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The Republicans’ To-Do List

Who says the GOP is not the party of ideas?
May 2, 2023
The Republicans’ To-Do List
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a rally marking the 100th day of Republican control of the House in Washington D.C., United States on April 17, 2023. (Photo by Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Republicans are often accused of not having a clear sense of direction. Not true: They have lots of them. Day by day, week by week, the party faithful are churning out a slew of ideas. They are just not necessarily (or even frequently) good ones. Let’s look at some recent examples of things the party faithful want to do:

Save the nation from imaginary doom

On the day last week that President Joe Biden announced he was running for reelection in 2024, the Republican National Committee released an artificial intelligence–generated video that was considerably more artificial than intelligent. It depicted a series of catastrophes that have not happened during Biden’s first term but very well might if he ends up being re-elected.

An “emboldened” China invades Taiwan. The economy goes into “freefall as 500 regional banks have shuttered their doors.” Border agents are “overrun by a surge of 80,000 illegals” all at once. Skyrocketing crime and the fentanyl crisis (as represented by a shirtless thug with “MS-13” tattooed on his forehead, as you so often see) leads to the city of San Francisco being “closed.” “It feels like the train is coming off the tracks,” the narrator intones. Actually, they’re called streetcars.

Fight the Real Enemy: Disney

Ron DeSantis has met the enemy and he is Mickey Mouse. The Florida governor and undeclared presidential aspirant is going all out to kneecap one of his state’s largest employers and the generator of tens of billions of dollars in economic impact per year. He has overtly sought to punish the company for opposing his culture-warrior crackdown on exposing school kids to the idea that some people are gay.

Last week, Disney hit back, filing a federal lawsuit accusing DeSantis and other Florida officials of “weaponizing the power of government to punish private business” for expressing a political viewpoint, in violation of the First Amendment. One of DeSantis’s rivals for the presidency, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, could not contain her glee, tweeting “Hey @Disney, my home state will happily accept your 70,000+ jobs if you want to leave Florida.” This offhand remark prompted a DeSantis super PAC to spend six figures on an attack ad targeting the former governor, whom they renamed “Mickey Haley.”

The cartoon Mickey was observed with a smile on his face.

Wreck the economy, why not?

This time GOP lawmakers say they are serious: They will not raise the debt limit without massive spending cuts even if it means, as it surely would, that the United States defaults on its debt obligations, which would lead to millions of lost jobs, higher interest rates, a national recession, and global economic crisis. Biden wants default “off the table” but Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy wants everyone to know if the nation defaults it will be Biden’s fault: “We are the only ones being responsible and sensible about this.”

There may be a downside to destroying the nation’s economy for political chuckles, but McCarthy and the Republicans can’t see it right now.

Defund the FBI and ATF

Some of the exact same people howling over the defunding of local police departments that Democratic politicians have never called for, and which isn’t actually happening, are bent on eradicating two of the nation’s premier law-enforcement agencies.

“The Republican Party’s flirtation with defunding the FBI made its way to the highest levels of the party this month,” the Washington Post reported in April, citing former President Donald Trump’s support for this idea. “REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS SHOULD DEFUND THE DOJ AND FBI UNTIL THEY COME TO THEIR SENSES,” the GOP frontrunner for the 2024 election wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.

But the proponents of defunding entire agencies that displease the former president have their work cut out: A bill to abolish the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, introduced in January by Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, has just seven cosponsors, all MAGA Republicans. It appears to be going nowhere.

Double down on abortion

The wildly unpopular revocation of reproductive rights hurt Republicans severely in the 2022 midterms. In Wisconsin, a state supreme court candidate who clearly supported reproductive rights crushed a candidate backed by anti-abortion groups. She did so by 11 points in a state that Trump won in 2016 and lost in 2020 by less than 1 percent. Now that they’ve caught the car, some Republicans do seem to want to let go of the bumper, with conservative legislatures in South Carolina and Nebraska last Thursday rejecting a near-total and a six-week abortion ban, respectively. Others, though, continue to seek new restrictions on abortion.

North Dakota last week became the fourteenth state to ban virtually all abortions, with Governor Doug Burgum’s signing of a law that took effect immediately. Less than two weeks earlier, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill, now facing state supreme court review, banning abortions after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant. GOP legislators in several states are trying to prevent voters from passing ballot measures to protect abortion rights. And Idaho just passed a law making it a felony to assist a minor in leaving the state to obtain an abortion.

