WASHINGTON – Wednesday, three news from three locations in the United States: in Atlantic City, the old Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino imploded; in Houston, Senator Ted Cruz took a flight to Cancun to escape the winter crisis in the state he represents; in Palm Beach, radio host Rush Limbaugh, the spiritual father of modern conservative culture warfare politics, died of lung cancer at home at the age of 70.
Together, they mark the trajectory of the forces that have taken control of Republican party politics over the past 30 years.
Limbaugh was beloved by many Americans for his radio program, which ushered in a kind of bitter and accusatory entertainment policy that came to dominate both talk radio and the American right.
Its rhetoric ultimately boiled down to “owning the libs” as the basis of a political ideology – convincing listeners to openly reject and insult minorities, feminists, and democrats. He denied climate change and peddled conspiracy theories. He coined the term “feminazis” and called a student advocating for contraceptive insurance a “bitch” and a “prostitute”. His show previously featured a recurring segment where he read the names of gay men who have died of AIDS to celebrate they “deserved their fate.” He called Barack Obama a “magical nigger” and “African colonial bully” and warned that on school buses “in Obama’s America, white children are now beaten, black children clapping.”
He did all of this by predicting that Democrats and leftists would be outraged, then celebrating it when they were.
His style swept over the Republican Party in waves (the contract with America, the Tea Party) and became complete when Donald Trump’s presidency perfected its application to elections and government.
During the same period, Limbaugh and this movement failed to influence American public opinion and broader politics on the issues they advocated. Gay marriage was legalized and has become supported by 60 percent or more of Americans. By 2020, 64% said feminism is “empowering” and 76% said racial discrimination in the United States is a big deal. The size of the US government has grown under both parties and the national debt and deficit have exploded. Many of the principles claimed to sometimes define by Limbaugh and his “dumb” followers (sexual morality, fiscal restraint, free trade) have been dismissed, leaving widespread anti-government fury and an insistence on demonizing and viciously attacking political opponents instead of any coherent political program. The rich got tax breaks. Ordinary people who listened to Limbaugh got angry.
As Limbaugh passed away this week, the results of his politics in action appeared to be tragically unfolding in Texas, which has been more or less ruled as a one-party Republican state for the duration of Limbaugh’s prominence. There, a deregulated, privatized power grid kept out of national integration to avoid federal government oversight failed in a winter storm.
Even as people trembled in the darkness with no access to the crisis water, local Republican politicians responded by trying to appropriate the libs, absurdly blaming the Democrats’ Green New Deal policies. Some criticized suggestions that the government could help. The mayor of Colorado City, Texas, resigned after saying his constituents should “stop crying and searching for a document,” during the blackout, celebrating that “only the strong will survive and the weak parish (sic) “. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who served as Trump’s energy secretary, said Texans were happy to be suffering from the crisis “to keep the federal government from going about their business.”
Cruz, a Republican Texan Limbaugh trolling practitioner, boarded this plane for Mexico to escape the power outage with his family. The predictable outcry prompted him to return on Thursday to apologize. Meanwhile, some Republicans have stepped forward to defend him as having done nothing wrong. “If he’s in Cancun, that means he’s not using precious energy, food and water resources that can now be used by someone else. It’s probably the best thing he can do for the state right now, ”tweeted Republican culture warrior Dinesh D’Souza.
Which nailed down something that could have made Cruz’s instinct to take flight so widely resonate. Faced with a massive statewide emergency, one of the two senators elected to serve all Texans initially didn’t think he had a role to play in helping. As if all the work was to tweet insults and vote to prevent recognition of the presidential elections.
It symbolized an approach to politics, an approach too vividly demonstrated by Trump’s presidency, in which he preferred to fuel a cultural war over action to help, with respect to the pandemic and so many other things. After one term, Trump was defeated and his party in both houses of Congress defeated along with him.
That Trump’s old casino was demolished on Wednesday was a coincidence, but one that seemed symbolic. Trump’s Atlantic City casino empire represented its claims to lavish business success in the 1980s, while bankruptcies, debt financing plans, lawsuits for unpaid bills and the ultimate closure of these casinos in the 1990s and 2000s helped reveal the smoke and mirrors behind it all – destroying the economy of the city where he helped build his name in the process.
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This week, the people of Atlantic City gathered to see the latest developments in this long arc of Trump history. “I have chills. It was a historic moment. It was exciting, ”the mayor told a television crew.
In the stills, you can hear people clapping as he crumbles.
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