The Republicans, Dr. Frankenstein & the Monster
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
The sick and pathetic nature of today’s Republican Party really hit me in connection with the attacks on Senator John McCain. Don’t get me wrong, I am no McCain supporter. But the attacks on him by the White House and many of Trump’s supporters have been nothing short of reprehensible. White House joking, for instance, about how McCain’s views no longer matter because he is going to die. The comments by retired Lieutenant General McInerney to the effect that torture worked on John McCain, as a way of suggesting that torture works, was nothing short of perverse. [https://www.vox.com/2018/5/10/17340906/fox-news-mccain-torture-work-songbird-general] These and other comments, for which Trump and his allies apparently will not apologize, speak to the devolving political situation but it begs a question: how did this come about?
The degeneration of the Republican Party brings to mind the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster. You remember the story. Dr. Frankenstein decides to try to create a living human being from the dead but becomes horrified by his own creation. The Monster goes on a killing spree but Dr. Frankenstein refuses to take responsibility leading to more death and grief.
The Republican Establishment, of which (and quite ironically) Senator McCain is part, believed that they could cultivate and manipulate a dangerous, irrationalist right-wing populist movement that slowly emerged in the late 1960s. For years there was an alliance between the Republican Establishment and this right-wing populist movement because the right-wing populist movement served the interests of the Republican Establishment in demanding tax cuts, attacking affirmative action, pushing back on women’s rights and going after Democrats. At the end of the day, the Republican Establishment believed that they could keep control over this growing movement, in much the same way that Dr. Frankenstein believed that he could control the Monster.
During the Obama presidency, the right-wing populist movement, slowly congealing around Donald Trump, let loose with vitriolic attacks on Obama, particularly in the absurd tirades in connection with President Obama’s place of birth. During that entire period, few Republicans would speak up. They found reasons to avoid challenging the racist myths.
When the Department of Homeland Security came out with a report on the danger of domestic terror from right-wing extremists, the Republican Establishment angrily barked, claiming that this was an attack on so-called legitimate conservatives rather than evidence of the greatest domestic terrorist threat—white supremacists and other right-wing extremists. These attacks amounted to a precursor to Trump’s rants about alleged “fake news.”
And so it comes to pass that the Monster is now seeking to destroy, with all of the fury and hatred previously reserved for their attacks on Democrats, much of the Republican Establishment.
Dr. Frankenstein chased his monster into the Arctic only to die in his mission, well after the deaths of many of his friends and loved ones at the hands of the Monster.
Whither the Republican Establishment? Whither the Monster?
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.