Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin remembered with longing an easier time when Never Trump Republicans dreaming of a return to traditional conservatism and budget hawks. That idea is nothing more than a fantasy now as the GOP has officially been co-opted by Trumpism and there's no hope of returning to life before Trump, or its parent, the tea party.
"The dilemma for the Republican Party is far more stark — and frightening," she wrote. in her Monday column.
"The 2020 election aftermath reveals that on one side of the party stands a handful of conservatives and moderates who willingly recognize objective reality," said Rubin. "They defend democracy and the sanctity of elections. They believe Republicans’ grievances are heartfelt and reasonable, amenable to rational solutions. They think of government as a defender of liberty, which is one side of a transactional relationship with its citizens. By its very nature, conservatism imagines that government does not subsume civil society nor define one’s identity. Their diagnosis of America’s ills might be off-base and even tone-deaf, neglecting the legacy of racism and clinging to the fallacy of supply-side economics, but these are well-meaning and generally sincere figures."
The election revealed a much more significant number of the political world are unwilling to operate within the confines of American democracy, she said. Doing so requires admission and recognition of facts, something that has gone missing.
"In that mind-set, reality must be twisted, deformed or ignored to provide fodder for the symbiotic relationship between the rage machine and the enraged," said Rubin.
She related it to the European far-right populism and authoritarianism, who, like this brand of Republican, "operates in the world of lies and conspiracies" to gain power. It's emotional manipulation to create a cult-like operation.
"We should stop talking about a civil war within a traditional political party," she said, explaining that it isn't about defenders of democracy vs. blood-and-soil authoritarianism. There are a few "weak-kneed Republicans" who realize that the anti-democratic ilk in the GOP are a danger to the foundations of American governance.
"These figures think they can humor Right-wing Nationalists or wait them out," Rubin described. "The spineless Republicans would do well to recognize they cannot coexist with those who refuse to operate in the real world and adhere to the dictates of democracy."
But the so-called Reality Caucus is shrinking, she said and there are only a few options left for them. Either they have to take on the right-wing and the media that keeps them going, join forces with moderate Democrats to save the country or break off from "Right-wing Nationalists" and let them start their own cult.
"What the Reality Caucus can no longer do is pretend that they have an overlapping vision or shared values with the Right-wing Nationalists — the cultists, the white supremacists and the purveyors of nonstop lies," Rubin closed. "The longer the Reality Caucus members fool themselves and remain in an alliance with Right-wing Nationalists, the more they enable and empower the latter, further fraying the fabric of constitutional government. It is time for the Reality Caucus to make a decision and choose its strategy. The status quo is unsustainable."
Read her full column at the Washington Post.