knowledge of history and no attention span for public policy, and even as the leader of the world’s most powerful nation is obsessed with opportunities for grift. All this is worthy of celebration, and reason to breathe a heavy sigh of relief.

Imagine if Trump was a brilliant, learned leader committed to the enactment of a consistent agenda; a man who could summon considerable skill and savvy, not merely to promote himself but to fundamentally transform American law and reinvent the relationship between the federal government and its citizenry. As candidate and president, Trump has already demolished standards of civility, worsened the racial and ethnic fractures of the American public, and reduced the Republican Party to a slobbering set of sycophants. And he has done all of this by barely lifting a finger. The true danger might emerge when Trump slithers into the sunset, and his enraged and frenzied loyalists, who now control the infrastructure of one of America’s two major political parties, are looking for a replacement and find the real thing.

Over the course of my lifetime, the leadership of the Republican Party has continually declined in intellectual, moral and political quality. Each successive Republican administration has inflicted greater damage on social service networks, the minimal safety net that exists for the poor, and the institutions and culture necessary to preserve civic liberalism. Republicans went from Reagan to George W. Bush, attempted to anoint Sarah Palin, and eventually landed on Trump.

Before you think “How could it possibly get worse?”, try to remember that that same thought existed about Bush and his ghoulish inner circle of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft. The licensing of Trump to mock disabled journalists, threaten the free press, demonize reporters, sympathize with neo-nazis and Klansmen, degrade women, encourage the hatred of immigrants and lie with nearly every utterance proves that the Republican rank and file of the electorate has no bottom. They are willing to descend to depths that have surprised even their most strident critics and sympathetic associates.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, for example, thought that Trump’s mockery of John McCain’s war record would endanger his entire campaign. It did not even cause a temporary dip in his poll numbers. The same goes for the “Access Hollywood” tape. The same goes for the New York Times report on a lifetime of lying about his wealth. The same goes for the conviction of his campaign manager. The same goes for his former lawyer testifying under oath that he is a “racist, cheat and con man.”

Trump lapdogs fetched and rolled over on command recently at CPAC — a gathering of the American right under the sponsorship of the American Conservative Union, or in the words of former Trump official, Count Seb Gorka, “The biggest conclave of conservatives in the United States.”

A dedicated masochist, perhaps bored with the kinkier elements of internet pornography, might want to watch some of the speeches and panel discussions from CPAC, all of them now on YouTube. More than depraved thrills, they offer insight into the modern right wing. Charlie Kirk, the leader of Turning Point USA, an organization committed to Trumpian evangelical work on college campuses, told an approving audience that “liberals have always hated America.” Kirk’s consigliere, Candice Owens, a black Republican who recently told an audience that Hitler would have been fine if he “just wanted to make Germany great,” cited as evidence that racism no longer exists in America the fact that she “has never been a slave.” Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, advocated arming everyone but toddlers as the solution for every social ill. And speaking of guns, Jerry Falwell Jr., a nut that did not fall far from the family tree, implied that his sons would shoot Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she tries to take their cows.

The main event, of course, was President Donald Trump. The emperor made his entrance to the blaring mawkishness of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” and actually hugged a large American flag, while grinning ear to ear. The audience roared as Trump made it to first base with the Stars and Stripes. It was one of many times they would rise to their feet in ecstatic displays of devotion. Trump’s speech combined megalomania with right-wing observational comedy. It was almost a combination of Fidel Castro and Jerry Seinfeld, if both men were incoherent. ...
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