Jun 16th 2016

The Agony of the Republicans


"Despite all the talk about Republican unity, only 11 of the party’s 54 senators have endorsed Trump. In the House, just 27 of 246 Republicans have done so."

WASHINGTON, DC – This is a grim time for America’s Republican Party. While most of the party’s rank-and-file members have embraced Donald Trump as their presidential nominee, Republican members of Congress are finding it hard to accept him as their standard-bearer. Nothing like this has ever happened in American politics.

It would be nice to believe that those Republicans who haven’t endorsed Trump (or have expressed misgivings) are acting on principle. And yet, while they may be concerned about his behavior and suitability for the job, most are more worried about his candidacy’s impact on their careers. They’re torn between their qualms about his inexperience, unpredictability, and vulgarity, and the fact that many of their constituents like him. Despite all the talk about Republican unity, only 11 of the party’s 54 senators have endorsed Trump. In the House, just 27 of 246 Republicans have done so.

Even if Trump hadn’t won the nomination fight, the Republicans’ control of the Senate would have been vulnerable this year. Twenty-four Republicans are up for re-election, an unusually high number, and at least ten are at risk of losing. Of that group, only six have endorsed Trump.

The main misgivings about Trump – among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike –are that he is not informed enough about the issues to be president and, even more worryingly, that he is abnormally self-absorbed, impulsive, and reckless. His lack of all compunction about using racism to advance his ambitions is no less a concern to his detractors, who worry that he is alienating large minority groups. Blaming the murder of 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, on Muslim immigrants, even though the shooter was born in Queens, New York, like Trump himself, is just the latest example of his tactics.

When it comes to Republicans, there is a certain degree of hypocrisy in the concern about offending minorities. Republican candidates have signaled sympathy with racist sentiment since Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. Usually, however, they did it subtly enough to escape widespread condemnation.

Richard Nixon, for example, signaled to southerners and northern blue-collar workers that he didn’t believe in muscular attempts to desegregate schools. And Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 campaign near the Mississippi town where three civil-rights activists were murdered by white supremacists in 1964.

Such “dog-whistle” tactics allowed candidates and their supporters to deny that they were explicitly endorsing racism. But Trump has crossed the line. By calling illegal Mexican immigrants “rapists” and proposing to ban Muslims from entering the United States, he may have struck a chord with enough of the Republican Party’s base. But he has also left his supporters no room for deniability.

Both Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, have been trying to protect their troops by maintaining some distance from Trump. Ryan has less reason than McConnell to worry about losing his majority, but he doesn’t want to take any chances, and the House’s most conservative members pressed him to endorse Trump wholeheartedly.

Despite receiving no concessions from Trump on fundamental differences regarding the party’s program (particularly on trade agreements and entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare), or even on toning down his rhetoric, on June 2, Ryan wrote an unenthusiastic op-ed saying that he would vote for Trump. On that very day, Trump issued a racist attack on Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over two fraud suits against Trump University, an institution that encouraged people to spend large amounts of money supposedly to learn the real-estate investment techniques that made Trump rich. Trump takes great umbrage when people call the defunct “school” a scam.

Trump argued in speeches before large crowds that Curiel could not be fair to him because he is “a Mexican” (Curiel was born in Indiana). This naked appeal to bigotry in pursuit of his own private interests was too much for some of the Republicans who had tolerated his previous attacks on Latinos. Now that he was their nominee, he was more likely to damage his party’s chances of winning votes from one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups.

Ryan, however, feigned surprise, saying that the comments had “come out of left field.” He called the renewed attacks on Curiel “a textbook case of racism,” but nonetheless reiterated his support for Trump, because the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, isn’t an acceptable alternative.

McConnell’s overriding goal is to protect the Republicans’ Senate majority. But, while he has endorsed Trump, he has also been a frequent critic. Recently, McConnell said he was concerned that Trump “doesn’t know a lot about the issues.” One Republican senator facing a tough re-election fight, Mark Kirk, has rescinded his endorsement of Trump. McConnell has said he won’t rule out doing the same.

Trump’s racist attacks on Curiel, together with his reaction to the Orlando tragedy, revived talk of trying to stop him at the party convention in July. But, once again, the conversation has been foundering on the question of who could save the party from its unwanted guest.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2016.
www.project-syndicate.org

 


This article is brought to you by Project Syndicate that is a not for profit organization.

Project Syndicate brings original, engaging, and thought-provoking commentaries by esteemed leaders and thinkers from around the world to readers everywhere. By offering incisive perspectives on our changing world from those who are shaping its economics, politics, science, and culture, Project Syndicate has created an unrivalled venue for informed public debate. Please see: www.project-syndicate.org.

