The GOP sells itself on two things: its desire for smaller government and a god-fearing, moral high ground. They have since lost me and many others on their claim for smaller government. They simply do not get it done when they hold the Executive and Legislative branches. And now, with the election and acceptance of Donald Trump, I think they’ve demonstrated their moral high ground isn’t for realz either.
During President Trump’s term, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Whenever Trump does something distasteful or otherwise, instead of his supporters asking for him to do better, they point out how Clinton or Obama did it too. Instead of asking for their guy to be different and rise above, they relax in pointing out how a Democrat did something similar. It’s as if their guy is okay doing something as long as their opponent did it too. Instead of being better, they settle for being equally bad. Imagine being okay with your child failing a class if most of his other classmates did too.
Recall the “Conservatives against Trump” 2016 issue of National Review where many prominent members of the conservative wing of politics took a stand and denounced Trump’s candidacy. Objections ranged from Trump claiming he could fix everything as if some sort of despot in the wings, that for most of his life he sided with Democrats more than Republicans, that he didn’t know anything about government or the Constitution and that he treated women poorly. Now here we are two years later and many of those who contributed to that article have done an about face and have become Trump’s apologists. Trump didn’t change, they just fell in line.
The apologists for President Trump have been somewhat impressive in their ability to look the other way or justify behaviors they’d jump on a Democrat for. It’s been especially odd to read some of their words back in that National Review piece and see how they’re not concerned at all anymore, as if they didn’t even mean it. Instead of admitting this is what they’re doing, they bring charges of “Whataboutism” to the table when they have to defend Trump who is now their guy.
What we’re talking about is Tribalism. This is the phenomena of making apologies and special pleadings for your group and/or member of said group instead of being objective and consistent.
As President Trump is being called out for having an affair on his wife with Stormy Daniels, Trump’s supporters bring up Bill Clinton. Instead of frowning at the behavior of both men, they engage in protecting their man by using Whataboutism. What is more damning about protecting Trump is that his tribe, his party, has run for decades on the higher moral ground. They’ve flaunted Biblical living and morality, flaunted “respecting the family”; meaning, one man, one woman. But as more and more revelations of Trump’s affairs come to light, they don’t seem to care anymore.
None of this is new. Just before the election, Access Hollywood tapes came to light where Trump bragged how he “moved” on a married woman and tried to have sex with her but was rebuffed. He also admitted to kissing women he was attracted too, suggesting whether they wanted it or not. And instead of his supporters frowning on their guy, they point out the same behaviors of the other guy as if to say everything is fine as long as the opposition is doing it too. This must present some serious cognitive dissonance to someone considering themselves both a conservative and Trump supporter. Or maybe not.
The takeaway of the Access Hollywood tapes to the Stormy Daniels Affair is that the “conservatives” who shrug their shoulders over it are clearly not concerned about the sanctity of marriage they so profess. During the gay marriage debates, this was their defense. They argued allowing gay and lesbian people to marry would cheapen the sanctity of marriage. If the sanctity of marriage is so important, why do they say nothing at all over their president having affairs with not only Stormy Daniels but allegedly several others?
What does this say overall for the Republican Party that has embraced President Trump, looked the other way and engaged in Whataboutism? It says they never really meant it. It says their entire crusade against gay marriage wasn’t really about some sanctity of marriage but about pure bigotry.
A clue should have presented itself a few years ago at the 2015 National Religious Liberties Conference. Sharing the stage with then presidential candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, was Kevin Swanson. Swanson, using the Bible as his reference, called for the death penalty for gays and lesbians. But neither Cruz, Huckabee nor Jindal during or afterwards took the time to condemn Swanson’s behavior. They either are okay with this or felt it acceptable to roll with it to gain votes. Either reason is telling and reprehensible.
Another example of looking the other way was the Senatorial race in Alabama in November 2017 where Republican candidate, Roy Moore, was under allegations of child molestation and yet, numerous members of the GOP didn’t care. Imagine if such allegations saddled the Democratic candidate? We already know what could be for in 2016, we had PizzaGate, a claim that members of the Democratic Party including Hillary Clinton were involved in sex with children and human trafficking through numerous restaurants connected to them. This escalated to the point of restaurant owners suffering harassment, threats and even one person showing up with a gun to carry out justice if he discovered it was true.
President Trump’s excusers over the Stormy Daniels Affair leads me to believe they don’t really mean it regarding their Bibles or their concern for the sanctity of marriage. If they really believed sexual deviance and interrupting the sanctity of marriage was against the rules of their god, would they be looking the other way when any member of their group engaged in it? Imagine really believing a break of any of the Ten Commandments meant eternal damnation but shrugging your shoulders when it happens. Imagine the thought of burning for eternity for committing the sin of adultery but not caring if it happened or not. The only conclusion is that they don’t really believe it. And neither should you when they speak about such things in the future.
So where does this leave the Republican Party? For decades, they’ve campaigned like Libertarians but governed like Democrats. And with the passing of the 1.3 trillion dollar Omnibus Bill, if it wasn’t clear before, it should be clear now, they are not fiscally conservative. The only claim they seemed to have was the moral high ground. But with the acceptance of President Trump’s behavior, they don’t have that anymore. There simply is no reason for anyone to vote for this party who identifies as small government or a Judeo-Christian god fearing person. Not unless you’re okay with living in cognitive dissonance. But that’s up to you.