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I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard somebody who's supposed to be in the know claim that Republican politicians are knuckling under to Donald Trump mainly because they're scared of him.

Knuckling Under to Trump

I don't buy it. Neither does Slate's Amanda Marcotte. "…The likelier story is that most Republicans support Trump not despite, but because of his all-out assault on our democratic system," she wrote last December.

In other words, well-nigh the whole GOP is cool with Trumpism.

Marcotte doesn't pull punches: "…Republicans are not cowering in fear of Trump. On the contrary, they are exalting in his shamelessness…Republicans clearly feel empowered by Trump. He frees them to reveal their darkest desire — which is to end democracy as we know it, and to cut any corners or break any laws necessary to get the job done.

"Whatever word you want to use for it — fascism, authoritarianism, pick your poison — the grim reality is that Republicans, both politicians and voters, appear to be all in on this project."

No matter, I keep hearing Never Trumper Republicans and liberal Democrats insist that GOP lawmakers are showing profiles in cowardice because they're afraid to cross Trump.

That dog won't hunt with Marcotte, or me. "…The darker truth is that Republican voters, like Republican politicians, see clearly what Trump did — use the power of his office in an overt attempt to cheat in the 2020 election — and they love it," she wrote. "Like their leaders, Republican voters are feeling done with democracy and eager to follow Trump into a new world, where the majority of Americans who vote for Democrats are kept out of power, by any means necessary."

Marcotte doubts that Ever Trumpers can be won over by a moderate white guy topping the Democratic ticket this year. So do I. I live deep in Trumpistan—rural, Bible-Belt, 90 percent white westernmost Kentucky.

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The white folks with their trinity of flags—Confederate, Christian (Protestant) and Trump 2020—will never give up their Great White Hope.

The white folks with their trinity of flags—Confederate, Christian (Protestant) and Trump 2020—will never give up their Great White Hope. Nor will GOP lawmakers in Washington, according to Brian Clardy, a history professor at Murray State University, about 20 miles down the road from me.

"They may disagree with his 'in your face' style' or the bullying," he said. "But they're in lockstep with his policies."

Not surprisingly, Clardy put Moscow Mitch, our fellow Kentuckian, atop the list of Trump's willing Washington accomplices. He said Sen. Mitt Romney mostly aids and abets Trump, too, though he voted to oust Trump.

Romney has voted the Trump position on legislation nearly 79 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight's "Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump."

Trumpism, Marcotte explained, is "a movement of white men and their wives who hold a narrow, racist, reactionary view of what being an 'American' is. They believe that those of us who don't fit into that view — because we're not white or because we're not Christian or because we're pointy-headed intellectuals who believe in free thought or because we're queer or because we're feminists — are not legitimate Americans, therefore not legitimate voters. So Trump's law-breaking to undermine the 2020 election is seen only as a necessary corrective to the 'problem' of a pluralistic democracy."

Trump has turned the GOP's racist, sexist, misogynist, nativist and homophobic dog whistling into bullhorn blasts.

Trump has turned the GOP's racist, sexist, misogynist, nativist and homophobic dog whistling into bullhorn blasts. Trumpism is a noxious weed that sprouted from the poisonous seeds of the Southern Strategy, Moral Majority, Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus.

Trump isn't driving Republican opinion. He's just reflecting it. "It is hard to remember that Republicans were once the Party of Lincoln," Max Boot lamented in the Washington Post in 2018. "But in the 1960s they sold out their birthright to court Southern voters smarting over desegregation…With his pandering to white grievances, Trump has abetted the rise of the neo-Confederates."

Long gone is the party of Lincoln and Liberty. The GOP looks more like the party of Jeff Davis.

[dc]"T[/dc]here may be matters of style where many Republicans differ with Donald Trump — although they've largely gotten over that," Marcotte wrote. "But they see him as their single best weapon for ending American democracy, which Republicans increasingly see as an obstacle to their true goals."

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Berry Craig