I have been trying to understand what happened to the Republican Party.

The Republican Party seems to have abandoned its core principles during the Trump era. Once upon a time there was a vigorous “moderate” wing of the GOP. It’s gone. Once they were the party of personal responsibility, family values, multilateralism, supportive of immigration, free trade, and reflexive anti-Sovietism. They were once deficit hawks but threw out that policy to pass Trump’s massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest individuals in 2017. Republicans believed in the rule of law and revered the Constitution They abandoned these core principles under Trump’s sway. They became the cult of Trump. So enamored of him were they that the Party didn’t bother to write a platform for the 2020 election. It was simply ”whatever Trump said last time.”

What Republicans believe today:

Trump is always right.

Republicans believe that the best medicine for the economy is big tax cuts for corporations and the richest.

At the state level, the most compelling issue for Republicans is the very existence of people who are transgender. They don’t want them to serve in the military. They don’t want them to use the bathroom of their choice, although gender-neutral bathrooms are increasingly commonplace. They would legislate them out of existence if they could. The fight against transgender people is a big state issue.

The core belief of today’s Republican Party is that the 2020 election was rigged by the party out of power (who forgot to rig races for the Senate, the House, and governorships). Trump won in a landslide, they say, but the Democrats stole the election. The absence of any evidence doesn’t change their views, nor does the fact that the Trump campaign’s claims of fraud were rejected by scores of state and federal courts, by Trump-appointed judges and twice by the US Supreme Court. Any elected Republican who thinks that Biden won in a fair election, like Liz Cheney, puts their political career at risk. The party has chosen Trump’s Big Lie over the rule of law and the Constitution.

Republicans believe that Putin is our good friend, because Trump said so.

Republicans believe that immigration is bad for America because immigrants are murderers, rapists, and drug dealers. Trump said so. Immigration is bad because most immigrants are not white, and they threaten the white identity of the country.

Republican state officials are passing laws to suppress the votes of people who might vote Democratic, especially black and brown people.

If Democrats somehow win a governorship, the legislature (if controlled by Republicans) shamelessly passes laws to diminish the governor’s power.

Republicans believe they have a duty to protect schools from “critical race theory,” even if they aren’t sure what it is. They don’t want white students or their parents to feel any responsibility for racial injustice, past or present. Republicans imagine that teachers are indoctrinating students to become socialists or Communists. This is nonsense.

Republicans want charter schools, vouchers, home-schooling, and they are willing to send public dollars to anyone who opens a school, regardless of whether it operates for profit and regardless of quality.

Republicans don’t value separation of church and state. In fact, they vigorously lobby to send public money to religious schools.

Republicans believe in strict accountability for public schools, but not for charter schools or religious schools that get public money.

The party of “family values” evaporated when Trump became their president. An affair with a porn star? Who cares? Nude photos of the First Lady all over the Internet? No problem (remember how shocked they were when Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress?). Multiple claims of sexual harassment? Forget the family values thing.

Republicans today are the party of Trump.