The new Republicans-in-name-only
This year’s Fourth of July celebration is veiled in darkness for many progressives who see our country’s values under assault from within. The soaring poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty collides violently with President Trump’s family separation policy and the comments of so many white Americans, their profound racist and xenophobic beliefs freed by the President’s words. We sincerely wonder how it is possible that 87 percent of Republican Party members approve of Trump and his administration, as last week’s Gallup poll reported. These Republicans believe they’ve “taken back” their country when the rest of us feel like we’ve lost it.
The president traveled to Las Vegas in late June to speak at the GOP state convention and raise money for the reelection of Nevada’s Sen. Dean Heller. In his public speech, Trump continued to act like a middle school bully impressed by his own cleverness, cheered on by his sycophantic friends who smirked happily at his juvenile and offensive name-calling, referring to Rep. Jacky Rosen as “Wacky Jacky” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.”
GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt is completely on board with Trump’s schoolyard bravado, dubbing his Democratic opponent “Shady Steve” Sisolak. The shallowness of these silly monikers demonstrates an appalling lack of maturity and intellect from both men and their supporters. It’s embarrassing to anyone who cares the smallest bit about civility and respect in government.
We can take a little solace from the increasing numbers of Republicans across the nation who are quitting their party and urging others to do the same, or at least avoid voting for Republicans this year. Conservative columnist George Will recently called for the Republican Congressional caucuses to be “substantially reduced” since many “have become the president’s poodles, not because James Madison’s system has failed but because today’s abject careerists have failed to be worthy of it.” Steve Schmidt, a senior advisor to John McCain during his presidential campaign, went even further as he formally “renounced” his membership in the Republican party, calling it “a danger to our democracy and values.”
If only Nevada’s Republican leaders were as principled. Instead they are competing to see who can out-Trump Trump with tweets that make no sense. For example, Assemblymember Chris Edwards taunted Democrats last week with a mind-boggling argument praising Republicans for passing “the largest tax INCREASE specifically to help educ.” (sic) but omitting the fact that he loudly voted against the measure.
The pictures of Dean Heller fawning over Trump during his Las Vegas visit were sickening, his famously insincere pasted-on grin out of sync with Trump’s insults as he called Heller “shaky” for not fully supporting his candidacy. But the most disgusting pictures featured GOP Assembly candidate Dennis Hof, owner of several legal brothels in rural Nevada, lounging with his prostitutes, boasting that he is the Trump from Pahrump. In an interview with CNN, Hof credited Trump with his political success, saying, “This is the new breed of politicians because of what Donald Trump has done. He’s opened that door. Before this, who would have ever elected somebody who said, on tape, ’Grab ’em by the pussy’?” Hof goes on to brag about his occupation as a pimp, suggesting that the empty hotel across from the Legislative Building in Carson City, the Ormsby House, be converted to a brothel. “One whorehouse on one side of the street. And the biggest whorehouse, the legislature, on the other side of the street. People get it. They know they’re whores.”
I can only imagine what the Nevada Senate Republican leader Bill Raggio and Democratic speaker Joe Dini would have to say about this disrespect of the legislative institution from someone who inexplicably wants to join it. But they’d be too civil to say it in public.