The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. …The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”
—George Orwell, 1984
By Kyle Rudick
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated his intent to replace her. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say or even made the comment yourself: “Just four years ago McConnell cited the so-called ‘Biden rule’ to not make justice appointments in an election year. Now he is going to replace RBG as soon as possible? What a hypocrite!”
Since the 1990s only one party has persisted in the belief that stated morals or policies should be honored, and that not doing so was wrong: Democrats. For example, when Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was accused of sexual misconduct against women, he (without being convicted) stepped down from his seat. This is not to say that Democrats are morally superior or virtuous. Rather, it signals what they believe to be their way to power—ideological and political coherence. They set forth a set of goals and seek to achieve consent to rule not only by the soundness of their ideas (i.e., will the program or policy actually work?) but a coherence in what their stated goals are and their actions.
Republicans, on the other hand, have largely eschewed trying to win consent to govern. In fact, one could say that they are no longer a governing party. Rather they are, as Orwell’s ruling class in 1984, interested only in one thing: power for the sake of power. For example, name the last large-scale program or policy that the Republican Party has produced as a part of their platform that would address poverty, climate change, the wage gap, racial inequality, healthcare, or any other number of persistent problems that face society. You cannot because, at best, the Republican Party’s platform has just been to dismantle, block, or overturn what Democrats have done. When the approach fails, they simply muddy the waters through denial, deferment, or outright lies to make sure that they do not have to address social problems.
You may be tempted to say their pro-life advocacy, guns, or Christianity are proposed policies, but that’s misleading. These are not discrete policy proposals with a clear beginning/end, oversight, or accompanying governmental structure. These are unending wars and, if the War on Drugs or Terrorism has taught us anything, it is that these types of programs are politically viable ways to condition and weaponize a part of the population against the rest.
This has been the lesson that Democrats have refused to learn from Orwell’s 1984. While they were on the lookout for censorship or war with East Asia, they failed to recognize that those were simply tools for what the party ultimately wanted: power for the sake of power. The instruments can be different, and certainly that’s the case for the U.S. context.
Take the three examples above (abortion, guns, and Christianity)—not only can the goals never be completely attained, they have at their core an ideological trajectory that brooks absolutely no compromise. If you believe life begins at conception, then you cannot allow any murder. If you believe that any infringement to the right to bear arms is unconstitutional, then you cannot stop fighting for military grade hardware for ordinary citizens. If you believe that any faith or denomination but yours is from Satan and Hell-bound, then you cannot let one person outside of your faith hold any personal or political power.
These beliefs are only used by the Republican Party for their ideological features. McConnell and most prominent Republicans do not actually care or believe in these issues. It would be easy to say that rank-and-file Republican voters are pawns or dupes in this scenario. Certainly, their quality of life only degrades as they continue to vote for a party that has no allegiance to them. But this sells short the psychological wages that rank-and-file Republican voters get when their side obtains power. They may not understand the relationship between their constantly worsening lot in life and the political class that is responsible for it, but they do know that it makes them feel good to stick it to their enemies: Liberals, Black people, immigrants (especially from Central/South America), feminists, atheists, and so on.
Charges of hypocrisy are insufficient to change the course of the RBG’s replacement or other Republican attempt to race-bait, disenfranchise voters, or increase the wealth of the affluent. Each of these things are not inconsistent with the party’s actual agenda—power for the sake of power. For rank-and-file Republicans, power translates into the psychological wages of “sticking it to the libs.”
For the established party members, it is the ability to pursue a life that is unfettered by the social obligations (taxes, constraints on personal ambition, etc.) that are experienced by ordinary people. They will say and do anything required to pursue this agenda. And, as long as their constituents continue to follow them down the rabbit hole (which, as the QAnon conspiracy shows us, is a pretty deep hole), there will be no end to the nightmare. Because you can’t reason with a group of people who promote a rigid, no-compromise worldview, especially when such an approach is so psychologically pleasing (for the rank-and-file) and politically successful (for the party).
Democrats are starting to wake up to this reality. They are considering, if elected in sufficient numbers, to remove the filibuster rules and pack the courts. Only time will tell if they have the stomach, or the means, to pursue these types of goals. One thing is for sure: Democrats will not win political power through accusations of Republican hypocrisy. Republicans cannot be hypocrites when their stated morals and goals are not reasons for people to consent to their power, they are rationalizations made after the fact to justify their pursuit and use of it.
C. Kyle Rudick an associate professor in Communication and Media at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.
Timing is everything in this world. The D’s lost their RBG in a down cycle for them as not in power. When they were in power, they didn’t get the death of the conservative, white, male SCOTUS judge that they could replace. So Trump will replace RBG with another woman, maybe not the woman the D’s want. But the diversity formula will be applied. Does the new SCOTUS need to be Jewish as well ? These are just some of the boxes that get checked before the fix is implemented. Just me, but the Supreme Court hasn’t really done much of anything that has affected me either way on a day to day to say it’s improved my life any. And that’s RBG or anyone else. The SCOTUS is one of those rosters, I don’t think anyone can name off the top of their head if asked, even how many there are ? 7 & they may want to expand that to 9 ?
