The Ongoing Emasculation of the GOP
Lots of adjectives describe today's Republican Party. "Masculine" isn't one of them.
Over the years I’ve grown pretty accustomed to watching the MAGA movement, which loves to associate itself with manliness, demand of those who represent it some of the most emasculating political behavior imaginable. I’ve seen prominent conservative figures, once irreverent media personalities, and numerous religious leaders abandon years (even decades) of preached principles, moral standards, and their own dignity to pledge loyalty and slobbering servitude to Donald Trump, an individual that espouses few or none of the traits they claim to value most.
There’s an enormous list of examples. Some of the more memorable conversions, to me anyway, include Ben Carson proudly endorsing Trump after Trump had compared him to a child molester. Ted Cruz did the same thing after Trump trashed his wife’s looks and suggested his father helped assassinate JFK. Rudy Giuliani, in service to Trump, went from America’s Mayor (for his heroic leadership on and after 9/11) to a corrupt stooge having to hawk pillows for Mike Lindell to offset his crushing legal bills. Then there was Kevin McCarthy, who’d boldly denounced Trump after January 6, flying down to Mar-a-Lago a few weeks later to grovel before the former president. And don’t even get me started on Lindsey Graham.
I keep thinking, at some point, that I’ll grow numb to it all — that I’ll finally accept that the modern GOP is beyond redemption, and that it’s no longer even worthy of my pity. But as a longtime conservative who was pretty active in Republican politics back before the Upside Down, I find myself foolishly still holding out hope for something better for the party of Lincoln and Reagan than complete surrender to a crooked, jaded, grievance-stoking demagogue whose primary reason for running for office again is to stay out of prison. America needs a viable conservative party if it is to have any chance of addressing some our nation’s most serious challenges.
But for now the emasculation continues, as evidenced by the GOP presidential primary (which may well be wrapped up by the time you read this).
Nikki Haley was not my preferred candidate in this race, but unlike Donald Trump, she is, at minimum, fit for office. And if you were to strap a lie-detector to every Republican governor and member of the U.S. Congress, you’d discover that the overwhelming majority of them (I’d guess over 90%) would not only agree, but also much prefer her over Trump.
Yet, even Republican office-holders that Haley has gone well out of her way to support, and help elevate over the years, were among the first to endorse Trump. They didn’t even wait until the second state in the primary had cast its votes before joining the rest of the GOP establishment in what has effectively been a coronation.
I’m talking about people like Senator Marco Rubio, who Haley campaigned hard for during his 2016 president run. She took lots of slings and arrows from MAGA-world back then for her support of Rubio, who Trump routinely belittled as “Little Marco.” But this time, at record speed, Rubio offered his full-throated endorsement of the guy who caused the January 6 attack, which Rubio described at the time as “3rd world style anti-American anarchy.” Some may recall that weeks later, Rubio revealed that January 6 was “far more dangerous than most realize”. He assured the country that “we have a criminal justice system in place to address it.” But as is the nature of MAGA converts, he has opposed every effort within that system to hold Trump to account, including for Trump’s stealing of, and refusal to give back, top-secret U.S. nuclear documents.
“Little Marco” indeed.
I’m also talking about former presidential contender Tim Scott, who was originally appointed to the U.S. Senate as a little-known freshman congressman, by then South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Despite their relationship and longtime friendship, and despite his political positions and demeanor being far closer to Haley’s, Scott endorsed Trump. The senator claimed he at least gave Haley a heads-up on his decision, but according to Haley he did no such thing.
During his official endorsement, Scott stood on stage with Trump and declared, “We need a President that will restore law and order. We need Donald Trump.”
Of course, the senator failed to touch on Trump’s recent statement that U.S. presidents should enjoy “total immunity” for committing crimes… and Trump’s calls to suspend the U.S. Constitution… and Trump currently facing multiple criminal indictments… and Trump recently being found legally liable for sexual assault… and Trump refusing for hours to do anything to stop his supporters from beating the hell out of Capitol police officers… and that little incident of Trump trying to overturn the last presidential election.
There’s also Congresswoman Nancy Mace. Haley not only supported her candidacy in 2020, but also endorsed, campaigned for, and cut an ad for Mace when she was being primaried by a Trump-backed opponent in 2022. Trump wanted to punish Mace for speaking out against him after January 6. With Haley’s help, Mace narrowly won reelection. Last week, however, Mace endorsed Trump, the guy she vowed three years earlier to hold “accountable for the events that transpired for the attack on our Capitol.”
"Trump’s record in his first term should tell every American how vital it is he be returned to office,” Mace said in her endorsement, without a hint of irony.
Now, none of this is to say that any of these people owed Haley their endorsement. They didn’t. But to needlessly endorse her opponent as quickly as they did, at as crucial of a time as they did, and in as shameless of fashion as they did… is about as weaselly as one can get. The odds that any of these people genuinely think that Trump is fit to serve in the office he left in disgrace three years ago, let alone that he would be better for the party and country than Haley, are about none. But political opportunism is a hell of a drug.
Trump owns the party, and they understand that better than most.
A couple weeks ago, Ron DeSantis said, “You can be the most worthless Republican in America, but if you kiss the ring, Trump will say you are wonderful.”
He was absolutely right. In today’s GOP, the safest option for assuring a future in the party and public office is neither demonstrating leadership nor advancing policy. The safest option is to surrender your manhood to Donald Trump. DeSantis was even thoughtful enough to prove this last week, when he, after suspending his presidential campaign, gleefully endorsed the guy who had personally humiliated him for over a year (including suggesting he had groomed high school girls when he was a teacher).
And frankly, I think we’ll probably see the same thing from Haley in relatively short order, though I hope I’m wrong.
Those with political bravery, and those who hold strong political and ideological convictions, are nearly extinct from the party — banished by the new GOP establishment, the right-wing media, and the modern Republican base… all in service to Donald Trump.
There’s absolutely nothing masculine about that.