Republican nihilism could be the greatest threat to America’s democracy and rule of law. Disturbingly, nihilism is replacing conservatism as the philosophy of the Grand Old Party (GOP).
To clarify, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.”
Correspondingly destruction of the established order in government and politics has become the principal goal of many Republicans. Disturbingly, evidence of Republican Nihilism abounds in recent history and current headlines.
Evidence of Republican Nihilism
Some of the most flagrant examples of Republican Nihilism include:
The willingness of Congressional Republican leaders to risk a government shutdown in 2013
To clarify, some Republicans; such as US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), refused to authorize raising the federal debt limit unless Obamacare was repealed. In detail, Uncle Sam needed a higher debt limit to borrow money to keep the government operating.
The action was nihilist because it put vital government services at risk for shallow political reasons. In particular, the actions led to a partial government shutdown. As a result, national parks and monuments closed because of lack of funds.
Notably, conservative groups like Heritage Action encouraged Cruz’s actions. In addition, 86% of Americans told Washington Post/ABC pollsters they thought the action damaged America. Disturbingly, President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) is threatening another government shutdown if House Democrats refuse to fund his policies, Politco reports.
Sabotaging our democracy with widespread voter suppression
Numerous observers are accusing Republican officials of suppressing large numbers of votes.
Voter suppression is nihilist because it is a blatant rejection of basic American values. Moreover, voter suppression undermines the rule of law and government legitimacy.
Only individuals without values or morals can engage in a blatantly unethical behavior like voter suppression. Additionally, many Republicans make blatantly false claims about vote fraud to justify voter suppression.
Voter suppression expresses Republican nihilism because it shows a complete contempt for American values. For instance, Republican officials like Georgia Governor Elect Brian Kemp (R) are claiming the poor and nonwhites have no right to vote.
Officials like Kemp admit they do not believe in America, the Constitution, or Democracy when they suppress votes. If mobs of angry and frustrated suppressed voters burn our cities fools like Kemp will be responsible.
Climate change denial
A core nihilist belief is that “nothing can be known or communicated.” This leads to a radical skepticism that condemns all authorities and beliefs.
Hence, Republican’s climate change denial expresses their nihilism. The GOP’s organized climate change denial is nihilist because they base it on extreme skepticism of scientific fact.
For instance, 97% of publishing-climate scientists believe pollution causes climate change, NASA claims. Yet many Republican politicians boldly claim the science is wrong.
Therefore, climate change denial is a nihilistic attack on the authority of science and the scientific method. As true nihilists Republicans justify their destructive behavior with skepticism.
For example, Congressional Republicans keep trying to defund NASA’s climate science programs. In addition, President Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement on climate change and is trying to cut funds to United Nations climate change programs.
Supporting blatantly incompetent and destructive candidates
Donald J. Trump is only the most prominent in a long-line of blatantly nihilist and incompetent Republican candidates. For example, Trump is incompetent, probably corrupt, definitely a racist, and obviously a liar. Yet large numbers of Republicans eagerly and enthusiastically back him.
To be fair to Republicans, many of them only voted for Trump in the 2016 Presidential Primaries because they were afraid of an even more nihilistic candidate. Specifically, that candidate was U.S. Senator Ted “Satan” Cruz (R-Texas); an architect of the 2013 government shutdown debacle.
For instance, former U.S Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) describes Cruz as “Satan” and a “miserable son of a bitch.” Notably, Boehner easily endorsed Trump’s presidential bid.
In addition, many nihilists (on both sides of the aisle) voted for Trump because they wanted to punish the system by electing Bozo the Clown. Those people got what they wanted by placing Bozo in the Oval Office. Hypocritically, many of them are now demanding Bozo’s impeachment.
The Nihilist in Chief
Not surprisingly, as President, Trump is acting as the nihilist in chief. For instance, by using Twitter to make destructive statements and making ludicrous threats.
In addition, Trump has appointed climate change deniers to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pulled out of numerous international agreements. Moreover, Trump even opened national monument land up for oil drilling. Notably, Trump appointed a hater of public schools, Betsy DeVos (R-Michigan) U.S. Secretary of Public Education.
Worst of all, Trump’s administration is promoting policies the President himself does not believe in to please Republican voters and donors. Opposition to single-payer healthcare; for example, Trump has long been an outspoken proponent of that concept.
How Republican Nihilism Lost California
Republican Nihilism is most pervasive in California where it has the lost Golden State for the GOP.
This excellent Vox article describes the cynical anti-ideology that dominates Republican thinking in California. For instance, “conservative” podcaster Michael Knowles describes California conservatism an “anti-ideology,” one largely based on kulturkampf, not policy.”
Neither Knowles nor Vox Writer Jane Coaston uses the word nihilism, but that is what they are describing. If Coaston is correct, California’s Republicans have become nihilists and destroyed their party.
Nihilism’s effects on California’s GOP are clear and horrendous. For example, the number of registered Republicans in California fell by 10% in recent years. Not surprisingly, Democrats hold a 19% advantage in California elections.
Under those circumstances, Democrats have an overwhelming majority in the state legislature and control all statewide offices. Even Orange County, once the heartland of California conservatism is now blue – all of its Congressional seats are held by Democrats. Even 15-term U.S Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) lost by over four points, Vox reports.
Will Republican Nihilism Destroy America
These are just a few examples of Republican nihilism there are many others.
For instance; massive tax cuts designed only to please wealthy donors. Those cuts are part of a deliberate strategy to sabotage government operations through denial of funds.
Furthermore, today’s Republicans wage all-out political warfare for questionable reasons. Beyond that, they refuse to compromise with Democrats; or moderate members of their own party, even for the nation’s good.
Finally, there are the constant proposals to demolish Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs average Americans depend upon. Bizarrely those proposals threaten the GOP’s political future by driving some of its most reliable voters; senior citizens, away.
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history,” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R-Kansas) 1954.
Worst of all Republican nihilism encourages Democratic nihilism. For instance, politicians like U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California). Markedly, Waters makes constant threats to impeach President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana).
Meanwhile, some state level Democratic officials are planning what amounts to legal warfare on Trump and his policies. For example, Democratic Attorney General Barbara Underwood is suing President Trump’s charitable foundation, CBS News reports. Underwood persists with her suit even though Trump is trying to dissolve the Foundation.
Republican nihilism is threatening to destroy America’s basic institutions and the GOP. I have to wonder how much longer the American people and Republican voters will tolerate it.