Republican elected officials claim to be leaders. They claim to believe in American values and principles. They claim to believe in the betterment of our beloved country. They claim, above all, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
So, when an authoritarian-minded, conning fraudster, demagogic charlatan whose cult of personality and policy beliefs (insofar as he actually holds coherent policies) define him as a proto-fascist, rose to power, what did these alleged leaders do?
The people charged with protecting and promoting our collective interests cowered in fear, unable to muster the courage needed to confront the short-fingered vulgarian. Republican officials allowed, condoned, encouraged, and empowered the very figure our Founding Fathers warned could create a constitutional crisis or otherwise destroy our Republic. The Republic for which the GOP leaders claim to stand.
Trump’s Reich – from his blatantly anti-Semitic language that has motivated and mainstreamed neo-Nazis to his belligerent rhetoric towards Muslims – has turned once respectable elected officials into Vichy Republicans acting as puppets controlled by the strongman. They may claim independence from the Fuhrer and argue they will effectively control his agenda, but what in their utter and complete acquiescence to his rise makes us believe their statements of legislative control?
These pawns of the Fuhrer had their opportunity to take on their party’s cancer before he became its central node. But instead they watched in denial, claiming repeatedly that he simply could not and would not win. Except they did nothing to ensure their prophecy came true. The Vichy Republicans let their organization get overrun by a man with values antithetical to the Constitution. They let what could have been the mischief of a small faction become a major force in American politics who know-nothing nativist mischief will continue to hound our politics and nation for years to come.
Vichy Republicans overlooked the labelling of an entire subset of people as rapists. They issued hollow statements when the Fuhrer announced that his administration would ban all Muslims from entering the country. And while the condemned the Cheeto Jesus’ assertion that a judge’s ethnicity meant he could not do his job, the Vichy Republicans still vowed to support, vote for, and campaign with the nominee. Actions have always spoken louder than words and these Vichy Republicans made clear that while our Founders decried the electoral appeal of demagogues, defying one and risking electoral backlash simply would not be a high priority.
And so these Vichy Republicans have abandoned the principles of their party and the values of our country. They succumbed in terror to an existential threat to the Republic. They have no ideology except that of self-preservation. They are puppets of an ignoramus Fuhrer.
Fascism doesn’t come to America solely from a family aspiring towards a First Reich. It comes through the sheer cowardice of anointed leaders; it comes from their utter and total willingness to accept a man whose ideas they have labelled as un-American and unconstitutional. It comes from leaders who put preservation over betterment of the country. Vichy Republicans are but enablers, not men and women of principle and respectability.