The GOP (Non) Platform

Speaking of “what’s next”…..(yesterday’s subject)…

What happens when a crazed minority controls important parts of a nation’s government? I worry that we are about to find out just how much worse it can get.

A few days ago, I woke up to news that the GOP is once again competing for office solely on the basis of its ongoing culture war–that the party will not produce a platform in advance of the 2022 midterm elections. According to Heather Cox Richardson,

Senate Republicans will not issue any sort of a platform before next year’s midterm elections. At a meeting of donors and lawmakers in mid-November, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Republican Party’s 2024 nominee would be responsible for deciding on an agenda. The Republican senators in 2022 will simply attack the Democrats.

That should have been stunning, front-page news–one of America’s two major political parties is asking for our votes based only on what it is against. 

To be fair, it isn’t that Republicans aren’t for anything; they are simply unwilling to be explicit about their obvious, albeit policy-free goal, which is to return the U.S. to the social structures of the 1950s, when women, LGBTQ individuals and people of color were second-or-third class citizens, and White, purportedly Christian males dominated.

Granted, it would be awkward for the party to articulate its actual goal, but there’s another barrier to producing a document that sets forth what today’s GOP stands for–the inability of the crazies who are now at the center of the Republican cult to form any coherent narrative, let alone agree on any specific policy agenda.

True, some of the more obvious, albeit unwritten “planks” in that abandoned platform have been part of GOP dogma for quite some time: repealing women’s reproductive rights, ensuring that every nutcase who wants a weapon can access one, ensuring that industries can misbehave–collude, pollute, spy– without the interference of that pesky government…but others are relatively new, and difficult to explicitly defend.

For example, how do you frame an argument against government’s role in protecting public health? I continue to be gobsmacked by the “freedom warriors” who are literally laying down their lives for the right to refuse a lifesaving vaccine. (Let me be clear: if they weren’t also endangering rational folks, I’d be more than happy to see them thin the ranks of the terminally stupid.)

How do you justify attacks on accurate education without admitting that your motivation is protection of White Supremacy?

Thanks are due to the Williamson County, Tennessee, chapter of Moms for Liberty for once again clarifying what the “critical race theory” (CRT) uproar is really about. We can say until we’re blue in the face that critical race theory is a graduate-level school of thought not taught in K-12 schools, and along comes an anti-CRT group to show that what they really object to is any teaching that shows that racism is or has ever been a real thing.

The group, run by a woman whose children do not attend public school, filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Education claiming that some texts being taught to grade-school students violate the state’s new law against teaching about “privilege” or “guilt” or “discomfort” based on race or sex. The texts? Books for second-graders including Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington and Ruby Bridges Goes to School, along with Separate is Never Equal and The Story of Ruby Bridges.

Lest you think “Moms for Liberty” isn’t racist to the core, the book they recommend to replace “Ruby Bridges” was written by one W. Cleon Skousen, a conspiracy theorist and John Birch Society supporter. It characterizes ‘black children as ‘pickaninnies’ and American slave owners as the ‘worst victims’ of slavery, and claims the Founders wanted to free the slaves but that “[m]ost of [the slaves] were woefully unprepared for a life of competitive independence.”

I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

The good news should be the fact that  GOP craziness and conspiracy-mongering are most definitely a minority phenomenon. Survey research confirms that its delusions and positions are held by a distinct minority– a lot more people than we’d like to believe, but certainly not a majority of Americans.

The bad news is that, thanks to gerrymandering and the filibuster, a wacko minority has seized far more power than a properly operating democratic system would let them wield.

In fact, if Congress cannot pass voting rights legislation, and soon, the crazies and bigots will win.


  1. You have to assume that “Congress” wants to support a citizen’s right to vote. But then again, why does it matter?

    At least the GOP is honest by declaring a plank of authoritarianism. Whatever our leaders want, we will deliver.

    The DNC is still lying to its voters. They promise one thing to voters, then deliver what the oligarchy wants.

    They both suck.

    But, Americans love the fact they get to choose.

  2. Im not sure whats better? The way they are running now or another contract with America campaign? Battles in the culture war are certainly difficult ones as parents who are interested in their kids lives step up. They most assuredly will make mistakes.
    The real problem with things like CRT being taught in younger grades is that childrens texts need to be focused on grade level texts that produce the best results. If it is taught at all it is replacing something else of value. Most of the working parents I talk with no matter what race or sexual orientation are concerned over the value of their kids education and dont want their kids to be taught race relations at a young age through the lens e of CRT, which doesnt even have a solid footing in its own creation. Also some who research CRT is antihierchy in its teachings across the board and parents are finding that confusing for kids as they try to learn how to live in a functioning society.
    Ive been a volunteer in education for almost two decades and educators need to be supported in their goals to educate children, not to introduce critical theory of any kind. Piaget found at age six that most kids need to be experimenting with physical things and explore and some students are more challenged to read, late bloomers.
    Do we want our kids to grow up being solid employees or entrepreneurs or a bunch of Jessie Smolletts that are actually reversing the course of the culture war albeit small.
    We need to teach facts not theory

  3. “To be fair, it isn’t that Republicans aren’t for anything; they are simply unwilling to be explicit about their obvious, albeit policy-free goal, which is to return the U.S. to the social structures of the 1950s, when women, LGBTQ individuals and people of color were second-or-third class citizens, and White, purportedly Christian males dominated.”

