The Future of the Right
by Bruce Bartlett
Published on Twitter 8/20/2022
I’m glad to see right-wingers abandoning Trump, but where do they go? For decades, the failure of Republican presidents to fully implement the right-wing agenda has primarily been attributed to a lack of will. But that was clearly not Trump’s failure.
Trump’s problem was a lack of competence, owing to gross stupidity, ignorance of public policy, inexperience in government, and incredibly bad judgment about hiring staff. Every Trump cabinet secretary was the worst in departmental history.
Therefore, what Republicans should be looking for as president is someone as conservative as Trump, but well-educated, with a high IQ, experience in government, an ability to articulate the conservative philosophy, and a record of attracting and motivating good staff.
The problem is that the party of Trump has systematically driven away anyone with those qualities, or at least made it impossible for them to advance within the party. Pandering to the Trumpists who control the GOP means taking positions that are crazy, endorsing ideas that are stupid, completely ignoring experts–even those with solid Republican credentials–in favor of crackpots with no substantive knowledge of any public policy issue, having Fox News anchors as your principal political and policy advisers, having a casual disregard for the law, law enforcement officials, national security procedures, logic, evidence, history, mathematics, the English language, and just about anything else that has, historically, been considered a qualification for high office.
Ignorance of science appears to be a prime requirement.
Anti-vaxxers still run rampant in the GOP even as Covid-19 has killed more than a million Americans and new/old diseases like monkeypox and even polio are appearing on the scene. And total ignorance is required of how the female body works, how their reproductive system operates, what pregnancy and birth entail — both practically and biologically — appears to be a requirement for all GOP officeholders, including women who have had children and know better.
This is not the Republican Party I was a member of.
When I became active in the party in the early 1970s, I actually thought Republicans were smarter and better educated than Democrats. That’s a key reason I became a Republican. In 1980, even Daniel Patrick Moynihan, possibly the smartest and best-educated politician of all time, said that the GOP had become the party of ideas; the Democrats were on ideological autopilot. How times have changed!
Unfortunately, while the Republicans have descended into the depths of stupidity and conspiracy, Democrats have failed to challenge them effectively. I don’t know why. Fear seems to be a big part of it. At least since Adlai Stevenson, Democrats have been afraid of being portrayed as the party of intelligence, education, and competence. They seem to feel that these things are political losers, that the American people want a president just like themselves–with an IQ of exactly 100 and no higher.
I don’t think this is right, but I can’t prove it. I don’t think any sane person wants a doctor or a lawyer with a 100 IQ; they want the smartest, most experienced, most well-educated person they can find to cure their disease or get them out of a legal jam.
On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that Trump would be an exception to this assumption. Despite being a “billionaire,” he appears to have hired the cheapest, least experienced lawyers he could find, even to defend him against charges that could put him in jail.
Personally, I’d be scared shitless if I was in his shoes. The only thing I can figure is that he has led a charmed life–so much for karma!–and always gotten away with being a corrupt screw-up–he’s like the drunk driver who walks away from a car crash without a scratch.
But even if this is true, again, it doesn’t apply to other Republicans–the excrement dripping off Trump is landing on them and Trump doesn’t care in the slightest. All he cares about is himself–not his party, not the conservative movement, not even the well-being of his country.
In my heart of hearts, I desperately want to believe that the chickens will come home to roost and that I will live long enough to see it. The day Trump walks into prison should be declared a national holiday for all time, but my gut tells me he will skate.
I don’t think either Biden or Garland has the will to see this through till the end. They are too afraid of the consequences of holding the leader of the fascist party accountable–just as Jerry Ford was. Thank God, FDR, Truman, and JFK were a different breeds of Democrat.
The GOP’s Murderous Anti-Intellectualism
The New Republic, July 13, 2020
You can see some of Bruce Bartlett’s previous writings here