Don’t let the incompetence of the Republican Party distract you from the profound damage they are doing to our country.
The MAGA movement may be bad at winning elections. They may be terrible at governing. They may in fact be the most inept political organization since Kanye West’s last presidential campaign. But don’t be fooled. They are not just a ridiculous spectacle. They are a powerful toxin taking a grievous toll on our body politic.
Tuesday’s trifecta of terribleness on Capitol Hill—the failure to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the failure to pass a stand-alone aid package for Israel, and the self-destruction of a border compromise that could have been the sole GOP victory of this Congress—masks intentions and consequences of their actions that transcend just how rotten they are at doing their jobs.
And that is to say nothing of their second-most-popular presidential contender, Nikki Haley, losing to “none of the above” in a primary election in Nevada, or the withering rebuke their boss, Donald Trump, received from a federal appeals court that effectively trash-canned his dangerous argument that as president he was above the law. (If you count those against them, then Tuesday was a national pentafecta of putridness.)
But MAGA’s signature shambolic kamikaze craptasticism shrouds something far more pernicious.
Tuesday’s events illustrated with nauseating clarity that they are actively undermining our Constitution and national security, while empowering our most dangerous enemies and making it dramatically more likely American young men and women will be put in harm’s way in more foreign wars.
While the D.C. Court of Appeals’ rejection of Trump’s claims to sweeping, lifelong presidential immunity was heartening—he not only immediately vowed to seek to overturn it, but he continued his campaign to become president so he could pervert the rule of law in the U.S. and effectively make himself America’s first king since George III.
Meanwhile, the House’s efforts to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, despite having demonstrated absolutely zero evidence of any of the required high crimes or misdemeanors was yet another manifestation of MAGA’s contempt for the Constitution.
Just as shocking has been their handling of the supplemental aid package for Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel.
First, they said they did not want to consider the package until something was done about what they asserted was a crisis at our border. President Biden said, ok, let’s do that. Democrats worked with Republicans to fashion a border bill that was tougher than anything produced by the Congress in many years.
That’s where their would-be king got involved and demonstrated, yet again, the Trump Touch whereby everything with which he comes into contact turns to shit.
Trump passed word to his minions on the Hill that there was to be no border deal because actually achieving something would spoil MAGA’s perfect record of having gotten nothing done and might also aid Biden’s candidacy. They need a crisis to run against. They certainly shouldn’t, argued Trump, do anything that might improve the situation—because that was not only off-brand, but when your campaign is all about fear and grievances, you need all the problems you can get.
So, we were treated to the spectacle of Republicans from their Senate leader—the addled and increasingly weak Mitch McConnell—on down, distancing themselves from a deal they helped negotiate and that they actually supported as recently as a week ago.
But in blowing up the border deal—a better deal than they are ever likely to achieve again—they also made it unlikely that the vital supplemental aid package necessary for our allies would ever get passed. They knew this was a potential death sentence for Ukraine and a big victory for Vladimir Putin. They even made it clear that screwing Ukraine, our allies in Europe, and the idea of stability in Europe for the foreseeable future was their intent by proposing an aid package exclusively for Israel. But that, too, failed on Tuesday. (Even Senate passage of a borderless supplemental may be doomed to failure in the House, where Trump’s garden gnome, Speaker Mike Johnson, has said it is D.O.A.)
Killing aid for Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences. It is a mistake of proportions so great it is almost unimaginable that even the MAGAs would make it. But then you have to remember the long-standing ties between them and their leaders to Russia and it all makes sense. (See, just to choose one example, the current visit of MAGA propagandist Tucker Carlson to Moscow to nibble on the ear of Russia’s war criminal-in-chief Vladimir Putin.)
America’s network of alliances worldwide is widely regarded by foreign policy experts as the crown jewel of our national security. No other nation in history has ever had a constellation of friends so extensive or powerful. And the most glittering diadem of that network, because of its history, size, power, and importance, is NATO.
Our small investment working with NATO partners to support Ukraine against Russian aggression has in turn proven to have provided the greatest return on investment we have made in our national defense in modern memory—with 80 percent of funds going to U.S. businesses and the result being the destruction of half of Russia’s ground combat capability.
When Ukrainian President Zelensky last came to Washington, his message was clear. Should the U.S. stop providing critical aid to Ukraine, the gains Ukraine has made against Russia would be undone and Ukraine might ultimately fall to the invaders. Were that to happen, Russia would clearly conclude that the U.S.—and by extension NATO—would no longer have the will to stop it from further aggression, and more border states, from the Baltics to Moldova, would soon be at risk.
And because the NATO treaty requires aggression against any one member to be treated like aggression against all of them, a major war would likely be the result. It is one to which the U.S. would be obligated to intervene and American troops would be put at risk.
Russia would grow stronger. Russia’s ally China would also get a clear message that the U.S. was now an unreliable friend of Taiwan, and that might well induce it to consider taking military action to reclaim the island it has long considered to be part of its territory.
The failure to provide the aid Ukraine needs would not only have the consequences cited above, but it would also shake our friends’ belief in us as a partner, thus weakening every alliance we have. Indeed, they are already questioning our dependability, thanks to the hesitation of Congress thus far to provide the necessary funding so far, combined with Trump’s well-known desire to pull out of NATO (and his history of abandoning treaty agreements—such as the nuclear deal with Iran).
This is not just the result of incompetence. Whatever their deficiencies, the MAGA galaxy brains know full well that what they are doing is hurting Ukraine, hurting NATO, putting the U.S. at risk, and undermining our international standing. Every credible expert in the world and all of our most important allies have made these points repeatedly.
The MAGA movement that has hijacked the GOP has not only betrayed its own stated past objectives concerning the border or U.S. national security, its recent behavior has revealed more clearly than ever the lie at the core of the “America First” slogan they stole from the Nazi appeasers of the 1930s. The MAGA GOP is not about America First. It never was. It is solely about Donald Trump First.
Their foreign policy is not guided by American national interests. It is a manifestation of the malignant narcissism of one man. And because for him reelection is the one way he might stay out of jail, he is on a no-holds-barred, scorched-earth campaign to get there.
He views every issue as being about him. Every guidance he gives his party serves his personal goals. Anything else is not even a consideration. Consequences be damned. And as they have demonstrated this week, the leaders of the Republican Party have completely capitulated to Trump.
The result is whatever wounds we may suffer at the hands of this political gang that cannot shoot straight are likely to be compounded by those we suffer from those enemies around the world who seek to take advantage of their failings.
Those wounds will not only cut deep. Should Trump get another term in office, we may never recover from them.