The decline to moral bankruptcy of the GOP


If an argument is stupid, that doesn’t mean the people are. I said the former, not the latter.


I dunno, though hyperbolic, you’re probably right in one sense. The discussion is actually not based on which President is worse, but whether Trump is an aberration that represents some weird wrong turn taken and embraced by the modern GOP or whether he’s the inevitable current iteration of a long-running trend in that party. And maybe it’s useless to litigate that, recognizing that we all agree that the GOP as it stands is dangerous.

On the other hand, those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it and all that. I think the more on point discussion topic is what role conservativism should play in national politics. I can see a good case for principled conservative ideology balancing out the liberal tendency to tinker with economic and political systems, but during my whole lifetime, conservatives in this country have hitched their wagons to the GOP, which has (arguably, of course) never done any good for this country at all. In fact, it’s been characterized by propaganda, lies, and hatred as long as I can remember. It’s impossible for me to trust an ideology that has done this. I can’t see conservativism as anything but impossibly tainted and its proponents as anything but naive or disingenuous. It would be one thing if conservatives were doing any soul searching about why the GOP produced Trump, but they–like @Timex here–generally aren’t; they’re glossing Trump as something new and monstrous, a very recent wrong turn in the GOP’s trajectory. I don’t think it’s that hard to point backwards at problems the GOP has had as far as the eye can see, not just warning signs but actual evil (hence the discussion about Bush.) I think a truthful, principled conservative political bloc would be good for the US, but you can’t have it without confronting why the GOP? Why those political tactics? How to prevent something like this in the future? How can conservatives make their case without resorting to propaganda and propping up dimwitted demagogues?


See, this is part of the absurdity.
Bush was not an evil man. He wasn’t doing stuff with a disregard for the United States. He actually gave a fuck about the country, while Trump absolutely does not. Bush actually exhibited some real leadership, in times of severe duress. The prior Bush held things together while the world’s other super-power collapsed in on itself.

I get that you guys apparently hated Bush with the same level of irrationality that lunatics hated Obama… but Bush was not like Trump.

I can only guess that from this conversation that some of you guys actually maxxed out your hate meters on guys like Bush, so you literally don’t have anywhere to go from there, so Trump is the same. But that’s crazy.

Anyway, as I had said previously, there’s clearly no middle ground here. We have fundamentally different views of reality, I’m not sure why I keep talking about it.


I see Trump (and his maladministration) as different in degree, not kind. The formerly unspoken or quiet parts (racism, misogyny, policy in service of the 1%, wanting to rule rather than govern, etc.) are now shouted through a loudspeaker.


Probably true. I misspoke above…I was trying to talk about the actions of the presidency as a whole, not the presidents themselves. Which I said in the line prior to the one you quoted, but not clearly enough. (Though I suspect Trump actually is evil.) Let me restate the point:

The actions of the Trump administration are chaotic evil while the actions of the Bush administration were lawful evil…still evil either way.


This. Thanks for articulating it.


See, I disagree. Bush ordered people tortured. Now, you can say he did that because he thought it was the right thing to do, that it was for the benefit of the country; but lots of very evil people can offer that same defense.

And this is nothing but an insult. People are articulating their grievances about Bush, and they are not irrational grievances. No one here is manufacturing false grievances about Bush in the way people did about Obama.


Perfect example of one way that the GOP conducts its propaganda, enabled by the very #NeverTrump conservatives who are trying to excuse the GOP for Trump:

Both Siderist: Conservatives hated Obama. Liberals hated Bush. Both sides are irrational. America needs to meet in the middle.

Reality: The Bush administration engaged in torture, started an illegal surveillance program, lied us into war, had a woeful and deadly response to Katrina, and operated extra-legal black sites. Obama… tried to give more people health insurance? Liberals are actually on pretty solid moral ground when repudiating torture and America is better off if it remembers that history and repudiates it too.


Just substitute Bush for “the other team”, and you have your winner. Nothing you say is going to matter. You’re dealing with people who hate “the other team.”

You might as well be asking Packers fans about the Vikings. It’s not rational. There is no nuance. The other team is bad. Everything they do is bad. They’re evil and should die.

It’s where we are in America (maybe the world, but I live here), or at least where a too large subset of people are.


