Democrats have ridiculed Republicans for the past several months for not having any real policy ideas, but now even a Washington Post columnist is joining in with examples.
Writing Wednesday, Philip Bump cited Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who appears to have abandoned all attempts at policy initiatives for owning the "libs."
"It's a fundamental rejection of politics as usual — but not in the popular, hackneyed sense of bringing fresh faces to the scene. The past year has seen a literal rejection of how presidential campaigns are run and how they are lost," he wrote.
Bump recalled the 2020 election when there was no Republican Platform because former President Donald Trump didn't want to be nailed for his ever-evolving beliefs depending on who he's talking to. It has put the GOP in a difficult position because now their members don't have any real beliefs other than attacking Democrats.
Kennedy embodied the message in his new reelection video promising "values" in opposition to "radical nut jobs."
I promise I will always be your voice during the good times and the bad. Come hell or high water, your values wil… https://t.co/L2VUsqdhko— John Neely Kennedy (@John Neely Kennedy) 1622564352.0
It didn't work for the GOP in 2020, but Republicans are hoping it will in 2022.
"This was largely what Trump stood for, too," wrote Bump. "There's an element of conservative politics that is definitionally predicated on rejecting change. But the modern right has frequently moved such rejections to the center of how they deploy power. Making America great again — a line that Kennedy works into his patter — is as much about keeping America from becoming something else as it is about moving the country back to how it was."
It's an effort to incite a visceral reaction from the most ardent Trump followers. Beyond that, however, there's no real pitch to non-Trump voters. All they have is the idea: "I'm one of you." Bump explained that such a campaign combined with attacks on voters is a "toxic combination."
He cited an analysis from the Varieties of Democracy Institute that shows a shift in political parties when it comes to the issues of liberalism "which is a measure of the extent to which parties reject open elections, and populism, a measure of the anti-elite and citizen-centric rhetoric deployed," he explained.
Ironically, the GOP was a bit more "illiberal" in 2008, but it has gone all the way to match groups like France's right-wing National front or other parties that support authoritarian leaders in places like Russia, Hungary and Turkey.
"The question isn't how the party has moved. The question is whether it continues in that direction, how far the momentum that has been has built carries it. The question is also how much of this is a function of Trump as an individual and whether a Republican Party at some distance from Trump would reform in ways that use its power differently," Bump closed.