I looked up the history of the acronym GOP as a shorthand for the Republican Party. The Wikipedia page on the Republican Party says this:
“The term “Grand Old Party” is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party and the abbreviation “GOP” is a commonly used designation. The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as “this gallant old party”.
I’d always thought it stood for Grand Old Party, which is just as lame. But these days, the Republican Party is anything but Grand or Gallant. So the old terminology is moot. I propose that we give the GOP a new set of more accurate terms to replace its traditional claims to grandness or gallantry.
GOP and dying wishes
The option I propose, given the Republican Party’s tactics over the last fifteen years or so, is a far more accurate description of how the GOP operates. We’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, we need to understand the nature of the most recent hypocrisy. That is the installation of a third Supreme Court justice by decree of Donald Trump. We all recall how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell self-righteously claimed that no President up for election within the year should be granted the right to nominate a Supreme Court judge. So McConnell blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, only to invite Trump’s last-minute nomination of a constitutional originalist to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose dying wish was that her replacement would not be named until after the election.
The GOP has for decades been whining about so-called “activist judges” on the Supreme Court. Their concerns have focused on the idea that supposedly “liberal” justices are legislating “from the bench” by voting in favor of civil rights, economic parity, corporate responsibility and environmental justice in America rather than dragging the nation back to an interpretation of the United States Constitution before slavery was outlawed, women had the right to vote and America was a population of just 2.5M people. But here’s a fact that matters: The country is 130 times larger today according to the United States Census Bureau. We have fifty states, not just a few. We are a diverse nation thanks to immigration over dozens of decades and a couple centuries. The Constitution as it was originally written was never sufficient to cover all that change. The Founders knew that, which is why the power to commend Amendments to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were implemented. To ignore that wisdom is to kick the Founder right in their constitutional nuts.
Yet that’s what some in the GOP love to do.
The idea that America is the “same place” as it was 243 years ago is an example of the controlling, abusive notion that all the Amendments and beneficial changes in law and policy installed since that time are meaningless affectations adopted by a whimsically feckless population of liberals.
Ironically, this country would not even have the Second Amendment if things had stayed fixed in place as Constitutional originalists would have it. On that subject, perhaps they’re correct that amendments can be used for ill-suited purposes. After all, America does not seem capable of managing “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” Now we’re being gaslighted by vigilante militias and the GOP, both who claim to represent an originalist interpretation of the Second Amendment that ignores that opening phrase in favor of the latter, “…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
That is the gaslighting tactic (a lie by selective judgment) upon which activist interpretations of the Second Amendment now depend. As a result, Americans are literally being gaslighted to death by rampant gun violence in the streets, doctrinally motivated mass shooters armed to the teeth, and self-professed militia members playing soldier while claiming self-defense.
Why do all these people deep-down claim to want to arm themselves? Many claim that their armory is to prevent the government from having too much power. Here’s a sobering fact: more Americans have died from gun violence on American soil than all the soldiers killed in wars on foreign soils.
That means we are being gaslighted by the idea that guns are the path to safety in America. The people who make that claim (through the NRA, and other bodies) form one of the GOP’s pet voting blocs. Some equate even the idea of personal freedom with gun rights.
Yes, our country had to fight for its freedom to gain liberty from the rule of England. Guns are useful tools in war. That’s what they were invented for. That’s why a well-regulated militia truly is necessary for the security of a free state.
But it is principles, not guns, that form the true foundations of freedom.
Liberalism and democracy
It was liberalism and the determination that America should be independent from the rule of a king that established the country in the first place. There is also the issue that the nation’s Founders recognized the danger of establishing or enforcing a state religion, so the Separation Clause was written specifically to avoid the rule of one religion over the country.
These days the Christian evangelical community persists in claiming that the United States of America is a “Christian nation,” founded on “Christian principles” and therefore subject to the directives of theocratic directives from whatever source they might be issued. This is another form of gaslighting, a way to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”
These are crazy times we live in. To perpetually insist that something is true that is not true, especially by accusing those most affected by that untruth of being wrong, is psychological abuse. So is being a bully over every issue that confronts you. That is what the President of the United States does every single day of the year.
That is also the central tactic of the GOP these days. Choose any principle; be it racism, feminism, gay rights, environmental protection, even the rights of an individual in comparison to a corporation, and the GOP finds a way to flip those concerns around as a means to gaslight people into submission. Crazy times indeed.
Racism and the GOP
When it comes to racism, the GOP inherited the originally vicious views of Southern Democrats and turned into a voting bloc first exploited in dog-whistle fashion by the grandfatherly visage of President Ronald Reagan. The Southern Strategy persists through the era of President Donald Trump, whose open appeal to racists to gain votes for his re-election includes patronage and Retweets bragging that there are “good people” on both sides of the debate over civil rights in America. He doesn’t bother to explain what kinds of “good people” want to persecute blacks and send American citizens “back to Africa” or whatever racist taunt they choose to exhort, but Trump doesn’t care about such details. He is happy to gaslight principled citizens into questioning their own good judgment by wondering what the President means by describing angry white citizens as “good people.”
Blacks and police brutality
The scourge of police brutality toward black people in America is so longstanding and frequent that movements such as Black Lives Matter emerged to heighten awareness of the problem. But conservatives gaslighted the issue by pumping out alternative slogans such as Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Rather than address and acknowledge that 200+ years of racial suppression continues in this nation, the opponents of full civil rights for people of color selfishly claim persecution for themselves.This is gaslighting at its worst.
The GOP encourages this attitude of denial with its support of Trump and the specious slogan Make America Great Again. Those words are a dog-whistle act of gaslighting unto themselves. They insinuate that the advances in civil rights, environmental protection and religious equanimity established by the Constitution are illegitimate.
Constitutional originalism is gaslighting
Now the Senate has installed yet another constitutional originalist in the Supreme Court. This is an outright act of the sort of judicial activism against which the GOP has railed for decades. It is gaslighting in its most extreme political form.
That is what the GOP stands for these days: Gaslighting Over Principle.
We’re stuck with it for the time being, but there will come a moment in history when the tables turn again. That may come sooner or later. But gaslighting does win the day on November 3, the country as we’ve known it for 243 years will cease to exist, and we’ll all be subject to the violent instincts and abusive advances of a highly conflicted man and his dysfunctionally self-absorbed family.
That’s the choice we’re making on November the third. We can let ourselves be gaslighted into insanity, or we can stand against the GOP and its lying tactics, sycophantic whorishness and cloying lust for power, black eyes and all.