Sun. May 26th, 2024


It’s fair to say that the Republican Party of 2022 is a much broader coalition than it used to be. Once upon a time it was defined as the party of Main Street and the country club: white middle-class and upper-middle-class guys in gray flannel suits. But in recent years they’ve opened the doors and invited in a whole bunch of other Americans who don’t fit that mold. Starting in the 1960s they willingly veered into overt racism mantle and with their embrace of the Christian right in the ’80s, all the anti-gay, anti abortion flock began to move their way as well. The new Trump majority within the party captured a chunk of the previously nonvoting public that believes in fringe conspiracy theories and far-right ideologies and worships at the altar of vapid TV celebrity.

That said, the Republican coalition still isn’t very diverse. It’s nearly all white, of course, with only a tiny fraction of racial and ethnic minorities. It’s almost all Christian and most are non-college-educated and rural. And since virtually everyone who now votes Republican is indoctrinated with lies and propaganda, by watching and listening to the same information sources, there isn’t an independent idea to be found anywhere among them.

Let’s face it: The Republican Party has gone crazy and not in a fun, madcap, “let’s get nuts” way. It has adopted the most extreme attitudes and beliefs of its new adherents and pushed them into mainstream. With that in mind, I thought we could take a look at some of the worst Republicans of 2022. This can’t possibly be a comprehensive list because there are so many awful options. But we can certainly highlight some of the more memorable, in no particular order.

Of course we have to start with the main man, the avatar of all that is horrible about the GOP. I don’t think there’s any need to belabor the point: We all know what Donald Trump is at this point. But for all his authoritarian, racist, crotch-grabbing, Constitution-flouting, election-denying lunacy, Trump deserves a special shout-out in 2022 for inviting a famous antisemitic rapper to dinner (yes, that’s already confusing) and telling him that the full-blown fascist he brought along “gets me.” That may be the most frank and honest thing Donald Trump has ever said, and it says a great deal about him.

Another rich and famous Republican of even more recent vintage is Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and other high-tech ventures who became the sole proprietor of Twitter this year. I’m classifying Musk as a Republican not because he urged people to vote GOP in the midterms (ostensibly because he believes in divided government) but because his sole mission with Twitter is apparently to own the libs. He’s in the process of turning the site into yet another propaganda vehicle for every right-wing nutjob on the planet, so no matter how he identifies politically (Elon apparently didn’t even vote) he is objectively pro-Republican. His worst moment so far, and there have been quite a few, was tweeting out rumors to his millions of followers that the vicious attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband was the result of a down-low affair while his wife was out of town.

Another Republican who only recently admitted he was one despite decades devoted to trashing Democrats, is the King of Fox News, Tucker Carlson. He’s been mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate (perhaps because he keeps giving speeches in known presidential campaign venues). More important, Carlson is the most influential voice on the most influential right-wing network in the country, an is a uniquely odious human being. The list of his offenses is a mile long and goes back many years, but 2022 has been especially heinous with his relentless flogging of the white supremacist “great replacement” theory. But the absolute worst has been his repulsive assaults on the LGBTQ community, culminating in a final atrocity with this week’s interview with the proprietor of Libs of TikTok, the social media account reportedly responsible for inciting bomb threats against hospitals who provide care to young trans people. Take a look:

It doesn’t get much worse than that. But there are some other definite contenders. How about Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who asked a state medical board to discipline the doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim last summer, even though it was legal in the state at the time, claiming that she had “exploited” the victim despite never naming her? He’s an anti-abortion zealot who supports the law banning all abortions in his state (now under litigation) and seeks to revoke the licenses of all Indiana medical providers who perform abortion procedures.

Then there’s the clown car of potential GOP presidential candidates, led by the Cruelty Twins, Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida. Abbott gets the Grinch award for his despicable decision to send busloads of asylum seekers, including children, to Vice President Kamala Harris’ house to score political points on Christmas Eve. Abbott has been doing this all year, apparently believing that liberal hypocrites will explode with anger at the invasion of foreigners into their cities and demand that Trump’s wall be built immediately. Along with draconian abortion policies that have caused untold suffering to the women of Texas, that makes him one of the very worst Republicans.

But the worst of the worst in 2022, without a doubt, was DeSantis. He not only employed the usual extreme-right rhetoric we’ve come to expect from every popular GOP leader these days, but also deployed the long arm of the state to humiliate and destroy anyone who got in his way. From embarrassing teenagers for wearing masks in public to targeting the state’s largest employer for opposing him to dictating that teachers cannot mention LGBTQ issues to suspending elected officials who speak out against his policies, DeSantis showed that he will use his power to punish his enemies and reward his friends. His latest nihilistic assault is to petition for a grand jury investigation into the development of COVID vaccines, suggesting they are killing mass numbers of people. And he’s doing this for purely political reasons — the only reason he ever does anything.

In fact, these boldface names and their misdeeds are just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that the entire Republican Party has gone over to the dark side. All these people are sailing along without even the slightest condemnation from party officials. In fact, with the exception of some whining about Trump having caused them to lose too many seats in 2022, leading Republicans are positively giddy about all of them. This is the Republican Party today — at its worst.


ABOUT AUTHORHeather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon.


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