The cynical soullessness of the Senate GOP

Shame on you, Republican senators. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Mitch McConnell
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans voted narrowly to proceed with debate on their heartless, mindless effort to repeal and/or replace and/or blue sky some ideas about destroying ObamaCare, despite not knowing which care-gutting bill they would actually be debating. Nothing captures the essence of this Republican Party better than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grandstanding about bipartisanship and tradition just minutes after he voted to give the extortionists and ideologues and authoritarian zealots in his own caucus everything they wanted. Such courage. What a renegade. Clap clap clap.

A few hours later, the Senate handily rejected one version of the GOP's repeal-and-replace legislation. But make no mistake: They will keep trying to pass something in an attempt to rob millions of Americans of health coverage.

What else really can be said about this bill, or this set of bills, or whatever Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cooks up in the next 48 hours? Every version of this bill is an awful piece of legislation, the most destructive act of pointless cruelty contemplated by Congress in decades, and an enduring monument to the Republican Party's total contempt for the American people it has decided not to serve. There are so few people defending the ideological citadel of this callous legislation that it could be stormed with a half-strength platoon full of staffers from the Center for American Progress. Like the souls of its architects, it is hollow.

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It is worth taking a step back and marveling at the sheer insanity of what the Republican Party is on the verge of doing.

There is no public purpose behind the legislation GOP elites are orchestrating, no coherent theory of how it will make health care more affordable or more effective, no courage to defend it to voters whose lives they are about to destroy, no recognition that it utterly lacks support and buy-in or even a kind word from any organized group in the entire field of medicine or insurance, no compunction about how it will radically remake one-sixth of the economy with a law they can't even explain to each other and haven't actually seen or helped draft, no shame about reversing themselves on public statements they made weeks or days or even hours ago about how they just can't bear to vote for it, no regret about using it to put millions of their fellow human beings through hell every day for weeks as Congress carelessly threatens their lives and livelihoods, no ability to stand up to their malevolent president who won't bother to understand or care about what they're doing as long as a bill ends up on his desk and allows him to tweet about his BIG WIN!

The GOP is full of people who want to stick it to The New York Times and college professors more than they want to make policy that will actually help people, or at least not make their lives demonstrably worse. They are willing to kill their constituents and ruin the lives of millions of people so that they might back-slap each other for a few minutes in the Rose Garden in the company of a demented charlatan who will either end up humiliating and destroying them anyway or collapsing American society around himself and eating ice cream on top of the ruins. They are the most selfish, cruel, and dangerous people to lead this country in 150 years and every day they find new and innovative ways to debase and invite shame on themselves.

I despise them with an uncomplicated totality that I did not think was possible.

The only comfort right now is imagining the future that awaits the Republicans who vote for this bill. Their reward for kowtowing like supplicants to their megalomaniac donors and their deranged primary voters, assuming that the United States is ever again allowed to hold a free election, will be a series of stinging, comprehensive defeats. The Republican Party will be annihilated as an organized force in American politics for a generation, if not forever. They will have sacrificed themselves, their principles, their reputations, and their constituents for nothing more than infamy and a double-digit shellacking. They will forever be remembered as the enablers of a trash-heap president who is literally losing his mind in front of us and who may very well succeed in erasing a 240-year-old republic. But in the end, if there is any justice in the universe, what they will do instead is watch the people who crush them in the next three election cycles sweep them and everything they believe aside, ignoring the lamentations of their vanquished press secretaries as they embark on a years-long progressive bender that will make Republicans wish they had just made their peace with ObamaCare and acted like the principled opposition they pretend to be.

Some of them will be gone before their legacy of toxicity becomes undeniable even to the most die-hard supporters. But others will live long enough to read the first chapters in the history books documenting their unfathomable cowardice, titanic greed, and galactic stupidity, describing how they precipitated a series of domestic Cuban Missile Crises and voted to launch the missiles, how they tried to bury the republic rather than keep it, how they prioritized their narrow political interests over basic human decency, again and again and again. And in that moment, I can only hope, they will process the words describing their own depravity and they will understand that they have wasted their careers in the service of avarice and evil.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.