Trump Is the Ultimate Republican

Lots and lots of people will be falling all over themselves to praise former Senator John Danforth for penning an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he plays "no true Republican" in order to distance his party from Donald Trump — the Republican president who commandingly won a Republican primary and who sits in office despite violating the constitution since his first day in office because the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Republican majority in the United States Senate have zero interest in holding a Republican president accountable if it means risking their Republican agenda.

"Trump Is Exactly What Republicans Are Not" proclaims the title of Danforth's opinion piece. Oh, but he is, sir. He is.

Danforth spends many paragraphs glorifying the history of the Republican Party, the "Party of Lincoln" — a moniker it has had no right to claim since the Southern Strategy.

And he soft-pedals some of his party's less upstanding moments. "We have seemed unfriendly to gay Americans," he writes. That's an extraordinary seven-word sentence that minimizes decades of hatred baked into his party's platform in the most breathtakingly insufficient manner. He fails entirely to mention the current hostilities his party directs at transgender Americans in state legislatures across the nation and from the White House. Naturally, he similarly fails to mention the misogyny that sits as the crown jewel in the center of his party's official bigotry.

After singing his party's praises and casually eliding his party's history of stoking and exploiting prejudices for electoral gain, Danforth then pivots to the point he so desperately wants to make: "Now comes Trump, who is exactly what Republicans are not, who is exactly what we have opposed in our 160-year history."

That's a sentence that only makes sense following hundreds of words defining the Republican Party's 160-year history as one of heroic defense of national unity and engaging in a sickening erasure of the divisive wedge-politicking against marginalized people.

Trump can only be "exactly what Republicans are not" if one carefully ignores that the Republicans are a party that privileges wealth (Trump is wealthy); a party that privileges being white and cishet and male (Trump is a white cishet man); a party that has long endeavored to cultivate ignorance (Trump doesn't know shit about shit); a party that has waged war on the "liberal media" (fake news); a party that has shamelessly trafficked in bias and scapegoating against people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and non-Christians (Trump all day every day); a party hostile to the very idea of a social safety net (Trump has tried to destroy healthcare); a party intent on redistributing wealth upwards (Trump wants "tax reform" to do precisely that); a party that is institutionally hostile toward agency and consent (Trump is a serial sex abuser); and so forth and so on.

As I have noted previously: Trump is not an anomaly of Republican politics, but its inevitable endgame.

Trump ascended as the uncensored id of the Republican base, which is why we were obliged to read story after story about Trump voters in Middle America commending him for "telling it like it is" and "just saying what everyone is really thinking."

He channeled and amplified the bigoted, fear-drenched rage that the Republican Party had carefully cultivated among their base for decades. Trump is not a betrayer of their values, but their most shameless promoter.

This is something Danforth would very much like us to ignore. He urges his fellow Republicans: "We cannot allow Donald Trump to redefine the Republican Party. That is what he is doing, as long as we give the impression by our silence that his words are our words and his actions are our actions. We cannot allow that impression to go unchallenged."

Even if that were true, too late. But it is not true: Trump has not redefined the Republican Party. He has simply refused to use the oh-so-civilized dogwhistles that the Republican Party has been using to create a thin veneer of claimed decency over the collection of vile policies and assorted bigotries the party patched together in their quest to pillage every last trace of treasure from the citizens of this nation.

Danforth concludes thus:
As has been true since our beginning, we Republicans are the party of Lincoln, the party of the Union. We believe in our founding principle. We are proud of our illustrious history. We believe that we are an essential part of present-day American politics. Our country needs a responsibly conservative party. But our party has been corrupted by this hateful man, and it is now in peril.

In honor of our past and in belief in our future, for the sake of our party and our nation, we Republicans must disassociate ourselves from Trump by expressing our opposition to his divisive tactics and by clearly and strongly insisting that he does not represent what it means to be a Republican.
Let me be blunt: This is a deeply cynical, profoundly dishonest, and aggressively gross misrepresentation of the Republican Party, the "illustrious history" of which includes relentless harm against vulnerable people.

The Republican Party has not been "corrupted" and imperiled by Donald Trump. It was corrupted by limitless greed and imperiled by an appalling lack of authentic patriotism, which centers empathy and community, not flags and sloganeering.

Trump is the very personification of that greed, of that empty flag-waving and sloganeering used to mask a void of compassion. He is the ultimate Republican.

And Republican leadership has, for decades, been nurturing a base that would deliver this ultimate Republican to the White House to represent his party in the most visible way. They don't get to "disassociate themselves from Trump" now. They own every goddamned part of his deplorable presidency.

Behold your roosting chickens, John Danforth.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus