The Crazy GOP Establishment

The Republican establishment likes to pretend that it is the responsible alternative to Donald Trump, but that self-image doesn’t match reality, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship describe.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

From their “Dark Money” bagman Karl Rove to their philosophical guru David Brooks, the GOP elites are in a tizzy over saving the Republican Party from Donald Trump and the other intruders, extremists and crackpots who have fallen in behind Trump as if he were the Pied Piper of Hamelin. But who will save the party from the elites?

Look around at just some of the other sheer lunacy their party perpetrates when it’s not trying to shut government down, redistribute wealth upward, and prevent the president of the United States (who, the last time we looked, has the constitutional right and mandate) from filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Republicans in southern California just got a 7-6 majority on the region’s air quality board and have set out to reverse all of its safeguards, “reaffirming new smog rules backed by oil refineries and other major polluters,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mary Lou Bruner, a Republican crank in Texas who claimed that a young Barack Obama had worked as a black male prostitute, is on track to become a key vote on the state’s board of education, the group that, as Matt Levin at the Houston Chronicle writes, is, “already drawing intense criticism for textbooks that, among other issues, downplayed slavery and racial segregation.”

That’s important because the school board is such a major buyer of books its decisions affect editorial content in texts all over the country. So remember that Bruner is an eccentric whose Facebook declarations include “School shootings started after the schools started teaching evolution” and “The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus.” Huh?

Yet Republican elites seem quite satisfied to have a Mary Lou Bruner as the arbiter of what their children read in schools.

And while we’re talking about education, travel over to Texas neighbor Louisiana and look at the legacy that former Republican Gov. and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal has left behind for his Democratic successor, John Bel Edwards.

At The Washington Post, Chico Harlan reported, “Louisiana stands at the brink of economic disaster. Without sharp and painful tax increases in the coming weeks, the government will cease to offer many of its vital services, including education opportunities. … A few universities will shut down and declare bankruptcy. Graduations will be canceled. Students will lose scholarships. … Since the 2007-08 school year, Louisiana has cut funding for higher education by 44 percent, the sharpest pullback in the nation.”

Part of this can be attributed to the precipitous drop in oil and gas prices and loss of fossil fuel industry revenue crucial to the state’s economy. But the real problem, according to the Associated Press, is that “Jindal, burnishing his fiscal conservative credentials for his failed presidential campaign, refused to hike taxes or approve any action that even resembled a tax hike, including trimming expensive business tax credits, even amid an economic downturn. …

“Legislators are hearing that cuts described by the Jindal administration as ‘efficiencies’ actually went much deeper, striking at services. They’ve learned about borrowing practices that increased state debts and about threats to Louisiana’s cash flow because it spent down reserves.”

The result? A calamitous budget crisis in the second most impoverished state in the country, a $900 million shortfall that has to be fixed by June 30 and another amounting to around $2 billion that will need to be closed next year. So that’s how you govern when you have the power. Thanks, Republicans!

And while we’re at it, ponder, too, the once-great state of Kansas, where, under the right-wing ideology and bumbling leadership of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, the clowns are running the circus. The state legislature there is moving toward passage of a bill that would allow the impeachment of Kansas Supreme Court justices for, among other newly-thought of high crimes and misdemeanors, “attempting to usurp the power” of said same legislature or the executive branch.

The reason? As per Edward Eveld of The Kansas City Star, “A recent state Supreme Court decision, citing the Legislature’s constitutional duty to properly finance public schools, has demanded that lawmakers fix a school funding formula by June 30 or risk the shutdown of public schools for the 2016-2017 school year.”

The court also has overturned death sentences and is considering a case that would void anti-abortion rules. The Republican legislature doesn’t like any of this one bit – not to mention that four of the seven judges were appointed by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sibelius.

So in a classic, don’t-raise-the-bridge-lower-the-river solution, the GOP legislators – who outnumber Democrats by three to one – have decided that the answer is to do away with the judges they don’t like and to hell with checks and balances.

In the words of Esquire’s inimitable Charlie Pierce, “They recognize no limits to their power, no curbs to their desire. There are few frontiers in democratic government that they will not work to violate, or to twist to their own purposes. And they absolutely will not stop. Ni shagu nazad, as Stalin said to his army. Not one step backwards.”

What happened to Kansas? A coup against common sense, sound principles and the “general welfare” hailed in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. And as it all has gone down, Republican elites seem to have developed a case of laryngitis.

We could go on. Let’s not forget what Gov. Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin and Michigan Gov. Richard Snyder to Flint. Check out how Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is endeavoring to “fix” higher education there. Will Republican elites please tell us where they stand on their man’s ax-wielding mania?

And what Republican poobah has dared call out Grover Norquist, whose monomaniacal crusade against government has thrown public education into crisis, turned streets and highways into bottomless potholes, and produced stratospheric deficits? (Bobby Jindal, by the way, was just one of the many who signed Norquist’s no-tax pledge, a major reason why his state is barely holding on by its fingernails.)

Finally, this is the party whose elites deceived America into war after cutting taxes on the wealthy so they wouldn’t have to pay for it. And so it goes. All of which leads us to the conclusion that what’s wrong with the GOP ain’t just about Donald Trump, apoplectic, mendacious malcreant though he is.

Over decades, the Republicans have built castles of corruption and citadels of crony capitalism across the country and now the angry villagers are climbing over the ramparts. Not one step backwards? Too late.

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, and a former senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. [This story previously appeared at]

20 comments for “The Crazy GOP Establishment

  1. March 21, 2016 at 18:39

    Obama has been president for 2 terms, and another born elsewhere candidate is up for the nomination,. so it looks like the Article II Section 1 Clause 5 of the Constitution has effectively gone away.. As such, I’m going to write in ‘Putin’, and get it over with.

  2. Stanhope
    March 19, 2016 at 04:18

    Does anyone believe the children of the Republican “elite” attend public schools? What do they care what inane dinosaur BS is fed to America’s public school children by that wombat in Texas or her righteous ilk, many of whom populate the Congress? I won’t go so far as to say that they benefit from the resulting dumb down of students into a fuzzy-headed electorate with little civics education, but look it up.

  3. dahoit
    March 17, 2016 at 10:56

    Intruders,extremists and crackpots?Illegals,neolibcons and liberal writers easily fit your putdown of patriotic Americans tired of this disaster of a govt more attuned to foreign criminals than its own people,
    Truth (dIg and out)is dead.

  4. delia ruhe
    March 17, 2016 at 03:11

    This is all so unbelievable . . . the inmates running the asylum. I have been an America watcher all my life, and as a Canadian lefty — lefty-er than Bernie — I have never much liked Republican politicians and Republican administrations. But I never thought of them as crazy or especially irresponsible. They govern their way, and when Americans get fed up, they switch to Democrat. That’s the point of democracy.

    Of course, the whole political spectrum in the US is skewed to the right, making Democrats seem left when in the rest of the Western world, Liberals occupy the centre, with conservatives to the right and labour to the left. But even despite this skew, the corruption of the US government always seemed more or less within the boundaries of what the electorate is willing, if not eager, to accept.

    I am trying to read the above article in the context of Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco’s _Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt_ — that wonderful book of graphic journalism. The two things — the article and the book — fit together quite well, with the article explaining why there exist all these American “sacrifice zones” of destruction and desolation. It seems to me that a President Trump would fit right in as the national leader of this broken-down country. His election would be like placing a rotten cherry atop a toxic cake.

    I once looked forward to the decline and fall of the American empire (not unlike a lot of other citizens of Washington’s vassal states), but since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, I have been reminded and reminded again and again that decline and fall always starts at the bottom. For those who lost their jobs, their homes, their 401Ks and other retirement accounts, there’s plenty more misery where that came from before the empire actually falls.

  5. Donald Trumpolini (Ill Douche)
    March 17, 2016 at 02:13

    The taliban, al qaeda, daesh, isis, isil, moral majority, republican party, american conservatism, focus on the family; it is all the same perverted caveman, wife beating, child molesting, sheep molesting, syphilitic-brained, typical male b.s. All the conservatives are like a combination of Ralph Cramden and ted haggard. When they cannot win in a democracy then they will destroy it, claiming some divine justification (franco, pinochet, mitch mcconnel). american values, real moral aren’t they? They are turning this country into a failed state; united states of afghanistan. You had better vote while you still can.

  6. Drew Hunkins
    March 16, 2016 at 21:37

    The Democratic establishment (establishment) launched two atomic bombs on Japan; escalated the war in Vietnam; started much of the red-baiting in the 1950s (yes, McCarthy was the villain but Truman spearheaded some of it); refused to nationalize the banking system in the 1930s when much of the country was ready for it; drones to its heart’s content all over the Maghreb, Middle East and South Asia; passed NAFTA; ended AFDC; bombed Yugoslavia; supports the criminal colonial state of Israel with nary a word about its horrendous record; and repealed Glass-Steagal; so it’s not as if the GOP is the only problem in mainstream United States society.

    Sure, the Republicans are the evil of two lessers, but the centrists in the Democratic Party are problematic to say the least.

  7. Zachary Smith
    March 16, 2016 at 21:09

    For what it’s worth, when I made my post none of the other comments were visible to my Firefox browser. Looks as if there is still some work to be done with the forum’s software.

  8. Zachary Smith
    March 16, 2016 at 21:07

    So in a classic, don’t-raise-the-bridge-lower-the-river solution, the GOP legislators – who outnumber Democrats by three to one – have decided that the answer is to do away with the judges they don’t like and to hell with checks and balances.

    Blaming everything on the “Crazy GOP Establishment” seems to be a bit of a cop-out to me. Has it occurred to the authors to speculate about how GOP guys came to outnumber Democrats by three to one in Kansas? How Jindal won Louisiana with 54% of the vote in 2007, and 66% in 2011? Walker won an election in Wisconsin, a recall effort, and I believe he was also reelected.

    The nation as a whole is going nuts, and the GOP Establishment merely reflects the loopier end – the so-called Republicans. But the Democrats aren’t all that far behind. When push comes to shove, they generally side with Big Business, Big Weaponsmakers, and Big Everything else. As I’ve often said, Monica Lewinsky ought to be given a statue somewhere for inadvertently saving Social Security. Hillary is a total nut, and is about to become the Democratic candidate for president. She was among the majority of the Democrats who voted for the insane war in Iraq.

    When I chat with friends and family who claim to be Democrats, I’m distressed by the Libertarian crap which they’ve adopted. And by their growing disdain for the poor and helpless citizens among us.

    Yes, the GOPers are worse, but there is a mighty bar for comparisons.

  9. J'hon Doe II
    March 16, 2016 at 21:04

    Christene >> Let’s talk about the Elite of the Washington who exploit and feed off of the very people they pledge to protect and fight for every four years. They are worse than vampires.

    The “Vampireization” of America/the World by loathsome capitalists with their “money is speech”/ gun rights, life sucking triumphalism.

  10. Christene
    March 16, 2016 at 19:58

    “Over decades, the Republicans have built castles of corruption and citadels of crony capitalism across the country……”

    The old adage “when you point your finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you” has no better fit than in politics. I just love it when one party sits on lofty airs and rains downs down condemnation on the other; the crash and burn is always so spectacular! So let’s talk about capitalism, corruption, and cronyism. Let’s talk about the stealth racism of the Elite Washington Establishment which encompasses both Liberal Democrats and their partners in crime in the Republican Establishment. Personally, I can think of no better example than our for-profit/private prison system.

    From Global Research Mar. 2014;
    “Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold.”
    It continues;
    “The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

    Let’s chat about George Soros, and others of his ilk, and his connection to a prison system that has been transformed into nothing but a glorified plantation. As an investor with 105,000 shares in GEO, which also has John Podesta’s brother as a lobbyist, he is one of the Corporate CEO’s and Wall Street investors reaping BILLIONS in profits from the slave labor they exploit. How about the Clintons, who were so instrumental in establishing the system in the 90’s and have fed off that system for 20 years through their slavish devotion to all things Wall Street and Corporate America. Or how about prison lobby that greases the wheels of profit on behalf of their Corporate/Wall Street masters through Congress and fills the coffers of politicians like Hillary, Jeb, Rubio, Cruz and a host of others on BOTH sides of the aisle. And let’s not forget the internment centers for illegal immigrants run by the same system and for the same reason; to fill the pockets of the Elite with profits.

    Let’s talk about the Elite of the Washington who exploit and feed off of the very people they pledge to protect and fight for every four years. They are worse than vampires.

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 16, 2016 at 20:30

      Plenty of truth with your comment Christene. I would like to add, how now with the apparent rise of Hillary and the Donald we are watching in realtime the result of the truly spoiled amongst our society get what they feel is rightfully theirs. We lowly mortals should welcome their ascent to power, since certainly they are so deserving of the crown as to wear it. I don’t know about you, but this for me has been one of the shortest presidential campaign seasons on record, because now I am done with it. The choices for president they have given us this time is without a doubt pathetic, for the lack of a sharper word to describe what I am feeling. I will say this, that Bernie was an inspiration to the youth, but save for his run, the others were just downright insulting. Couple this sower election to America’s geopolitical mess, and I do believe we are now living in the decline of the American empire. Let’s hold out some hope that America’s rebuild will make us a better country.

