R.I.P. GOP….

I often disagree with Bret Stephens of the New York Times on the issues, but I appreciate his intellectual honesty. Stephens is a genuine political conservative, appalled by Donald Trump and clear-eyed about the transformation of the GOP from a center-right political party into an unrecognizable cult held together by grievance.

As he observed in a recent exchange with liberal columnist Gail Collins:

If there were truth in advertising, Republicans would have to rename themselves the Opposite Party. They were the party of law and order. Now they want to abolish the F.B.I. They were the party that revered the symbols of the nation. Now they think the Jan. 6 riots were like a “normal tourist visit.” They were the party of moral character and virtue. Now they couldn’t care less that their standard-bearer consorted with a porn star. They were the party of staring down the Evil Empire. Now they’re Putin’s last best hope. They were the party of free trade. Now they’re protectionists. They were the party that cheered the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which argued that corporations had free speech. Now they are being sued by Disney because the company dared express an opinion they dislike. They were the party that once believed that “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,” as George W. Bush put it. Now some of them want to invade Mexico.

The party that used to defend the right of businesses to run their own affairs–the party that, as Stephens notes, was committed to free trade– is relentlessly attacking corporations that have recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion, and is in the process of embracing tariffs–aka trade war tactics.

According to the Washington Post,  in a recent interview with Fox Business’s Larry Kudlow, Trump explained that he favors a universal 10% tariff on all goods imported into the US:

“I think we should have a ring around the collar” of the U.S. economy, Trump said in an interview with Kudlow on Fox Business on Thursday. “When companies come in and they dump their products in the United States, they should pay, automatically, let’s say a 10 percent tax … I do like the 10 percent for everybody.”

The Post reported that Trump and his advisers are promoting the imposition of a universal tariff on all imports as “a central plank in his 2024 bid for a second term.” 

As virtually all economists–conservative and/or liberal– will insist, tariffs are a terrible idea. (In his daily newsletter, Robert Hubbell characterized a 10% universal tariff as “an economy-destroying debacle of generational proportions.”) Hubbell quoted one expert  on the subject who characterized the idea as “lunacy.”

What is wrong with tariffs, you ask? Well, other than leading other major economic powers  to conclude the United States cannot be trusted as a trading partner, tariffs are basically a hidden tax ultimately paid by US consumers. Also, history confirms that the imposition of tariffs by one country inevitably triggers retaliatory tariffs by others.

We saw the effects of such tariffs when Trump imposed a number of them on China during his disastrous Presidency. They wreaked havoc on U.S. farmers. The impact was so severe that the administration had to make massive grants to farmers to offset the losses.

As  Forbes reported at the time, 

The Trump administration gave more taxpayer dollars to farmers harmed by the administration’s trade policies than the federal government spends each year building ships for the Navy or maintaining America’s nuclear arsenal, according to a new report. A National Foundation for American Policy analysis concluded the spending on farmers was also higher than the annual budgets of several government agencies. “The amount of money raises questions about the strategy of imposing tariffs and permitting the use of taxpayer money to shield policymakers from the consequences of their actions,” according to the analysis.

According to experts, the value of US imports in 2022 approached $4 trillion. A 10% universal tariff imposed on that amount would cost consumers $400 billion.

This insane tariff proposal is just one more bit of evidence–as if we needed any– that Trump hasn’t the foggiest idea how economies work. His behavior during the four years he was President convincingly demonstrated that he also lacks any understanding of how government operates. He may well be the most profoundly ignorant person ever to occupy the Oval Office (and we’ve had some clunkers…)

Given Stephens’ entirely accurate description of the “Opposite Party,” and given the loyalty of MAGA Republicans to a self-obsessed clown whose positions are, indeed, “opposite” of those traditionally held by the GOP, all I can conclude is that grievance–primarily racial grievance–has Trumped sanity. (Double-entendre intended..)

The GOP that once was is dead. R.I.P.


