It has been a long time coming, and surprisingly so, but finally a nationally-syndicated columnist took the time to state what some in the business of observing politics has known for some time. It is true that some Americans, including those mendacious Republican Americans, are aghast at the popularity and comments coming from TV and “big-time” wrestling celebrity Donald Trump, but their consternation and shock is indeed curious. Why? Because Donald Trump is, besides representing the typical Republican, simply a reiteration of George W. Bush; the man who contributed greatly to the dumbing down of America so people like Trump, Ted Cruz, and maniacal conservatives could appear sane and in the mainstream.
Republicans would not exist as a political movement without a hate-driven, religious, terrified, and inherently stupid base; something of which Republicans are well-aware. Subsequently, the Republican leaders in the presidential primary race have embraced blatant mendacity and fear-mongering as their chosen modus operandi about every and anything not white, not evangelical, and not truly barbaric; the identifying traits of the GOP base. But none of this started with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz; it began with W. Bush according to Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman. Like most of what Krugman writes, it is all true.
The Republican establishment knows that Trump’s success and lineage can be traced directly to the dumbing down of America that started with George W. Bush’s style of “belligerent, fact-free argumentation.” Mr. Krugman asked, and then answered his own question.
“The triumvirate of trash-talk, Trump, Ben Carson, and Cruz now command support of roughly 60 percent of the primary electorate. Why don’t Republican voters care that the candidates they support routinely make false claims, and refuse to acknowledge errors ever? The answer is the party taught them not to care. Bluster and belligerence are substitutes for analysis, disdain for any kind of measured response, and dismissal of facts didn’t suddenly arrive on the Republican scene last summer. They have long been key elements of the party brand.”
As Krugman reminds readers in his column, after 9/11 the “affable” simpleton George W. Bush was repackaged by the party and Fox News as a;
“Highly regarded war president even though Bush’s repackaging was never framed in terms of substantive arguments over foreign policy. Instead, Mr. Bush and his handlers sold swagger. He was the man you could trust to keep us safe because he talked tough and dressed up as a fighter pilot. He proudly declared that he was the decider and that he made decisions based on his gut.
The subtext was that real leaders don’t waste time thinking, that listening to experts is a sign of weakness, that attitude is all you need. And while Mr. Bush’s debacles in Iraq and New Orleans eventually ended America’s faith in his personal gut, the elevation of attitude over analysis only tightened its grip on his party, an evolution highlighted when John McCain, who once upon a time had a reputation for policy independence, chose the eminently unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate.”
Krugman made his point that this phenomenon of embracing incompetence is purely a Republican affliction when he cited that when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debate, say about financial regulation, “it’s a real discussion, with both candidates evidently well informed about the issues. American political discourse as a whole hasn’t been dumbed down, just its conservative wing.” And this point is why Republicans, all Republicans no matter their office or ambition, hew to lies, racial provocation, extremist religiosity, push for perpetual wars and elevate the wealthy elite over all Americans with relative ease and raging success; the GOP conservative base eschew thinking for themselves.
It is easy, and frankly abominable, for the left to target Republicans like Trump, Cruz and the rest of the maniacal conservative cult as the reason the GOP is dangerous when they would be non-issues without a base steeped in stupidity and fear. Look, the base has been so well-conditioned to believe that the true measure of a great leader is their level of bombastic lies and blood-thirsty threats to humanity, that they honestly believe these Republican malcontents are what America needs in a leader. It is why so many Republicans, including Trump, hold Russian leader Putin in higher regard than Jesus Christ, and cheer wildly at the thought of carpet bombing, or using nuclear weapons against, innocent Muslims no matter where they live.
The condition of American politics is not going to change anytime soon and it is a tragic and pathetic commentary but it is the truth; half the dumb-downed electorate supporting Bush-like Republicans make it so. Institutionalized racism and calls for theocratic legislation, like mass shootings, is now the American norm and an easily identifiable trait among Republican voters too woefully brain-dead to think for themselves. The establishment Republicans know this is true. Although they pretend men like Trump and Cruz are outliers, they control the party that indoctrinated their supporters to cherish bluster over substance, and lies over facts that, coupled with abject hatred of the other, are the signs of a great leader.
That simple formula worked for fabulously for George W. Bush and as Paul Krugman notes, it is working for 2015’s versions of Bush; Trump, Cruz and the rest of Republicans counting on Bush’s legacy of creating a base steeped in stupidity and hate for their success.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.