Sometimes I wonder if the GOP ever looks at themselves and thinks “how did we get here? How did we let Trump take over the party?” Republicans have been happy to peddle falsehoods and use lies to rally up their base for decades.
George HW Bush’s policies were based in reality but he wasn’t afraid to traffic in lies for campaigning purposes. Over time the GOP campaigns became less and less based in facts and more based on the world that conservatives imagined. They could say “Obamacare death panels” or “Democrats will take your guns” and it would mobilize their base and help them win elections even if it wasn’t remotely true. Eventually Republican politicians found themselves having to try to defend fact based policy against a Republican base who no longer believes in facts thus the Tea Party rose and took control of the GOP. When Trump was running for president it became impossible to call him out for lying in the Republican primary because the GOP base had already abandoned objective reality.
I know about Goodwin’s law and that comparisons to Nazi Germany are generally scoffed at but when seeing the rise of the far right and the struggles of the last “moderate Republicans” really felt like watching Hindenburg try to stop Hitler. Hindenburg came out of retirment to fight in WWI and he wanted to retire after WWI but he knew he was the only one who could stop Hitler. He ran against Hitler twice and beat Hitler twice but he saw that the far right in Germany was already incredibly strong and before his death he incorporated Hitler as his Chancellor (below the presidency) hoping that it would moderate the far right and provide unity. When he died the Nazis were able to abolish the presidency and the chancellor became the new head of state. Hindenburg was probably one of the last people that could have stopped WWII but by trying to coopt and moderate the far right he only made them more powerful.