The Republican Party of Misinformation | Opinion

It was inevitable.

The impeachment of Donald J. Trump was doomed to fail. A guilty Trump would have led to the indictment of Republicans who were complicit in the insurrection and bring into question previous GOP presidencies.

The Republican Party built its foundation on a string of falsehoods. To protect itself, Republicans acquitted Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors.

While no previous president has led a mob to an insurrection, successive Republican presidencies have built toward Trump-like demagoguery. Despite many Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's façade of outrage at the unprecedented insurrection on the Capitol, Republicans are adamant on protecting the former president.

Although partially because of Trump's continued stranglehold over the party, the GOP would have never been able to impeach the former president. If they did, it would have meant an end to business as usual for the GOP. Investing in the oil industry would not be possible without spreading lies about climate change.

The Republican Party's legacy stands on spreading misinformation, avoiding facts and creating false narratives. Trump's time in office became synonymous with an era of fake news and lies. It was not the first administration to engage in such behavior.

Since November, the majority of the Republican Party largely backed Trump's continued lies concerning the presidential election results. The spread of this false alternative narrative resulted in violence. It has been calculated that Trump peddled some 30,573 falsehoods during his presidency, dividing the nation. Analysts have suggested the polarization has left the country on the brink of civil war.

Historically, no former Democrat or Republican president has directly instigated violence within U.S. borders. Previous Republican presidencies have used lies to promote conflict globally, xenophobia and protect a privatized health care system, as well as a plethora of conservative agendas.

Trump's era of misinformation has direct parallels to former President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq invasion.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Trump continually downplayed the severity of the virus. As coronavirus cases began to exponentially rise, the Trump administration attempted to mislead the public on COVID-19 statistics by initially stripping the CDC of access to coronavirus data and trying to prevent the release of and retroactively editing the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Without understating the coronavirus risks, the Republican Party's priority of keeping America open to protect the economy would likely not have been accepted by the public.

Republicans TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images
An Indiana delegate attends the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Pedal back to 2003, and in much the same way, George W. Bush resolutely claimed that there would be no casualties from the Iraq War. Setting the precedent for Trump's coverage of COVID-19 data, Bush attempted to ban reporting statistics of casualties from the Iraq invasion, as well as coverage of any U.S. soldiers returning in coffins, in order to present only positive news from a war that had suffered from mass public disapproval even prior to its inception.

To this day the exact figures of civilian and military casualties as a result of the Iraq War are unknown with estimates ranging from the hundreds of thousands to the millions. The entire reasoning for the war was based on false pretenses and lies.

Even now, former Bush aides rush to double down on the repeatedly debunked narrative of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. If the Republican Party acted to denounce Trump, they would be forced to look back at previous presidencies.

Donald Trump simply followed Bush's model of misinformation.It allowed Trump to spread lies about the coronavirus, promote anti-maskers and eventually falsely claim an election victory. Where Trump continues to be painted in a negative light by much of mainstream media, Bush on the other hand enjoys NFL games with Ellen DeGeneres and is presented as a loveable artist. Could such an airbrushed future be in the works for Trump?

Similar to their successors, former Presidents George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan both lied about the Iran-Contra affair. They spread misinformation concerning threats from a militarized Iran, yet concurrently sold weapons to Iran and lied about the scandal.

It has been in the Republican Party's self interest to perpetuate falsehoods. Without pandering to the fears of white working class families by fueling xenophobia via the discredited lie that immigrants lower wages, the GOP would never be able to continue to back corporate America's opposition to raising the minimum wage. So long as Republicans are willing to create false narratives and downplay scientific data, Trump and similar figures can again be expected to take hold of the party.

For the Republican Party to truly turn the corner and avoid this legacy of falsehoods and violence, they must turn their back on Trump.

Unfortunately, the majority of Republican senators failed to impeach Trump and in doing so highlighted their complicity in his lies, disinformation and consequently, insurrection.

With Trump out of office, the focus must turn to seeding out those who continue to facilitate false narratives.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz would be a great place to start.

Ahmed Twaij is a freelance journalist focusing mainly on U.S. politics, social justice and the Middle East. He is also a photographer and filmmaker. His Twitter is @twaiji.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.