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No Way Out

First posted, August, 2016.

 

At best, the Republican party is in an enabling relationship with its candidate. At worst, it is involved in an abusive relationship with the head of its political family. With the exception of a few healthy Republicans, the RNC won't leave him, even for his most recent, not-so-oblique call to his supporters to use their second amendment rights to stop Hillary from getting elected. Or for his other recent act of cruelty -- denigrating a war hero's family (Google any of the 25,300,000+ results).  


This brings the candidate full-throated circle back to the painful insults he lobbed at  John McCain at the beginning of the 2016 campaign – calling him a loser for being a prisoner of war. And it telegraphed where this relationship was headed. 

But McCain's response to this latest attack that their candidate hurled like a bomb at the Khan family who lost their heroic military son, seems more PTSD than calling the Republican candidate unfit to be head of our collective national family: "I Hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates," McCain responded. In abuse survivor language this translates to: He didn’t mean to hit me. He’s usually nice to me. He won’t do it again. 

McCain and his political family are practiced at this kind of response because they are part of several generations of creating and marginalizing The Other. Of bashing The Other. And they are complicit in perpetuating it. It’s become pretty clear: The Republican party has battered spouse syndrome.

But until this campaign year, they've been able to cover up the marks and bruises with verbal make-up like McCain's recent response. But now, the head of their political family has unleashed the abuse with full fury, frequently against them. They have internalized the hatred and are trapped in this vicious cycle. And they don't know how to break it. 

 

We all know how this works: the abuser creates such fear in his victims that they can’t defend themselves. They can’t leave. They see no way out. They need an intervention like the one President Obama offered recently: "There has to come a point at which you say, Enough!" Otherwise, we all know how badly this scenario ends.