This is a spicy take. And I don’t agree with it completely. But the basic argument you are making is correct. George W. Bush was an awful president. I think our current nightmare leads us to forget the nightmare that was the invasion of Iraq and the death of hundreds of thousands of people, all predicated on a lie cooked up by his adminstration (and aided by the Blair administration)

The current administration has challenged political norms, broken long held political traditions, and tested the limits of our democracy. And while I think it is terrifying how close our country is coming to some sort of reckoning, the damage, right now is limited. The bodycount, is low.

I can’t reconcile with deciding that Trump is somehow not as bad as GWB, but I can understand how one could make that argument. I would say their administrations were equally bad for different reasons. One is a maniacal attack on democratic norms, the other was a calculated pro-war profiteering but civil administration.

Trump locked up children. GWB started a war where thousands of children were killed. Which is worse? One certainly feels worse now, because it happened here.

The GWB administration worked without stop to keep governmental reports about the effects of climate change from being released. Continuing the U.S. away from the path of environmental responsibility, because the administration’s rich friends and donors had relationships with the fossil fuel industry.

The GWB administration oversaw a regimented plan of torture, CIA blacksites, and a military culture that led to incidents like Abu Ghraib, the use of White Phosphorus, the Haditha killings and countless other war crimes.

The decline to moral bankruptcy of the GOP started when Dick Cheney stepped foot into the White House.

Trump is bad, and in a lot of ways worse, but held back by his own incompetence, but there hasn’t been a non-evil republican choice for president since 2000.


Previous presidents have been threats to humanity due to their wars, and to various sectors of the nation due to their policies. Both voluntary presidential wars and other negative policies of a great many presidents have done far more damage in human lives and suffering than Trump has so far. George Washington for example did way more damage to Native Americans than Trump has done to immigrants, horrible and evil as Trump’s DHS and ICE may be, and many 19th century Presidents were equally malicious and destructive. At least ICE doesn’t massacre civilians or deliberately infect populations with deadly diseases.

But where let us say GWB was a dire threat to Iraqis and did vast harm to innocent civilians there and elsewhere around the world, he was no threat to the American establishment, on either side of the aisle. Neither was Obama, nor Clinton, nor indeed any President since Lincoln.

Trump in comparison is inimical to all establishment elements of American society including paleo-conservatives. He can potentially destroy the republic, where other presidents merely perverted and corrupted it by degrees.


First of all, the question is whether HW and Trump are fundamentally different, not whether either deserves respect.

Secondly, American exceptionalism does not mean “might makes right”. It means America is uniquely capable of determining what is right because its history is uniquely linked to the cause of liberty. This is the case regardless of whether the enemies of liberty are mightier, as they were sometimes perceived (Nazi Germany, USSR). The idea is as old as de Tocqueville, who wrote at a time when America was not especially mighty at all.

You don’t have to agree with the sentiment to recognize that Trump doesn’t share it.


Hitler c. 1936 vs the Kaiser.

One led a world war that killed millions. The other may have assassinated a few dozen people and overturned democracy and wrote a crazy, delusional and racist book. Which is the most threatening really depends where on the “utilitarian” spectrum you are and where in time you sit.

Bush 2 led to an unjust war and hundreds of thousands of deaths, but still had the pretense of a casus belli and still believed in the international order. Trump, otoh, doesn’t believe in justice or order, and his very continued exists erodes democracy, but hasn’t yet gone over the top, while clearly being the worse person of the two.

If Hitler didn’t make to the end of 1936, would he have just been a blip on history, a corrupted and broken echo of the inhumanity of the past? If we get past Trump without a catastrophic breakdown, will he be the same?

Or are both just points along broader historic processes? Is Bush 2 just a reaction to Clinton, talk radio and the degradation of conservative journalism just a reaction to Whitewater, which is just an echo of the Southern Strategy, which is an attempt to grab the Solid South, which is a racist reaction to the defeat of the Confederacy in the US Civil War, which was caused because of the Great Compromise and the contorsions the South forced the rest of the country through to keep slavery legal, which ect. and ect.


I think that the potential for Trump to do damage to our political institutions and democracy is high, but it just hasn’t completely happened yet. His administration is one of pure chaos and incompetence, so incompetent that even holding all three branches of government in a conservative way, nothing of substance or permanence has been implemented. He got the rich a tax cut, and a lot else has been challenged by the courts. The issues with North Korea were really dumb and bad, but I don’t think we were ever beyond the idiotic posturing of two countries with mutually assured destruction.

