Republicans “won” the midterms pretending to have a plan to address things like inflation, crime, and immigration. So far, they have appeased their most radical supporters and done little else.
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One of the great mysteries of our time is why anybody would vote for modern Republicans at all — well, apart from religious fanatics, hard-core racists, people who believe in space lasers, and those who want to see the US fail. Sadly, there are tens of millions of Americans who fall into one or more of these categories. Still, one would hope that their number is insufficient for the GOP to win any election.
By the way, that isn’t to say that Democrats are an overly appealing option, but if you must pick between doing the dishes and getting thrown into a pit of fire ants, you should do the dishes.
Yet, here we are, with Republicans “controlling” the House of Representatives (in the same way parents “control” hyperactive quintuplets after an ice cream party) as well as both the entire state legislature and the governorship in 23 states.
If you choose to believe that the aforementioned core GOP demographics do not make up all Republican voters, then how do these candidates get elected? The answer is likely that there is a sufficient number of Americans who believe that Republicans have a plan — and that this plan is good for the US.
The people in the first group are a lost cause. If you believe that Donald Trump is a virtuous orange messiah, that “caravans” of brown people looking for a better life want to “replace” whites, or that your political opponents are vampires, then there is no hope for you.
Things are a bit different for folks in the second category. Let’s call them non-nutjob conservatives. They are convinced (without much evidence) that Republicans are good for the economy, law and order, national security, and “values.” Many of them likely inherited their beliefs from their parents, or they just watch a lot of Fox “News.”
It’s no surprise that the right-wing propaganda outlet dedicates so much of its coverage ahead of elections to just those issues that appeal to this demographic: lawlessness in America, a decaying economy, insecure borders, and crossdressing liberal teachers who want to turn kids gay.
In other words, they are trying to dupe well-meaning people who love their country into voting for a party that is neither well-meaning nor seems to love the US all that much.
The midterms have shown that there is a level of insanity that these non-nutjob conservatives won’t tolerate (but that is fervently embraced by the full-MAGA crowd).
Chances are that millions of others had to hold their noses to support the current flock of GOP candidates, but might not do so indefinitely if these Republicans only cater to the fanatics without fixing the other real and imaginary problems they have heard so much about on Fox.
Let’s see how that’s going.
If you are a member of the hard-right base, things are great! Republicans across the country are doing exactly what you want them to do: batshit crazy stuff.
They wasted little time before proposing/passing measures to accomplish GOP priorities like putting women in their place, displaying homophobia, taking Soviet-style control of public education, and performing for right-wing media audiences.
So, what does that look like specifically? Here are some of the highlights:
- Promising to blow up the US economy unless spending cuts are made (while never bothering to do any of that when a Republican was in the White House).
- Making girls provide information about their menstrual cycles if they want to play sports. Almost shockingly, this was voted down by the Florida High School Athletic Association, which is prompting the state’s Republicans to give control of that body to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
- Speaking of DeSantis: The nation’s premier culture warrior wants to remake his state’s education system in a way that would make Joseph Stalin proud.
- In Missouri, the Legislature stripped female lawmakers of the right to wear sleeveless outfits. But there is some good news: While many of the dumb proposals on this list will eventually make it to Congress, this one won’t. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-CrossFit) will fight anybody to the death who will try to keep her from showing off her guns.
- Speaking of guns (and Missouri), the GOP majority decided against including language in its crime bill that would have prevented minors from carrying guns in public.
- Just this week, Tennessee outlawed drag performances where kids might be present. So, if you are a dad wanting to take your kids trick-or-treating in Memphis this year, you better not dress up as a woman.
And that’s just a small sample of what the GOP is up to at the state level.
Not to be outdone, Republicans in Congress began the year with a flurry of hearings. As anticipated, they were crazy and featured a lot of Hunter Biden. But spending all their time going after Joe Biden’s good-for-nothing son is apparently no longer enough for some Republicans. This week, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) expressed regret that he was never able to get his hands on Beau Biden — the president’s accomplished son who died of cancer a few years back.
In other words, if you are part of the MAGA wing of the GOP, you couldn’t be happier — and our small sample doesn’t even include all of the nutty things some of the most prominent Republicans will utter at CPAC this weekend.
But what if you are part of that group of non-nutjob Republicans? How are things going then? Well, not so great.
Remember all those important issues that GOP candidates campaigned on during the midterms? Fighting crime, high inflation, a “border crisis”? Yeah, they aren’t doing anything about that.
A couple of months into the year, the Republican-led House has passed a couple dozen bills. But do any of them materially improve the lives of Americans? You be the judge.
There was the Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act, the Credit Union Board Modernization Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission Real Estate Leasing Authority Revocation Act, and, perhaps the crowning achievement so far, the Pandemic Is Over Act (here is a list of the bills that have passed the House).
Doesn’t sound all that impressive, right? We’ll see whether it’ll be enough to dupe well-meaning conservatives into supporting these clowns one more time in 2024 — especially once the House GOP gets done wrecking the economy later this year as collateral damage in their culture war.
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Jim Jordan caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), body (Gage Skidmore / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), flag (Trump White House Archived / Flickr), and sign (US House).