Fascism looks pretty good to Sen. Lindsey Graham

The South Carolina senator is convinced that conservatives cannot achieve their goals without the help of Donald Trump, but aside from maintaining power it's unclear what goals he's referring to.
Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina during the inaugural Ag Summit in Des Moines. March 7, 2015. Photo: John Pemble/Flickr

The word is that President Biden will mark the 500,000 COVID-19 victim threshold by holding a candle lighting ceremony at the White House. It seems appropriate since more Americans have now died of the coronavirus than on the battlefields of World War One, World War Two, and the Vietnam War combined. A large percentage of these deaths were preventable and would have been prevented by barely competent presidential leadership. But Donald Trump actually made the numbers higher than if he had done absolutely nothing, mainly by actively discouraging people from limiting the spread.

Despite this lethal record of bad leadership, a strong plurality of Republicans would leave the GOP if Trump started his own party.

An exclusive Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll finds Trump’s support largely unshaken after his second impeachment trial in the Senate, this time on a charge of inciting an insurrection in the deadly assault on the Capitol Jan. 6.

By double digits, 46%-27%, those surveyed say they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one. The rest are undecided.

It’s numbers like these that explain Lindsey Graham’s behavior. Despite announcing on the Senate floor after the January 6 insurrection that he was done with Trump, he’s down in Mar-a-Lago for a multi-day strategy session with the ex-president. He feels that the future of the Republican Party, depends on Trump.

“If he ran, it would be his nomination for the having,” Graham said of Trump in an interview. “I don’t know what he wants to do. Because he was successful for conservatism and people appreciate his fighting spirit, he’s going to dominate the party for years to come. The way I look at it, there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump.”

In one sense, Graham is obviously correct. A new NBC News poll shows that the Republican Party is rapidly becoming blue-collar, and this shift is occurring among all races. These are not traditional Republicans, and this helps explain their loose allegiance to the party. It also helps explain why 58 percent of Trump voters agree that the January 6 coup attempt was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.” It doesn’t explain it entirely though, because the gullibility of Trump supporters transcends educational attainment. As Byron York reports, the insurrectionists, many of whom were from the struggling entrepreneurial class, were suffering from a mass delusion:

For the rioters who are alleged to have committed serious criminal acts, more information is coming out in court papers filed in the Justice Department cases against them. And now, specifically, there is a new indictment against nine people who are said to be members or associates of the Oath Keepers militia. It’s a revealing document…”

“The indictment shows what they were saying to each other on social media in the days and weeks before the riot. Read together, their social media posts suggest people living in a kind of fantasy world in which they could take the Capitol, while carefully obeying Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control laws and carrying no firearms, change the course of U.S. history, and then head home.”

If Graham is thinking these folks won’t stick with the GOP if it goes back to the free trade country club party of Bob Dole and George W. Bush, it’s hard to argue with his judgment. And maybe it’s too late to make the effort. Too many professional class Republicans have left for good.

Yet, when Graham says “there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump,” it’s reasonable to ask what goals he’s talking about. After all, Trumpism resembles nothing so much as the propaganda of Gottfried Feder, the ”economist” behind the Nazis’ early anti-capitalist program which posited an industrious middle class, “crushed from above by taxation and [finance] interests, menaced from below by the subterranean grumblings of the [organized] workers.”

It’s a party for failed shopkeepers and disorganized proles, not the stuff of Kennebunkport or Wall Street. Is this the motley crew whose goals Graham wants to advance? If so, he’s for fascism—full speed ahead.

That’s certainly where inertia will take the GOP. After all, this is a party whose leader just attempted a coup to overthrow our representative form of government. They refused to punish Trump for this, and most of their voters won’t even admit that they’re responsible, blaming antifa instead.

Maybe Graham should consider the possibility that his party deserves to lose for a while. Maybe there are principles worth fighting for, and they aren’t fascist principles. But he apparently can’t see that far. All he sees is a party that can no longer compete with Trump and therefore absolutely must keep Trump within the party rather than have him forming a third party.

That’s where we’re at as a country. These are the alternatives to the Democratic Party.