With the democrats taking a clear majority of the House, I think the limits to the damage his administration can do are significantly weakened.

His sheer willingness to veer into authoritarianism is terrifying, but I honestly think (and hope) that this will be nothing more than a historically remembered test of the checks and balances in our system. This feels bad because it is happening now, and we are currently in the shit.

But this could all be, 5 years from now, a time where we laugh that the Apprentice guy was president for 4 years, and then arrested on felony charges and removed from office.

I can’t argue against the potential harm of this administration, but it is still only potential. The GWB administration did material and documented harm to millions of Iraqi and Afghan citizens, as well as the lives of the military personnel changed by serving in a war that was unjustified and predicated on lies.


That is not really how it looks to the rest of the world. It’s just how we justify throwing our weight around, and how our allies sometimes justify helping us do that. It still comes down to us largely doing what is in our own interest without regard to international law or norms, and occasionally having our interests match those of our allies.

This is instructive along those lines, arguing that the way in which Trump is different is that he proposes to act in the US’s interest without feeling any need to disguise it with higher rhetoric. The difference is the rhetoric, not the policy.


No, the reason your hate is irrational, is that you have apparently EQUAL levels of hate for Bush and Trump.
Your criticism of Bush is not irrational.
It’s your promotion of that criticism to the level where you say “I’d rather have Trump as President” that makes it irrational.

I mean, you guys are trying to make it seem that my position is some excuse for the current GOP… In a thread called “The decline to moral bankruptcy of the GOP” which I started.


Would Germany’s failure to grapple with the cultural forces that led to Hitler have made someone like him inevitable again?

You don’t need to convince me of the dangers of Trump. Trump is dangerous. But, I think it’s not an aberration that the GOP gave rise to Trump, and the cultural forces that the GOP represents will continue to erode democracy in American unless we grapple with them. Part of grappling with them involves acknowledging and understanding their long, sordid political history within that party. If we pretend Trump appeared out of thin air, we won’t know how to prevent it happening again. The media, especially, needs to stop reflexive bothsiderism; it needs to call out lies for what they are and frame them as lies; it needs to focus more on policy and less on demagoguery and political maneuvering; it needs more independence from politics. Our political system has apparent flaws; we need to examine how to shore up democratic principles without relying on unwritten norms. We need more transparency as a matter of course, and we need to enforce that transparency with laws. We need to shore up the system of checks and balances that’s supposed to hold everything together. We need to understand how the political incentives that gave rise to the GOP’s political strategy, which fundamentally corrupted both the party and its constituents to the point where white evangelicals will happily vote for the dude who brags about grabbing women by the pussy.


Some have, but there aren’t enough racists and authoritarians to account for the midterm elections. There are plenty of people who are still voting GOP and think they’re on the side of good. They wouldn’t be caught dead voting Dem after all those years of limbaugh and fox. They think dems are enemies of the country, not americans with different opinions about how to govern.

I do not have equal levels of hate for W and Trump. W is an ok guy, and I would in fact enjoy a beer with him. He did terrible things as president though - worse things than Trump has been allowed to do so far. Now that the Dems hold the house, I doubt trump will be able to do much more that is of permanent harm to the country. So trump will end up doing less damage, waking people the fuck up, and engaging them in a way W didn’t during his ransacking of the coffers and war profiteering. You may not agree with that, but it’s not irrational.


This would be true if I (and others) hadn’t given multiple rational reasons for it. If you disagree, that’s fine (though you haven’t bothered to give reasons for disagreeing), but I’m being pretty rational.

It’s beside the point though. My comment was merely a minor point in a discussion about the GOP and whether Trump is an aberration. I get the sense that you think I’m trying to normalize Trump. I’m not. I’m making a case for the GOP having always been insane (at least during my lifetime.) Trump is just another facet of that insanity.


The arguments here that Trump is basically no different from Bush are the same that I hear from Republicans who still support Trump. “What’s the big deal, the media make him look bad but ultimately he is doing the same things that Bush did”.

They’re wrong, but at least this thread helps me understand why that 30-40% won’t budge.