For some time, observers have noted that the extreme rightward swing of the GOP to incorporate racists, misogynists, homophobes and other bigots that started with the Voting and Civil Rights Acts but escalated by the order of magnitude as a response to President Black Ninja has ultimately resulted in the inmates taking over the asylum and nominating Donald Trump.
It turns out though, that Donald Trump may just be the less scary of the two big things the party's delegates are set to decide on next week in Cleveland: its nominee, and its platform.
Their nominee, Donald J. Trump, is undoubtedly the worst their party has produced since Herbert Hoover. Trump has risen in Republican politics by insulting other candidates, pledging to remove Mexicans and Muslims, promising to make enemies of the rest of the world, praising historical villains like Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussain and Vladimir Putin, and demanding punishment for women who have abortions, among other regressive and anti-American views.
But perhaps with the goal of making these views appear moderate by contrast, the Republican platform committee has produced one of the most draconian, anti-Constitutional document since perhaps the Dred Scott decision. The document that their delegates are going to ratify next week subjugates the rule of law to religious dicta, demands a theocratic government and proselytization in public schools, happily endorses enshrining discrimination the law and the Constitution against gays and transgender people, applauded "conversion" therapy to try to turn gay people straight, and terms married same sex families as drug-addicts and damaged.
The platform committee defeated amendment after amendment acknowledging LGBT people as targets of ISIS terrorism, demanded that victims of rape and incest be forced to carry to term pregnancies resulting from said rape and incest, chastised porn as a "public health crisis" (but you know, the things actually killing people, guns, are not), and of course, heartily approved of the yuuuge wall.
The most critical part about this is that the platform process, though influenced by Trump, seemed to evolve largely independent of him. In fact, a few influential Republicans have gone on television and said as much. And while a whole bunch of usual suspects within the GOP are skipping Trumpalooza next week, the platform will be the statement of the values and priorities of Republicans in power - enough power that they can overrule their nominee and turn up the hate factor even more than he is.
Donald Trump, maniac that he is, is but a symptom of the disease that plagues the Republican party and the political Right. And that disease is that the Republican party no longer loves, likes, or respects America. Everything in their candidate and everything in their platform is geared to resuscitate values that America has left behind: exclusion, discrimination and hate. They are a party chasing after a closed and closed-minded America hostile to pluralism and immigrants and a religious and puritanical state that overwhelms a Constitutional Republic.
As America moves in precisely the opposite direction, the GOP seems to only strengthen their belief that their party's salvation is not in progress but in retrogressive values. As America grows more diverse - in race, culture, and values - they become more attached to the appeal of racism and prejudice. The more accepting America becomes, the more apoplectic a GOP warns us that the end is near.
Donald Trump's rise, which came from appealing to exactly these kinds of extremes, has not tempered the Republican party's regressive vision of America. If anything, the party's peculiar strategy of trying to win elections by making a louder and louder appeal to a smaller and smaller swath of the American public has only intensified.
And in November, what we are up against is this very vision of America. Yes, we must beat Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton president. But that is not enough. Not nearly. If we are going to vote our values - American values - then we cannot just elect Hillary Clinton. We must elect Democrats up and down the ballot. In Congress, in state houses, in state legislatures, in county government.
Because Donald Trump is not the disease. Donald Trump is a symptom. To treat the disease at its root, we must defeat the Republican vision in a loud and clear statement.