This one titled Donald Trump: The Gateway Degenerate.
The language of that title seems a deliberate dig at the notion of perhaps marijuana as a gateway to harder and far more dangerous drugs. I’m not sure that Blow would agree with that formulation.
But in this very pointed column he makes clear his belief that by the Republican party having at first grudgingly and then with greater emphasis signed on to Trump and Trumpism they have moved ever further away from anything they might have nominally espoused and slid ever deeper into rationalization and justification of violence, hatred, and diminution of American culture.
Blow begins his column by recounting in detail the assault by Greg Gianforte upon reporter Ben Jacobs, including the lies Gianforte’s campaign told about that assault as compared to the audio recording and the statement of the Fox news reporter who witnessed it. He reminds us of the three newspapers revoking their endorsement of Gianforte, because they were “aghast.” In the very next sentence he write
But Republicans in Congress didn’t possess that courage of conviction. Their collective response essentially amounted to, “Eh.”
He goes on to quote the responses of notable right wingers. I will not repeat their words, only the response that Blow offers to the responses of Brent Bozell
This rhetoric is overheated, violent and dangerous.
and to that of Laura Ingraham
Outrageous. Assault is not a game. It’s not a joke. It’s criminal. Any moral person would know better than to treat it so cavalierly. A moral person wouldn’t make a joke; that person would take a stand.
Blow follows that immediately by drawing a clear line:
But Republicans in the age of Trump have sadly moved away from morality as a viable concept.
Blow in two paragraphs that follow lays out the case he wants to make:
Yes, Gianforte’s assault is a glaring display of toxic masculinity in an environment made particularly toxic by the man in the White House and his media bullying. But more telling and more ominous is the degree to which Republicans no longer seem to care, and their increasing ability to compartmentalize and justify.
This is all an outgrowth of Trump’s degradation of common decency. Trump was the gateway candidate. When Republicans allowed themselves to accept and support him in spite of his glaring flaws and his life lived in opposition to the values they once professed and insisted upon, they moved themselves into another moral realm in which literally nothing was beyond the pale.
There is more in this section of the column, which I do urge you to read, but I have to respect fair use. But consider the end of what I just quoted, what Blow is saying about the Republican acquiescence acceptance towards Trump, that
they moved themselves into another moral realm in which literally nothing was beyond the pale.
Perhaps some will remember Republicans who opined even during the primary campaign that it almost would not matter as long as Trump would give them the Supreme Court appointments and sign the bills that would be crafted for him under the leadership of Ryan and McConnell. That already pointed at where the so-called Grand Old Party was heading.
But it was clear even before that. I believe Newt Gingrich once rhetorically divided this nation between Democrats and Patriots. The January 20, 2009 dinner at which key Republican leaders plotted how to obstruct Obama was an indication of the moral weakness of which Trump took great advantage during the primary. So was McConnell’s statement that his primary task was to make sure Obama failed and did not get a second term.
Blow’s column continues with a white-hot intensity calling the Republicans on their lack of moral clarity and vision, unless one can say that winning certain ideological battles outweighs any damage done in the course of achieving those victories.
Counting backwards, the third to last paragraph reads as follows:
Republicans sold their souls to this devil and now are forced to defend as right what they know full well is wrong. They must defend his incessant lying, clear incompetence and dubious dealings. What was once sacrilege among Republicans is now sacrosanct.
My only quibble about these words is that for quite some time much of the Republican party was already well down the road to justification and rationalization, an inculcation of the notion that any means is acceptable, even desirable, if it functions to achieve an end to which one is fully committed.
Yet it is in the final paragraph that Blow finally lays out what is key, and perhaps indicates that he is thinking of followup columns on what clearly underlays not just Trump but unfortunately what Trump has unleashed in society at large and clearly in much of the Republican party:
Republicans, blinded by fear and rage, thirsty for power, desperate for a reclamation and reassertion of racial power, have cast their lot with the great deceiver and all their previous deal-breakers are now negotiable.
Note these words:
desperate for a reclamation and reassertion of racial power
There are so many clear indications of this, starting with the false assertions that have lead to “voter identification” laws clearly intended most of all to disenfranchise people of color, particularly those at the lower economic levels. It is evident in the disproportionate sentencing and executions used to control minority populations both during and after (through disenfranchisement of convicted felons) the criminal “justice” system, while abusers of wealth often pay fines that are but a fraction of the gains ill-gotten from ripping off the rest of us. It is clear both in the increase in violent attacks against minorities by newly empowered so-called “Alt Right” (or if you prefer given the known ideology and activity of the perpetrator in Portlan, “Alt Reich) and the silence on those atrocities not only of the current occupant of the Oval Office but also that of the entire Republican leadership.
To be fair, there are a few Republican voices that have spoken out, just like there are some Republicans who have remained “never Trump” in their attitudes. But far too many have tolerated and at times even justified not just the worst of the statements and actions of Trump, but also of the violence of rhetoric and action that has thereby been unleashed.
Charles M. Blow has been a consistent voice against Trump. He refuses to remain silent in the diminution of what had been a country and a society attempting to continue a move forward towards inclusiveness and wholeness, a move towards what would be a true American Exceptionalism, one based upon the best of the American ideals.
Read this powerful column in that light, and make sure you continue to read — and pass on to others — what Blow writes.