    Republicans cannot possibly write a platform until they know what the Democrats are for or against so they can act against or for the opposite and work to undermine them. Also; “To be fair,” is a major cause of our current condition on all issues; the Democratic party IS fair and follows rules and Rule of Law and supports the Constitution. Republicans stopped about 4 decades ago being fair or acting legally in all matters. Democratic candidates seem to fade into the background; take Indiana’s twice defeated John Gregg who twice ran as a ghost candidate for governor and lost. We need to return to “the good old days” of being buried under political flyers in the mail from candidates and the party to know who is running and why they deserve our vote. The mailings would also support the USPS with their postage; politicians knocking on doors is long gone from our neighborhoods and in local media.

  4. I can’t remember the details to cite it but I read somewhere recently that we may have already lost our democratic form of government (a republic) because our two-party system has only one party that is willing to accept the loss of an election.

  5. If there’s anything that should be evident by now it’s that policies don’t win elections, sound bites do. We all know which side is better and more disciplined about its sound bites. That’s one reason I keep harping about marketing.

  6. If you think the things you write about in this post are crazy, wait until you read the PowerPoint Mark Meadows turned over to the Jan. 6 Committee outlining how Drumpf can snatch election victory from Biden. As Lucian Truscott, in his column on Substack labels it, it is “Bayshore cray-cray”. Drumpf’s cabal is insane.

  7. Our nation has suffered the equivalence of 303 Pearl Harbors upon which the GOP voted against marshaling a national attack on the worst enemy in our nation’s history: COVID. The vaccine is a proven weapon to defeat COVID. In voting against the President’s vaccine mandate, the GOP offered nothing as a proven alternative to win the war on COVID. If I were a political affairs consultant to the GOP, I would opine they are better off following the advice of an admiral who admonished sailors before shore leave: “Keep your bowels open, your mouth shut and your penis in your pants, and you will never get in trouble.”

  8. The public likes to pretend that transparency is a problem with the government even though it’s apparent that virtually no institution, public or private operates that way. The idea that political parties and corporations and churches and families and individuals need to be transparent somehow has been removed from our collective consciousness.

    If the political parties were transparent we would know that what’s happened within them is that they have changed their mission to be much more like corporations with a balance sheet and an authoritarian structure of power (that may or may not be reflected on any chart). Income from donors (which can be easily paratoed) pays for propaganda (advertising) to voters, delivered through entertainment media as pseudofacts, telling them who to vote to hire in order to elect those who give donors what they want which is power. Self-government has been stamped out by wealth, greed, power, and privilege.

    The difference between the parties is a matter of degree which, it turns out, is a critical difference in the future possibilities of the republic.

    What makes it critical stems from the fact that Congress no longer is a democracy. The body that makes all laws does not reflect the country to which those laws govern. Some states have way more influence than population and vice versa. It takes a supermajority to get anything done which rarely occurs because red only vote what the donors to their party want, as do blues. The net result is that the peak of the governance pyramid is the party against progress, which is actually doing things to maintain our adaption to the world.

    The net result is there is government by the very, very, few, very, very, wealthy imposed on all of we the people by the authoritarian structures hidden by the total lack of transparency of the two parties due to the complicity of entertainment media whose business plans include branded audiences.

    Is there a way out? Of course, that was the same question that the founders of the country asked themselves.

  9. Once upon a time the GOP’s platform stated it wanted small government,less government spending, less social change. I have less trouble with their fiscal conservatism and more trouble with their obstruction of civil rights. Although, I note they have NEVER been conservative with the military industrial complex. Eisenhower was concerned about that. They have ignored his concerns.

    Now the GOP will not articulate their platform. This allows their candidates to do anything they want. They can create laws that outlaw abortion, gay marriage, shrinking the social safety net. They can blow smoke and lies in everyone’s face. A political party without ethical values is a party run by sociopaths. Trumpists are turning against moderate Republicans i.e. look at the gubernatorial GOP primary in Ga.

    When the SCOTUS overturns Roe v Wade will it energize the progressives? Will democrats and pro-choice women become so upset that they begin to mount a united front? Will they learn how to create slogans that engage people? Will we see more women, male allies, and people of color running for state legislatures?

