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Heads are scratched as West Virginians struggle to recall any more embarrassing moment than that recently delivered by Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va. The pair voted against the infrastructure bill, as if they evidently are convinced that we already have all the paved roads, reliable bridges and working broadband that we can use.

To his credit, our third Republican House member, Rep. David McKinley, voted for the bill, which passed.

Miller and Mooney joined 198 additional House Republicans in a transparent effort to deny the Biden administration a victory. There could have been no clearer signal that the once grand Republican Party of Eisenhower is dead. The GOP now is the party of Jan. 6 denialism, the party that holds events to underscore the “plight” of jailed Jan. 6 rioters, the party of the “Big Lie” and the party of vaccine obstructionism in the name of “freedom,” as if freedom from disease is a version of slavery.

When did the GOP kick aside capitalism to become the party that rails against such lions of big business as Delta Airlines, Disney, Chevron and CVS because they instituted vaccine mandates? How did the party devolve into an outfit that produces abortion bounty hunters in Texas? Why did it become the preferred party of a thousand QAnon kooks, who last week filled Dealey Plaza in Dallas in anticipation of an appearance of the long-deceased John F. Kennedy Jr.? The late Kennedy Jr., they believed, would appear from the dead to announce his intention to serve as Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024.

Psychiatrists debate the ingredients of the toxic stew that has scrambled the GOP’s vision such that it tolerates the lunacy of those like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who recently claimed that, in 2020, “Trump won by a landslide,” and who has been fined $48,000, so far, for her refusal to wear a mask on the House floor.

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What wraith absconded with the soul of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., thus rendering him unable, as of this writing, to discipline the unwell Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who posted cartoon images of himself murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on social media?

Closer to home, what possessed our Republican Gov. Jim Justice to think that he could coach two high school basketball teams while simultaneously serving adequately as governor? Has a virus invaded the cerebral cortex of West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, rendering him capable of announcing that a vaccine mandate “harkens back to Nazi Germany.” Sen. Blair should know Nazis were in the business of killing people, while vaccines help keep them alive.

I wish Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a speedy recovery from last week’s bout of creeping Republicanism when he said, “It’s a center-right country.” Respectfully, I suggest the senator consider recent polling that has revealed that 65%, or more, of Americans approve of each of the following provisions of Biden’s Build Back Better Plan: Universal Pre-K; clean energy infrastructure; paid family/medical leave; long-term care for seniors and the disabled; Medicare coverage of dental, vision and hearing, as well as reduced drug costs that would result from permitting Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma. The polls, by Navigator Research, Data for Progress, Morning Consult/Politico and others seem to show that America is a center-left country.

Certainly, we shouldn’t forget the $3.5 trillion cost of the Build Back Better plan. However, the conservative Moody’s Analytics estimates that it will create 1.5 million jobs and add $3 trillion to the GDP, relative to baseline, over the next 10 years. Yet, the party that claims to embrace fiscal conservatism seems unified against it.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. He may be contacted at wyatt@marshall.edu.

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