Is the Republican Party a cult?
The start of the transformation of the Republican Party into a cult began with Newt Gingrinch.
"Newt very deliberately generated tribalism," Norman Ornstein said. "It was not just political polarization, different ideological viewpoints. It was trying to turn this into a situation where people could view Democrats as evil, trying to destroy their way of life. And really using a process where he would shatter all of the norms of behavior that we have seen around Congress to achieve that goal."
Ornstein pointed out that, of course, Gingrich got help from Reagan's repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. He said Hastert subsequently accelerated the process of the transformation of the party. Mitch McConnell was the coup de grace with him defying all Senate norms.
"The fear of being shunned or excommunicated," Ornstein said. "Would overwhelm your reluctance to violate more norms. And that working with Democrats was like sleeping with the enemy, with the evil apostate. And all of that has taken us to where we are today."
Steve Kornacki would add that Gingrich taught his party that every opportunity must be used to push the Republican message. And he wanted the vocabulary to be always attacking.
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