    We simply cannot cruise on our laurels. I note that other countries as well are leaning far more toward the right and dictatorships i.e. Poland, Venezuala. America will no longer be the beacon of freedom we claim to be if Trumpists take over.

  10. There is not an issue mentioned here – including abortion and gun rights – that Trump Republicans would hesitate on switching to the other side if Ds ever started supporting their position. For Trumpers, issues are simply the tools they use. The important thing is the “fight,” to oppose the Democrats at every step of the way. Trump Republicans see Democrats as the worst kind of evil, worse than most murderous autocratic dictators out there.

    Trumpism gets wrongly characterized by some in the media as far right conservativism. In fact, it has nothing to do with political ideology. Trump’s fiercest Republican opponents are principled conservatives, people like Bill Kristol and George Will, who never for one second bought Trump’s schtick. Moderate and liberal Republicans, particularly those who never cared that much about the issues or had well though out ideas on policy, are Trump’s biggest supporters.

    According to a poll, 2/3 of Republicans think American democracy is in danger, while only 1/3 of Democrats feel that way. Okay, I know the 2/3 GOP number is based on Trump’s lies, but I’m more worried that only 1/3 of the Democrats are worried about threats to American democracy. Let me just say, what the hell is wrong with you Democrats? Our democracy hangs in the balance these next few years. We could well lose it in 2024.

    Democrats need to wake up when it comes to voting. Trump is not going to win the 2024 election because food and water can’t be passed out to voters or there are not enough ballot drop boxes. Stop worrying about minor changes to voting that at the end of the day won’t make one bit of difference in who votes. Stop crying wolf about minor voting procedure changes while ignoring the much, much more serious threat of election subversion.

    Trump is never going to win the 2024 election at the voting booth, even with the built in advantages of the Electoral College. He’s going to win it by GOP state legislators overriding the popular vote in their states by claiming fraud and sending their own slate of electors. He’s going to win the 2024 election, by having a Republican controlled Congress counting those electoral votes, a Congress which will refuse to count the votes of electors won by the Democratic presidential candidate. Trumpers are already laying the groundwork to do exactly this, putting Trump Big Lie proponents in place at the local state and national level, as well as changing the rules so GOP-controlled legislatures can seize control of the counting of votes in those swing states Biden won in 2020.

    Despite taking these election subversion steps in plain view, and despite having their botched 2020 efforts at election subversion exposed, Democrats hit the snooze button on defending American democracy. Go figure.

  11. I don’t usually agree with Paul, but he is right on with his commentary today. We Democrats do indeed need to wake up and massively vote since our democracy is truly at stake, and since Republicans brazenly tell us how they will have their state legislatures reverse the results of any election whose outcome they dislike, and since we Democrats are sitting on a voting rights bill that would end or seriously impede such shenanigans, by our inaction we are asking for a political disaster.

    What to do? Pass the pending bill, vote, counter-message the Republican propaganda, and generously spend our resources in turning red and purple states such as electoral-rich Texas, Florida and Georgia blue so that even if our voting rights bill is not passed we can impede this nefarious and unconstitutional plot of Republicans to in fact “steal the election.” When to start our counter offensive? Yesterday.

  12. And, the crazies are still championing Trump, he who, essentially, let the bigotry cat (apologies to the real felines) out of the bag with his racist rant on the escalator,
    as he announced his rancid candidacy.
    The Tennessee “Moms” are running their own big lie, a la Trump. And we have seen this before.
    Somewhat tangentially, but not altogether so, I suggest, these passages from Jill Lepore’s “These Truths,” fits the situation:
    When people were beginning to recognize the potential for darkness in THEIR new technology, radio, during the Great Depression, Dorothy Thompson wrote, “The greatest organizers of mass hysterias and mass delusions today are states using the radio to excite terrors, incite hatreds, inflame masses, win mass support for policies, create idolatries, abolish reason and maintain themselves in power.” 470 In today’s world, here, it is not the state, but Orange hued Malignant Narcissist demagogues, and those who wish to gain power by hitching a ride thereupon.
    Lepore goes on to quote a bit of the original Malignant Narcissist, Hitler, from “Mein Kampf,” about the malleability of people: “In the primitive simplicity of their minds they are more easily victimized by a large than by a small lie, since they sometimes tell petty lies themselves but would be ashamed to tell big ones.” 489
    What’s next?

    Many more big lies.

  13. The problem with Paul’s assertion is he assumes there is a democracy to save but that has been gone for a very long time. Those of us who woke up hoped progressives would save it but as the Obamas showed money trumps values.

    The whole thing is going off a cliff into the abyss of authoritarianism and wild west dystopia.

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