As columnist Jennifer Rubin astutely observes in her latest column for the Washington Post:
Judging by the debates, Republicans want to dispense with much of the federal government and repeal virtually every Biden achievement (including the bipartisan ones). They are determined to upend, upset and uproot workable government without offering any problem-solving ideas of their own. They have no alternative plan for health care. They have no solutions to address inflation. So what do they do after carving up the federal government?
In short, after all the hyperventilating about evil Democratic policies, Republicans have only one go-to plan, and it doesn’t involve the overwhelming majority of Americans at all: their intent is to shower the wealthy with even more generational wealth. That’s why when a Republican is actually foolish enough to say how they intend to accomplish this, other Republicans immediately scurry away and hide. As Rubin writes:
Republican candidates have good reason to eschew concrete policy ideas. When Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, rolled out an 11-point agenda for the party — including tax increases for the poor, abortion bans, pandering on “critical race theory” and sunsetting entitlement programs such as Social Security — virtually every other Republican ran from it.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) also produced a GOP agenda, but it was light on details, to put it mildly. What was there was frightful. The New York Times reported that “it hinted that Republicans would look to change the Affordable Care Act and roll back legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs.” These ideas, like Johnson’s proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, turn off all but the hardcore base.
It’s telling that the majority of these so-called “policies” involve, for the most part, looting the Treasury to pay for even more tax cuts. Again, that’s because it’s all Republicans have. It’s their only purpose. And they can’t even talk about it because they know most Americans will react negatively if they do.
Donald Trump’s appeal to the base instincts of the average Republican voter turned this paradigm of literally offering nothing to his voters into an art form. In his four years, Trump did absolutely nothing to benefit his own voter base. He did not create any “manufacturing” jobs. He did not bring jobs or businesses “back” to the U.S. He did not make their workplaces safer or do anything to improve the environment they existed in.
What he did do was to create a segment of the electorate that grew to subsist only on its hate and resentments. That is the voter that Republicans are now catering to—one that cares for absolutely nothing, except perhaps hurting others they distrust.
As Tom Nichols puts it, writing for the Atlantic:
The MAGA movement cannot be placated, reasoned with, or politically accommodated in any way. There is nothing its adherents want—and nothing anyone can give them—beyond chaos and political destruction. [...]
It has no functional compass and no set of actual preferences beyond a generalized resentment, a basket of gripes and grudges against others who the Trumpists think are looking down upon them or living better lives than they are. It is a movement composed of people who are economically comfortable and middle-class, who enjoy a relatively high standard of living, and yet who seethe with a sense that they have been done dirt, screwed over, betrayed—and they are determined to get revenge. [...]
The MAGA movement isn’t interested in politics, or policies, or compromises. It is interested in destruction and seeing others made as miserable as its followers are.
That’s exactly what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing when he pulls his “owning the libs” stunts: he’s not creating any policy or doing anything whatsoever to help or even assist the people who voted for him. That’s how appallingly unfit candidates such as Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene and Herschel Walker and Ohio’s J.D. Vance can even exist: by giving the MAGA Republican voter base literally nothing, they’re giving it exactly what it wants.
This nation (and this world) are facing some big, problematic issues that will not be addressed—let alone solved—by people who are committed to doing absolutely nothing. Simply siphoning off the wealth of this nation to reward the rich is a prescription for disaster (as Great Britain, for example, is currently finding out). As of this writing, there’s a more than good chance that by this time next year, Americans are going be treated to a front-row seat at how little Republicans have to offer them. If that happens, it’s going to be a very ugly awakening.
To paraphrase Rubin, this isn’t an election between Democrats and Republicans anymore. It’s an election between Democrats and utter nihilism.
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