      • Christene
        March 16, 2016 at 22:05

        Could not agree more. What a pathetic mess we are in. The stench from the rot in Washington has finally gotten so bad, even the most apathetic can’t stand it anymore.

      • Peter Loeb
        March 17, 2016 at 05:24


        “…It is this illusion of the ‘accidental’ quality of the role
        of the United States…that has lead over the past year
        to a kind of specious liberalism which believes one
        simply replaces individuals in office with other men…
        Forno one has ever shown that…how the politics of
        ‘responsibility’ and the insistence on activity for its
        own sake have transformed a usefull myth that men
        can alter power with petitions or reason to end
        profitable if profoundly dangerous policies on the
        part of their rulers…” Gabriel Kolko in THE ROOTS OF
        AND PURPOSE, 1969, pp. 134-135

        From the very beginning of Bernie Sanders’ “revolution”
        I perceived the basic illusions of which Kolko has spoken.
        There was the celebrity admiration of a politician from
        a tiny white state with no chance for a revolution. In fact
        Sanders has always been campaigning in a particularly
        conservative political environment.

        It has long been time for Mr. Sanders to withdraw and
        put his energies into forceful representation of his
        old New Deal ideas (many of which have already met
        with defeats time and again).

        It is, as Gabriel Kolko points out, time to stop advocating
        for a transformation of society in arenas. Perhaps
        Sanders would care to accompany Donald Trump and
        address the Israeli lobby (AIPAC). Hopefully as a former
        candidate for President.

        —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, US

  11. Joe Tedesky
    March 16, 2016 at 16:56

    On November 4 when I cast my write in ballot for Jill Stein my vote won’t be a loss for Hillary or Trump, because I would have never voted for either one at any time. So there!

    • Peter Loeb
      March 17, 2016 at 04:46


      Hear Hear!!

      I studied the Green Party website and found information regarding
      foreign policy mysteriously wanting.

      Neither Trump nor H. Clinton could ever receive my vote (=support).

      —–Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  12. Bill Bodden
    March 16, 2016 at 15:18

    The Crazy GOP Establishment

    There is no cause for praise for the other wing on the corporate bird of prey – the un-Democratic Party. Its oligarchs are just as contemptible as the Republicans’ panjandrums and mountebanks. If by some miracle or other divine intervention Bernie Sanders becomes president, the cabal at the DNC will gang up against him just as their predecessors did to Jimmy Carter.

  13. Bill Bodden
    March 16, 2016 at 12:54

    Missing from the GOP list of sins are the millions of people who vote these atrocious people into office.

  14. Marti Gastel
    March 16, 2016 at 12:28

    And yet– here they come again!

  15. Brad Owen
    March 16, 2016 at 12:06

    On top of this, it looks like Sanders is slipping under the water. I see the Elites’ strategy now; they’ll push Ms.H as the “sandbag” to block Mr.T and a rising wave of Fascism, (Mr.T may even be in cahoots with the Ruling Elites, agreeing to split the Right Wing for them…the only way a Professor Quigley-loving Clinton can get in. Perot performed the service for them the last time). It won’t be good enough THIS time. BOTH fascists are completely unacceptable, IMO. Lesser evilism isn’t going to work THIS time for the evil Wall Street 1%ers. Jill better suit up and get real…this is no drill. Come on all of you Independents. You’re the BIGGEST Faction among the citizenry. If Jill and the Greens are on your Ballot, mark their box (this needs no campaign funds, air time, phone banks, etc…no energy beyond making your mark on the Ballot). Make this the year of “The Declaration of Independents” against the totally corrupted, treasonous, Establishment. Remember the words of “The Declaration of Independence”.

  16. rosemerry
    March 16, 2016 at 11:13

    As well, there is the refusal of elected Congress Members and Senators do allow normal functioning of government under Mr Obama (who is as close to a Repug as should be allowed anyway!) and the sad failure (see Samantha Bee)of so many demoralized people to vote in 2010, allowing so many clowns and worse to infest State legislatures.

Comments are closed.