I recently reconnected with a couple I was very close to in the ’70s. The husband and I worked together at HP and were as close as two peas in a pod. Then I found my long-ago buddy was a Trump voter. When I asked him how that could be, he responded by saying, “Well, I’m afraid of socialism.”
He had bought into the Republican self-justification of fear. Fear socialism. Fear the extreme far left of AOC and her crew. Fear Antifa and BLM. Fear the brown hordes at the border. Fear the radical ideas of Joe Biden. Fear the left and the “cancel culture” that led to restricted publication of Dr. Seuss books that have racist stereotypes.
If you think about it, the current Republican Party is basically a party of fears, and that’s it. What do they stand for? Do they have any policies other than anti-regulation, anti-tax, anti-choice and limiting voting rights? If they have other guidelines, I wish someone would point it out in these pages.
Maybe we can look at their party platform from the 2020 election. Nope, they didn’t have one. They counted on Trump to articulate it, and he talked his usual trash and lost the election (and Georgia’s two senatorial races). But, as that esteemed individual, Trump Jr. said, “The Republican Party is the party of Trump!”
The GOP that once stood for things like environmental concerns (Nixon and EPA), state-sponsored medical plans (Romney and Massachusetts), and immigration reform (Bush II) is gone — possibly forever. In its place is a group of people who accept the scenario of “whatever Trumps wants,” 70 million-plus of them who voted for him. Like my friend.
Traditional Republicans are amazed and welcome the new voters Trump has brought into the Republican base. So who are these newcomers? In addition to the traditional Republicans like the presidents mentioned above, those that are trapped in the Fox News universe and listen to few, if any conventional news sources have thrown in their lot with Trump.
And, there is no denying Trump has energized the white supremacist and neo-Nazi elements that always exist in society. Groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and assorted QAnon believers were featured at the insurrection on Jan. 6 that tried to overcome a duly held and fair election (as stated by Trump’s own cybersecurity director, Christopher Krebs).
Based on the lie Trump and Rudy Giuliani promoted that the election was rigged, now come the various state legislators as seen in Georgia and Texas who are drafting and passing laws blatantly hindering voting access to minorities in large cities. But one good thing is that these antics by the Republican Party crystalizes for plain viewing the amorphous racism that is behind much of today’s Republican orthodoxy. In addition to the “traditional” Republicans, the current GOP is riddled with Islamophobes, paramilitary, nativists, and white nationalists.
So to my longtime Republican friend, I say, “Think about it, when you cast your vote for Republican candidates. These are the people you are riding with. These are your bunkmates. Strange bedfellows, indeed! So, why not take a walk on the wild side? Try coming over to the left for a few election cycles until your party regains its sanity and focuses on the type of America we have known all our lives before Trump.”
Stan Shell is a resident of Newport.