Vichy Republicans

An apt phrase. We are witnessing the collapse of the contemporary Republican party. - promoted by Bob_Neer

By Lee Harrison, member, Democratic State Committee, former chair, Berkshire Brigades

Recently, Bill Kristol – the Republican thought leader – tweeted this:  “Doesn’t the pathetic GOP accommodation of Trump mean that the GOP after Trump’s defeat will be the Vichy government after D-Day?”  For once, I agree with him.

In 1940, after the Nazi victory over France, Marshal Pétain set up a fascist regime in the town of Vichy that actively collaborated with Germany, enabling some of the worst atrocities in that country.  It was known as the Vichy Government.

Incredibly.  Today.  In America.  We are seeing a reflection of that treachery among Vichy Republicans, who enable Donald Trump’s lies, threats, boorishness, racism, and treasonous behavior through their continuing support for his candidacy.  Without their support, his anti-American campaign would crumble, placing Trumpism – with all its echoes of 1930s Germany – in the dustbin of history.

At the top of the list of Vichy Republicans are Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the U.S Senate, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Indeed, on Aug. 9, Ryan shrugged off Trump’s latest outrage – a suggestion that gun owners take action to prevent a President Hillary Clinton from appointing judges – as a “joke gone bad.”  Former CBS anchor Dan Rather had another take:  “By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics,” Rather wrote.  “This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament.  This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival.”

He’s right, of course.  You might expect this reaction from Democrats or experienced journalists, but Trump’s year-long attack on our 200-year-old democratic process is finally turning some Republican stomachs, too.  For instance, Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe,” an early Trump enabler, has jumped ship, as has Maine Republican Senator Gail Collins, and 50 former national-security officials in Republican administrations.

But the list of Vichy Republicans is still very long.  It includes former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, along with the ever-expanding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the increasingly bizarre former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former “maverick” Arizona Senator John McCain, a host of Tea Party Republicans, and astonishingly, Jeb!’s son, George P. Bush.

It also includes GOPers who try to have it both ways.  They criticize Trump from one side of their mouths, yet voice support for him from the other.  New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte – who is in the fight of her political life against Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan – is a classic example.  Even after Trump’s statement suggesting violence against President Hillary Clinton, Ayotte reaffirmed her support, saying, “I’m going to be voting for our nominee.”

To explain how the Party of Lincoln lost its moral compass, one first must accept the fact that the GOP has devolved into nothing more than a long con.

“The modern GOP was in essence built around a strategy of harnessing racial resentment to sell right-wing economic policies,” says New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.  Since 1968, when Richard Nixon developed his “Southern Strategy” to take advantage of Southern racists’ anger at the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, Republicans have been conning white, working-class Americans into voting for the GOP by pretending to care about their economic plight.  In 1980, Reagan followed Nixon’s strategy into the White House, promising that his “Voodoo,” trickle-down economic policies would benefit American workers.  Instead they began the massive shift of American wealth to the top 1% that has stymied wages for 30 years.  The two Bushes just continued the con.

Obama’s had some success in fighting back – notably overseeing the best job growth since Bill Clinton’s time.  But “Obama Derangement Syndrome” – the inability of Republicans to deal rationally with the first African-American President – has pushed GOPers over the edge.  They even shut down the entire federal government for 16 days in 2013 in a futile attempt to strip funding from Obamacare.  Without a doubt entropy is increasing in the Republican Party, so you shouldn’t be surprised that Donald Trump is their candidate, or that Vichy Republicans still support him.

“The main thing holding the party together is [Speaker] Ryan’s willingness to tolerate the nominee’s racism and authoritarianism out of blind faith that Trump will sign the House GOP agenda into law,” The New Republic said recently.  Krugman calls this behavior “despicable.”  I call it the logical conclusion of 30 years of Republican drift into the abyss – and Vichy is all that remains.


9 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. One small objection

    I think we could do without the reference to “ever-expanding” Gov. Chris Christie.