Think of that: Idaho lawmakers have decided that a situation prompting a minor to flee the state to obtain an abortion is not traumatic enough. The party that calls itself pro-life seems to be pro-cruelty.

Criminally charge Antony Blinken

President Joe Biden’s secretary of state is under fire for his role in discrediting accusations having to do with Hunter Biden’s laptop during the 2020 election, when Blinken was an adviser to the Biden campaign. The other night on Fox News, host Sean Hannity had on former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller to talk about “one bombshell revelation after another” regarding Blinken.

“This man has to be deposed,” Miller said of Blinken. “He has to be hauled before Congress. He has to be put under oath. And what we have here, Sean, is a conspiracy to interfere [with] and obstruct the American election.” Agreed Hannity, “There should be criminal charges, certainly an investigation.”

Conspiracy to interfere with and obstruct the American election. Why does that sound familiar? As Jonathan V. Last likes to point out, projection is the sincerest form of Trumpism.

Lock up Lizzo

The Grammy Award–winning singer has the right’s undies in a bundle over her recent performance in Knoxville, Tennessee, which included several drag performers—a dig at the temporarily halted state law to criminalize drag performances.

“Throw her in jail,” tweeted self-described “theocratic fascist” Matt Walsh. Fellow far-right provocateur Candace Owens described Lizzo’s actions as “showing support . . . for the people who think like the shooter does,” referring to the purportedly transgender person who killed three young children and three adults at Covenant School in Nashville on March 27. Owens said she was “sickened by Lizzo.” “Will Lizzo be arrested?” wondered Media Right News in a tweet that has since been deleted. Lizzo is still on the lam.

Cut Andrew Lester a Break

Most people would have a hard time defending the 84-year-old white homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri, who shot and wounded 16-year-old Ralph Yarl for going to his house by mistake and ringing his doorbell. Not Mark Lamb. The GOP sheriff now running for U.S. Senate in Arizona has opined that Lester “was trying to protect his property, stand his ground, you know—he felt that his life was in danger. He took some action and now he’s being persecuted.” A person posting a comment below the video interview on Rumble, the video platform that hosts the Stew Peters Network, drove home the point:

Ringing a doorbell to determine if someone is home before breaking in is part of an MO used by burglars for decades. I am not saying the young man intended to commit burglary. I don’t know. You have only seconds to shoot or be shot in a life threatening situation.

“Beware of Doorbell,” I guess?

Punish Fox News, elevate NewsMax 

Here is Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, tweeting her reaction to the firing of Fox News’s star performer: “Cable news is about to be taught a powerful lesson after Fox News caved to the woke mob and fired Tucker Carlson. Americans no longer blindly watch the news like they did decades ago, they only watch the ones who have courage to tell the truth.”

Chris Ruddy, CEO of the NewsMax, a rival purveyor of right-wing nonsense, said this: “Millions of viewers who liked the old Fox News have made the switch to Newsmax, and this will only fuel that trend.” Newsmax host Sebastian Gorka, formerly of Fox, said Carlson’s ousting marked “the death of Fox News.” And sure enough, the even nuttier NewsMax is seeing its viewership boom.

Whether Fox News has learned any lessons remains to be seen.

Learn the lessons of Watergate

No, silly, it’s not that a president shouldn’t abuse his authority and violate his oath of office. It’s that he should not let such actions keep him away from power. Richard Nixon, Trump told the Washington Examiner, should have fought back rather than resign from the presidency in disgrace. But, in an interview with Mark Levin on Fox News, Trump acknowledged that he had an asset that Nixon lacked.

“Nixon had no support,” Trump reflected, comparing his own situation with that of the 37th president. “He was very, very tough with people. I get along with people. I mean, I have great Jim Jordan, and all these congressmen are great. They’re really incredible people.” That they are.

Give Young, Single Women a Fighting Chance

In a discussion last week on Fox News about the “liberal crime crisis,” Jason Chaffetz, the former U.S. Representative from Utah, lamented: “They’re trying to do everything they can to get rid of guns, and what about all the people? What about that single, 18-year-old-girl who’s just trying to get her education or go to work? Don’t you feel for her? How’s she going to protect herself in these radical cities where there’s no crime prevention, there’s not a cop on the beat or somebody on the street to protect her?”

Won’t somebody please make it easier for young women to hold their own in gunfights as they go about their daily business?

Improve the nation’s public schools, help ease Americans’ health-care costs, address the existential threat of climate change, raise the standard of living, stuff like that.


Bill Lueders

Bill Lueders, former editor and now editor-at-large of The Progressive, is a writer in Madison, Wisconsin.