Regardless of whatever electoral damage it may inflict in the short run, Jim, the destruction of Republican scoundrels is ultimately good for the GOP.
Not (merely) to engage in shameless self-promotion, but the differences between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to scandals and corruption was something I had to ponder at length while working on Donkey Cons. The inescapable fact is that Republicans are less likely to engage in corrupt activity because their electoral base won’t stand for it.
For better or worse, the GOP’s core support comes from decent, respectable middle-class people with small-town sensibilities — the American bourgeoisie, if you will — and if there’s one thing those people can’t stand, it’s a politician on the take. If Republicans don’t purge their own scoundrels, the electorate will do it for them. Republicans often complain that the Democrats commit similar offenses (and worse) without seeming to pay so heavy a penalty. This is demonstrably true, but misses the point.
One of the strongest and most traditional appeals of the GOP is the promise of honest government, a contrast to the sleazy wheeler-dealer ways that have been the hallmark of the Democratic Party since the founding of Tammany Hall more than two centuries ago. When a Republican goes crooked, he should be condemned as a carrier of the corruption virus and summarily cast out, lest the disease infect the entire GOP.
ADDENDUM: Let me hasten to add that I’m not advocating a goody-two-shoes approach to governance. There is a difference between a free lunch and criminal corruption, and there is a certain truth in Jesse Unruh’s most famous saying.
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