  2. Carter

    Never a mention of how things went when Carter ran things?

    • You'll need to expand on that.

      I for one have no idea to what you refer.

      • nixon (reading above)

        started the strategy of Republicans screwing the working class, Reagan and the Bushes continued it, Obama has fought back, as did Clinton, but no one ever mentions what happened when Carter had his turn.
        Simplistic explanations of economic trends are easy. Clinton did good (of course he had a Rep congress), Obama did good(forget his Rep congress), Reagan bad (but he had a Dem congress). What about Carter?(Dems ran everything)
        Both parties have been horrible at long term economic planning. For example the repeal of Glass-Steagel was a joint disaster.

        • Oh my....

          Yeah, Nixon really screwed the working class when he brought forth the EPA and OSHA. Nixon who wrote “An all-directions reform of our health care system–so that every citizen will be able to get quality health care at reasonable cost regardless of income and regardless of area of residence–remains an item of highest priority on my unfinished agenda for America in the 1970s.
          In the ultimate sense, the general good health of our people is the foundation of our national strength, as well as being the truest wealth that individuals can possess.
          Nothing should impede us from doing whatever is necessary to bring the best possible health care to those who do not now have it–while improving health care quality for everyone–at the earliest possible time.”

          That Nixon?

          Obama fought for the working class? I guess that’s why Wall Street got bailed out, no one went to jail, and all of the gains since the recession have gone to the 1%. That’s quite a fight.

          Yes, both parties have been horrible at long term economic planning if one is a laborer, but if one is a member of the rentier class, BOTH parties have done a stellar job. The only difference is that Republicans are open about it and Democrats deny it.

          • Did you forget?

            Did you forget that Mr. Nixon, promising a “secret plan for peace”, was instead sabotaging the Paris peace talks in order to boost his campaign?

            While Mr. Nixon was uttering those empty words you cite, he was shipping TWENTY TWO THOUSAND working-class (mostly minority) young men to their deaths — forced by a compulsory draft that ONLY applied to working-class families.

            Once again, you attempt to rewrite history based on your private feelings.

            Once again, you repeat right-wing Republican talking points (“Nixon wasn’t so bad, Obama is worse”).

            • Oh, he's no angel and no, I did not forget

              Nixon with his pal Earl Butz started the corn subsidizes that have led us down the path of ill health and destruction of the ecosystem. He had many faults, and few good points. But you want to think in terms of black and white. All Republicans bad, all Democrats good. Just put a (D) after the name and you’re in. That’s your problem with Hillary. No matter what, to you, her shit does not stink. She’s got good points, a few here and there and she has deep flaws. I believe (hope) she is capable of being the progressive president this nation urgently needs, but she’s not going to go in that direction without being pushed. I mean to push her. You mean to step aside and just trust that because she has a (D) after her name, she is the person you need her to be.

              In many ways you are no different from my relatives in Pennsylvania who I had to listen to last week and hear about all the cloak and dagger conspiracy theory that she and her husband were behind, Vince Foster, Benghazi and all that other nonsense. They too see things in black and white. All they need to see is a (D) and it’s the devil incarnate.

              Nixon had good points, and significant bad ones. Obama had good intentions but fell far short of expectations.

              I cannot he bought simply because there is a (D) after the name. I can’t be bought on the grounds that “the money MUST come from somewhere”.

              I have read,extensively, about our current economic mess, how we got here, who was behind it (knowingly or unknowingly) and I will continue to read, learn, and hold anyone’s feet to the fire, regardless of party affiliation.

            • To be fair...

              …I have long thought that in many ways Nixon was our last truly liberal President based in part on the things JTM mentioned above and add opening China. I of course disagree with the idea that Obama has not been on the side of the working class.

        • In some ways it is simplistic.

          At least in my lifetime the economy has consistently done better with Dems in the White House compared to Republicans. That trend may go back as far as WWII.

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