  1. Of course, the Republican party is dead. They’ve been heading in that direction since Reagan’s embrace of Friedman’s B.S. theories on economics. What we often forget is that the ideal labor environment for unregulated capitalism is slavery. We tried that once and it led to our most deadly war; we lost almost 3 times as many Americans in the Civil War than we did in WW II. Brilliant.

    Notice how we’re not hearing a word about governing from the orange hairball. No. His pathology is totally consumed by his legal problems… and his pathological desire for constant attention. The upcoming trials will be merely the first step to endless appeals until his “children” on the Supreme Court bend the knee and let him off scot free… as if any rational person could assume otherwise.

    The Trump disease will last long after he is finally dead. The MAGA movement collects idiots, miscreants, liars and grifters. I’ll bet we didn’t realize, fully, how many of these monsters actually reside in our beloved land. Now we do. George Santos… Please.

    The wheels of justice turn slowly, but I’m not sure we have enough time to wait for it to work before our Constitution is destroyed by the monstrosity of the “opposition” party.

  2. “….Trump explained that he favors a universal 10% tariff on all goods imported into the US:…”

    Did that apply to all of his merchandise made in China…exactly how did/does that work?

    I often think back to Mayor Bill Hudnut; Indianapolis’ 6 ft. 5 in. Leprechaun in his green suit and top hat marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parades, the Mayor who stopped to shoot hoops with neighborhood kids he happened to pass, the Mayor who walked our downtown streets and through the City-County Building and stopped to talk to people. His policies brought much progress to Indy during his 16 year administration. He was a Republican, a former Presbyterian Minister who did not force his religious beliefs on the city…or could he have been a “closet” Democrat?

    Mayor Bill is my gauge when measuring the Republican Party then and now. I’m glad he is not here to see what has happened to his Republican party at this time; before his death he publicly stated his disappointment in the direction it was taking.

    “The GOP that once was is dead. R.I.P.”

  3. Well said Vernon.

    I still cannot fathom how this cowardly con-man has captured the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. They know exactly who he is when they elected him into office, and simply refuse to recognize how much they have been manipulated and lied to, and I agree that we are running out of time. How much damage will be done before people realize the mistake that he is?

  4. Off topic:
    If 45 is convicted and the nominee for the GOP, he wouldn’t be able to vote for himself. Chew on that.

  5. The only thing that I see when I look at the MAGA crowd is racist, homophobic cowards, finally (after 20 years or so) set free to openly express their hatred of “the blacks” and “the gays,” with a smidge of anti-Semitism thrown in for kicks. The Donald may be the most ignorant man ever to hold the office, but he is also clever. Never underestimate a clever narcissist!

  6. The “opposition” seems to be the collective frustration and fears of those who don’t have toward those who do; of those who don’t see opportunity and those who did; of those who miss the past and those who see a better, although different, future. There is no avoiding the very difficult and demanding next 10-15 years.

  7. When discussing the Republican Party let us not confuse the façade of country club manners with the brutal truth of long held intolerance. For over a century, while its leaders and donors sipped cocktails after a game of golf, the belly of the party was organizing the KKK, the isolation rallies of the 1930s, then the John Birch Society, the Moral Majority, the Tea Party and now the Trump Party.
    To believe that the Republican Party ever had anything to do with law and order, with moral character and virtue much less being advocates for freedom of speech is to be as delusional as the Hoosier farmer who painted “fuck Biden” on the side of his barn.

  8. TFG was the Dunning-Kruger president.

    Peggy, I often agree with you but not this time. Not entirely. I knew TFG was a narcissistic, ignorant, bully, and almost surely a psychopath. What I hadn’t properly understood, but his presidency clearly showed, is that he is profoundly stupid. It just shows you what a mean-spirited, thin-skinned bully can do if he also has a lot of money, a lot of power, and prevaricates like he can’t help himself. He has a perverse cunning when it comes to self-promotion, though.

    I’ve said it before: the only saving grace to his previous presidency was his complete incompetence. A more capable person would have actually accomplished a lot of the terrible and dangerous things he wanted to do. Actually, I think that’s why his coup failed. Not institutions holding, but incompetence leading to failure. Fortunately, like many who suspect deep down that they may not be as good as they are claiming, he generally didn’t surround himself with the “best and brightest”. And when there was someone capable in a position–like Fauci, for example–he generally tore them down as much as he could, even if he was the one who’d brought them in.

