Thom Hartmann argues in a recent op-ed that the Republican Party must be purged like the Nazis and fascists, writing, “It must not be allowed, like the Confederacy was, to live on with its own ‘lost cause’ BS mythology.”
Noting that “President Joe Biden has largely given up on trying to negotiate anything with Republicans,” Hartmann writes that there is good reason for his stance: “the GOP is no longer a legitimate political party.”
One of the most comprehensive and well respected surveys of political parties worldwide is called the Global Party Survey and came out of work done at Harvard in the US and Sydney University in Australia. The researchers note: “Drawing on survey data gathered from 1,861 party and election experts, the study uses 21 core items to estimate key ideological values, issue positions, and populist rhetoric for 1,127 parties in 170 countries.”
What they found was that the Democratic Party in the US is fairly solidly within the norms for political parties in fully developed countries around the world. It resembles normal and legitimate parties in Canada and most of Western Europe.
The Republican party, however, both behaves and is ideologically most similar to Hungary’s Fidesz party, Turkey’s AKP party and Poland’s PiS party.
All three are, essentially, fascist parties. As Zach Beauchamp of Vox notes, Turkey is one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, Poland’s party has threatened judgeswho don’t rule the way they like with criminal punishment, and Hungary scapegoats immigrants as a strategy to gain and grow political power.
After noting similarities between Republicans and those fascist parties, Hartmann outlines the four steps that brought the GOP to where it stands today.
The first step was when a Republican majority on the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 and 1978 that if politicians or a political party wanted to take vast sums of money from individual billionaires or large corporations, that was no longer to be considered bribery or political corruption. Instead, the Court said, and doubled down on in 2010 with Citizens United, money is not money but is, in fact, “First Amendment protected free speech.”
Back in the 1970s the Democratic party was so awash in cash from labor unions that they largely ignored the ruling, but the GOP jumped in with both feet and the ocean of money that flowed from that effort floated Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1981. It also led him to make common cause with a number of rightwing billionaires, who today essentially own the Republican Party.
The second step was in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich arrived in Washington DC and essentially proclaimed that power was the only thing that mattered in politics. He shut down and threatened to shut down the government repeatedly, impeached Bill Clinton for private, consensual extramarital sex, and established as a political principle for the Republican party that reality didn’t matter as long as you could sell what you were doing to voters.
The best example of this was his so-called “Contract With America,” which mostly boiled down to tax cuts for the very rich, destruction of labor unions and cutting benefits for low-income and working people, and deregulation of American corporations.
The third step toward fascism for the Republican Party came with Donald Trump. Trump said out loud what Nixon, Reagan and both Bush’s said with dog whistles like the Willie Horton ads: the GOP was now officially the party of white supremacy. Everything else was subordinate to that.
And the fourth step that we see playing out today is based on the classic fascist strategy of the Big Lie.
Hartmann noted that “Mussolini’s Big Lie had to do with Italy’s ‘mutilated victory’ that helped end World War I,” leading Mussolini to claim that in order “for Italy to return to its glory days, it would have to establish an empire and he was the man to do it.”
And “Hitler’s Big Lie was that Germany had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by Jewish and socialist negotiators at the end of World War I, and that they were actually on the verge of winning the war when these people sold Germany out.”
In the U.S.?
Trump’s Big Lie, beyond “American carnage,” was that he won the 2020 election but was denied his victory because of “voter fraud” perpetrated by Black people in majority-Black cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. He continues to sell this lie, and has been joined by most of the institutional Republican Party in it.
Today the libertarian—and petro-billionaires that Ronald Reagan welcomed to the party so completely own it that no Republican is willing to admit that climate change is real, that the American people actually like Social Security and Medicare, or that people working full-time shouldn’t live in poverty.
We’ve now reached the point where the Republican Party can no longer be reformed; it must be either torn down and rebuilt or eliminated from American political life at the ballot box if our government is to regain anything resembling the ability to govern on behalf of the majority of its citizens.
And today’s Trump-twisted, corrupt GOP must not be allowed, like the Confederacy was, to carry forward its own “lost cause” bullshit mythology about the 2020 election or “hugs and kisses” to the Capitol Police on January 6th. We now have the benefit of hindsight to know how that worked out.
Image credit: Screengrab / The Hill / YouTube