Republicans Never Cared About Any of This Shit

For the most part, I’ve given up calling out Republicans on their hypocrisy. That’s a never-ending exercise that both sides have kind of just accepted as an inevitable part of politics in 2019. Those “Could you imagine if Obama did this completely insane thing Trump did?” tweets hit home at first, but since you could tweet that same premise about twelve times a day, every day, about new things and still be right, it’s played out. Deep down we all know that if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton did even 5% of the insane shit Donald Trump does, Republicans would have literally burned down Washington (remember when Trump said we should seize guns without due process?! Just imagine!). But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about questioning one of my own positions; the position that says debate and dialogue between opposing viewpoints is a good and productive thing. While many people prefer to keep their politics inside their own brain, I have always maintained that debate is healthy. Over the years, I have argued my viewpoints with many folks from the other side, and in doing so have become familiar with their positions and concerns. I took those concerns seriously and argued earnestly. The last two years have led me to believe that was a mistake. They never cared about any of the shit they were outraged about back then, and all my time and arguments were wasted. Even worse, the REAL conversations we should have been having never were had.

To really drive this point home, let’s take it back to some of the most prominent concerns of Republicans in the lead-up to the 2016 election. I know we’re all sick of re-litigating that never-ending nightmare, but for the sake of my self reflection here, it needs to be looked at. What were Republicans so up in arms about three years ago that made them think Donald Fucking Trump was a good idea?


What they were mad about:

Hillary Clinton set up a private email server in 2009 (before she became Secretary of State) and continued to use it for personal and work emails while she was in office. The FBI concluded that it was careless, but not illegal. Liberals mostly agreed that it was probably not the best look, but in the scheme of things not actually that big of a deal. Conservatives acted like it was an egregious, disqualifying offense. It showed that she was willing to put national security at risk for her convenience; or even worse, she was hiding something nefarious on that private server. How could we elect someone who cares so little about cyber/national security? Not only can we not elect her, we should throw her in prison!

What Trump has done:

Donald Trump blew these supposed concerns out of the water almost immediately. Trump is too old and incompetent to use email himself, but that didn’t stop his administration from immediately introducing a host of cyber security issues that would have dwarfed Clinton’s had they been given the same amount of press. Jared Kushner (a senior advisor who was initially denied a security clearance) used a private email to conduct White House business. It wasn’t just him, in fact six White House staffers used personal email to conduct government business. Trump himself was more than likely tweeting from an unsecured device for months.

If we step away from the direct comparisons to Clinton’s email scandal and look at national security violations in general, the hypocrisy reaches maddening levels.

National security can’t get much more compromised than that. Republicans don’t seem to give a shit anymore.


What they were mad about:

The GOP was convinced that the increase in the national debt under Obama was an immediate crisis that would destroy the economy for generations. They even had a big debt clock at the 2012 RNC! We should have known this one was bullshit when Republicans didn’t make a peep about the debt when George W. Bush put a couple wars and tax cuts on the credit card, but once Obama was in charge, an entire right wing movement called the Tea Party sprung up out of Republicans’ supposed concern and the national press took that concern seriously.

I’m guessing the RNC debt clock won’t make it to the 2020 convention.

What Trump has done:

In typical Trump fashion, he promised to literally eliminate the national debt if elected. He did the opposite of course. The debt has passed $22 trillion and the deficit is the highest it has been since 2012, unprecedented for a strong economy. Republicans once again flipped their “caring about the deficit” switch completely off once a Democrat was out of the White House. The Tea Party is nowhere to be found.


What they were mad about:

There was always a huge Republican constituency that was obsessed with the idea that Obama was lying about his birthplace, and Trump’s rise in politics was propelled by taking that constituency out of conservative chain emails and putting it into the mainstream. More recently he has taken to slandering Elizabeth Warren for misrepresenting her identity. Warren was told by her family that she had Native American heritage so she marked that down on several forms a few decades ago. She has since apologized. Republicans characterized her as a liar and a cheat. Trump adopted the slur of “Pocahontas” as her preferred nickname.

What Trump has done:

Recently Trump has bizarrely taken to lying about his father’s birthplace, saying he was born in Germany instead of his actual birthplace of New York City. He and his father also used to say they were of Swedish descent instead of their actual heritage to head off any negative feelings that might remain towards Germans. Neither of these things are particularly egregious, but with the anger and derision Republicans have directed toward Warren for her past statements on her identity, they don’t seem to keep that same energy for Trump’s.


What they were mad about:

Benghazi, a 2012 terrorist attack at the the Libyan embassy that left four Americans dead, was successfully tied to Hillary Clinton in the court of public opinion by Republican investigations that led nowhere. Republicans voters were furious about Clinton’s fuzzy role in this attack, even if they didn’t quite know what it was. Kevin McCarthy later admitted that the Benghazi hearings were a calculated play to hurt her politically.

