The Republican Dark Side

More than a few Republicans and even some Democrats think that Trump spurred or led the Republican Party to the “dark side.”

Unfortunately, that explanation ignores the fact that there’s been a dark side to the Republican Party for at least seventy years, beginning with Joseph McCarthy in 1950, and his mythical and essentially non-existent list of 205 Communist Party members working at the State Department. Republicans were so fearful of losing McCarthy’s support in the 1952 election that they insisted that General Dwight Eisenhower remove a paragraph in a speech in Wisconsin that attacked McCarthy as a dangerous demagogue and fabricator. Although Eisenhower later said he regretted that decision, he never did confront McCarthy directly.

Richard Nixon used abusive and misleading anti-Communist themes in getting elected to Congress and the Senate (where he claimed that a “pink sheet” proved that his liberal opponent was an avowed Communist, which she never was).

Then in 1961, Senator Barry Goldwater pushed William Buckley and the conservative National Review to go easy on Robert Welch and the John Birch Society, even after Welch had claimed that Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” because the John Birch Society had become a well-funded source of volunteers and donors for the Republican Party. The Birchers [who declared that fluoridation was a Communist plot] enthusiastically supported Goldwater and his infamous statement that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

In turn, in 1968, Nixon courted Strom Thurmond, the arch-segregationist senator from South Carolina and said he opposed forcing integration and opposed busing and had his campaign manager tell southern Republican party leaders that he’d pick a vice president acceptable to the south and would “lay off pro-Negro crap.”

Despite efforts to whitewash matters, Republicans tend to forget that in July of 1980, Reagan’s first campaign stop was in the heart of Ku Klux Klan territory, Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he declared “I believe in states’ rights,” which was and is the mantra of southern segregationists and white supremacists. The religious right lined up behind Reagan, particularly the preacher Jerry Falwell, who waged a crusade against homosexuals because he claimed they threatened the very existence of the United States. When then-President Jimmy Carter tried to point out Reagan’s ties to the religious extreme right, he was attacked for being mean.

Throughout the 1990s, Pat Robertson claimed that all sorts of Satanic dupes – otherwise known as J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers, the Federal Reserve, the United States, Henry Kissinger, the liberal elites – were out to destroy the United States, and threw his weight and that of the Christian Coalition behind Newt Gingrich to help the GOP get control of the U.S. House, and six years later backed George W. Bush over John McCain in 2000 (possibly because McCain had far more scruples than George W.).

Then in 2009 came the Tea Party, filled with paranoia, racism, and rage, waving Confederate flags at rallies and claiming that Barrack Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya, that Obama’s health care plan would set up death panels, and that Obama was a full-fledged Marxist who hated white people and was setting up concentration camps for his political opponents. When the Tea Partiers rallied at the Capitol in 2009, the Tea Partiers carried posters showing Obama as Sambo and calling Obama and his supporters “Nazis.” Those same Tea Partiers were welcomed by House Republican leader John Boehner, and Representatives Eric Cantor [later House Majority Leader] and Mike Pence.

Donald Trump didn’t create the hatred and viciousness out of nothing. He merely called it up out of the Republican Party, thrived on it, and encouraged it in every way possible… and only a handful of elected Republicans protested.

10 thoughts on “The Republican Dark Side”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    McCarthy was incompetent, mean, and probably worse; and no Senator has any business persecuting OR prosecuting anyone (both parties should take note of that!). But even if he was hopeless about identifying individual communists, he was rather accurate about places they concentrated (including State Department, Hollywood and media, and academia). Not even hard to find articles long after he died that showed that he was broadly right about commies at State.

    Talk about guilt by association, that wasn’t just McCarthy or Republicans laying that on. Republicans have on occasion disavowed genuine despicables (segregationists and worse), I don’t think they should have to do that EVERY SINGLE TIME a small minority of nuts or worse plants themselves in a larger, relatively normal group. Unfortunately, some with foot in mouth disease (Bushes, Trump, etc) don’t point out the nuance between e.g. segregationists and those who are NOT but want to keep some of the less obnoxious parts of their heritage; but instead give the appearance of equal cover to both, not I think out of intent to give cover to the worse sort, but out of simply failing to remember that everything they say WILL be used against them.

