Under the intellectual and moral leadership of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., House Republicans have done their best to set a standard of deadly disinformation, poisoned fanaticism, and mental emptiness.
But Republicans in the Senate – possessing greater intellectual power and fewer excuses for cowardice – recently took center stage in the GOP festival of narrow-mindedness.
During last week’s budget negotiations, and as America braced for the widespread arrival of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, every Republican in the current Senate voted to “fund” the federal vaccine mandate on the businesses, the military and the federal workforce. This indicated a political party now so intimidated by its freedom caucus that senators such as Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine felt compelled to bend the knee. It was a collective declaration of utter madness.
It is the strangest political cause of my life. Amid a public health emergency that claimed the lives of more than one in 500 Americans and reduced average life expectancy by 1.67 years (reversing about 14 years of life expectancy gains of life), Republican officials are actively discouraging citizens from seeking routine medical care. precautions for their own well-being.
This is not just a disagreement on politics. This is a political movement organized around increasing the risk of death for your neighbors, especially your sick and elderly. And while she’s certainly selfish, she ultimately isn’t interested. Deaths have increased, especially in parts of the country with a Republican tendency. A death cult has adopted a death wish.
For the “don’t step on me” crowd, this is part of a cohesive ethic of death. According to some recent measurements, nearly a third of Republicans say political violence may be necessary to “save” the country. Most of these defenders have spent many years numb to the bloodshed; they have been told that a part of their fellow citizens is the embodiment of evil and persists in its destruction. A philosophy of freedom has turned into a means of dehumanization.
This sets up a serious conflict at the heart of Republican ideology – at least for those who still rely on political coherence. The other visible wing of Trumpism are anti-abortion evangelicals, whose support largely explains Donald Trump’s political rise and endurance.
But whatever perspective you take on the anti-abortion movement, it’s essentially communal, not libertarian. There is no rational way to defend this point of view that does not involve the community of the born defending the interests of a group of speechless and defenseless nascent humans.
In fact, this community affair is one of the primary means by which the anti-abortion movement has remained viable during the decades it has encouraged the selection of conservative judges who find Roe v. Wade an abomination of judicial excess (which it is). Influenced by Catholic social teaching – and affirming historical continuity with the civil rights movement – many Republican leaders have adopted an inclusive tone in their discourse on abortion. They spoke of a “culture of life” in which unborn children were protected by law and by love. They called for a broader definition of the human community.
The core of the Trump movement has grown increasingly interested in political conspiracies, the politics of white identity, fantasies of persecution, and contempt for elites. Remember that Trump himself was initially in favor of “partial birth” abortion. As a presidential candidate, however, Trump issued one of the most effective political bribes in US history: he drew up a list of conservative presidential candidates for the Supreme Court. , promised to choose among them, then kept his word.
Now, with a conservative Roe legal challenge on the verge of fruition, anti-abortion activists are understandably thrilled with their political alliance with anti-government populists.
Yet even after Roe’s effective overthrow, years of political battles await at both the state and federal levels. And it’s hard to see how a GOP increasingly dedicated to unnecessary death can convey an anti-abortion message. Roe’s actual end would be a sweet spot for responsible pro-lifers to assert their stance on abortion as part of a larger living culture, including unborn children and their mothers, the elderly and sick people, people with intellectual disabilities and refugees fleeing oppression. .
Instead, in the Trump era, the state of Texas is taking the lead in messaging on the subject, ensuring that the anti-abortion movement appears as radical, punitive, and vicious as it gets.
How can the anti-vaccine ideals of “my body, my choice” republicanism – which refuses even the easiest and safest sacrifices to protect a neighbor’s life – coexist with a “culture of life”? One is a reckless purveyor of unnecessary death. The other, at its best, is a human rights movement.
It is pretty clear who is ascending. The GOP has become the party of death.
Michael Gerson’s email address is [email protected]