Republican Consultant: We Built this Moment

March 18, 2020

Washington Post:

Stuart Stevens is a writer and Republican political consultant who has advised a pro-Bill Weld super PAC in the 2020 election. His book about the Republican Party, “It Was All A Lie,” will be published next month. 

Don’t just blame President Trump. Blame me — and all the other Republicans who aided and abetted and, yes, benefited from protecting a political party that has become dangerous to America. Some of us knew better.

But we built this moment. And then we looked the other way.

Many of us heard a warning sound we chose to ignore, like that rattle in your car you hear but figure will go away. Now we’re broken down, with plenty of time to think about what should have been done.

The failures of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis can be traced directly to some of the toxic fantasies now dear to the Republican Party. Here are a few: Government is bad. Establishment experts are overrated or just plain wrong. Science is suspect. And we can go it alone, the world be damned.

All of these are wrong, of course. But we didn’t get here overnight. It took practice.

Long before Trump, the Republican Party adopted as a key article of faith that more government was bad. We worked overtime to squeeze it and shrink it, to drown it in the bathtub, as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist liked to say. But somewhere along the way, it became, “all government is bad.” Now we are in a crisis that can be solved only by massive government intervention. That’s awkward.

Next, somehow, the party of idealistic Teddy Roosevelt, pragmatic Bob Dole and heroic John McCain became anti-intellectual, by which I mean, almost reflexively opposed to knowledge and expertise. We began to distrust the experts and put faith in, well, quackery. It was 2013 when former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said the Republican Party “must stop being the stupid party.” By 2016, the party had embraced as its nominee a reality-TV host who later suggested that perhaps the noise from windmills causes cancer.

The Republican Party has gone from admiring William F. Buckley Jr., an Ivy League intellectual, to viewing higher education as a left-wing conspiracy to indoctrinate the young. In retribution, we started defunding education. Never mind that Republican leaders are among the most highly educated on the planet; it’s just that they now feel compelled to embrace ignorance as a cost of doing business. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, as an example, denounces “coastal elites” while holding degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School and having served as a Supreme Court clerk.

The GOP’s relationship with science has resembled some kind of Frankenstein experiment: Let’s see what happens when we play with the chemistry set! Conservatives have spent years trying to cut funds for basic science and research, lamenting government seed money for nearly every budding technology and then hoping for the best. In the weeks ahead, it’s not some fiery, anti-Washington populist with an XM radio gig who is going to save folks’ lives; it is more likely to be someone who has been studying this stuff for decades, almost certainly at some point with federal help or outright patronage.

Finally, there is the populist GOP distrust and dislike of the other, the foreign. Yes, it is annoying that the Chinese didn’t come clean and explain everything to us from the start. But it appears that a Swiss company is helping to jump-start us in testing; and it is a German company that American officials reportedly tried to lure to the United States recently to help develop a vaccine for the virus. We talk about how we need to be independent even as we do all kinds of things that prove we aren’t.

What is happening now is the inevitable result of a party that embraced fear, weaponized xenophobia and regarded facts as dangerous, left-wing landmines that must be avoided.

Over the past few years, when ramming through conservative judges, Republicans have crowed, “Elections have consequences.” That’s true.

It’s something to think about when sitting at home not watching sports and wondering how long it will be until you can find out if that nasty cold you have is something more.

Yes, elections have consequences. Those of us in the Republican Party built this moment. Now the nation must live with those consequences.

Washington Post:

For three years, President Trump told his supporters that the federal government perpetrates hoaxes and frauds, that the media produces fake news and that nothing is on the level except for his tweets. He did the same with the novel coronavirus, portraying it as an ordinary flu that would “disappear” and accusing Democrats of a hoax and the media of exaggerating.

Belatedly, Trump has begun to speak the truth about the virus, which by some estimates could kill more than 2 million Americans without attempts to control it. After an abrupt change of tone Monday afternoon, Trump continued to say the right things, using the same word on Tuesday that former vice president Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have used: war.

“We have to get rid of this, we have to win this war, and ideally quickly,” he said in the White House briefing room. “Because the longer it takes — it’s not a good situation. And I’m not even talking about the economy, I’m talking about the lives of a lot of people.”

But Trump’s late conversion to reality has left behind one group of Americans that will be difficult to convince: his own supporters. Their alternative-facts diet has left them intolerant of anything the government and the media feed them.

An alarming new poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist shows that the number of Republicans who believe the virus is a real threat has actuallyfallen over the past month, from 72 percent in February to just 40 percent now. A majority of Republicans now say the threat has been blown out of proportion — more than double the 23 percent who said so last month.

Naturally, they’re not so inclined to cooperate with efforts to slow the virus’s spread. Only 30 percent of Republicans plan to avoid large gatherings (vs. 61 percent of Democrats), a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found just before Trump proposed such limits. Republicans were half as likely to say they were rescheduling travel and a third as likely to stop eating out at restaurants.

4 Responses to “Republican Consultant: We Built this Moment”

  1. doldrom Says:

    Ah yes, less government and public wealth.

    1. The first civilizations rose by getting together and building irrigation works, which were public property passed from one generation to the next.
    2. They established public institutions and built monuments together.
    3. Before there were coins, credit was ubiquitous, and money did not come into being to solve the problem of direct exchange barter (no empirical evidence).
    4. All prosperous countries are marked by their public sector wealth (infrastructure, educational institutions, and public institutions). Poor countries often lack a public sector, lack government regulation, and lack infrastructure … but this is no boon to business there.

    The BS about all government bad government, public property is usurpation of private property, etc., garbage. It’s a neo-liberal fairy tale to cloak the rapacious character of private skimming of the public.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      For some the enemy is the Federal government, way off in Washington, who want to tell all the local bidniz people and shurfs and state legislators what they can do. They come in and tell us how to treat our Negroes and how not to dump waste into our water source and how not to run explosive chemical plants next to schools. They’re not like us.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Stuart Stevens helped the Republican party and greedy rich destroy the country for decades, and now a mea culpa? IMO, he is simply capitalizing on the truth that has been obvious to any thinking person and is trying to make money by writing a book. And who will read this book? Not the brainwashed Trump “supporters” who need to, but the “normal” people who already know what it says. Lord love a duck, but we get dumber every day.

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