From the Right



The GOP: Rotting fish or bag of rotten apples?

S.E. Cupp, Tribune Content Agency on

As the ancient proverb goes, the fish rots from the head.

The expression’s been used by countless leaders in business to describe the way a bad CEO can hamper productivity downstream, or to explain how corruption can infect an organization. Of course, it’s also been used by law enforcement to describe its approach to taking down mob bosses.

And yet, unimaginably, here we are.

For the past six years, since Donald Trump took over the Republican party and remade it in his unseemly image, scholars and analysts, Democrats and Never-Trumpers, journalists and media personalities have asserted fairly consistently that he is responsible for taking the GOP where it is today.

It’s hard not to agree. While Trump didn’t invent all of the far-right’s historical and problematic impulses, he certainly exploited and exploded them. The racism and bigotry, xenophobia and homophobia that many conservatives had tried to rid the party of over the past couple of decades found new comfort in Trump’s GOP.

While conservative leaders before him had pushed for austerity, fiscal responsibility, free trade, and the economic optimism of rising tides, Trump favored reckless spending, exploding the debt and deficit, trade protectionism, and the economic pessimism of grievance politics.


He took the party away from its conservative principles and steered it toward whatever he needed at the moment. That included a shift away from policy and toward divisive culture wars, an abuse of the executive, and attempts at corrupting the separation of powers.

Finally, he ushered in a rogue wave of new conspiracy theories, denialism, junk science, and cultism, all of which still threaten to undermine the very foundation of democracy upon which America is built.

If the GOP is a rotting fish, Trump certainly is the head.

But another old adage is just as instructive, maybe even more so now that Trump is no longer president (for now): One rotten apple can spoil the bunch.


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