Republicans Have But One Value: Obedience
The Republican National Convention is underway and it’s already produced its first piece of conservative propaganda: their party platform. Or should we say, lack of a party platform?
The two main political parties in the United States convene every four years to create a document, largely symbolic, that details the party’s goals for the next four years. The party platforms are a calling card, a bat signal, a siren’s wail to each party’s base.
The Democratic Party platform was established last week — a 91-page long document that covers topics as varied as funding for Covid-19 testing efforts to raising the minimum wage to reduce carbon emissions. It’s not perfect — it doesn’t go far enough to help with student debt, for example — but it’s a platform. It documents goals for the Democrats. Substantial ideals.
The Republican platform is one page long with only one topic: blind obedience to Supreme Leader Donald J. Trump.
“The RNC enthusiastically supports President Trump and continues to reject the policy positions of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as those espoused by the Democratic National Committee. . . the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”
The one-page document mentions Covid-19 a grand total of zero times. It never mentions the economy, police brutality, immigration, or any other policy topic. It has no goals besides obedience. It has no ideology besides Trumpism. It has no message besides a devotion to populism.
The message is clear: support Trump, or get out.
The RNC platform confirms what we already knew
The 2020 Republican Convention itself is nothing but a Trump circle-jerk. President Trump is speaking every single day, a brazen rebuke of tradition in which the nominee is saved for last. Every single member of Trump’s family is speaking (save for his underage child and the sister who believes him to be “cruel” and “phony”).
The word ‘Trump’ is now synonymous with ‘GOP’. It’s inescapable, and it has been for a while now.
We’ve seen his press secretaries lie through their teeth just to appease him. We’ve seen Dr. Fauci walk on eggshells during press conferences just to make sure he wouldn’t be disciplined for speaking the truth. We’ve seen Fox News bend over backwards to appeal to their most important household: the White House.
How many former never-Trump Republican leaders have jumped on the populist bandwagon? Lindsey Graham. Nikki Haley. Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio. Ben Carson. Rand Paul. Mike Huckabee. Rick Perry.
Yesterday, Nikki Haley stood in front of the entire country and spent ten minutes defending the man she used to hate. What a difference four years can make.
There is perhaps no Republican, save Mitt Romney, who is not defined by a blind obedience to Trumpism and its ideology. Not one Republican leader — not in the House, not in the Senate, not the pundits on Fox News, not the alt-right trolls on the internet — who are bound by their devotion.
Trump is not a man. He’s an idea. A popular idea at that.
The idea of Trump —cruel rhetoric, repeated lies, a lack of formality, a dismissal of briefings, a reality-TV showcase of a presidency — will likely last beyond his tenure in the Oval Office. It will live on in the Republican Party. Because there is no GOP without Trump.
Elizabeth Harrington, the spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, argues in a Hill op-ed that Democrats seem to be fueling themselves on the “agenda” of “hating Trump”. It’s a common Republican talking point, something espoused by Facebook friends: can Democrats name any reason to vote for Biden other than he’s ‘not Trump’?
But this rhetoric is backward. The Republican party is now openly admitting that their policy is nothing but obedience to their orange deity.
I remember watching the Celebrity Apprentice when I was much younger, back in my competition reality-TV addiction phase. I was fascinated by the boardroom meetings, when the contestants made pitches to Donald Trump about why they deserved to stay and why their competitors deserved to leave.
Trump also approached these meetings like a clumsy housecat trying to pounce on a mouse. I could never tell when he would unleash his catchphrase, you’re fired. During the group talks? During the one-on-ones? Would someone be fired quickly or would he drag it out?
The ‘apprentices’ acted in complete deference to Trump. They wouldn’t speak out of line for fear of an impromptu firing. They wouldn’t hesitate to throw each other under the bus for the chance to stay one more week and grovel just a bit more in front of American. Trump’s popularity gave him that power.
The Republican Senators are no different from the celebrity apprentices groveling for his approval to stay one more week, for one more term in office. The GOP leaders are unable to come up with even one other policy or ideal. Not even one.
Blind obedience is not a value. But it’s the only thing the GOP has.