Should you want to support Project Syndicate you can do it by using the PayPal icon below. Your donation is paid to Project Syndicate in full after PayPal has deducted its transaction fee. Facts & Arts neither receives information about your donation nor a commission.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Dec 13th 2021
EXTRACT: " We all know that Father Christmas would struggle to deliver presents to everyone around the world without the help of his magical reindeer. But why were they chosen to pull the sleigh rather than any other animal? It turns out that the biology of reindeer makes them ideal for the job. Here are five reasons why."
Dec 4th 2021
EXTRACT: "Planting more forests is a potent tool for mitigating the climate crisis, but forests are like complex machines with millions of parts. Tree planting can cause ecological damage when carried out poorly, particularly if there is no commitment to diversity of planting. Following Darwin’s thinking, there is growing awareness that the best, healthiest forests are ones with the greatest variety of trees - and trees of various ages."
Nov 19th 2021
EXTRACTS: "At a time when the struggle between authoritarianism and democracy is so intense, if not fateful for the future of democracies, NATO and the EU must warn these countries [Editor's note: Poland and Hungary, EU and NATO, Turkey NATO] that they are on the precipice of being kicked out if they do not change their governing practice. They must be required to restore the principles of democracy by upholding universal human rights and abiding the rule of law, or else they will forfeit their membership and suffer from the consequences of their crimes." ------ "A narcissistic leader, such as Trump, whose hunger for power seems to know no limit, has happily sacrificed the good of the country on the altar of his twisted ego. America’s democracy cannot be repaired unless he and those who helped him are held accountable and face the weight of the law."
Nov 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many people who go through intense trauma, for example, become deeper and stronger than they were before. They may even undergo a sudden and radical transformation that makes life more meaningful and fulfilling. Indeed, research shows that between half and one-third of all people experience significant personal development after traumatic events, such as bereavement, serious illness, accidents or divorce. Over time, they may feel a new sense of inner strength and confidence and gratitude for life and other people. They may develop more intimate and authentic relationships and have a wider perspective, with a clear sense of what is important in life and what isn’t. In psychology, this is referred to as “post-traumatic growth”. "
Nov 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Notably, Murdoch thinks that really knowing or understanding another person is a difficult task: “It is a task to come to see the world as it is”. According to the Freudian psychology Murdoch subscribes to in The Sovereignty of Good, humans are prone to “fantasy” – refusing to face the truth because it can damage our fragile egos."
Nov 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "People do not believe false information because they are ignorant. There are many factors at work, but most researchers would agree that the belief in misinformation has little to do with the amount of knowledge a person possesses. Misinformation is a prime example of motivated reasoning. People tend to arrive at the conclusions they want to reach as long as they can construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these outcomes."
Oct 28th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Brood with me on the latest delay of the full release of the records pertaining to the murder of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. That was 58 years ago." -----"Mark my words: ...... No one who remembers 1963 will live to see the US government admit the full truth about Kennedy’s murder. And the American people’s faith in democracy will continue to fade. There is only one way to prevent this, and that is to release every record, withholding nothing – and to do it now."
Oct 27th 2021
EXTRACT: "..... we may defy the warnings of modern medicine, convinced of our own superiority. Researchers at the University of Chicago Divinity School reported half of their participants, all of whom indicated some religious affiliation, agreed with the statement “God will protect me from being infected”. To cope with our dread of death, we delude ourselves into thinking we are invincible: death might happen to other people, but not to me."
Oct 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Wes Anderson’s new film The French Dispatch is about the final issue of a magazine that specialises in long-form articles about the goings-on in the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé. The film is an anthology of shorts representing three of the articles. A piece by the magazine’s art critic (Tilda Swinton) explores the life and late success of the abstract artist Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro). Talented from a young age, Rosenthaler pursued art with a dogged determination that drove him to slowly lose his mind." ---- "Like everything else, mental illness is understood within the context of its time. In their study of melancholy and genius Born Under Saturn, the art historians Margot and Rudolf Wittkower show how Renaissance artists embraced mental alienation. This was shown by a withdrawn, slothful gloom. Such heavy sadness was considered both the symptom and the price of divine inspiration." ---- "Today, the association of creativity and mental illness often implies regression from an adult and orderly state of mind to one that is primal, impulsive, or infantile. The artist in Anderson’s film is such an example: he is noisy, impetuous, and extravagantly mad. And it is while he is at his “maddest” that he paints his best work." ---- "Here I explore the work of four painters whose work has been shaped by various mental illnesses, highlighting how the idea of the “mad artist” need not be tied up with a loss of control but rather a bid to gain it."
