It isn't often that we get an honest moment from a Republican, even a never-Trumper and even a former Republican who now counts himself among the unaffiliated. But to his credit, former Florida Representative David Jolly was willing to explain to viewers of Monday's The Last Word what Republicans are now and what they have been for decades.
Ali Velshi asked a pretty simple question, with a flawed premise. "There is no part of the Republican Party prior to 2015 that would knowingly be part of spreading Russian disinformation about having hacked in the U.S. election," he said.
Velshi continued, "It's not something that would have happened. Lindsey Graham wouldn't have tolerated it. John McCain wouldn't have tolerated it. People like you wouldn't have tolerated it."
Then he asked it: What has happened to Republicans? Of course, Velshi assumes that there was some noble purpose in their opposition to Russia, but Jolly set him straight.
"It's gravely dangerous through their ignorance, negligence, they are being used by Russia," Jolly replied. "Republican senators and Republican members of Congress tonight are being used by Russia because they are unwilling to look at the truth."
He then went on to discuss how he believed on principle that Bill Clinton should have been impeached and how Barack Obama overstepped his bounds with DACA, and that he thought all Republicans stood on those principles, only to discover something entirely different.
"What I've learned these last three years is it wasn't a law and order party, it was just a party that hated Bill Clinton. It wasn't a constitutional party when Barack Obama was in office, it was just a party that hated Barack Obama," he explained.
"We're seeing this party embracing Donald Trump because they have a quest for power, proximity for power and they want within their reach the ability to self-deal," Jolly said. "This is a party today without conviction and they are willing to be used by Russians."
It is novel for a former Republican to describe his party in historical terms that way. His last comment applies just as much to 1990s Republicans as it does to today's, and he's absolutely right: It's about power and proximity to it, and they're fine selling out the country to get it.