The Republicans who live and work in Washington, D.C. are quite different from the Republican voters in the vast majority of America. While they ostensibly believe in the GOP’s ideas of low taxes and relatively non-interventionist government, they are somewhat moderate on social issues.
These are Republicans who work in a diverse city and while they may not have many nonwhites, women, and LGBTQ people in their immediate, personal circles, it is not a world that was completely alien to them.
That is who political reporters based in Washington generally think of when they refer to “Republicans.”
The problem is, this is not an accurate depiction of Republicanism/conservatism in America, not by a long shot. The Republican Party in 2021 is not the party of Jeb (!) Bush and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. It is the party of Donald Trump, Louie Gohmert, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
74 Million For Open Hate
There are at least 74 million votes in the world of Republicans for open racism, misogyny, Islamaphobia, and demonization of Asians. It is a party of attacks on the Capitol, QAnon conspiracy theories, and xenophobic Tucker Carlson rants straight out of Mein Kampf.
Reporters for mainstream outlets don’t want to get this, and they certainly don’t want to publish it in their papers, broadcast on television or over the radio waves.
Look no further than Jake Sherman, formerly of Politico and now of the poorly-named Punchbowl News. Sherman was recently fumbling through his Twitter feed to find out what, exactly, Republicans are all now about.
He went through a roster of images, noting that Democrats are supporting progressive ideas being made into law by President Biden and congressional Democrats, while noting a distinct disinterest in policy on the Republican side.
“The GOP used to be for fiscal discipline & balanced budgets, but they no longer are,” Sherman wrote. Put aside the notion that this laughable after the presidencies of George W. Bush and Donald Trump and marvel at the cluelessness.
Sherman’s GOP sources and friends up on the Hill may fake concern about these things, but Republican voters do not care. Republican voters want to know how their leaders are going to put the screws to minorities, and they’d like to hear about it in the most lurid “lock ’em up” details possible.
Mainstream Media Groupthink
It isn’t just Sherman, it’s just that Politico/Punchbowl is a good barometer of mainstream media groupthink.
Throughout the Trump presidency these are people who ignored or downplayed Trump’s blatant calls to bigotry, waiting every day of his unpopular time in the White House for the pivot to policy that never came.
Trump understood the people who voted for him, and he knew the last thing they wanted was comprehensive legislation like the American Rescue Plan and other expansive programs and proposals under consideration by the Biden team.
The right wants a cultural war. They want to rail against “cancel culture,” standing up for the Confederate flag and their misunderstanding of corporate decisions with Mr. Potato Head the Muppets. This is what animates conservatives, real conservative Republicans out in the states that continue to keep the Republican Party and extremely viable and important political entity.
It isn’t a coincidence that the first “policy” initiative at the state level from the Republicans has been their war against transgender athletes, sparked by Fox News chyrons of “men” playing “girls sports,” echoing the Satanic Panic hysteria we saw a few years ago about “men” going into “girl’s bathrooms.”
It is always about hate and bigotry and discrimination, and one need not be a left-wing activist to acknowledge this truth. It’s just who the Republicans are, and it’s who they have been for decades (George W. Bush launched an entire war about getting brown-skinned people blown up for imagined crimes).
But in the Washington media circles, they can’t have their friends be these louts. These are good Chamber of Commerce Republicans, who don’t get red-faced mad when they see a Latino person or a same-sex couple.
The Disconnect Is Breaking Your News
The people whispering to the Washington Post, New York Times and others aren’t these unrestrained haters. They’re the “good” people, who lined up with Jeb while their own voters went gaga for the guy who said all the Mexicans are rapists.
But what happens is this unreal perception of reality finds its way into their publications. The Republicans they write about, furiously digging into classic conservative policy, have no serious constituency anymore (and I’d argue they never really did).
The asylum is 100% under control of the most detached and extreme inmates, and it’s only getting worse. You just won’t read it in the elite media. Might upset their best friends.
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