Watching angry Republicans blame Democrats for their woes has made my week. To hear them tell it, Democrats had the responsibility to save Kevin McCarthy. One conservative pundit even blamed Democrats for not fielding a candidate who could beat Matt Gaetz without ever considering a competent primary challenge. Last month, they were whining that Democrats forced Republicans to vote for Donald Trump because the Obama campaign was so mean to Mitt Romney. These are people who have spent the last 50 years telling poor people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and now want somebody else to bail them out.
This morning, Republicans are punishing Democrats. They’ve taken former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hideaway office in the Capitol Building and done the same to former Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Conservative pundits blame Democrats because they could have voted “present” instead of for the motion to vacate. They’re blaming “Washington dysfunction” instead of Republican incompetence. The GOP won’t fix its problems because it’s in denial about the party’s reality.
Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves. Despite all of their protestations, Republicans would never have bailed out a Democratic Speaker, not that they would ever need to. They are the party that declared their primary legislative objective was to make Barack Obama a one-term president and preceded to block even the most mundane legislation. They denied Obama a Supreme Court appointment, breaking 200 years of tradition and violating the clear spirit of the Constitution. Democrats are finally playing by the rules that have been guiding Republicans for years.
As for Kevin McCarthy, nobody trusts him. He broke promises right up until the end when he promised a clean Ukraine funding bill and then, when he got his Continuing Resolution, tried to attach money for border patrol. In the wake of January 6, he initially blamed Trump and then went to Mara-a-Lago to beg forgiveness and began spreading the Big Lie. He’s a man without honor who cannot be trusted with his own word. Why would Democrats help him survive?
Republicans sowed the seeds of their dysfunction years ago. They invited the segregationist wing of the Southern Democratic Party into their fold and then turned a blind eye to their bigotry while occasionally feeding it with Willie Horton ads and embracing the likes of Jesse Helms. They fanned vicious conspiracy theories about the Clintons that led to a pathological hatred of Hillary Clinton, in particular. They let Fox News distort facts and demonize Democrats without rebuke. They cheered the Tea Party that imagined itself as some sort of patriotic movement that was, in reality, reactionary and ignorant. (Remember “Keep your government hands off my Medicare?) They ignored, or even encouraged, the crazy calls for Barack Obama’s birth certificate and turned a blind eye to the inherent racism of the demand. They sat silent as Tea Party crazies accused the president of being a Muslim born in Africa. They were happy to have a base of people angry and detached from reality all the way up until the time that horde of ignorance rallied behind Donald Trump and upended their party.
Trump broke the rules. Republican presidential candidates weren’t supposed to repeat the misinformation that fired up their base. They were supposed to look staid and responsible while letting the Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaughs dole out the red meat. Trump, though, adopted language of the ruffians with a flair that even Limbaugh couldn’t match. He embraced the crazy and led the horde away from rationality and Reagan conservatism and recreated the party in his own image–angry, cruel, and resentful.
And Republican leadership followed suit. They protected Trump. The legislative branch refused to offer any oversight. They allowed him and his grifter family free rein. The propped him up when he was impeached for trying to blackmail Ukraine into opening an investigation of Joe Biden. They let him get away with an attempted coup instead of impeaching in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol.
Republicans have refused to hold their own accountable for anything. And now they are blaming Democrats for the dysfunction and disarray that’s tearing them apart. Cry me a fucking a river.
Finally, Republicans want to muddy the water and hope the media will cover the debacle with a “Washington is broken” frame. But Washington is not broken. The Republican Party is broken and it’s trying, desperately, to break the rest of the country. Democrats governed with the same narrow majority and passed a budget, an infrastructure bill, a gun control bill, and a bill to improve manufacturing—all in one session. Republicans are too incompetent to pull together their majority, but when they do, it’s usually to destroy some norm. So, no, the only things broken are the morals of the GOP.
What we saw yesterday, and really in 2016, is 50 years of building a delusional base raised on resentment and disinformation that was tolerated by the so-called grownups in the party. The GOP has rigged districts to ensure the most extreme elements of their party gets elected and moderates are perpetually at risk of primaries from their right. Now, they are eating their own. And I’m here for it.