Conservative explains why the GOP is beyond salvation — despite the efforts of 'reasonable Republicans'
For many years, journalist/political science professor Tom Nichols, now 61, was a staunch and self-described “New England Republican.” But that was before Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Nichols sent shock waves through the conservative movement when, in 2016, he announced that he would be voting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and in October 2018, the Never Trump conservative expressed his disdain for the MAGA movement by leaving the Republican Party.
Nichols hasn’t grown any less disdainful of Trumpism since then. In an article published by The Atlantic on July 6, Nichols applauds Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for being “reasonable Republicans” but laments that they are atypical of 2022’s GOP — which he believes is beyond salvation. Nichols even compares the state of the GOP in 2022 to the state of the Soviet Communist Party in 1991.
“In 1991, the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was briefly deposed in a coup by hardline members of the Soviet Communist Party,” Nichols recalls. “Gorbachev, upon his return to Moscow, tried to differentiate between the plotters and the Party itself. One of his closest advisers, Aleksandr Yakovlev, told him that this effort was pointless, akin to ‘serving tea to a corpse.’”
Nichols continues, “Republicans such as Sen. Mitt Romney — an honorable man for whom I voted in 2012 — and a handful of others in the GOP, including Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, should take note of Yakovlev’s phrase…. Romney, Cheney and Kinzinger cannot rescue their party, either — at least not in its current form. In fact, I wonder if the Republicans can ever return to being the kind of party that once nominated someone like Mitt Romney for the American presidency.”
Describing some of the far-right MAGA Republicans running for office in the 2022 midterms, Nichols warns that extremists and “conspiracy theorists” are now the norm in his former party.
“The Republican candidate for secretary of state in Michigan, for example, believes that people can transmit demonic possession through ‘intimate relations,’ according to CNN,” Nichols observes. “Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Republicans have nominated a candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, who has implied that he might invalidate any election result he doesn’t like in 2024 — and that’s probably the least disturbing thing about him. As Jonathan Last put it recently, the Democratic nominee, Josh Shapiro, is an ordinary politician, while Mastriano ‘is an insane person, a seditionist, a Christian nationalist, a conspiracy nut.”
Nichols adds, “Almost every other national Republican is either silent or on board with the dark fantasies and deepening paranoia that now rule the GOP. For example, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the relentlessly ambitious third-ranking House Republican, endorsed the developer Carl Paladino for a newly redistricted House seat in the state; in 2021, Paladino said that Adolf Hitler was ‘the kind of leader we need.’ Some House Republicans are frustrated that Stefanik went rogue by endorsing Paladino, meaning only that they are embarrassed but not ashamed.”
Nichols concludes his article by warning that extremists are no longer a minority in the GOP — they now dominate it.
“In the end, despite the efforts of Sen. Romney and other reasonable Republicans, the fringe is now the base,” the Never Trumper laments. “The last rational members of the GOP — both elected and among the rank and file — need to speak even harsher truths to their own people, as Liz Cheney did last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Otherwise, the madness will spread, and our institutions will continue an accelerating slide into a nightmare that will engulf all Americans, regardless of party.”
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