All three were in harmony when it came to supporting President Trump’s continued attempts to undermine democracy by questioning the election results. “The president should also use every legal avenue that he can to present evidence,” said Mace, after another week that saw Trump campaign lawsuits tossed out of court for lack of evidence. Even after Bash noted that “there is absolutely no evidence of widespread voter fraud,” Malliotakis simply repeated the talking point: “I believe that he is within his legal rights to be questioning any irregularities that have — may have surfaced.”
In response, Bash dryly noted, “I’m guessing it’s probably fair to say that neither of you thinks that the election that each of you won was rigged.”
Blunt, who at least has the virtue of experience, did little better. Asked whether Joe Biden is the president-elect, Blunt dodged the question time and again. He first tried to hide behind the fact that “there is no official job of president-elect.” (That’s technically true, but it didn’t stop Blunt from applauding “President-elect Trump” four years ago.)
Then Blunt blamed the media for setting up a “straw man.” He finally admitted that Trump’s lawyers haven’t presented any proof of voter fraud “in a way that was acceptable to any court.” But then he offered his own opinion: “I think there was some element of voter fraud.”
Perhaps desperate to find some room to maneuver, the Republicans chose to go back in time. “Our conservative message … is a compassionate message,” said Mace, echoing the “compassionate conservatism” message of George W. Bush in 1999 and 2000. “What we stand for are freedom, liberty,” said Malliotakis, “We don’t believe we should be destroying free-market principles. We don’t believe in [the] Green New Deal.”
Swap out “Green New Deal” for “Obamacare” or the “Clinton health-care plan,” and those sentences could have been spoken by any Republican in the past 20 years. Blunt went a little further than his new colleagues, and suggested Medicare and Medicaid might have been mistakes.
It is probably unrealistic to expect the GOP tune to change. Blunt rose to national prominence during the 1990s, when a Democrat left the country in decent shape, but conservative hysteria, driven by right-wing media, led to the election of a Republican who threw all that away with reckless decisions.
Malliotakis and Mace are entering Washington four years after another Democrat left the country in decent shape, but conservative hysteria, driven by right-wing media, led to the election of a Republican who threw all that away with reckless decisions.
Yes, the blunders differ — a disastrous war and a recession for Bush; a horrific pandemic “response” and a near-total loss of norms for Trump. Trumpism lacks the niceties that led too many observers to give “compassionate conservatism” the benefit of the doubt 20 years ago. And today’s GOP is far more open about its contempt for American ideals of equality and justice than 20 years ago.
The Republican Party of 2020 may look different from its earlier incarnations, but the fundamentals remain the same: The party is fearful of change, partial to fearmongering, hostile to free elections and running short on competence.
Don’t be surprised if the GOP of 2030 looks a lot like that, too.