    Future descriptions of these days are not going to be kind to the USA. I _still_ can’t quite believe that you guys elected him. It boggles. Hopefully, the historians will also be able to discuss many heroic and heart-warming stories of the people who battled and brought an end to these sad times; a new enlightenment, of a sort.

    (Sorry. Rant over. I’m never going to recover from TFG being president. My understanding of my “western,” democratic world was utterly shattered.)

  9. It’s been almost a century, but this quote from Frank Tannenbaum’s “Darker Phases of the South” (1924) still rings true. Just substitute MAGA for KKK.
    “The Ku Klux Klan is . . . more than the embodiment of a tradition. It espresses a deep-rooted social habit — a habit of ready violence in defense of a threatened social status. It seizes upon the monotony of a small town and gives it daily drama. It takes him who lived an uneventful life, one who is nobody in particular, and makes something of im. It gives him a purpose; makes him a soldier in a cause. The very existence of the Ku Klux Klan is proof of emotional infanthood. It would not be possible in a community where people lived full, interesting, varied lives.”
    [as quoted in Paul Theroux’s “Deep South” (2015)] Tanenbaum was an Austrian-born criminologist, sociologist, Columbia University professor, and political radical who, as a soldier in the US Army stationed in the South, looked closely at the Klan.

  10. Will the wrong wing ever run out of groups to demonize? Who can they go after next? The end is near when they turn to cannibalism. Oh, wait, they already have. Don’t rest in peace. Just disappear!

  11. Bravo, Susan! If ever there was an explanation for the MAGA crowd, you have provided it. Thank you!

  12. On the surface, the GOP might be the “opposite party,” but both parties are more similar than we’d like to admit. Both parties believe in war and give our MIC enormous amounts of money to secure our foreign interests (oligarchy investments).

    Both parties are controlled by the oligarchy and embrace unlimited fundraising. Neither will bring about a vote on Citizens United or universal healthcare. Their primary goal is enriching donors with quid pro quo programs for the elite, hoping the scraps will trickle down to the working class.

    And how about their use of identity politics? Both parties are oppositional on performative social constructs — using people for votes, then abandoning them once in power.

    Don’t get suckered into the blue/red propaganda. Neither party serves their voters’ interests, but they pass programs that hurt each other’s primary voting bases while leaving the remainder of the populace to be damned. No matter the voting outcome, we get nowhere—zero progress.

  13. The question really is, in November next year, what will be the electoral college vote tallies between Biden/Harris and Trump/?. Of course it’s too early to tell the impact of; Trump’s VP pick, two full campaigns and DoJ progress. What’s the value of speculating about those levels of unknowns?

    Of course the answer is that it is an entertainment/news/propaganda opportunity extraordinaire. Think of the billions advertisers will pay for the privilege of sponsoring endless nonsense over the next year and a half.

    Of course in a year it will turn into useful news.

  14. An additional point. No one pays closer attention to polling data than campaign management teams.

    They are now focused on Primaries. They will by the end of this year be fully focused on the General Election.

    The purpose of campaigning is to change or enhance polling data.

  15. The political success of Donald Trump is appalling. It’s a reflection of the lack of education in basic civics rampant across the country. People should know about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by the end of 8th grade. So should their teachers and their school boards. And they should know that “freedom of speech” does not mean citizens are free to lie and call names at will.

  16. Vernon and Theresa – you have both provided excellent points about the ‘always wrong party’.

  17. I have been writing here and elsewhere for more than a year that the Republican Party does not now exist but is rather in the hands of its fascist captors. Political parties elect people to govern as in government; the current captors are interested only in the exercise of power. They have no platform though they pretend to be conservatives in order to milk the vote of Eisenhower Republicans (who were FDR New Dealers and only different from Democrats in terms of how progressive they were).

    We should treat the current “Republican Party” not as Republicans but as fascists.

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