Ever been to the county fair and stopped to examine yourself — or your friends — in the funhouse mirror? Everybody laughs as they change from one grotesque, vaguely human shape to another.
In a similar vein, the modern Republican Party needs to stop laughing — and stop electing carnival clowns — if it’s to remain a recognizable political force. From the hills of Idaho to the wide avenues of Washington D.C., it’s time for the GOP to stop making excuses when looking into the mirror.
In Idaho politics, Exhibit A is Ammon Bundy’s bid to become governor. Bundy isn’t big on education policy, or highway maintenance or other thoughtful details of government. No, he’s into provocative stunts such as armed standoffs with federal land managers. His leadership skills consist of getting himself arrested, and then getting on the evening news.
Exhibit B is Idaho Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, who reveals the sinister side of today’s GOP. Giddings is running for lieutenant governor, but first she’ll have to answer for her reckless, menacing behavior towards a legislative intern. In case you missed it, the teenage girl recently accused one of Giddings’ Republican colleagues of sexual assault. It was a matter of some delicacy, but the teen agreed to testify before the House Ethics Committee from behind a screen to safeguard her identity.
That wasn’t humiliating enough for Giddings, who posted a link with the girl’s name, photo and identifying information on an electronic newsletter to constituents. The idea, one presumes, was to afford her fans an opportunity to reach out and have, um, a frank exchange of views with the girl.
Witness intimidation has serious implications, Rep. Giddings. Watch your step.
As Bundy and Giddings try to lure Idaho voters into a political satire of “Alice in Wonderland,” the national Republican Party has larger credibility issues to overcome. It’s no laughing matter because many college-educated Republicans are abandoning the party as the GOP steepens its nose dive into nuttiness.
Seriously, what is “conservative ideology” anymore? Is it commitment to limited government and fiscal restraint? Or is it incessant banging on social issues such as homosexuality, gun control, school prayer, abortion and shrill claims of a “stolen election?”
Perpetually aggrieved, today’s new-wave Republicans spout crazy conspiracy theories — “the Covid vaccine contains a microchip” — while maintaining a stunning immunity to logic, reason and the scientific method. Over time, they’ve become dour, humorless people who will expose the victims of sexual predators, but turn a blind eye to the rapist if he is from their side of the aisle.
This hypocrisy is real, and it is being recognized — and rejected — by fed-up Republicans from coast to coast. As the party sloughs off its well-educated and moderate members — RINOs, as they’re dismissively called — it is devolving to a hardcore base that cannot grasp the concept of “irony.”
You want to defend this nation against all enemies, both foreign and domestic? Then don’t storm the U.S. Capitol with an eye toward hanging the vice-president, killing a police officer and injuring more than 140 other cops in the process.
You want stability, coherence and maybe a touch of diplomacy in the White House? Then stop venerating its former inhabitant, the narcissist who presided over the GOP’s loss of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the presidency itself.
Leadership comes from the top, and as long as the 45th president remains the de facto head of the Republican Party, we can expect further erosion of its principles. His sneering, race-baiting contempt for anyone with a differing opinion has become the tuning fork with which the GOP now harmonizes.
There aren’t enough reliably Republican voters to win a presidential election anymore, so the GOP’s latest ploy for life-support is to disenfranchise and dishearten as many Democratic voters as possible. No Sunday voting for you, and no ballot drop boxes, either, and don’t you dare give food or water to people waiting in line to vote.
It’s sad to watch, this steady decline from the party of Lincoln to a cult following of petty sycophants. If there’s a moral to this sorry story, it’s this: “Elect a clown, expect a circus.”
After years of roaming every continent except Antarctica, Brock finally ranaground on the Palouse. He has beena Daily News columnist since 2002.