It’s Not Just Trump—the GOP Is Getting Crueler and Crazier

Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty
Please repeat after me: "Donald Trump is not a deviation, he is a manifestation of everything the GOP base dreamed of." And last weekend's result in Virginia's GOP area code in the 5th congressional district, where MP Denver Riggleman lost in the first term to Bob Good, a Christian Shariah-loving fanatic against LGBTQ and immigrants, is just the latest example for where the GOP goes with or without Trump.
There are some who deny this reality. They believe Trump is an outlier and when he is gone, the GOP becomes less extreme and more tolerant. (Stop laughing.) Trump fits perfectly where the GOP has been going for decades when it comes to bigotry - he simply exchanged the dog whistle for the bull horn.
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This is borne out by the results of last weekend's GOP area code in the 5th District of Virginia, which extends from the Virginia-North Carolina border to the state center and includes Charlottesville. What led Riggleman, who had been advocated by Trump on Twitter as a "true conservative leader," to be defeated by a 16-point lead of 58 to 42 percent at the GOP party convention?
Denver Riggleman, the Bigfoot Erotica candidate, wants you to know that everything is anthropological
Well, the headlines say that Riggleman - a military veterinarian who was part of the conservative Freedom Caucus - officiated at a same-sex wedding of two volunteer campaigners in 2019. But if you dig deeper, Goods' election campaign was based on a lot of what we might call right-wing social views that actually serve as a look at where the GOP base went.
Good, who had worked for Jerry Falwell at Liberty University for years, made it clear that he was a "bright red biblical and constitutional conservative". How does that translate into political positions? With abortion, this means no exceptions to abortion at all - not for rape, not for incest, and not even to save the mother's life. Well, Riggleman's embrace of the three traditional GOP abortion exceptions was at the heart of the campaign and painted him as not really pro-life.
If you think this isn't the step of the GOP, it's because you weren't paying attention. Base anti-election organizations have increasingly pushed GOP officials to end abortion exemptions when the mother is raped or incest victim. In fact, Alabama passed a total abortion ban in 2019 unless there is a "serious health risk" for the mother. (This law is put on hold as it winds through the courts.)
But we also see other "pro-life" groups pushing to reject abortion even when the mother's life is in danger, and argue that no one should prefer one life to another. For example, the American Life League says on its website: “Exceptions violate God's rules; Exceptions kill people. Under no circumstances are they unacceptable. “It's good to just give us a preview of where we can expect GOP candidates to head for abortion.
Then there are Good's views on immigration. Well, like Trump, wants to end birthright and beat up children who were born here without undocumented parents as "anchor babies". And like Trump, he also wants to end the “chain migration” that non-Bigots call family reunification. But Good goes further than Trump and urges that English be the national language because he "wants to stop accepting immigrants and their mother tongues because our unity is our strength".
I am sure that on LGBTQ issues it is no surprise that Good is against the same or any rights for this community. Good, who previously served as a supervisor in Campbell County, boasted during his congressional campaign that he, as a county official, had taken steps to enable transgendered Americans to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they now identify. He is still vocal about marriage equality and has condemned Riggleman's inauguration in same-sex marriage as an expression of his "contempt for the party's conservative base."
Now there is a difference between Good and Trump when it comes to spitting out racist garbage. Trump did this boldly from the first day of his 2016 campaign after he had lowered his escalator. When it comes to the good, he let his deputy do it for him and then refused to denounce him.
We saw this in the final days of this campaign when a video of former county supervisor Eddie Deane appeared in 2017 in which he shared his racist views. "You had a black man in the president for eight years and you cry badly or white supremacy?" he said. "You give the devil an inch and he will be your ruler. These minorities will not be satisfied." Deane defended his comments and told a reporter that he did it after a protest against Black Lives Matter blocked local traffic. Deane also said despicably about gays in another video: “You are a bunch of gays, and that's the word I used years ago, that's what I'm using now. They are strange people and they want your rights and you cannot appease them. "
Good media requests in the last days of the campaign, whether he would denounce these comments. But if those words bothered Good, he would obviously have struck them.
The result of Goods' victory is that Cook's political report has shifted the general election from "Likely R" to "Lean R". Other experts said that given Good's extreme views, the district was at stake in November. (The last time a Democrat won there was in 2008.) If Good loses - and loses a lot - it could prevent other Republicans from taking such extreme right-wing views. But history tells us that we cannot rely on it. Trump and Good are not aberrations - they are the manifestations of what the GOP base wants. So expect a lot more of both in the coming years.
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