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Opinion | How long are Republicans going to do this to themselves?

A large portion of the GOP has been pretending to believe really dumb things for years now, and the price has been national ridicule.

Sen. Katie Britt delivers the Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.
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Of course Katie Britt was acting.

How could you have possibly expected anything else? 

Maybe the performance itself – akin to something you might find under a gazebo on the Hallmark Channel around Christmas – was a bit shocking to the senses, but the fact that Britt was acting could not have been a surprise to anyone. Not at this point. 

The entire semi-sane bloc of the Republican Party has been acting for the better part of the last two decades, pretending to believe incredibly dumb things in order to score cheap votes and suffering national ridicule as a price. 

I know it. You know it. They know it. 

None of these Republicans who we consider somewhat normal actually believe 75 percent of the utter bull feces that comes spewing so effortlessly these days out of their mouths. 

They don’t believe Donald Trump really won in 2020. They don’t really believe that the border becomes a true crisis every two or four years. They don’t believe Trump is anything other than an awful human unfit to lead a prison gang, much less the country. 

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They don’t believe librarians are a bigger threat to children than handguns. They don’t believe that DEI and CRT are real problems. They don’t think embryos – frozen or otherwise – are actually children. 

But dammit, they really, really need the votes of the rubes who do believe those things and who respond so reliably to such racism and who can be relied on to react to the fear mongering. 

They have no real policies or deep thoughts. They have few guiding principles, and the ones they do have are very often compromised by the pandering they’re forced to do to win votes from deplorable people. 

In short, they have all been reduced to Katie Britt at that kitchen table. 

Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not excusing Britt for her performance – not in any way. I’m just saying that aside from the infomercial-level acting job, nothing about it was particularly unique for today’s Republicans, who are still trying to placate MAGA delusions while portraying to not-insane people that they have a working brain cell. 

Trying to land midway between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mitt Romney. Enough crazy to avoid a primary challenge but not so much that serious money people avoid you. 

Until now, Britt has pulled that off quite nicely. And for the most part, the fact that she actually is a decent, intelligent person has slid under the radar of the MAGA crowd. 

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Thursday was to be her first true test. We know the result. 

But I honestly wonder what a Republican “win” in that situation would have looked like. Because let’s be real here, there’s not much to work with. 

President Biden might be “sleepy,” and you can say that guy has dementia if you’d like, but someone in the Republican Party should at some point explain why that sleepy old guy with dementia keeps kicking their asses. 

Biden has placed the GOP in a tiny box, and his handling of the immigration debate essentially sealed up every exit. 

There is no way to attack him on the economy. His handling of the post-pandemic world has been nothing short of spectacular. The U.S. has recovered faster and better than every other country in the world. 

We have record job growth that continues to amaze economists and defy expectations. In addition, we have had some of the best wage growth in American history. And for the first time in 50 years, we have had an actual reduction in the wage gap in this country. 

The bottom 60 percent of the country’s earners are now making nearly 5 percent more than they were before Biden took office, and yes, that is adjusted for inflation. The truly remarkable thing about that is that the bottom 20 percent of earners have actually seen the biggest increase in wages – nearly 7 percent. 

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The outlook for the coming years is just as strong, as interest rates are expected to fall steadily, spurring another boom in real estate and construction. 

With those realities, all that’s left for the GOP is scare tactics – libraries, DEI and the border. Especially the border, because that’s where the scary brown people who speak a different language are. 

The trouble is the border is a complicated and decades-old political problem. Patching it, even in the short term, requires serious people to create and pass new laws and regulations. A bipartisan group of serious people, which included Britt, did just that – creating a bipartisan border package deal that drew support from the border patrol. 

And then, after Biden encouraged Congress to send it to him, Republicans, responding to Trump’s desire to use the border as an election issue, voted against it and killed it. 

When Britt sat down at that kitchen table on Thursday night, there was nothing left but breathless lies about 20-year-old sex trafficking stories (which in a sane world would be evidence to decent people that we should be doing way more to defend and protect migrants, not shutting the door on them). 

It was exactly what we should have expected. And the only question any of us, including Republicans like Britt should have now, is how long are Republicans who know better going to continue to subject themselves to national ridicule like this instead of taking a stand for truth and decency?

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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