Ex-GOP congressman blasts Republicans for embracing 'being a bully, being a jerk'

Ex-GOP congressman blasts Republicans for embracing 'being a bully, being a jerk'
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Editor's note: This story originally contained opinionated language inconsistent with an objective news report. That language has since been removed. AlterNet regrets this error.

Numerous authors and journalists have recently written about the idea that when it comes to Trump's relationship with his supporters, that "the cruelty is the point" — meaning that Trump's stage bravado was the very thing drawing crowds to him. Pundit Andrea Mazzarino of TomDispatch.com had this to say:

"Americans have an anger problem. All too many of us now have the urge to use name-calling, violent social-media posts, threats, baseball bats, and guns to do what we once did with persuasion and voting. For example, during the year after Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, threats of violence or even death against lawmakers of both parties increased more than fourfold. And too often, the call to violence seems to come from the top. Recently, defendants in cases involving extremist violence have claimed that an elected leader or pundit “told” them to do it. In a country where a sitting president would lunge at his own security detail in rage, I guess this isn’t so surprising anymore. Emotion rules the American political scene and so many now tend to shoot from the hip without even knowing why."

On Monday, ex-United States Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois — a founding member of the Tea Party who abandoned the GOP in 2020 after failing to mount a formidable presidential primary challenge to Trump — made a similar kind of argument.

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"Republicans are constantly emphasizing the need for a secure border, but these stories coming out of Texas depriving children of water, a woman having a miscarriage stuck in wire, that can't be appealing to voters," MSNBC host Symone Sanders opined.

"Well, but Symone, here's the thing, and by the way, I second everything [Voto Latino Chief Executive Officer] Maria [Teresa Kumar] said. This is all about, I come from this world," replied Walsh.

Walsh tweeted in 2021:

I left the Republican Party almost exactly one year ago. Someone asked me that day why I left. I said, 'Because the GOP no longer supports democracy. It embraces fascism. It believes in conspiracies. And it's a cult. I don't want to belong to a cult.' That answer still holds.'

Walsh reaffirmed his assessment.

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"This is all about appealing to the hardest core Republican base, the Republican primary voters. And they want, they want nothing more than for this country to be really tough on the border. But the other thing, Symone, that you just brought up, is it's the cruelty," Walsh said.

"I mean — I say this as a former lifelong Republican — cruelty right now. Being mean, being a bully, being a jerk — that plays big time in my former political party. I think we just have to acknowledge that cruelty right now sells in that party," Walsh added. "That's why [Texas Governor Greg] Abbott's doing, that's why [Florida Governor Ron] DeSantis, right, has done almost everything he's done over the course of the past year."

Sanders responded, "Mm. Cruelty has consequences, and I think folks might see that at the ballot box."

Watch the exchange below via SYMONE or at this link.

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