Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party was made up of American patriots whose goals were ending the Civil War while abolishing slavery and preserving the Union. The Republican Party of today is a diverse collection of radicalized malcontents creating a civil war over their racist beliefs, wacky conspiracy theories, extremist views, and lies. Instead of preserving the union they tear it apart.
The radicalization of the Republican Party began with Newt Gingrich in the 1980s. Republicans embraced Gingrich’s "fierce, institution-destroying, partisanship” tactics to capture their insurgent factions. His legacy evolved to encompass the Tea Party generation in 2010 and Trump’s presidency in 2016. The tentacles of Republican extremism are now deeply rooted in all parts of society, including the military and police. The Republican elite have generated enough conspiracy theories, false narratives, and flat out lies to fill a library. All of them are spread far and wide, every hour of every day, by Republican propagandist media like Fox, Newsmax, Infowars, countless small online purveyors, and radical groups on social media. Because rank and file Republicans get all or most of their information from extremist sources like Fox, they become radicalized, brain washed, and constantly agitated, like an enormous cult. This system of extremist leaders with a vast and finely tuned propaganda network keeps messaging consistent so the diverse groups react to it in unison. This may sound strange, but it is no stranger than the very strong popular support Adolf Hitler garnered from perfectly normal people during his rise to power before World War II. The Republican propaganda machine is much more finely tuned and far wider in scope than Hitler's. Like Hitler's propaganda, Republican propaganda is designed to demonize some segments of society and make them scapegoats responsible for what Republicans perceive as society's ills. Donald Trump completely normalized extremism within this cult of followers. Extremists now own the Republican Party, and tried to overthrow American democracy, first by deception and then by force. This isn't some sick and perverted video game, it's the sick and perverted Republican reality that eats away at America like a cancer.
As mentioned previously, Republicans are a diverse group. Some were already racists whose sick ideas are reinforced by party rhetoric. Some believe their right to not wear a mask supersedes the rights of everyone around them to not be infected with a deadly virus they may unknowingly carry. Some believe COVID-19 is a hoax and America's more than 450,000 dead did not really die. Some believe the Parkland, Sandy Hook, and other school shootings were "false-flag" operations designed to promote gun control. Some support the execution of Democrats. Some, known as QAnon, believe Trump is fighting a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking ring and plot against him. Today's Republican Party has become a lie and conspiracy theory factory. Brainwashed racists, extremists, and mentally deranged people of all stripes have found a home in Trumpism, which has now fully replaced republicanism.
Many thought that Republican extremists trying to stage a coup and overthrow democracy would cause the ouster of these extremists. It did not, because those extremists have become the heart and soul of the party. This is evidenced by the fact that after the insurrection Trump retained overwhelming support (87%) from Republicans and 45% of all Republicans approved of the violent insurrection. Echoing that, 95% of all Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against impeaching Trump for inciting the insurrection and his failure to make any attempt to stop it after it began. Republican politicians have become so intensely focused on their warped political agenda that they are effectively absent when it comes to leading the country. Who cares about having rational national security, education, economic, or foreign policies when a sect of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles are plotting against Trump? Instead of devising an effective national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or anything else that might be important, cultist Republicans and their leader occupied themselves with this kind of crap when they weren't busy undermining election integrity and encouraging violence to keep their leader in power. Even though Trump is no longer President, Republican cultists in the Senate are doing their best to make sure their true leader is not convicted of his crimes, while other members are censured for being disloyal by speaking the truth regarding Trump's incitation of the Capitol insurrection. The outrageousness of this defies description, but as the demented Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green says of Trump and the GOP, "The party is his", and she is correct.
Staunch Republicans surely miss having their orange affront to human decency as president, but they already talk about electing him again in 2024. By then he may be too old or unable to run, but there are many deplorables-in-training who could serve as backups. Among others, these include the racist Senator Josh Hawley. He is a is a much younger and thinner version of Trump without the stupidity, incompetence and personal obnoxiousness. Another rising star of the Republican Reich I mentioned above is the gun toting QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene. Among other unhinged beliefs and actions she demeans school shooting victims and their surviving parents with her "false flag" conspiracy theories, thinks Jewish space lasers are responsible for a wildfire in California, and insists there is no evidence a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Even with no grasp on reality, Republicans gave her a position on the House Committee on Education and Labor that they refused to take away from her. Marjorie is bound to rise high within the Republican cult. With a few more years of lying experience she could easily become a Republican presidential candidate. Being female may work against her. Males who feel entitled to grope the genitals of random women are preferred by Republican Party elites and apparently by the GOP electorate, since Trump bragged about doing this on video well before the 2016 election.
Many Americans are relieved to have a President who is at least competent, and is not a source of constant embarrassment, outrageous drama, unending lies, and despicable actions. In this relief it is easy to become complacent. It would be a huge mistake to forget that Trumpism is still alive and well, and hiding under the name "Republican Party".
P.S.: Some may read this essay and think it is unfair, since some Republicans do not support the lunatics. Indeed, there are some old school "establishment" Republicans who only want to do things like eliminate restrictions on environmental destruction by corporations. They regard the lunatics as dangerous, but these establishment Republicans no longer matter within the party. They should either try changing how their party operates, change parties, or fully own the extremism they reliably support with their votes.