Most Republican leaders sat in shameful silence after President Trump told four women of color in the House of Representatives—three of them born in the U.S—to “go back” to the “crime infested” countries they came from. When called on his racist rhetoric, Trump doubled down and dialed up the volume, accusing these elected officials of hating America and again inviting them and anyone else like them to leave. His followers picked up on his cue, chanting “send her back” after Trump slammed Rep. Ilhan Omar at a political rally.
Trump’s racist rants and policy pronouncements aren’t just a glimpse into his id; they’re part of a strategy for inflaming his supporters against perceived threats from “the other”—people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people and “socialists”—in order to win elections. And for the right-wing political machine that has embraced him, that’s the key to their real endgame, which is to maintain and increase the access to power that they’ve gained since Trump came into office. That power is apparent in Trump’s massive tax cut for the wealthy, in the administration’s aggressive moves to overturn regulations that protect individuals, communities, and the environment, and in the judges they hope will gut the federal government’s constitutional authority to act on behalf of the common good.
This is not to say that Trump’s racism is not heartfelt. Decades of evidence suggest that it is. But Trump also apparently believes that his campaign tirades against immigrants put him in the White House. And he has clearly decided that he can win re-election by fully embracing that strategy. That’s why his administration has embraced cruelty as official policy, even to the point of stealing babies from their parents—and perpetuating conditions that are traumatizing and, yes, killing children.
For Trump, it’s a playbook for winning. For those who see themselves as pious or otherwise respectable Republicans, what could be worth all the horror and humiliation?
Groups from every corner of the conservative movement are enjoying the fulfillment of long-held wish lists, which is why right-wing leaders—including Trump’s evangelical cheerleaders—will do anything for him, and tolerate or actually cheer anything he says or does, no matter how base or cruel.
Recall that when Trump jumped into the presidential race, it wasn’t as a movement conservative. His candidacy was an ego-stroking power trip that followed the demagogic path cleared by right-wing authors, radio hosts and TV pundits who had primed millions of Americans to resent “illegal aliens” and “political correctness” and not to trust the “liberal media.”
Trump likes to believe he’s the genius who created the conditions for his own victory. It’s true that he brought the strongman bombast his followers love, but the conditions for his success were created by a massive infrastructure of think tanks, media outlets, and political organizations funded for decades by right-wing foundations and wealthy conservatives. Alongside and overlapping that movement is the Religious Right, which spent decades building its own infrastructure and effectively taking over the Republican Party from the bottom up.
Trump’s advisers know where power resides in today’s GOP. When Trump picked Mike Pence as his running mate, he simultaneously signaled the two most important Republican power blocs that had previously been suspicious of him—Religious Right leaders and the Koch brothers’ political networks. And when Trump pledged to turn over the selection of Supreme Court justices to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, he won allegiance both from activists eager to ban abortion and reverse progress toward LGBTQ equality—and from those eager to further weaken the power of unions and reverse decades of progressive regulation and court rulings.
Which is how we got to where we are today, when white evangelical Christians are the most unapologetic and unquestioningly loyal defenders of the “anointed” Trump, no matter what he says or does or who he hurts. In return, they’re getting the Supreme Court of their dreams and an executive branch that is advancing its anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ policy agendas.
And when Mick Mulvaney, elected to Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave, is using his power as White House chief of staff to push executive branch agencies to more aggressively reverse regulations that might inconvenience corporations. One advantage of authoritarian governments for those on the inside has always been the power to plunder.
Then there’s the assault on the judiciary. The harmful judges that Trump and Mitch McConnell are putting in lifetime positions on the federal courts are being counted on by his supporters not only to reverse Roe v. Wade and marriage equality and landmark decisions upholding separation of church and state, but also dismantle the administrative state and undo the New Deal and Great Society programs by returning us to a 19th century state-rights-focused interpretation of the Constitution that would drastically restrict the authority of the federal government to regulate corporate behavior.
Trump’s personal goals for his presidency may focus on self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment, and reversing any step taken by the Obama administration. But the right-wing movement’s more audacious goal—to reverse much of the legal and social progress of the past century—depends on keeping Trump in the White House and continuing to pack the courts with judges chosen for their youth as well as their ideology so as to extend Trump’s influence for decades beyond his time in the White House.
Republican leaders and prominent conservatives have apparently made the shameful and cynical calculation that the goal of achieving their turn-back-the-clock agenda is so worthwhile that if achieving it requires creating a brutal humanitarian catastrophe, or undermining constitutional checks and balances, or poisoning our political culture with racist and nativist rhetoric that energizes violent bigots and white nationalists, so be it.
