Guy Who Thinks GOP Sucks So Bad Must Not Have Met It Working For Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, during an interview Sunday on "Face the Nation," lamented the current state of the fascist GOP. Gates, who has worked for five Republican presidents, claimed that none of his former GOP bosses would recognize the GOP as it exists today. They couldn't even pick the party out of a lineup with other violent white supremacist groups.
GATES: I worked for eight presidents, five of them were Republicans. I don't think any of them would recognize the Republican Party today.
In terms of the values and the principles that the Republican Party stood for under those five presidents, those are hard to find these days.
We are an aspirational country and we've kind of lost that message, it seems to me. Part of this is political gaming rather than a real conviction.
It's very dangerous.
Yes, it is very dangerous ... to be this naive.
The Republican presidents whom Gates served under were Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. I could get into how much they all sucked but I'm willing to concede that they weren't Marjorie Taylor Greene. However, they relied on people just as idiotic and racist as Greene is to get elected. A Never Trump panel on MSNBC isn't a winning political coalition.
Gates promotes a myth of both the Republican Party and America. He said:
Yes, we're a flawed country. We've always had flaws, but we're unique in that we're the only country that actually talks about those flaws and works to try and fix them.
Yes, sir, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spearheaded The 1619 Project, could tell you how open Americans, especially conservatives, are to confronting the nation's flaws. You could also hit up Colin Kaepernick, who's very busy right now not playing football professionally.
Part of what pissed off so many conservatives about The 1619 Project is that it punctures the Great White American Myth. America has never willingly self-corrected. Minorities fought, bled, and died for their freedom and human rights. This is the sort of country where Black people had to literally walk to work for a full year before white people finally gave in and let us ride in the front of the bus.
But conservatives have consistently proven the antagonists in the ongoing struggle for freedom for all Americans. Richard Nixon ran on a “law and order" platform no more subtly racist than President Klan Robe's campaigns. Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 presidential campaign with a dog-whistled “states rights" speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights organizers who registered Black people to vote were murdered. After race-baiting his way to the White House, George H.W. Bush later vetoed a civil rights bill. His son, George W. Bush, was the first president since Herbert Hoover to snub the NAACP's annual convention. He also leveraged anti-gay bigotry to turn out the vote for his 2004 re-election.
This is still the same Republican Party. What's perhaps unrecognizable to Gates is who's pulling the strings. Donald Trump was the first Fox News president. He didn't just use state media for his own ends. He was a regular viewer who fully bought their bullshit.
Gates is rightly appalled that Republican politicians are fueling the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. He calls their actions "dangerous," but Republicans would consider it simply business as usual.
GATES: I've read quotes from Republicans on the Hill that basically say, "You know, in their heart of hearts, there probably aren't five people up here who believe the election was stolen." So part of this is political gaming, rather than a real conviction.
People without conviction will say or do anything to gain power, but this has long been the case with Republicans. For years, the GOP was like Senator Geary in The Godfather Part II, working behind closed doors with gangsters. He didn't like or respect them but he was happy to profit from the business arrangement. Now, the gangsters don't want to remain in the shadows. They've assumed enough control that they can go public and serve in Congress, even the White House, all by themselves. They don't need some stuffed shirt front man who makes blandly polite speeches. (Sorry, Mitt Romney.)
The days of Republicans posing as a respectable political party are over.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."