Every time we turn around these days, the bar for the Republican Party gets set even lower by a new criminal scandal, a new racism scandal, none of which ever gets cleaned up by the party’s leadership. But if you want the definitive measure of just how far the GOP has fallen, you need to only consider two words: Justin Amash.
Wait a minute, you’re saying. Justin Amash? Isn’t he one of the few halfway decent Republicans left in Congress? Yes, and that’s why everyone keeps slobbering all over him. Just today, CNN posted a lengthy puff piece about Amash, revealing just how lonely it is for him to be one of the few non-corrupt, non-deranged House Republicans.
To be clear, Justin Amash deserves credit for not wanting anything to do with Donald Trump, or Trump’s racist wall, or his Republican Party’s increasingly deranged overall agenda. He seems like a genuinely decent, if nondescript, political moderate. But that’s the problem, because that’s all he is – and that alone has everyone relieved that he exists.
Let’s say that Congressman Amash became a Democrat. The thing about being in the Democratic Party is you’re expected to be a decent, non-racist, non-crazy, non-criminal, rational human being. The Democrats don’t hand out extra credit for that. As a Democrat, Amash would be obscure, solid if unimpressive, and rarely heard from – because the House is full of Democrats who have far more to say than this guy does.
But because Justin Amash is a Republican, he’s considered some kind of folk hero just for not being garbage. That’s how low the bar is set for how the American mainstream views the Republican Party. The trouble with the bar being so high for the Democrats, and so low for the Republicans, is that if each side merely meets expectations, the voters in the middle can trick themselves into believing that both sides are the same.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report