De­feat­ing the GOP isn’t enough

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Leonard Pitts Jr. The Mi­ami Herald Leonard Pitts is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices.

I don’t want the Repub­li­can Party de­feated next week.

This is writ­ten, just so you know, fol­low­ing an email ex­change with a reader who sug­gested a re­cent col­umn had been penned in con­sul­ta­tion with the White House to soften the ground for a new pres­i­den­tial di­rec­tive. It is writ­ten in the wake of a con­ser­va­tive talk show host telling his au­di­ence that the in­fa­mous “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape that dam­aged Don­ald Trump’s can­di­dacy was a setup by CIA agent Billy Bush. It is writ­ten as the in­ter­net is in a state of mass arousal over a ru­mor that can­di­date Obama “flaunted his erec­tion” to women re­porters on his cam­paign plane in 2008. It is writ­ten, in other words, on an av­er­age day in the pest-rid­den, plague-in­fected swamp of ru­mor, ran­cor, con­spir­acy and flat-out bol­locks that now counts as Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal dis­course. More to the point, it is writ­ten out of con­cern over what and how the coun­try will be after next week’s elec­tion.

So yeah, I don’t want the GOP de­feated. I want it im­mo­lated. I want it razed to the foun­da­tion, re­duced to a moon­scape, left un­liv­able even for cock­roaches, much less newts. I want it treated like boot heels treat ants and fur­naces treat ice cubes, treated like a mid­dleschool bas­ket­ball team play­ing the 1971-72 Lak­ers.

De­feat is not enough. Let there be hu­mil­i­a­tion. Let there be pain. This lav­ish dis­gust has noth­ing, ab­so­lutely zilch, to do with con­ser­va­tive ide­ol­ogy. It is not in op­po­si­tion to Repub­li­can po­si­tions on taxes, reg­u­la­tion, LGBTQ rights, im­mi­gra­tion or for­eign pol­icy. But it has ev­ery­thing to do with the party’s will­ing and ex­pe­di­ent em­brace of crazy. Granted, Repub­li­cans did not in­vent para­noia, per­se­cu­tion com­plexes or re­al­ity es­trange­ment. I re­mem­ber as a child hear­ing the bar­ber­shop reg­u­lars spin elab­o­rate the­o­ries of how the moon landing was a hoax and Neil Arm­strong’s “one small step for a man” ac­tu­ally took place in a New Mex­ico desert.

It seemed pretty harm­less at the time.

The GOP’s in­no­va­tion was to har­ness and nur­ture that crazi­ness for votes. It flat­tered and wooed the guy in the bar­ber­shop — and the woman in the beauty par­lor — by tak­ing them se­ri­ously. Through its me­dia part­ners — Fox “News” and talk ra­dio king­pins from Lim­baugh on down — and with the timely ar­rival of the in­ter­net and so­cial me­dia, it gave them sup­port and a mega­phone. In re­turn, it reaped the nigh-nu­clear en­ergy of kooks, cranks, out­casts and icon­o­clasts whose take-no-pris­on­ers anger in­vig­o­rated a Grand Old Party. But they also pushed that party fur­ther and fur­ther to the right — past Nixon, past Rea­gan and the Bushes, past po­lit­i­cal and in­tel­lec­tual co­her­ence. Past deco­rum.

Un­til fi­nally, the party sold its soul to The Don­ald.

The dam­age to GOP cred­i­bil­ity is pro­found. The dam­age to Amer­ica is worse. We find our­selves a na­tion that can­not have mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion of its is­sues be­cause some of us have pulled away from the cen­ter, from com­mon cause and shared mis­sion, choos­ing in­stead to dwell in a pesti­len­tial swamp where news­pa­per hacks col­lude with pres­i­dents and Billy Bush is Ja­son Bourne.

So the crazy must be re­buked em­phat­i­cally, re­futed in a way that leaves no doubt: We are bet­ter than this.

That’s what’s best for the na­tion. It’s also what’s best for prin­ci­pled con­ser­va­tives pow­er­less against a vir­u­lent can­cer that has metas­ta­sized through their party. Maybe they’ll be able to save that party — or build a new one. Ei­ther way, the mis­sion state­ment here for thought­ful Amer­i­cans could not be more clear. Do not de­feat the GOP.

Nuke it.

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