Nine justices make up the supreme court not 7! Justice Scalia died during President Obama’s tenure and the Republicans who are devoid of any integrity and only care about power, then blocked his nominee Merrick Garlan which is why they are now being called hypocrites. Right now the power hungry criminal in the White House is in court trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. I wonder how many Republicans have health care because of that act and how many are aware of what their precious leader is doing that will harm their lives? Too bad they are only concerned with worshiping at his feet and not educating themselves as to what he is actually doing. What sort of people continually vote against their own self interest because they are totally committed to hatred of others and to a party that has not done anything to address the social issues that affect their lives? It’s simple math that the tax burden is primarily borne by working/middle class Americans yet when Democrats propose taxing the wealthy these same people who make up the majority of the Republican party vehemently opposes that! What sort of warped mentality leads to that type of decision? I have been trying to understand the logic behind the person who currently holds the title of President and am absolutely flabbergasted.
Not teaching my child says
Selected Works of C. Kyle Rudick
Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
I am critical communication scholar who studies how power, privilege, and oppression are constructed and marshaled in everyday talk. My research and teaching interests are predicated upon my strong belief that contemporary society is rife with inequalities and that it is my (your, our) ethical duty to imagine and pursue a life of freedom, equality, and harmony. My primary mode of activism is through research and teaching, where I encourage ideas that are counter to oppressive logics such as classism, racism, and sexism (to name a few)……………… SAD !!!!!
I identify as Muslim, so the whole Democrat/Republican thing doesn’t apply to me at all. But this article is well written and conveys logic and intellect concerning the issues therein.
I don’t agree with lots of things, including hypocrisy. But people will be people no matter what. And until people (collectively) want to do and be better, and take the necessary steps to make it happen, absolutely nothing will change.
We’re literally in the middle of a pandemic and look what’s going on. More fighting and hating one other than ever. We have warning signs all around us, and STILL we bicker, hate, and kill.
Just in my own community (people that have the same beliefs) have shown hate because I look different. How can I expect those that don’t believe as I to be any different?
Fact is (believe it or not) until the people start to fix their heart and minds, the only path is destruction (as we are witnessing today). Since I’ll be dead soon enough (along with everyone else in my age range), I can only hope that future generations learn from past mistakes. Because what we are currently experiencing are the repercussions of greed and as eloquently conveyed in the article, power for the sake of power.
Good help us all!
Michael Cocchiola says
The Republican Party is devoid of honor. It feels neither conscience nor shame. It is immune to hypocrisy. The Party now exists only to rule completely and unmercifully over America for no other purpose than the exercise of complete power. Trump is not the cause… merely the instrument.
Our American experiment with democracy was always one inch deep and three thousand miles wide. It took only the rejection of the evolution of American democracy by the conservative movement to reach the breaking point. And here we are. The leader of the Republican Party is openly his followers to end free elections, to reject the U.S. Constitution, to enthusiastically embrace authoritarianism, if not fascism.
November 3, 2020 will be as consequential as April 12, 1861
substitute the word democrat for republican in your comment and you will be closer to the truth
I guess you are also accusing Ruth Bader Ginsburg of being a hypocrite! After all back in 2016 she was in favor of approving a 9th Supreme Court Justice before the presidential election in November 2016 but now on her death bed she was pleading to NOT approve any Supreme Court Justice until after the election this November and inauguration next January.
Deborah Coffey says
And, WHO stopped that nomination and put a “new Senate rule” in place? WHO? What party? You haven’t seen the replay of the dozens of videos of Republicans being hypocritical. Change the channel, then.
There was never a policy/practice of NOT approving a justice because of an upcoming election so she was going along with precedence then. The corrupt Republicans are the ones who blocked the confirmation not even the courtesy of a hearing for President Obama’s nominee and changed what had been practice. Therefore her dying wish was in keeping with what the Republicans forced to happen when President Obama nominated a replacement 7 months before an election. The election has already begun, there are people already voting in some states yet corrupt Republicans want to ram through confirmation of a replacement in 45 days. Really?! Do you understand what hypocrisy means?
Deborah Coffey says
What a clear, succinct and spot-on article! Thank you for writing it, Professor Rudick. Michael Steele, former RNC Chair, made much the same point today on MSNBC. He was telling Democrats that criticism of today’s Republicans won’t cut it. Take them on, he said. Fight them with all you’ve got. Your making the points in writing is even more valuable. We will set it trending on all social media.
How about we cut through all the BS. The repubs and trump have been trying to do away with the Affordable Care Act. They can’t pull it off through congress so they stack the SC and get a favorable ruling and it’s done.
Someday his base will catch on when they wake up and find they have no health care.
This article has the nail on the head!
Dennis C Rathsam says
Democrats have done everything in thier power to hurt our president. Yet he still kept the promises he made in 2016. The economy is comming back strong, our military is the best in the world, we are now energy independent. Now its payback time for all the obstruction, they created. Trump will pick another concervative to fill the vacant seat, and the Supreme Court will be a force of freedom for many years to come. Thank God for Donald J Trump.
