The Three Classes of Republicans
I was born into a Republican family in Findlay, Ohio at a time when the local newspaper was called "The Republican Courier. My maternal grandfather, my maternal grandmother (who was also anti-Catholic), my father, and my mother were all Republicans. In fact, I was not aware there were any Democrats in Findlay until the election of 1960 when some of the kids in the Lincoln School playground shouted slogans favoring John F. Kennedy. My grandparents and my parents were also good, patriotic people—aside from my grandmother's theological bias and the racism that I assume to be a quality shared by nearly all the white residents of Findlay. It is important to remember that racism was never a disqualifying trait in the "Party of Lincoln" even before the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965
I too was a Republican and a racist until I learned more about our nation's history and the history of both. Even though there was an attempt by Indiana—and I suspect by many other states—to sugarcoat the reason for the Civil War. We were told the firing on Fort Sumter started the war, which I guess is technically true. We were also told it was the secession of the southern states, again technically true, but the reason that led to these actions was de-emphasized. I and assume many others were able to put it all together on our own. What was the Missouri Compromise and why was it made? Why did the Compromise of 1850 include the Fugitive slave law? What was the issue behind all of these compromises? The answer to all of these questions related to the issue of owning human beings in the same manner as one could own a horse or a cow. Of course, slave owners did not view the matter this way. To be a participant in this inhumane act had to involve dehumanizing those who had their origins in Africa, a practice that continued after the institution of slavery was abandoned.
My first vote, as an 18-year-old was in a primary election where I voted against Richard Nixon and other Republicans that I thought had the best chance of winning a general election, in those days one was not required to register a party in the primaries—a fact that irritated a Republican poll worker when I boldly stated my intentions. My first vote in a general election included a vote for George McGovern, one of the few votes he received in Hamilton, Indiana
All of this prologue is intended to convey that despite my conversion to the Democratic Party, I have been friends with and respected members of the other party. We could have discussions and arguments about differing political beliefs that were no more animated than a disagreement over whether we like apples or oranges the most. I acknowledged that there needed to be a counterpart to the democrats. One-party governments were authoritarian by design. The communist party was the only party in the Soviet Union, mainland China, and Cuba—these were also the times when the vast majority of Republicans acknowledged that a liberal Democrat was not the same as a communist or socialist. It was a time of common decency in discourse. Sure, there were arguments, some quite intense, and attempts to block or undo legislation, but the craziness had not yet begun. We had a few demagogues, George Wallace, and Strom Thurmond to name two, but they were part of the racist nature of the former confederate states and not the rule in either party.
There is some debate as to when the Republican Party went off the rails. Some would say it started with Nixon's "southern strategy", but Nixon was just another politician who coveted power above all else. There were still good Republicans left—all one needs to do is witness the Watergate hearings to know that. Others may say Reagan started it but he was merely the ultra-conservative of the time. He could and would still compromise for what he believed was the good of the nation. I firmly believe that it started when Mitch McConnell realized his dream to lead the Senate. Mitch was a man without a discernable political philosophy—I believe his choice to become a Republican was only due to the political expediency it offered in Kentucky. McConnell craved power for power's sake and his every move was to preserve or enhance his political power.
It was the nomination and election of Donald Trump that brought the Republican Party to full insanity. Trump was another Republican whose only political viewpoints were to enrich himself and feed his narcissistic need for recognition and power. Portraying himself as a populist—as all demagogues do—he did not give a single shit about the citizens of the United States or the world.
This is where the point where I address the theme of this article, the three classes of current Republicans. I had hoped that some Republicans would have the courage to stand up to an obvious narcissistic sociopath. Some did, but only a few were in any position to put a check on his executive power. I was disappointed by a few of the cowards who had formerly shown brief flashes of character.
The first class of Republicans are the ultra-rich narcissists similar to Trump himself—the chief difference being I am not convinced that Trump is as wealthy as he claims and is not among the 1%. These soulless sociopaths think income inequality is desirable. They seem to sincerely believe they should be able to make as much money as possible and pay comparatively little in taxes. The wealth becomes multigenerational and many of the current 1% did little or nothing to earn their mind-boggling riches. If the 1% paid what the tax codes, without the loopholes, call for, we could rebuild our infrastructure, ensure affordable healthcare, and completely fund our children's education. Yes, they control that much money! If they only cared one iota about those in the 99%, the US could be a much better place.
The second class of Republicans is "The Racists". This class includes those have become so accustomed to white privilege that they believe a God-given right is being taken away from them. This is not to say that there is no overlap to the other classes or that there aren't some racists who aren't republicans. But they are a very large group—almost infinitely larger than the ultra-wealthy—and were recruited by and still encouraged by Trump. These are the people who were formerly forced into the shadows and not accepted by any political party except for the American Nazi Party. Unlike the Nazi Party, many are hiding under names like the Proud Boys. They are present at Black Lives Matter rallies and protests and were very much present at the January 6 insurrection. They would prefer an authoritarian government that persecutes immigrants, anyone whose skin is not as light as their own, those whose religion is not to their liking, and anyone whose upper eyelid is of a different shape than theirs. In short, they are dangerous assholes who have been fully accepted into the Republican Party.
The third class could be called "The Idiots." These are the people who can be convinced of the most outlandish claims. This group proves that idiocy can be acquired as well as genetic. They don't understand science or how the scientific method works so they dismiss it. Instead, many rally around outlandish religious proclamations as if the theocrats are the ultimate authority. They trust narcissist sociopaths as if they are personal friends, even if said narcissist's fabrications are revealed repeatedly. They are willing to believe the cryptic nonsense of an anonymous "insider" whose prophecies never come to pass. They form their beliefs in an information vacuum then seek sources that confirm those beliefs. The Idiots include anti-vaxxers, Qanon followers, right-wing Christians, ignoramuses (usually rural, but some urban), and the outright stupid (Northwest Ohio is well represented in this category). Again, there is overlap into the other classes.
For the conservatives with a conscience, like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, there is no way home. The party that was tainted by Mitch McConnell has now gone fully rotten. For any Republicans who might be reading this (fat chance), here is a quick hypothetical syllogism for you. If you are fully accepted by your party without tension, then your conscience is dead and you are irredeemably evil.