The GOP is still morally corrupt, even if Discourse breaks

Stuart Stevens has a new book out in a couple days. “It Was All a Lie.” His revelations are not anything new to most on this forum, but his epitaph on the Republican party is still worth a look. (Quotes below pulled from various reviews.)

Linked are full reviews from the Boston Globe and the National Review. (The latter is long and I couldn’t finish it, not due to length but its breathtaking obliviousness. I read through the comments on the Globe piece - most agreed with the sentiment, although there’s a fair bit of ‘fuck yous’ towards Stevens as well as “but both parties” too. Now, there are legitimate criticisms that can be levied against Democrats but that’s a battle for another day. As for hating on Stevens and never trumpers writ large - well, personally I don’t get it. I mean, decrying Republicans for ills they have done but then shitting on those who ‘repent’ seems needlessly vengeful. I did not read any of the comments on National Review - not because I don’t want to know, but rather because I already know they’ll just reflect the tone of the reviewer, only worse.)

Edit: One more link, op-ed by Stevens in the NYT.

I can’t keep lying to myself to ward off the depressing reality that I had been lying to myself for decades. There is nothing strange or unexpected about Donald Trump. He is the logical conclusion of what the Republican Party became over the last fifty or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race, self-deception, and anger that became the essence of the Republican Party. Trump isn’t an aberration of the Republican Party; he is the Republican Party in a purified form.

What were the lies? That the Republican Party “espoused a core set of values: character counts, personal responsibility, strong on Russia, the national debt actually mattered, immigration made America great, a big-tent party.”

And what is the truth? The Republican Party is “just a white grievance party.”

Race has defined the modern Republican Party. After Goldwater carried only southern states and received a record low of 7 percent of the black vote, the party faced a basic choice: do what was necessary to appeal to more nonwhite voters, or build a party to win with white voters. It chose the latter, and when most successfully executed, a race-based strategy was the foundation of many of the Republican Party’s biggest victories, from Nixon to Trump.

In fact, Stevens told me, “race is the original sin of the modern Republican Party:”

With Trump, the Party has grown comfortable as a white grievance party. Is that racist? Yes, I think it is. Are 63 million plus people who supported Trump racist? No, absolutely not. But to support Trump is to make peace with white grievance and hate

In short, stripped “of any pretense of governing philosophy, a political party will default to being controlled by those who shout the loudest and are unhindered by any semblance of normalcy”. The first casualty is the truth. “Large elements of the Republican party have made a collective decision that there is no objective truth” and that a cause or simple access to power is more important.

Rather than saying the sky is green, the new strategy is “to build a world in which the sky is in fact green. Then everyone who says it is blue is clearly a liar.” Sadly, it has worked. Stevens notes that once “there is no challenge to the craziest of ideas that have no basis in fact, it is easy for Trump to take one small bit of truth and spin it into an elaborate fantasy.”

I’m really looking forward to receiving this book. I posted this link some weeks ago, but if you missed it, it’s a great piece. A response to NR’s hack job of a ‘review’ of this book.

Stevens also has an op-ed in the USA Today:

Not Donald Trump. It’s clear his instinct is to make the 2020 election a cultural war, which in his interpretation is just a socially acceptable term for a race war. Why? How does this make any political sense?

The answer is that it doesn’t but it is what Trump wants to do. Steve Bannon liked to say of Trump, “Dude, he’s Archie Bunker,” but that seems overly generous. Archie had Meathead, who strongly disagreed with him and would argue. Trump has his children and son-in-law, who serve the same purpose in a Trump administration as the devoted Waylon Smithers does for his boss in “The Simpsons.”

There is a need in Trump world to describe his erratic behavior and lack of discipline as some kind of brilliant hidden strategy because otherwise you are left with the conclusion that he is a blithering idiot. Which, of course, Trump is, but he’s an idiot with deep racial animosity that dates back decades. Now with his reelection campaign crumbling around him, Trump is lashing out trying to divide the country along racial lines.

Holy cow. Anyone who tries to defend Buckley’s role in conservatism and the GOP needs to also explain this, written and published by Buckley as an editorial in the National Review in 1957:

The central question that emerges is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?

The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage. The British believe they do, and acted accordingly, in Kenya, where the choice was dramatically one between civilization and barbarism, and elsewhere; the South, where the conflict is by no means dramatic, as in Kenya, nevertheless perceives important qualitative differences between its culture and the Negroes’, and intends to assert its own. NATIONAL REVIEW believes that the South’s premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way, and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.

Thank you for reposting that. @gruntled is right: Holy cow indeed.

Yeah, I had no idea Buckley had ever written anything like that. I knew he was conservative but I always assumed he was fair-minded. He out and out says blacks are inferior and that justifies disenfranchising them and using violence against them to keep them in their place. Buckley might as well have been a grand wizard of the KKK.

Hence why anyone surprised at Trump being the standard-bearer for the conservative party has always gotten an eyeroll from me.

Buckley did moderate his view on race in later years, but it is demonstrably true that National Review was founded in racism.

Obligatory link to Buckley’s 1965 debate with James Baldwin.

It’d be cool if politics today actually involved two smart people debating things at length.

…and one of them a racist! Totally cool.

This is such a weird tactic. Nancy Pelosi is not going to get voted out. So what’s the point of these fake videos?

Dunno. The stimulus bill is being hashed out, maybe related to that? Or the “look at who Biden surrounds himself with” messaging they’re going to be doing this week? Or just the usual troglodytes really having an issue with women in positions of authority.

David Corn talks to Stuart Stevens.

Now that I think of it, the answer is probably the simplest: it’s about making money off clicks. Some room full of kids in Eastern Europe is probably just churning this stuff out for AdSense dollars.

10 confessions of a former strategist - you won’t believe #7!

(Sorry, the piece may be great but that tweet is the most cliche form of clickbait)

Nothing we haven’t discussed here many times, but I do like hearing this acknowledgement from people that have been lifelong members of the GOP.

The book offers one overarching prescription for the GOP: “Burn it to the ground and start over.”

Now there’s a Never Trumper recommendation I can get behind.

This is totally true, but it’s important to note that Buckley DID in fact evolve quite a lot, from his positions in the 1950’s (which I suspect is why he specifically describes him as a stone cold racist in the 50’s). You can read about them here, if you are so inclined:

It gives a pretty good breakdown of the source of Buckley’s racism (I would suggest that in the 1950’s, pretty much every white person in America was likely pretty damn racist) and how it changed over the years and why.

I think Buckley was an ACTUAL intellectual, who actually cared about ideas and things, something which the GOP itself has clearly abandoned long ago.

I know he evolved, but the seeds of the modern GOP were planted there and it’s remained true of the party, even if his own views moderated.