Deborah Coffey says
thier comming concervative ‘Nough said.
Consent to rule comes from the voting booth. Elections have consequences.
Gary R says
Both parties are hypocrites. Biden is accused of hypocrisy after saying in 2016 it is the ‘constitutional duty’ of a president to name a SCOTUS nominee even if it is an election year –
Trailer Bob says
Well that was a boatload of creative nonsense. And it was barely readable…SMH
Actually, the Republican Party has disappeared into the Trump Party.
I see this both ways, the Democratic party of which I’m a democratic has The Nancy party. She wasted so much money on trying to impeach Trump and wasted years where my party could have been working on healthcare, housing, the veterans BUT NO !, she wanted to grind her axe and it failed, hell it was going to fail from the get go with a Republican controlled Senate. It was her intent to keep her role as leader of the Democratic party in the House. That’s all it was and that’s how I see it. .
And in Feb of 2016 Chuck Schumer said : “ATT GOP: Senate has confirmed 17 #SCOTUS justices in presidential election years .#Doyourjonb” So you can bitch and moan and call the right names but it makes you bigger hypocrites than you already are. Get over it. You lost the last election and now you put up a worse candidate, something no one thought you could do and you platform is Orange Man Bad. An with that you think you will win another election. Move and and accept defeat.
The title of this article seems a little misleading. The Republicans in the Senate obviously ARE hypocrites if they confirm a SCOTUS nominee during an election year when they prevented the same thing from happening with an Obama nominee in 2016. The article says that it doesn’t matter if they are, because their supporters will still support them in the process in spite of their hypocrisy. They don’t care, they are grabbing for power by any means necessary.
………where are the people, which so vehemently supported McConnell in 2016 when he refused to even hear President Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court, 11 month out of the election, with the excuse that the people, who vote and the next president should be heard in the selection of the new Supreme Court nominee?
Now, we’re 43 days out and ……yes, of course, Trump and McConnell want to push their selected nominee through!
There are two quotes which come to my mind.
1. Albert Einstein once famously said:
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about th’ universe!
2. Hannah Arendt in 1951 :
“Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”
In 43 days we have a clear choice!
Carl Lewis says
Unfortunately, this article hits the nail on the head. In my opinion, this is why Donald Trump won the Republican Nomination: ordinary Republican voters were so sick of their elected party leaders doing nothing for them, that they hoped an outsider would make a difference.
Unfortunately, that outsider is even worse than the Old Guard Republicans: not only has he done nothing for the man in the street while enriching his billionaire friends, he also has no respect for the Office of President or the Constitution of the United States, which he swore to uphold.
Let me give examples:
• The tax laws that were passed by the Republican Congress and the President, while giving temporary token tax cuts to the middle class, have given permanent massive tax cuts to the very rich.
• He has openly flouted the tenth amendment (States’ rights) by inciting his followers to revolt against the Michigan Governor’s lockdown orders and sending Federal Troops to Portland against the Governor and Mayor’s wishes.
• If any Republican Voters reading this are making use of Medicare or Social Security, be aware that the President and the Republican Senate are hell bent on weakening or even doing away with those programs.
Just Sayin says
I will make up my mind when Biden puts out his list of candidates. It may sway some peoples vote.
They haven’t told him who he will nominate yet, guys a puppet. They don’t even answer questions, and if so they are scripted. Either way both side look out for themselves only, neither care about us little people
That’s fine because the power WILL shift this election cycle. The old stalwarts will NOT receive another term (I’m talking about Mitchie and Lindsey–buh bye). The Lincoln Project is working overtime and their hard work is showing. As long as the Republicans do not steal the election, like they are desperately trying to do, they can write their tell-all memoir from a beach house somewhere during golf breaks. Once there is a Democratic senate, house and White House, they will expand the court. All you Roe V Wade haters out there, here’s a proposition for you: Every woman that is [email protected], molested, or s3xually assaulted and that horrific act results in a pregnancy, they will give you that baby for YOU to take care of, since you know, you’re all about life and all. Funny, these same people preaching SAVE THE BABIES sure don’t give a flying who-ha about the lives of others during this time of COVID, or pretty much any other time EXCEPT when that baby is in the womb of someone else NOT THEM. They just want to tell women what they can and cannot do, and guess what? Never again. It may have empowered people on the anti-choice side but it empowered soooooooo many more on the pro-choice side. Unless we’ve gone back to the 1800’s there is no way to declare things unconstitutional that have already been declared as a right. It’s 2020, stay out of my womb, stay out of my bedroom, stay out of my life, and I’ll stay out of yours.
I don’t understand the issue here. Chief Justice Roberts insists the court is not political. They just interpret the constitution. What a crock of crap that statement was.
You, sir are part of the problem. The economy is in the tank and will come back once the virus is handled, no matter who is President. The military has been the strongest in the world for years and we are not energy independent. Sit down, have a glass of Orange Kool-Aid and read the article again.