What Trump has done:

Only a couple days into his presidency, Trump ordered a risky raid in Yemen (over dinner) that the Obama administration had declined to approve under the risky conditions. The raid resulted in the death of one SEAL and at least 23 civilians, the loss of a $75 million Osprey and the destruction of the town. Experts believe enemy combatants had been tipped off to the raid. The Trump administration lied about the results and touted it as a smashing success. The failure and lies of the raid barely caused a blip. Republicans not only shrugged their shoulders, the base mostly didn’t even hear about it.


What they were mad about:

“Pay to Play” mostly referred to the theory that the Clinton Foundation existed as a way for power players to bribe the Clintons to get them to do their bidding. The controversies around it were complicated and you can read more here.  It’s worth noting that the Clinton Foundation has an excellent rating with charity watchdogs.

What Trump has done:

Exactly what Republicans accused Clinton of: used his businesses, foundations, and properties as a way for political players to bribe him. For example, Saudi lobbyists rented out 500 rooms at the Trump DC hotel after Trump’s inauguration.


What they were mad about:

The criticism that Obama “apologized for America” was always a fuzzy right wing fever swamp concept that never really made sense to me, but it was something that a lot of the folks I talked to at the time were really mad about. The writers of this Heritage Foundation article were furious that he said things like “Guantanamo Bay doesn’t represent our values,” “the CIA has made some mistakes,” and “the War on Terror has gone off course.” These (completely tame and mostly true statements) were “a dangerous recipe for failure” that “will weaken America.” Along the same lines, Republicans absolutely hated the idea of Obama meeting with foreign dictators.

What Trump has done:

Considering the fact that Trump’s 2016 campaign was literally based on the idea that America is currently a steaming pile of trash, the Republican hypocrisy on this point was pretty obvious from the start. Once Trump actually took power it became even more evident. He toured the world shittng on past American policies and professing his love for certain dictators. He infamously defended Vladimir Putin from Bill O’Reilly calling him a “killer” by saying “There’s lots of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” As far as I know, Heritage hasn’t written an article on that one yet.

Dictators are good now!


What they were mad about:

One of Trump’s biggest rallying cries in 2016 was “Drain the Swamp,” an idea that actually had some merit (which is probably why Trump hated it at first). The supposed prevailing sentiment was that Washington was filled with corrupt bureaucrats that were only in it for the money and power, and we needed to get somebody in there from the outside that would be willing to root out that corruption.

What Trump has done:

How much time you got? Trump’s administration is probably the most corrupt in history. It is a bribe come to life, a never-ending series of foxes guarding hen houses. I don’t even know where to start with the specific examples without spending the rest of my week typing up more. Just pick a regulatory body and I’m sure Trump appointed an industry insider to be in charge of regulating themselves.

These are not some minor scandals that existed on the fringes of the conservative movement. These things made up the core of the Republican argument for Donald Trump and the core of the argument against his opposition. They dominated the news, and not just conservative news. The New York Times focused front page coverage about seven more times on Hillary’s email scandal than on policy. That story alone may have been enough to swing the 2016 election.

While Trump’s approval rating among the general public has remained fairly low, his approval rating among Republicans is in the clouds. They love him. Do they care that he has committed all the sins they were so vehemently against not that long ago? Does the party of family values have an issue with the thrice married serial adulterer? Not at all! The entire party is all in on Trump. Even more so now than before.

This is what conservatives do. And it’s more than just the run-of-the-mill hypocrisy in politics that all of us are guilty of from time to time. They lie about their concerns. They lie about their positions. They manufacture scandals out of thin air. The mainstream press covers them as if they are legitimate because the press is obsessed with appearing objective and is very sensitive to right wing criticism. They’ll be lied to 100 times in a row and accept the 101st statement as one offered in good faith.

This constant lying strategically hijacks the national conversation, so in a year where we should be talking about the most important topics facing Americans (like climate change and healthcare), we’re talking about concerns that were instantly abandoned the minute the election was over. Those are the boxing rings Republicans want to fight in: the ones that they don’t actually care about and the ones that don’t actually matter.

So what do Republicans actually care about if not for email security protocols and the deficit? I have my theories (*cough* tribal resentment and maintaining social hierarchy *cough*), but that’s a complicated topic best suited for another post. The point of this post is to say that when those New York Times writers descend on those rural diners to see what the Trump voters think about the 2020 Democratic candidate, we don’t have to believe them. We don’t have to worry about what they say. Our energy is better spent discussing policy amongst those that actually care about it. It’s better spent reminding people of what a heinous monster the Trump administration is and how much damage it’s doing. Republicans have forfeited the right to have their concerns taken seriously.