Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Open response to Max Boot's NY Times Op-Ed "How the 'Stupid Party' Created Trump" (2 Aug. 2016)

I read with interest your insightful op-ed in today’s NY Times, “How the ’Stupid Party’ Created Trump." You make a strong case that many Republican leaders are not unintelligent, but that leaves the question of their morality.  So I must wonder how someone as informed as you are confronts certain historical facts about the Republican party.

    Did you read What’s the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank (2006)? How do you respond to Frank’s analysis of the GOP’s strategy of promising regressive social and cultural rewards to its rank and file in exchange for their support of tax breaks and deregulation for big corporate interests? How do you account for the morality—or immorality—of the Southern Strategy, whose author, Kevin Phillips, has denounced the Republican party and exposed its hypocrisy? After all, the Southern Strategy was merely an attempt to prolong the life of the GOP by appealing to the worst racist prejudices of white Southerners. Why should a party like this continue to exist, once this appeal goes sour, and the rampant racism in this country is exposed and denounced in respectable circles, yet cleaved to by Donald Trump? Isn't he just applying the Southern Strategy stripped of its fig-leave of gentility?

    How do you excuse the mendacious leadership of George Bush, lying us into a war (of profit), and exacerbating the economic trends that led to the Great Crash of 2008? (I don’t excuse Bill Clinton for his role in this.) How do you justify the deep hypocrisy of the voter ID laws passed by Republican state legislatures based on virtually non-existent “vote fraud,” which has been openly exposed as a ploy to reduce black and other minority votes? And the Republican hostility to putting money and political will into education, environmental protection, infrastructure, banking regulation?

    If the patrician Republicans like the Bushes, Romney, and many GOP senators have now tried to distance themselves from the vulgar, ignorant, and incompetent Trump, why isn’t this just a case of the final breakdown of the shaky alliance between the hypocrites and scoundrels on one hand (the GOP establishment) and the fools and dupes on the other (the Trump supporters)? If this means the demise of the Republican party, why is this not a good thing for America’s future, assuming you don’t buy into those ridiculous doom scenarios that were retailed at the RNC, that is, assuming you’re a rational person, historically informed?

    I’d ask the same questions of Ross Douthat. Where is the morality, the intellectual integrity on the GOP side? Granted that Romney and the Bushes are offended by Trump’s crudeness, lack of personal integrity, ignorance and incompetence. But wherein lies their moral integrity, other than their loyalty to their 1% class?

    I’m really waiting for some person of intellect to make a strong case here, but I don’t think it’s possible. Even William F. Buckley used to base most of his arguments on narrow-view hair-splitting, rather than taking a long view and heaven forbid, considering the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number, as Bentham preached. Why is the GOP not just a racist, xenophobic, science-denying party of patrician wealth and injurious to the commonweal, long overdue for the dustbin of history?

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