    I don’t recall much disavowal by Democrats of the BILLIONS in damage and the lives lost in BLM protests. So if you’re going to hold out a standard that says everyone must be civil and disavow the uncivil or worse that hide among their own, that had better apply to both/all sides.

    No interest here in excluding by color, ancestry, or lawful private conduct KEPT PRIVATE (even conventional PDA is TMI). But there is ONE culture here, western (even if with contributions from everywhere else too), capitalist, as self-sufficient as possible; others should expect to do more conforming to that than expecting it to conform to them. The melting pot concept should NOT have been replaced by a Balkanizing chunky stew. And those who want massive solution of problems or meeting of needs by government are giving away liberty as well as property, and their choice should NOT be binding on anyone else; best they leave, preferably to some he||hole that socialists have already destroyed, of which there are plenty in South America (and from which entirely too many are coming here to escape). Ask some folks who came from Eastern Europe before the USSR fell whether they really want what they left behind to take over here; all the remarks by such I’ve seen are a resounding “no!”.

    The planet will not be saved by governments, neither will the children, the violence-plagued neighborhoods, the whales, nor anything else. Governments are corrupt (all institutions are to varying degrees*, because most mortals are corruptible, and institutions have CYA and continuity as actual priority over their nominal roles) and inefficient. Only sufficient numbers of individuals sometimes in almost entirely voluntary cooperation (businesses, nonprofits, churches, synagogues, etc, heck, Kiwanis and Rotary and Elks for all I care) actually produce anything, including alternatives to fossil fuels; and crippling economies by edict will not solve anything faster. Only gun control by having more people obeying the basic law thou shalt not murder (the actual word) rather than banning inanimate objects will actually work (there have been mass murders with vehicles on the scale of those with rifles). Extend the list of examples; short of something on the scale of getting to other planets (and SpaceX might accomplish it with fairly modest government help, albeit nontrivial government _customers_) or CERN, darn few things worth doing beyond enforcing basic laws and securing borders (FAA and FCC are marginal examples, nearly as problematic as they are necessary) need or are made better by government.

    * why organizations with voluntary participation (and states having the bulk of domestic governance rather than the federal government) are critical; it’s easier to leave a bad employer or even a state that’s contrary to your expectations than it is to leave the whole country; and there’s safety in numbers insofar as they won’t all make the same mistakes nor all get lackadaisical at the same time.

    1. You, as usual, missed the point. The despicables among the Republicans have never been “a small minority.” For seventy years they’ve been a considerable force, and now they comprise the majority of elected Republican officials.

      The plain fact is that you don’t believe government can or should help anyone, and you fail to accept the fact that in a purely capitalistic society those with massive resources will keep wages as low as possible and will do as little as possible to help others.

      You’ve made that point in various forms. You don’t need to keep hammering it, especially when you so often distort the actual facts.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        I don’t believe they are the majority; although the Democrat’s talking points and their media echo chamber would certainly convey the impression that anyone opposing the Democrats must of necessity be racist/bigoted/exploitive, want all the poor, oppressed, and species in danger of extinction just wiped out, and the planet ruined except for the 1% who can afford to buy their way out of anything. Which is absurd…and not remotely equivalent to wanting much lower limits on subsidies for those who complain and vote Democrat. Most folks, probably even a lot of Democrats, just want to be left alone, and while they might aspire and hopefully put their own effort toward some upward mobility, don’t even envy the 1%, let alone want to join them. The richest guy in the world (on paper) sold most of his houses and probably works way more than 40 hours a week…so of course just because he’s rich, he’s somehow hurting those that aren’t? Craziness. Someone like that is giving us Mars as an insurance policy and building more EVs than anyone else, and you want them to pay more taxes? Political warfare driven by envy is self-destructive.

        Most of what either side, but especially the largely left-controlled media says, is a pack of lies, and only really about the pursuit of power, not to anyone else’s actual benefit. Even if one believes outcomes matter, massive redistribution and central planning will NOT accomplish them.

