Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

You reap what you sow, and GOP is reaping Trump

Erick Erickson, last seen barring Donald Trump from the RedState convention as punishment for intemperate rhetoric, offers some thoughts about Republican leadership and its reluctance to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood:

"If Republicans and the Washington Pro-Life movement, when confronted by the evil documented on unedited tape, are not willing to defund Planned Parenthood, we should destroy them all, level their organizations to the ground, and spread salt on the remains (metaphorically speaking, of course)....

If Republicans in Washington will not stop this and defund Planned Parenthood, Republican voters should take any and all action to destroy the party at the ballot box. If this party will not fight this evil, it will fight no evil and should itself die."

Alrighty then! It's Samson time!! Pull down the Temple!

But seriously, if Republicans want to know what they have done to deserve an affliction like Donald Trump, it's all right there in Erickson's screed.

For example, political rhetoric on the right has become so operatic and apocalyptic over the last few years that Trump's over-the-top outrageousness no longer seems so outrageous. The audience has been conditioned not just to accept it but to expect it. And in such an environment, how could the likes of Jeb Bush comes across as anything but meek and weak in comparison? Even when Jeb tries to butch it up -- "anchor babies"? -- he sounds as awkward as if he were trying to street rap. It is not his native tongue, but it certainly is Trump's:

As we've also witnessed, conservative narratives of the past few years have rejected the idea of politics as a means of working out our differences. Instead, they portray politics as a Manichean, end-of-days, destroy-or-be-destroyed struggle between the forces of virtue on the right and the forces of pure evil on the left, to the degree that much of the conservative audience has lost its willingness to think in other terms.

But once you have accepted and internalized those premises, a series of questions become inevitable: If the other side is evil, as you have told us for so long, how can you now ask us to compromise with that evil? If the other side is plotting the destruction of the Republic, the repression of Christianity, the toppling of capitalism, marriage, family, gender and all that is good and decent, as we have been told repeatedly, how can we NOT do everything possible to stop them?

There is no good answer, which brings us to the theme that permeates not just the Erickson post but much of the conservative conversation: Betrayal.

Betrayal by unknown forces has long been a handy excuse to explain away all sorts of otherwise inexplicable failure. These days, though, it is no longer an accusation directed largely at President Obama, the media and other enemy elements allegedly out to undermine America. It has gotten to the point that if the Republican establishment is refusing to confront the traitors, then they are guilty of collaborating  with the enemy. They too must be traitors.

So it's going to get interesting. Congress is going to have to fund the government this fall, and Planned Parenthood funding will inevitably be part of it. By late November or early December, the Republican House and Republican Senate will also have to vote to raise the debt ceiling, another immense source of conservative angst.  The nuclear deal with Iran, another supposedly existential issue for the United States and Israel, is about to be fully implemented thanks to an arrangement in which the Republican congressional leadership agreed in effect to geld itself, so it would not have the power to do what the base demands.

And the frustrations and sense of betrayal within the GOP base will grow.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.