Trump’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers Ate the Republican Party
At some point, you find yourself at an abandoned mine screaming at passing motorists: “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”
It’s Halloween, which is comforting, because the post-apocalyptic vibe going on in our politics can at least be written off as ambiance. I’ve specifically struggled to come up with the perfect analogy to explain how otherwise normal conservatives turned into Donald Trump apologists, but the best example is The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
A few years ago, conservative writer Jonah Goldberg made this very observation. Joking about his then-colleagues at National Review, Goldberg wrote, “I live in constant fear that I will run into Kevin Williamson, Charlie Cooke, or Rich Lowry and they will start telling me that Donald Trump is a serious person because he’s tapping into this or he’s willing to say that. I imagine my dog suddenly barking at them uncontrollably.”
I had that same feeling again this week, when story after story showed how some of the most respected conservative individuals, institutions, and outlets have been infected or replaced by alien duplicates. In reality, this didn’t happen overnight. But it’s impossible to escape the nightmarish conclusion that the slow-motion takeover of the GOP is now complete.
Consider the fact that Rep. Adam Kinzinger has been purged from the GOP just as Sen. Mitch McConnell is endorsing ex-football star (and Trump fan) Hershel Walker—a man whose checkered history involves accusations of physical abuse and admissions of playing Russian roulette—for the U.S. Senate.
We are watching the Republican Party slowly morph from a party of Kinzingers to a party of Walkers, and it’s being done with the imprimatur of “serious” party elders who are, ostensibly, tasked with vetting, recruiting, and backing the most qualified and electable public servants.
While this was going on, The Wall Street Journal gave space this week to Donald Trump, himself, to argue on their pages that “actually the election was rigged.”
It’s not just the Journal’s editorial page. Just as Trump is not alone in trying to spread his Big Lie and whitewash the subsequent January 6 insurrection. Consider the latest edition of Imprimis, a free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College (read: respected, serious conservative institution), titled “The January 6 Insurrection Hoax.”
If you’ve never heard of Imprimis, it’s supposed to be boring, serious, and academic—the kind of stuff that even Wall Street Journal readers might find tedious. Likewise, if you’ve never heard of the author of this piece, Roger Kimball, he’s the sort of nerdy conservative wonk who wears a bowtie and was, until recently, considered to be eccentric, if harmless.
A much more prominent example of (what looks to be) revisionist history was revealed this week when my former boss Tucker Carlson tweeted a trailer to his forthcoming documentary, billed as “The true story behind 1/6.”
The finished product hasn’t aired yet but as Allahpundit, at the conservative site HotAir, writes, based on the trailer, it “Looks to be a three-hour exercise in DARVO. Deny that the perpetrators did anything wrong (‘patriots’); attack by accusing others of wrongdoing (‘false flag’); reverse victim and offender, treating apologists for January 6 as a persecuted class.”
In a tweet, Rep. Liz Cheney took Fox News to task, writing, “It appears that [Fox News] is giving [Tucker Carlson] a platform to spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on January 6. As [Fox News] knows, the election wasn’t stolen and January 6 was not a ‘false flag’ operation.”
In between the claim that the election was stolen from Trump and the Jan. 6 riot, there was an attempt to get Vice President Mike Pence to magically throw the election to Trump on Jan. 6, led by a once-respected conservative legal scholar named John Eastman.
In recent weeks, Eastman has made the bizarre claim that his memo didn’t actually reflect his own views. Unfortunately, an undercover video taken at Claremont surfaced this week that demonstrated otherwise. According to Eastman, the only problem with his memo was that Pence, being an “establishment Republican,” didn’t have the guts (or the inclination) to follow through on the plan.
For decades, Eastman was a serious and respected conservative. And then, after decades of service, he became a Trumpoid person. If you don’t think this is scary, I’m not sure what is.
Now, a lot of people will tell you that slasher films present the scarier metaphor. I disagree. In Friday The 13th, Jason stalks and kills young people at Camp Crystal Lake (think Kinzinger, who, on Friday, announced he would not seek re-election). While getting (politically) axed may be scary, there’s something MUCH creepier about watching a friend’s humanity slowly drain away as they morph little-by-little into a MAGA-zombie or alien clone or “pod people” (or whatever). And that’s what has happened to me.
The fact that this transformation is still happening after the horror icon (in this case, Trump) was ostensibly defeated only serves to reinforce the genre’s trope about the villain reanimating or being resurrected.
In the meantime, I keep watching my former allies become unrecognizable. At some point, there are no normal human beings left, and you find yourself at an abandoned mine screaming at passing motorists: “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”
Whatever you do, don’t go to sleep. They get you while you’re sleeping.