Republicans are no longer a serious party

OPINION: Senator Tom Cotton’s horrific attack labeling Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson a Nazi sympathizer is the latest proof that the GOP is the party of white grievance, conspiracy theories and disinformation.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting to vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill, April 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images).

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), in a word, is sinister. His latest attack on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is reprehensible. For us as American citizens to continue to look the other way, clutch our pearls, and say the Republican Party has been temporarily overtaken by Trump and his forces, and that someday soon, more reasonable people like former Texas Congressman Will Hurd or current Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney will rescue the party, is lunacy. Cotton is the new Republican Party. 

On Tuesday, Cotton, following a Monday tweet from Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, went on a pro-pedophile, Nazi defender campaign to smear Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson and the three Republican senators who said they would vote to confirm her—Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. 

Cotton, who gave Jackson a hard time during her confirmation hearings, took to the Senate floor and said, “You know the last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the Nazis,” referring to Justice Robert Jackson. “This Judge Jackson may have gone there to defend them.” 

Asked the day after his incendiary comments if he stood by his remarks, Cotton doubled down and said, “Judge Jackson voluntarily represented three terrorists in three cases. And she called American soldiers war criminals. I have no patience for it.”

This is the new Republican Party. This is not your great grandmother’s Eisenhower Republican Party, where Black Americans once considered the “Grand Old Party” their home after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. (President Eisenhower was the first president to send in the National Guard to integrate schools after the historic Brown v. Board Education decision.)

This Republican Party doesn’t embrace Black people unless they talk like Candace Owens or former right-wing talk show host-turned California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder, or, most of all, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone Black Republican elected in the Congress who announced he is voting against the nation’s first Black female Supreme Court nominee. But the issue is much deeper and more disturbing than how the GOP has run off Black voters from the party since the mid- to late-1960s. 

The real issue is that the Republican Party is one of only two major political parties in the United States, and when one of our two major political parties acts openly racist, invites white nationalists into its membership, embraces wild conspiracy theories about Democrats being secret pedophiles operating out of pizza parlors, I think it’s fair to say they no longer are a serious party. I say this as someone who was a Republican for most of my adult life.   

Perhaps, most alarming of all, Donald J. Trump received the votes of nearly 75 million Americans in the last presidential election. This, after he was impeached the first time and after four years of a very tumultuous, divisive presidency. 

Therein lies the challenge as we head into the 2022 midterms and, ultimately, the 2024 presidential election. No matter who the Republicans field in 2022 or 2024, national polls seem to indicate there will be a Republican takeover of the federal government in November. And Trump leads all national polls for the Republican nomination for the 2204 presidential race if he wants it. How scary is that? 

My point is that, as whacky and mean as we may think Tom Cotton and his ilk are, they speak to a very large group of our fellow Americans. This cultural divide is real; it is dangerous and damaging to American democracy. The Jan. 6 insurrection was just the first shot across the bough. The more those on the right demonize the rest of us, the more danger our great nation is in. 

Senators Cotton, Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marsh Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are the face of the new white grievance Republican Party. And that is the point here. They are not crazy. They represent a segment of our population that wants to go backward on race, equality, progress and inclusion—a segment that, day by day, is growing in power and influence through disinformation and crass political attacks.

Sophia A. Nelson is a contributing editor for theGrio. Nelson is a TV commentator and is the author of “The Woman Code: Powerful Keys to Unlock,” “Black Women Redefined.”

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