This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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Watch: Texas Republican Opposes Any New Gun Legislation Because We’re Going to ‘Convict’ and ‘Punish’ the Shooters
A Texas Republican state lawmaker said just one day after 19 elementary school students were shot and killed he opposes any new gun legislation for two reasons: the U.S. Constitution, and under existing laws prosecutors should just “convict” the shooters.
“What we want to know is what your solution is,” CNN host Alisyn Camerota told Rep. James White, who happens to be a former school teacher.
“We’ve all seen how quickly and creatively Texas—your local legislature—can act when it wants to, say, protect the unborn embryo,” Camerota added, referring to Texas’ vigilante abortion ban, as The Daily Beast reported. “Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me?”
“We have this thing called the Constitution,” White replied, even though the Texas abortion ban, under current law, violates at least the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
Like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and many other Republicans, and like the NRA, White then defended his desire to pass no legislation to help reduce gun violence by declaring the problem is actually one of mental health.
He said, “these young men, for some reason, they have some very disturbed emotional state.”
There is no evidence, according to Gov. Abbott, that this shooter had any documented mental health issues.
White then decided to propose utilizing existing law to reduce gun violence.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re going to look at the people who do these acts, we’re going to convict them, and we’re going to punish them.”
Appearing flabbergasted, Camerota replied, “You can’t convict him, sir.”
“Sir you can’t convict him. He was killed. He was killed, along with 19 children in the school behind me.”
“We’re going to look at the people who do these acts. We’re going to convict them and we’re going to punish them”
“Sir, you can’t convict him. He was killed along with 19 children in the school behind me” pic.twitter.com/Y5f6HZ0ZWU
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 25, 2022
Watch: Video of Beto O’Rourke Confronting Texas GOP Governor and Lt. Gov. Goes Viral
Democratic former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke approached the stage where top Texas Republicans were holding a press conference following Tuesday’s mass school shooting.
“This is on you,” O’Rourke told Governor Greg Abbott, who is running for re-election against O’Rourke. Abbott was blaming the shooting that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead on a lack of mental health facilities in Texas, despite having rejected federal aid that would have expanded access in the Lone Star State.
“Sit down and don’t pull this stunt,” Senator Ted Cruz chastised.
But Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, arguably the most powerful person in the room, went ballistic.
“You’re out of line and an embarrassment,” Patrick told O’Rourke.
“You’re doing nothing,” O’Rourke said.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, on stage, loudly called O’Rourke “a sick son of a bitch.”
“He needs to get his ass out of here. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line,” the mayor said, as WFAA reported. “Please leave this auditorium. I cannot believe you are a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.”
“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said. “This is totally predictable. You’re all doing nothing.”
“This is on you until you choose to do something about it,” O’Rourke added.
O’Rourke was escorted out of the auditorium by a security guard.
It was not Patrick’s first attack on O’Rourke. In 2019 he used an anti-LGBTQ slur on Fox News to go after the highly-popular Democrat, calling him “light in the loafers.” O’Rourke, as NBC News noted at the time, is heterosexual.
“He is so light in the loafers he floats off the ground at times,” Patrick told Fox’s Laura Ingraham, leading to an advertiser boycott.
After, O’Rourke told reporters the “only thing” Gov. Abbott did “was make it easier to carry a gun in public.”
“And he bragged about the fact that there would be no background check, no training, no vetting whatsoever. He talked about this was evil. The only thing evil is what he continues to do to the people of this state. He says this was unpredictable — it was totally predictable and I predict this will continue to happen when you continue to have a governor who will not stand up for the people of Texas.”
The video below has been viewed 1.2 million times in just over an hour. Other versions have also gone viral.
Watch the video from earlier Wednesday via CNN:
Beto O’Rourke interrupts ongoing press conference by Texas Gov. Abbott and other officials. pic.twitter.com/qa8YY0ghQy
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 25, 2022
As Jan. 6 Rioters Were Chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ Trump Told Colleagues Maybe They Should: Report
During the January 6 insurrection as rioters were hunting down the Vice President and chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” with a gallows outside the Capitol building, the President of the United States said maybe they should, his chief of staff Mark Meadows told colleagues in the White House.
“Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6,” The New York Times reports, “told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hung.”
The New York Times also said that Trump was upset his vice president had been taken away by Secret Service.
Meadows “left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety,” The Times notes.
A Trump spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, criticized the House Select Committee but did not deny the claims.
“This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign,” he said. “Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it’s the only thing they have to offer.”
In November of last year Trump defended the rioters calling for Pence to be hanged.
“Well, the people were very angry he told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, as CNN reported:
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