At a news conference recently, a reporter asked Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “Why is it that the only thing Republicans punish their own members for is speaking out against Donald Trump?” The question came after all but three Republicans refused to censure Rep. Paul Gosar after he posted an animated video of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Yet, just a few months ago, those same Republicans stripped Rep. Liz Cheney of her leadership position for insisting that we find out the truth about January 6. The Wyoming GOP also voted not to recognize her as a Republican. She had drawn the ire of her party for voting to impeach Donald Trump.
This is Trumpism, to answer the question of one frequent commenter on this blog. It’s an unquestioning loyalty to Donald Trump and putting his political well-being above the well-being of the country as a whole. In essence, it’s rejecting accountability. Republicans can do and say anything without consequences–except criticize the former president. Much of the Republican Party has succumbed to this cult of personality.
The only Republican held accountable for anything in recent years was former Rep. Steve King who was stripped of his committee assignments after years of racist comments. King threatened to hurt Republicans’ electoral chances by reinforcing criticism that the party tolerates racism. That was the sin more than the comments themselves.
Other Republicans get passes that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation for sex trafficking and having sex with an underaged girl. The Republicans stood by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene despite her views supporting executing Democrats and peddling Qanon and other conspiracy theories. Almost the whole GOP caucus opposes investigating the assault on the Capitol. The former party of personal responsibility no longer believes in accountability unless the offense is directed toward Donald Trump. That’s Trumpism.
The shift toward cultish authoritarianism has been rapid. In 2015, if you had suggested that Republican Members of Congress would block an investigation into an assault on the Capitol that left members in locked down secure locations, resulted in the deaths of several people, and led to vandalism of the building and the occupation of Congressional chambers, the GOP would uniformly dismissed those accusations as hyperbole. Today, they are fact. That’s Trumpism.