This year feels increasingly like 2006. Back then, the Republican Party was fighting off scandals, wars, botched responses to natural disasters, and numerous self-inflicted wounds. This year, the pandemic and the reckoning over race have replaced the wars and natural disasters. The GOP’s inability to respond to the most pressing issues of the day and the drip, drip, drip of scandals continues to undermine their effort to recover.

The week began with Jerry Falwell, Jr., evangelical stalwart and president of Liberty University, posting a photo of himself standing in the door of a bedroom, pants unzipped, arm around a young woman whose pants were also unzipped, proclaiming, “VACATION!” Falwell is the son of the founder of the Moral Majority and a leader among social conservatives. A year ago, he found himself embroiled in a controversy that involved a “pool boy” who supposedly had compromising photos of Falwell and his wife. Falwell spoke at the Republican convention in 2016 and has been a major Trump ally.

Another GOP ally that’s going down is the National Rifle Association. The unofficial lobbying operation for gun manufacturers that has been hoodwinking gun nuts for decades turns out to be a thoroughly corrupt organization. Apparently, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and other top executives used the organization’s finances as a slush fund for vacations and memberships to exclusive clubs. They’ve also been linked to Russian assets who have been trying to undermine U.S. elections.

Yesterday, the country had more than 2,000 deaths from coronavirus for the first time since April and the number will likely continue to increase. With the rising deaths as a backdrop and no national plan to address the pandemic, Republicans are still calling for broad openings of businesses. Their chief argument is that most of the people who die are old people. As one person tweeted, only 3% of deaths in Guilford County were under 50 years old. However, he posted a chart showing that 25% were between 50 and 74 years old. In other words, the pro-life party is only pro-life from conception to middle age. After that, they’ll let you die if you get in the way to the economy.

The latest jobs report shows that the unemployment rate is still over 10%, higher than at any time during the Great Recession. In response, Republicans want to deny the unemployed additional assistance because it discourages work. Trump, at least, is smart enough to know that position will likely cost major votes going down the stretch, but it shows either the callousness or tone-deafness of the Republican Party.

The GOP seems to be either disintegrating or transforming into a thoroughly corrupt organization. The people and organizations that once gave it an ideological and philosophical foundation have largely left. The party is no longer one advocating for a strong military and engagement throughout the world. It has abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility or moral authority. It’s now largely a party of people hanging on to power for power’s sake, exploiting the fears and prejudices of its base. GOP elected officials who should be providing oversight routinely turn their heads to the graft and corruption that enriches the president and people in his inner circle. The Republican Party is basically a shell and the vacuum that’s been created is being filled with rot.

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