The 4 Horsemen of the Conservative apocalypse remade and are remaking the Republican Party-- now the Trumpubican party in all but name.
Reagan united the evangelicals with the old-fashioned conservative Republicans-- his revolution made it OK to believe unscientific hokum like "trees were the major cause of pollution" leading to denial of global warming while setting in motion the anti-big government, ultra pro-private market bias of the GOP.
Ailes founded Fox News as a Republican propaganda network, that he thought would prevent future Nixon's from getting impeached.
Lee Atwater should get an honorable mention for being the greatest propagandist in recent American history. Fox has brainwashed more folks than just about any other source, using a mix of real news with biased news and an outpouring of noxious opinions from pundits. Ailes is the "man behind the curtain, even more so than Rupert Murdoch Fox's other co-founder."
Rush Limbaugh was king of the radio talkers and probably the most influential radio host in history. He single-handedly helped convert rural America into a bastion of right-wing bias through his humorous but ugly show every weekday.
Trump broke so many political norms, and amped-up political division to levels not seen in America since the Civil War, he politicized a pandemic leading to over 500,000 deaths and he incited an insurrection against the Capital in a bid to steal an election he lost by 7 million votes. Most Republicans support him to this day, and believe his version of reality, which is in la-la land, revolving around whatever he perceives is in his own best interests.
Honorable mention to Q, who has redirected the part of the GOP toward bizarre conspiracy theories, preparing them for the next big lie, and the one after that. Honorable mentions to the Koch brothers for the Tea Party and (as suggested by a poster) Newt Gingrich who was a politically talented hack serving as Speaker who with divisive rhetoric pushed policies that would harm the US for years.
Now only Trump and Q remain (and Q could be more than one person)-- who will replace the others?
since they don't seem to recognize that his name now conveys someone who promotes violent sedition through lies, backstabbing his own VP, putting Pence's life in danger, all in an attempt to cheat his way to an election he lost. They would probably be honored by the appellation until they subsequently realize what connotation it will eventually have for the general public.
That IMHO would be the proper response to an unconstitutional trial, which is what they have stated about the impeachment-- certainly guilty or not guilty verdicts are not appropriate if the trial itself is not "legal." Ironic that Mitch McConnell was the one who ensured the trial would start after trump left office.
The House managers should have raised this alternative for those senators who did not believe there should be a trial. Oh well, the answer is probably that they would be considered traitors by Trumpers even for doing that.
In the modern era, since the 1920s, the Republican Party has traditionally been focused on self-interest-- lower taxes, less government, individual liberty, etc, so it's not surprising that GOP Senators of today act in THEIR own perceived self-interest, not the interests of the country. That was not always the case though. In 1974, it was his loss of support from GOP Senators that forced Nixon to resign. Of course, the country then itself was more supportive of American political traditions and wary of would-be autocrats.
There is no doubt that GOP Senators would have voted to convict him in an impeachment trial in 1974 forcing Nixon's resignation. His resignation ended his political career in disgrace. Trump's career should have ended in disgrace with a conviction in the Senate for inciting an insurrection against the country whose Constitution he had sworn to uphold, but thanks to craven, self-interested GOP Senators, he could easily run again in 2024. He will even claim vindication by not being convicted.
Why the difference between then and now? The quality of character of those elected to Congress (many had fought in wars like WWII against authoritarian regimes), and the culture of party-first created by a right-wing propaganda machine perfected first by Nixon's trainees, like Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater. Ailes' Fox News and their propaganda-spewing ilk coupled with social media of today, basically have created a party ripe for a man with authoritarian impulses like Trump. their Frankenstein monster, to take control. As a footnote, Ailes himself started Fox News so that another Nixon, a corrupt GOP President, would never be forced from office again, and he has indeed prevailed, though no longer alive to celebrate.
Our country faces a very uncertain future because our system favors a two-party system to ensure stability by balancing political power and one of the parties, the GOP, has now been completely corrupted by a manipulative self-reinforcing propaganda system that will lead to authoritarian leaders and the inevitable loss of American freedoms gained over more than 200 years.
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