'Fear, grievances and hate' motivate today’s 'dark' GOP: conservative
During 2008’s Republican presidential primary debates, the candidates were mocked for constantly mentioning President Ronald Reagan — who, at 93, had died four years earlier in 2004. The word “overkill” was used by pundits to describe the ways in which those candidates found a way to work Reagan’s name into the conservation whether they were discussing national defense, terrorism, the federal deficit or infrastructure. But times have changed; in the 2022 midterms, the person who countless Republican candidates are wrapping themselves around isn’t Reagan, but former President Donald Trump — whose “dark” outlook and obsession with “fear, grievances and hate,” according to Never Trump conservative Peter Wehner, now motivates most of the Republican Party.
In an article published by The Atlantic on August 2, Wehner argues, “For all the defects Donald Trump has as a politician, he does possess certain skills, among them an almost preternatural ability to tap into the sensibilities — the id — of the American right. More than any other Republican candidate in 2016, Trump was in sync with the base of the party. He still is, as he prepares for what looks like another run for the presidency.”
Wehner continues, “Returning to Washington, D.C. for the first time since he left the White House in the aftermath of the violent assault on the Capitol, Trump gave a speech last Tuesday to the America First Policy Institute (AFPI). It was billed as a policy address on public safety. But everyone knows that policy doesn’t interest Trump in the least. What he cares about is the performative part of politics, inflaming people’s passions, creating chaos and conflict. Politics is a stage on which his disordered personality plays itself out.”
Many polls have been showing Republican primary voters moving away from Trump where the 2024 presidential election is concerned. They are coming to the conclusion that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would be better able to take on a Democratic presidential nominee, be it President Joe Biden or someone else. But here’s the caveat: Those voters haven’t abandoned Trump’s ideas or the MAGA movement. The decidedly MAGA DeSantis, a far-right culture warrior, is often described as a younger, more focused and disciplined version of Trump.
Wehner stresses that regardless of whether or not Trump runs for president in 2024, his “undisciplined” AFPI speech in Washington, D.C. vividly illustrates the mindset of today’s GOP.
“Despite the speech’s unruliness,” Wehner explains, “certain themes in it are worth examining, because they signal what a Trump campaign might look like. And even if he doesn’t run, they reveal the mindset of the American right. These are the pillars of the GOP.”
The Republican “pillars” that Wehner is referring to are “fear, grievances and hate.”
“If the hallmarks of Ronald Reagan’s speeches were optimism, hope, and a sense of limitless possibilities, Trump’s speeches are the antithesis,” Wehner warns. “Trump is a genius at tapping into fear. In his AFPI speech, for example, he portrayed America not as a great nation facing significant challenges, but as a dystopia, hellish and desolate — a ‘cesspool of crime’ on the edge of extinction. Trump spoke about streets ‘riddled with needles and soaked with the blood of innocent victims,’ a nation being terrorized by ‘drugged out lunatics’ and ‘sadists who prey on children.’ He invoked violent gangs ‘laughing as they bludgeoned the life from their helpless victims’ and described a woman being repeatedly stabbed and ‘bleeding to death in her own bathtub.’ He claimed that America’s largest cities are ‘literal war zones.’”
The “American carnage” theme that Trump used during his inaugural speech on January 20, 2017, according to Wehner, was present during his AFPI speech — only this speech was “bleaker, its portrait of America more terrifying.”
Trump told the crowd, “We have blood, death, and suffering on a scale once unthinkable, because of the Democrat Party’s effort to destroy and dismantle law enforcement all throughout America. Our country is going to hell.”
“In the world according to Trump,” Wehner writes, “the choice is a stark one: Support him, and you defend civilization — oppose him, and you invite savagery…. Whether Trump wins or not (in 2024), he has left an imprint on the Republican Party. In 2016, Trump was the outlier, a political freak. Today, his inclinations, his enmities, his style of politics define the GOP.”
Wehner continues, “Even the person widely seen right now as the most formidable challenger to Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is ‘diet Trump,’ in the words of one political strategist. Whoever leads the Republican Party in the years ahead, the fear, grievances and hate Trump poured into the cauldron won’t dissipate anytime soon.”
- Conservative explains why Maryland Republicans have committed ... ›
- How the 'Dobbs backlash' could affect the 2022 midterms ... ›
- A 'MAGA hangover' may improve Democrats' midterms prospects ... ›