Reporter Jennifer Medina’s Tuesday front-page New York Times story, “Rhetoric Raises Alarms About Lasting Harms,” hypocritically bashed Republicans for criticizing “the courts, the F.B.I., the military and schools” — things liberals and their journalist allies themselves relished denigrating until about 10 minutes ago.
Ron DeSantis says the military is more interested in global warming and “gender ideology” initiatives than in national security.
Tim Scott says the Justice Department “continues to hunt Republicans.”
Vivek Ramaswamy has vowed to “shut down the deep state,” borrowing former President Donald J. Trump’s conspiratorial shorthand for a federal bureaucracy he views as hostile.
As Mr. Trump escalates his attacks on American institutions, focusing his fire on the Justice Department as he faces new criminal charges, his competitors for the Republican nomination have followed his lead.
Several have adopted much of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric sowing broad suspicion about the courts, the F.B.I., the military and schools. As they vie for support in a primary dominated by Mr. Trump, they routinely blast these targets in ways that might have been considered extraordinary, not to mention unthinkably bad politics, just a few years ago.
Suddenly, questioning authority, once a hallmark of the sophisticated liberal, is now worrisome, even dangerous when practiced by conservatives.
The proliferation of attacks has alarmed both Republicans and Democrats who worry about the long-term impact on American democracy. Public confidence in core institutions — from the justice system to voting systems — is fundamental to a durable democracy, particularly at a time of sharp political division.
There have been ample reasons of late to distrust the current FBI — including colluding with Big Tech to censor conservatives – but Medina ignored them. (Today’s Times now sends valentines to the FBI, its favorite domestic surveillance organization.)
Mr. DeSantis, however, has echoed that view, making criticisms of educators, health officials, the mainstream news media, “elites” and government employees central to his campaign, and even, at times, invoking violent imagery.
“All of these deep-state people, you know, we are going to start slitting throats on Day 1,” Mr. DeSantis said during a New Hampshire campaign stop late last week….
But even some Republicans, largely moderates who have rejected Trumpism, note the tenor of the campaign rhetoric has reached new and conspiratorial levels….
None of the candidates responded to requests for interviews about these statements.
Medina eventually admitted Democrats also criticize the federal government, with examples including President Biden displaying “skepticism of the Supreme Court” by saying “this is not a normal court” after its affirmative action ruling. But Medina’s dutiful rundown of Democratic Party institution-doubters lacked the intensity she brought to attacking the GOP.
The liberal hostility to the Supreme Court (the New York Times included) is undeniable. But Medina quickly pivoted back to conservatives addled by right-wing media and conspiracy theories.
Feeding on voters’ already deeply embedded skepticism might have once been seen as politically risky, but social media and the right-wing media have helped change that, said Sarah Longwell, a Republican consultant who conducts weekly focus groups with her party’s voters.
Ms. Longwell says these forces have created a “Republican triangle of doom,” with the party’s voter base, politicians and partisan media creating a feedback loop of complaints and conspiracy theories.
Medina made a revealing word choice, likening “disdain for the elites” to a cancer:
Still, as the disdain for the elites has metastasized deeper and further into the party, Mr. Ramaswamy has embraced the pugilistic language of Mr. Trump, frequently on social media.