GOP keeps telling itself it's not in the grip of white supremacy

From Susan Collins to Mitt Romney, they imagine a party that no longer exists

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“We are not a party that is led by just one person,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine said on CNN over the weekend.

She was defending both Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming from attacks by Donald Trump and his MAGA minions who still follow his every word from Mar-a-Lago, even as he’s been muted in much of the media.

And you just had to wonder: Does she really believe what she said? Is she engaging in a fantasy, trying to wish something away?

Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell and most other Republican senators allowed him to stay in the driver’s seat when they refused to vote to convict him in his second impeachment trial.

“You can boo all you like, but I’ve been a Republican all my life,” Romney said this past weekend when he was booed and called a “traitor” at a Republican Party conference in his home state of Utah. “My dad was a governor of Michigan, my dad worked for Republican candidates that he believed in ... and if you don’t recall, I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.”

But that was then. This is now. The base of the Republican Party is driven by white supremacy and neo-fascism, supporting the authoritarian and racist Trump, and believing the Big Lie. Simply the fact that they live in an alternate universe in which Trump really won the election tells you all you need to know. They’re deep in a cult feeding off of dangerous conspiracies. They couldn’t care less that Romney’s been a Republican all his life and that he was the 2012 presidential nominee, nor who the hell his father was. How sad is it that Romney had to even tell them that?

Romney perseveres though, in the way a faithful Mormon might, praying, and hoping against all hope that the tide will turn. Regarding Collins, however, you’d have to be a dim bulb to think she doesn’t truly know the GOP is lost — always calculating, she’s a fake moderate who, after all, brought the GOP to where it is now and does McConnell’s bidding — and is just putting herself out there as a p.r. prop once again.

Collins even had the gall to claim, after saying the GOP is not a party “led by one person,” that “we don't want to become like too much of the Democratic Party, which has been taken over by the progressive left.” Pure hackery.

At least Liz Cheney doesn’t deny the truth of what the GOP has become, nor dwell in the past.

"The 2020 presidential election was not stolen," Cheney tweeted yesterday in response to Trump trying appropriate the term “the Big Lie,” sending out a statement in which he used it to describe the actual election results in which Biden overwhelmingly won. "Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."

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At a Republican retreat at Sea Island, Georgia shortly before she sent the tweet, Cheney reportedly said:

We can't embrace the notion the election is stolen. It's a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. We can't whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump's big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.

Last week Cheney also proclaimed that believing the Big Lie should be “disqualifying” for any potential presidential nominee.

Cheney is dealing in the present, acknowledging where the party is. She knows she’ll most likely lose this battle, but she’s going for broke. Her purging from the leadership is coming.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is reportedly “furious” with Cheney, puts up the window dressing like Collins does, making-believe the party is some sort of glorious big tent. It was laughable, as I noted two weeks ago, when McCarthy claimed in response to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s attempted “America First Caucus,” that, “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”

McCarthy doesn’t care how ridiculous it looks when he tries to put up a front while pandering to the Trumpists. His only concern is winning, no matter if he looks like a fool. As Kerry Eleveld at Daily Kos notes, McCarthy’s motives are evident “at the state level, where wackadoodle Trumpers continue to worship the Orange Menace despite the fact that he hasn't been able to provide a shred of evidence for a single one of the conspiracies he's spewed.”

McCarthy believes the only way he can become House Speaker again is by pushing the Big Lie and its sibling conspiracies, all based in white supremacy, even as he cries “we’re not like that!” when Greene and others say the quiet part out loud.

If Democrats don’t follow through on the big and bold promises they and Joe Biden have made, McCarthy’s bet may pay off, as Democratic turnout in ‘22 could be depressed, and we’ll be in for a hellish reality.

But if Biden’s forceful agenda continues apace and Democrats push forward — and that means getting beyond the filibuster by limiting or ending it, and getting major legislation passed — Democratic voters will be energized, and with get out in force to face the extremist threat. The Republican Party could then be a smoldering heap, having wrapped itself around Trump and his lies but coming up with nothing but big losses.

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