    2. Mayhem says:

      Your billions lost in BLM were insurance losses, and are utterly dwarfed by the insurance losses for your average hurricane, wildfire or other widespread event, despite taking place across the country.
      There were 11 people killed, 9 of them protestors and 2 counter protestors. There was widespread condemnation of all the deaths, from both sides. Regardless, that’s a tiny amount of deaths for such widespread unrest. And I could show you where you are wrong in all your other arguments as well, but there’s not much point.
      After all, facts are irrelevant to you – as usual you shout loudly about your favourite cherry picked talking points and ignore reality and history.

      At the end of the day, the two party system in the US is horrifically broken, the electorates have been badly gerrymandered over the years at every conceivable level from school boards to presidential elections, and now neither party is willing to compromise in any way. Historical one sided compromises have shifted the entire political discourse severely to the right, despite the general population being opposed to much of the measures, and the cracks are growing wider.. Without another external threat, genuine or manufactured, I don’t see the country holding together for much longer.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Shifted to the RIGHT? Nuts. Throw away everything EXCEPT the 1964 and 1965 civil rights and voting acts going back to before FDR, and THAT would be where the center belongs, where it has always belonged, not caring if that means there are robber baron capitalists, because they’re STILL there and if you want to survive, always will be, even if many of them are government contractors now, with a nicely corrupt relationship between regulator/producer/consumer. If you try to define anything as TOO rich and deconstruct or redistribute it down to some view of more equitable, the result will be mass starvation.

        Promote upward mobility by all means, but based on a combination of individual effort and get getting politics and unions out of public education (and not stinting on or bad-mouthing armed “resource officers” where needed). And more serious remedial attention to the chronic misbehavers, before they become the next generation of felons, not to mention holding their parents accountable.

        1. Mayhem says:

          Bear in mind by my nation’s standards, *everyone* in US politics is right wing. Bernie Sanders is a bit left of centre. Heck even the UK is left of the US, and they’ve been under an authoritarian government of greater or lesser power for nigh on half a century.

          Your philosophy is very much not a global one, vast amounts of basic rights we take for granted are simply not available to US citizens. The US is a country where the rich and white can effectively do as they please and the poor or coloured are treated with casual disregard.

  2. Ryan Patrick Jackson says:

    Considering your first two paragraphs boil down to “Yeah, but other people were bad too.” You clearly accept the factual truth of Mr. Moddesitt’s post.

    If your first line of defense is to try and claim other people did bad actions, you’re firstly admitting that those actions were bad, and secondly admitting you have no real argument to make about it.

    Beyond that, who cares? If someone on the left committed a crime, go after them too. They’re elected officials, not idols and heroes, if they break the law charge them.

    I want Trump behind bars for his various crimes, but if tomorrow evidence broke that, say, Bernie Sanders was shady and responsible for similar crimes, I’d want him charged too. It’s not a my side vs your side nonsense. It’s a Justice and Rule of Law.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      When Trump is personally convicted of something, feel free to celebrate his incarceration. Until then, you might be getting ahead of yourself with your assumptions.

      However, all leftists are illegitimate simply by offering their unconstitutional and anti-liberty policies as a reason to elect them. They should be banned from all office, and it’s a clear failure of civics education (and failure to resist decades of KGB and similar propaganda), not to mention way too many people gullible to envy politics, that they exist at all.

      1. The Congress, the courts, and the Supreme Court get to decide what’s Constitutional and legitimate, not you. That’s the way the Founding Fathers set it up. So you can say policies you don’t like are foolish and unwise; you can even claim they’re unconstitutional, but until the courts and/or the Congress agree with you, you’re wrong. And I’ve had enough of your legal misinformation. So the next time you misuse “unconstitutional” or “illegitimate”, or anything stating that standing laws are illegal, I’ll strike those words.

  3. MattB says:

    A very enlightening article in the Economist recently:
    https://www.economist.com/interactive/briefing/2022/09/03/american-policy-is-splitting-state-by-state-into-two-blocs?utm_campaign=wp_bump&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_bump
    Contains some very well done graphs showing the change toward more polarized voting as well a cogent analysis Well worth considering.

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