McCarthy’s candor is not unique. MAGA candidates in debates, interviews and speeches have readily conceded their most extreme views and displayed their worst qualities. Here are six themes that keep popping up:
Republicans want politicians to control women’s pregnancies
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz turned himself into a meme when he insisted in his debate with Democratic opponent John Fetterman that women, doctors and “local political leaders” should be making decisions about abortions. Thanks to him, many voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere will go to the polls thinking of politicians prying into women’s OB/GYN appointments.
Meanwhile, Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate candidate in Georgia, attempted to walk back his extreme position on abortion in a recent debate, arguing that he always supported exceptions to abortion bans for cases of rape or incest or to protect the health of the mother. This is false.
And Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who previously declared that his state’s abortion ban is “not going to be that big a change,” deflected in his debates. Instead, he now supports a state referendum, which Wisconsin Republicans have already rejected.
If Republicans lose some close races in November, abortion may well be the reason.
Republicans won’t hesitate to back former president Donald Trump
It’s true, as the Hill reported, that “Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and former Vice President Mike Pence in recent days each indicated they’d rather see someone else on the ballot in the next presidential election.” But none of them are on the ballot. Virtually all those who are refuse to criticize Trump.
Oz declared: “I’ll support whoever the Republican Party puts up. … I would support Donald Trump if he decided to run for president.” Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters took a call from Trump after a recent debate and dutifully pledged to keep faith with election deniers. “Absolutely, we stay with those people,” Masters replied.
Forget the notion that Republicans would defy Trump if elected or show any resistance to a second term, even if Trump is under indictment. If you like Trump’s views on Ukraine, climate change and health care, you’ll love this crowd.
Republicans will instigate a constitutional crisis if they do not win in 2024
Masters is not alone in embracing election denial. Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for Arizona governor, has repeatedly refused to say she would recognize her opponent, Katie Hobbs, as the winner if the voters chose her. Almost 300 Republican candidates have at least questioned the 2020 election, some indicating that they would not have certified valid results in their states — and wouldn’t in the future.
If Republican secretaries of state, governors and members of Congress refuse to acknowledge Democratic victories in 2024, we could face a constitutional crisis that will make 2020 seem orderly.
Republicans no longer pretend to support economic populism
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has declared his intention to tax poorer Americans. Meanwhile, The Post reports, “Republicans plan to push to extend key parts of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts if they take control of Congress in this fall’s elections,” thereby doubling down on large tax benefits for the wealthy. Many economists, The Post adds, say this “flies against their promises to fight inflation and reduce the federal deficit.”
Candidates aren’t advancing any anti-working-class friendly economic plans. Johnson has urged the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and has disparaged entitlements such as Social Security, which is sure to alarm the 1.3 million Wisconsinites on Social Security. And a slew of elite-educated Republican millionaires (e.g., Oz, Masters, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance) have run on reverse-Robin-Hood platforms.
“Populism,” it seems, now amounts to fanning election denial and bullying pregnant women and corporations that decry discrimination.
Republicans have no plan to fight inflation
Republicans propose extending tax cuts, cracking down on immigration and eliminating cost-cutting measures for prescription drug costs. But none of these would address inflation; they would make it worse by increasing the national debt, further tightening the job market and acting as a fiscal stimulus in an already overheated economy. Worse, Republicans are willing to stage a default crisis to demand that Democrats accept cuts to entitlements.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), when pressed on his plan to fight inflation during a recent debate, insisted that the government must stop spending on items such as the American Rescue Plan (which ended last year) and produce more domestic energy (which is largely irrelevant to inflation). Had the media devoted fewer resources to horserace coverage, voters might have a clearer picture of whether Republicans would make inflation better or worse.
Republicans revel in cruelty
Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, effectively laid out the cruelty underlying Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s policies in their recent debate. “You don’t have the temperament to be kind and decent to other people who don’t look like you, who don’t act like you and don’t contribute to you,” Crist declared. On DeSantis’s ploy to send asylum seekers to other locales, Crist said: “We have an immigration problem … but it doesn’t mean that you use Florida taxpayers’ dollars to charter jets to go to Texas, lie to people to get them onto planes, fly them up to the northern part of our country.” Crist continued: “It’s not right, and you were inhumane.”
Yet DeSantis, like many other Republicans, seem unbothered to be portrayed as a bully. They show no empathy for women with unwanted pregnancies or who have been traumatized by rape or incest. Indeed, cruel and ignorant rhetoric seems to be the norm in GOP circles.
Republicans are hardly the ideal image of masculine leadership. In many cases, their Democratic opponents have aptly portrayed them as small, groveling men trying to stay in Trump’s good graces. For that, they have no defense.