The determination of so many Republican lawmakers to discard the mountain of evidence against Mr. Trump . . . reflects how thoroughly the party has come to be defined by one man, and how divorced it now appears to be from any deeper set of policy aspirations and ethical or social principles.Alexander Burns, NYT, Feb. 13, 2021
What follows is a fable based on real events. Like the sheep in a popular old nursery rhyme, the party that lost its principles doesn’t know where to find them. A fable is a story meant to teach a moral lesson, in this case a lesson about power and corruption.
This is a story about a party—one of two major political parties in America—declining in popularity and desperately clinging to power. A party that not only lost its principles but also lost its way and is currently hemorrhaging party members—it is even being said the party is in free fall.
Once upon a time, a Newt who knew how to talk a good game sold the nation a bill of goods he called the Contract for America. The party that had not yet lost its principles (but was being moved ever closer to the brink) had no idea how unprincipled a Newt can be.
Fast forward to the election of George W. Bush, who lost the popular vote but got to be president anyway. The lesson the party that was losing its principles learned is that democracy sucks if you can’t win elections fair and square. (The same goes for majority rule, by the way.)
Then in 2016 the party that had totally lost its principles by this time found an avatar (the term comes to us from India, where it denotes a Hindi deity, such as Vishnu). In India an avatar is an object of worship; in the GOP, the avatar served (and for the great majority of true believers still serves) the same purpose.
Alas, the avatar turned out to be a false deity, a terrible liar who in time proved to have much more in common with a tar baby. The party that lost its principles got stuck to it, just like in the fable.
It all started with the first little fist bump (spoiler alert: rhymes with the avatar’s surname). How is it possible that mighty party leaders like Mitch McConnell did not notice that the avatar was very sticky to the touch? Or did not realize that when they nominated the avatar for president and made a show of shaking hands, they were hopelessly stuck to the avatar. As it happened, they could not let go, even when four years later the raging avatar, having lost the election a second time, blamed them! Even when it turned on Mitch McConnell and the Vice Avatar!
Well, part of the answer is that by some strange twist of fate—and more than a little help from the Electoral College—the avatar won the 2016 election, sort of. Never mind that he or it lost the popular vote by several million. Or that the party that lost its principles lost the popular vote seven of the last eight presidential elections. The only thing that matters to the party that embraced the avatar, you see, is winning.
The avatar, however, did not agree. Winning the White House was not enough for the oddly orange-faced Avatar-in-Chief. Deities do not lose popularity contests, he reasoned. Logic and lies, however, do not mix well.
So the Avatar made up a story. Reports that he lost the popular vote were “fake news”. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. Election fraud was rampant. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. Millions of votes were cast by ghosts, especially ghosts from other lands, not to mention Blacks, gays, and socialists. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. What a joke! It’s as if the most extensive voter suppression efforts since the passage of the terrible Voting Rights Act of 1965 didn’t even happen! Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.
Many of his fans (aka, “MAGA base”) believed the avatar-turned-president would mellow once in the Oval Office sitting behind the desk where the buck stops. They said reassuring things to each other like, “The soup is never eaten as hot as it is cooked.” Never mind that the chief of the Gestapo said the same thing about his boss Adolf Hitler’s plans for a “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Or that the avatar-turned-president did not give a damn about stopping the buck. He was after the big bucks (what the fake news media called “emoluments”).
The party that lost its principles had a golden opportunity to restore its good name when the House of Representative impeached the bad avatar for good reasons. But the majority leader of the party that lost its principles, Senator Mitch McConnell, said NO! There will be NO witnesses and, in effect, NO trial in the Senate. So that was that. The avatar won again!
But all was not well. The people were perplexed. Some were mad as hell and wanted to do something crazy like kidnapping the governor of Michigan or storming the Nation’s Capitol. But they were a minority. The majority wanted the avatar OUT! And so it was that on November 3rd in the year 2020 they voted against the avatar in large numbers—very large numbers. So large that the avatar even lost by a wide margin in the archaic Electoral College where losers can become winners.
Still, the avatar who lost by seven million votes said he won. But all the king’s horses and all the king’s men in the Electoral College could not put that Humpty-Trumpty back together again. “Stop the steal!” and “This was a stolen election” he tweeted shortly before Twitter suspended him.
Anyway, the point is: he refused to concede. The 45th president will never be a “former president”! he thundered. His behavior was reminiscent of Louis XIV, who declared: “L’etat c’est moi” (the avatar did not actually say these words—it does not speak French, after all—even proper English is a problem for this avatar).
But the party that lost its principles was steadfast in its support for the avatar. As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”: no fewer than 45 Republicans in the Senate voted not to hold a second trial even after the avatar did his damnedest to ruin the pudding also known as constitutional democracy.
Never mind that the avatar (aka, 45th president) continued to insist that he won lose the election—in other words, that he is still the rightful president. Now the party that lost its principles is also losing many of its followers. Imagine that!
A party that has lost its principles is a party that has lost its way. A party that has lost its way is a party that cannot get out of its own way—its the avatar’s way or the highway. The avatar is now the symbol of the party that lost its principles, which is an elephant. Think of the avatar as the head elephant. The party stumbles and is trampled by a rioting herd of elephants! Trumpled.
Nation of Change readers can sign up for my newsletter by clicking on this link.