'Blood and carnage': Columnist torches the 'inescapable sameness' of Republican 'Trump alternatives'
The Republican Party is facing "a bigger and more claustrophobic reality" than "passively sliding into the inevitability" of next year's anticipated showdown between President Joe Biden and his embattled predecessor Donald Trump, Katherine Miller opines in Sunday's New York Times.
GOP presidential primary contenders, Miller writes, "have constructed their identities as Trump alternatives and ended up all the same" as their beleaguered frontrunner.
"It can be hard to remember what made Trump distinct eight years ago, because it has become the texture of our lives. The 1980s tabloid dimension of his language — weeping mothers, blood and carnage, rot and disease in institutions, brutal action — crushed the antiseptic piety and euphemisms of the post-Bush Republican Party. The lurid, fallen vision of American life that implicitly casts critics as naïve chumps or in on the corruption is the one we still occupy," Miller observes. "Now they all sound kind of like that. Politicians' impulse to shorthand and flatten major policies and controversies is eternal, but it's not just that they use similar words. The way these politicians talk takes the old, once-novel Trump themes, aggressive energy, and promises and packages them into indoctrination and the administrative state."
Miller continues, "Practically every candidacy right now is about Trump: The protest candidates exist to oppose Trump; the alternatives basically seem constructed in the negative (Trump but nice, Trump but we've got to win the suburbs again, Trump but competent) and grown inside the Trump concerns lab. Here and there, the candidates talk about healthcare, education costs, the economic changes with artificial intelligence, or anything that might be kitchen table — things that exist beyond Trump's reach — but it's amazing how little some of this stuff is emphasized beyond inflation and energy costs."
Miller notes that despite attempts by Republican White House hopefuls to distinguish themselves from the ex-commander-in-chief, "None of them are winning! It might be the indictments that have firmed up Trump's support, but the inescapable sameness of the candidates, especially when they should sound and seem different, is real."
Miller adds that Trump's rivals "were never distinct figures" because "like all the others who have defined themselves by being an alternative to an individual who is still always present," those individuals nonetheless "ended up talking about the same things and sounding the same."
Trump, Miller concludes, "created the air that everyone now breathes."
View Miller's editorial at this link (subscription required).
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