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The 2024 GOP Primary: We all Lose

It's only going to get uglier over the next 18 months.

Let's Talk About Teen Mental Health | I asked Substack’s AI tool to generate an image about “teen mental health” and this is one of many it created in seconds. This person doesn’t exist and is entirely made up by AI; and note the weird appearance of the eyes (a symptom of AI art).

Above: A basket of deplorables.

(This is the opening essay from this week's edition of my Sunday Note, which is brought to you by Armory Square Ventures and produced with Zach Peterson.)

THERE’S VERY LITTLE CONSERVATISM in today’s self-described “convervative movement.”

That’s been the case since at least the George W. Bush administration, but it’s truly amazing what the Republican Party has become.

The 2024 presidential election will be here faster than we all think, and the field is not looking very inspiring.

Donald Trump is the favorite, Ron DeSantis is one of the least interpersonally charismatic politicians I’ve ever seen, and Mike Pence just entered the race and needs to woo a cohort of voters who supported a violent mob that meant to hang him from homemade gallows in front of the Capitol during the January 6 riots. Chris Christie and Tim Scott are in the mix, but it’s still the Trump show on the political right, despite the fact that some are hoping he’ll be watching the Iowa caucuses from jail or prison.

Father’s Day this past weekend really got me thinking about our politics more broadly and how it all revolves around the GOP’s unique blend of chaos, idiocy, and utter shamelessness. I was thinking about how many people have watched their fathers succumb to the poison that is right-wing media. Fox News is the easy target here, but it’s just a gateway drug and laundering mechanism for the Newsmax and Daily Caller crowd.

The old moniker “this isn’t your father’s such and such” really doesn’t apply to the GOP either. Reformed Republicans who diverged from the party during the Trump years talk about this a lot — how the GOP needs to “go back to its roots” of small government, lower taxes, and other things that we all associate with the party. This glosses over the fact that, since Reagan, the GOP has been the pale horse upon which death sits.

Reagan’s somehow-still-alive trope about the scariest words in the English language being “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” set in motion a now-five-decade-long descent on the political right that has culminated in…[waves hands]…all of this.

The irony, of course, is that Republicans have been anything but conservative, and light years from anything resembling “small government.” Reagan nearly tripled the national debt during his presidency; George W. Bush doubled it; Trump engineered the third-biggest deficit rise of any president (of course, he did). As an aside, I would argue that Trump doesn’t even see himself as a conservative, but was happy to take the mantle if it meant his ascension to power. BTW, if you’ve never heard of the “Imperfect vessel/King Cyrus” theory of evangelical Christians, you should read about it.

Finally, a note on the two Indian-Americans in the race: Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy. Having first come to America at the age of nine, I could never have imagined one day that the first two people to declare they are running in opposition to their party’s previous president would be two Indian-Americans, including a guy from my parent's home state of Kerala. But then I’d not have imagined that the anti-science son of Robert F. Kennedy would be challenging his party’s sitting president, but that’s fodder for a future newsletter.

These are just two examples of now-wealthy children of immigrants who don’t know their history and imagine that their good fortune is all because of their own hard work and they owe nothing to the centuries of immigrants and slaves who made their success possible.

Too many takedowns of Haley to post here, but here’s a good one:

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