Shortly after the President was diagnosed with Covid-19, long-time, high-level Republican operative Ed Rollins publicly lamented Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic. Rollins, who is currently co-chair of the pro-Trump Great America super PAC, wailed, “There was a panic before this started, but now we’re sort of the stupid party.”
Rollins was referring to the events leading up to Trump’s contraction of the virus, including the September 26 super-spreading White House Rose Garden soiree to announce Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. There in the crowd were many unmasked Republican elite, crammed together, hugging and infecting one another, including the Trumps. It was a clear illustration of the consequences of ignoring the advice of epidemiologists.
Unfortunately, a bit too much of the stupid has found its way into the ranks of that Grand Old Party in recent years. It did not start with Trump, but he has certainly hastened the rush toward what Rollins bemoaned. The stupid is not confined to Trump’s pandemic response, however.
In the mid-60s, Congressional Republicans teamed with President Johnson to legislate civil rights and voting rights protections for people of color. That was in the proud tradition of the party founder, Abraham Lincoln. Now, Trump and his party are doing their level best to discourage and depress voting opportunities for minority citizens. Trying to shut American citizens out of the electoral process is not a smart thing to do. Disenfranchisement builds anger and frustration of the type we are seeing play out on the streets of many American cities today. It won’t end up benefiting the GOP in the long run.
Trump incessantly attacks the integrity of our elections, the very bedrock of our democracy. There is no credible evidence of significant fraud in our elections, but that has not stopped Trump’s diatribes against mail-in balloting and election security. Russian media largely echo his attacks on our elections in an effort to delegitimize our form of government. It is stupid to give Vladimir Putin aid and comfort in that devious enterprise.
Trump struggles mightily with the simple task of denouncing white supremacists and other dangerous extremists. It is a good way to garner the votes of Proud Boys, QAnon members, Boogaloo Bois, and various and assorted vigilantes and militias, but it puts the country at risk.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have identified “violent extremists who are motivated by white supremacy and other far-right ideological causes” as the “most significant terror-related threat facing the U.S.” Trump darkly hinted at the presidential debate that some of these people may be deployed to the polls on November 3. It is not too bright to give these types the presidential stamp of legitimacy.
The problem is not just with Trump’s misguided leadership, but with the total lack of leadership by Republicans in Congress. We have many smart people in the Senate and House, but they have given up on their sworn duty to stand up for constitutional government. Senators Risch and Crapo stand by mute while the President attacks our elections, fails to develop and employ a strategy to contain the coronavirus and plays footsie with extremists.
It is probably just craven cowardice, but is does make them look stupid. Maybe Rollins had it right.