Ever since Nixon took over the Republican Party in the 1960s, they've had to add fringe group after fringe group to get enough voters to win elections. Today, their Marjorie Taylor Green dilemma shows the severity of Nixon's party's crisis.
The direction they choose to go heading forward - embracing or rejecting treason, violence, conspiracy theories and open racism and antisemitism - may well determine the fate of the American experiment.
The "cloth coat Republicans" who put Dwight Eisenhower into the White House twice (1952 and 1956) were pro-business but still supported labor unions, Social Security and a strong middle class.
Reagan's evangelicals and gun nuts & Nixon's racists
By 1968, however, Richard Nixon saw labor unions as his enemy and worried there weren't enough voters concerned about the fate of business or rich people to win elections, so he invited into the Party the Southern racists who were upset with Democrats because of the Civil Rights laws LBJ passed in the 1960s. History records it as Nixon's "Southern Strategy."
When Reagan's turn came to run in 1980, the GOP was still the party of fat cats but now they had the added faction of the millions of white racists Nixon had brought in.
But that still wasn't enough to win national elections, so Reagan invited into the Party a new generation of Christian hustler TV evangelists (an exploding phenomena in the 1980s) and the misogynist antiabortion freaks they were cranking into a frothing fury. He also reached out to a newly-reinvented NRA and the generation of gun nuts they were cultivating.
Reagan even commissioned a young lawyer in his Department of Justice, a fellow by the name of John Roberts, to figure out how his administration could overturn the Brown v Board and Roe v Wade Supreme Court decisions to suck up to these racists and antiabortion freaks. (I wrote about Roberts' suggestions to Reagan at some length in my book The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America.)
Even between Reagan's evangelicals and gun nuts, and Nixon's racists, the GOP could still barely win an election in 2000 when George W. Bush needed his brother, Jeb, to throw 90,000 African-Americans off the voting rolls to get him close enough that their father's friends on the Supreme Court could hand him the election.
Trump adds brutal traitors, fascist conspiracy nuts and violent open Nazis
In 2016, Trump was at-bat and he further expanded the Republican base by stealing rhetoric from Bernie Sanders, promising to raise taxes on rich people, provide everybody in America with quality, low-cost healthcare, and to bring factories and jobs back to the United States by reversing four decades of neoliberal trade policies initiated and negotiated by Reagan and Bush, and put into place by Clinton.
Trump was lying through his teeth, as he has done his entire life in business and marriage, but enough people bought it to give the GOP one more victory.
Today, once again, the Republican Party faces their recurrent problem: there aren't enough fat cats, corporate shills, racists, homophobes, religious fanatics, and gun and abortion freaks to win a national election.
So now they're adding a final tranche to their cobbled-together coalition: traitors, fascist conspiracy nuts and open Nazis, including the traitors who made every effort to kill Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and AOC while trying to overthrowing the US government.
When the question was called in the House of Representatives, the majority of the Republican caucus choose to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene, and this traitorous faction she represents, in power and in the Party.
It's the logical progression and outcome of a political party that long-ago left behind working class Americans and instead committed itself solely to the interests of a very small slice of America: the billionaire and corporate class that can fund huge election efforts.
At every stage, in order to win elections, they've had to add new groups of crazies to their coalition, while the Democratic Party has kept focused on the "General Welfare" of the majority of Americans.
The Wizard of Oz behind the curtain of the GOP is a right wing subset of our nations 700+ billionaires and their toadies and factotums
The proof is visible in the Republican Party's singular legislative priority: tax cuts for billionaires cure all problems.
Even though the proposition that giving tax cuts to billionaires will somehow save or even just improve the economy has been repeatedly discredited since Reagan first laid it out as doctrine in 1981, and has exploded our national debt, the GOP still holds to it as the solution to everything because of their fealty to, and need for the money from, their rightwing billionaire backers.
Now that the GOP is scraping the bottom of the barrel, embracing conspiracy theorists and outright Nazi fascists, they risk dragging the rest of the country into this anti-American sewer with them.
And the right wing billionaires who support these Republicans are, by and large, just fine with the Marjorie Taylor Greene faction because keeping Republicans in power means more tax cuts and deregulation for them and their polluting industries.
America is facing multiple crises right now, from the Second Republican Great Depression to the coronavirus that helped trigger it. As a result, all of us are vulnerable to this dilemma within the GOP.
Today's Republicans must choose: do they go back to being the "cloth coat Republicans" of Dwight Eisenhower, or do they embrace the insanity and violence of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump?
The fate and future of America may well hang in the balance.
Originally posted on thomhartmann.medium.com.