Oct 21st 2021
EXTRACT: "So much of Succession holds a mirror to real life, and the way that Logan Roy’s hand-picked board members allowed these abuses to continue by turning a blind eye to them is a good example. We have just published research that shows that public companies whose directors are chosen by their CEOs are statistically more likely to be involved in corporate misconduct, along with various other shortcomings. So why does this happen, and what should be done about it? "
Oct 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah came to Britain in the 1960s as a refugee. Being of Arab origin, he was forced to flee his birthplace during the revolution of 1964 and only returned in 1984 in time to visit his dying father. Until his retirement, he was a full-time professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury."
Oct 7th 2021
EXTRACT: "As the 25th James Bond film No Time to Die hits the cinemas, we are once again reminded of the way that disability is depicted negatively in Hollywood films. The new James Bond film features three villains, all of who have facial disfigurements (Blofeld, Safin and Primo). If you take a closer look at James Bond villains throughout history, the majority have facial disfigurements or physical impairments. This is in sharp contrast to the other characters, including James Bond, who are able-bodied and presented with no physical bodily differences. Indeed, many films still rely on outdated disability tropes, including Star Wars and various Disney classics. Rather than simply being part of a character’s identity, the physical difference is exploited and exaggerated to become a plot point and visual metaphor for villains" ----- "The British Film Institute (BFI) was the first organisation to sign up and has committed to stop funding films that feature negative representations depicted through scars or facial differences – a step in the right direction."
Oct 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "The trillions of microbes inside of our gut play many very important roles in our body. Not only does this “microbiome” regulate our metabolism and help us absorb nutrients from food into the body, it can also influence whether we are lean or obese."
Sep 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. In the chamber, the air pressure is increased two to three times higher than normal air pressure. It is commonly used to treat decompression sickness (a condition scuba divers can suffer from), carbon monoxide poisoning,......" ---- "Blood flow to the brain is reduced in people with Alzheimer’s. This study showed increased blood flow to the brain in the mice receiving oxygen therapy, which helps with the clearance of plaques from the brain, and reduces inflammation – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s." ----- "The researchers then used these findings to assess the effectiveness of oxygen therapy in six people over the age of 65 with cognitive decline. They found that 60 sessions of oxygen therapy, over 90 days, increased blood flow in certain areas of the brain and significantly improved the patients’ cognitive abilities – improved memory, attention and information processing speed."
Sep 14th 2021
EXTRACT: "Hollywood for years called on Charles Boyer to typify one French look –  bedroom eyes, sly maneuverings, the dismissive look. A face of another type, the massive mug and narrow eyes of Charles de Gaulle, provides the same disdain of the foreigner but also a superiority based on his belief in his own destiny."
Sep 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "The burden of loneliness for older people is intimately connected to what they are alone with. As we reach the end of our lives, we frequently carry heavy burdens that have accumulated along the way, such as feelings of regret, betrayal and rejection. And the wounds from past relationships can haunt people all their lives."
Sep 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Gardens help restore the ability to concentrate on demanding tasks, providing the perfect space for a break when working from home in a pandemic. Natural things – such as trees, plants and water – are particularly easy on the eye and demand little mental effort to look at. Simply sitting in a garden is therefore relaxing and beneficial to mental wellbeing."
Aug 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Whether or not a person achieves remission, reducing blood sugar levels is important in managing the negative effects of type 2 diabetes and reducing risk of complications. But when it comes to choosing a diet, the most important thing is to pick one that suits you – one that you’re likely to stick to long term."
Aug 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "In our latest study, we show that by taking the microbiome from young mice and transplanting them into old mice, many of the effects of ageing on learning and memory and immune impairments can be reversed. Using a maze, we showed that this faecal microbiota transplant from young to old mice led to the old mice finding a hidden platform faster."
Aug 3rd 2021
EXTRACT: "Fukuyama argued that political struggle causes history. This struggle tries to solve the problem of thymos – an ancient Greek term referring to our desire to have our worth recognised. This desire can involve wanting to be recognised as equal to others. But it can also involve wanting to be recognised as superior to others. A stable political system needs to accommodate both desires." .... "Counter-dominant spite can weaken liberal democracies. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, some people in the UK voted Leave to spite elites, knowing this could damage the country’s economy. Similarly, during the 2016 US presidential election some voters supported Donald Trump to spite Hillary Clinton, knowing his election could harm the US. "