Political lessons from Gaetzgate

GOP won’t bail on Gaetz until he’s indicted

Manny Otiko
4 min readApr 6, 2021


Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

2021 may have already gotten its juiciest political scandal. It involves Rep Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.,) underage sex, prostitution and drugs. However, the scandal is so fast-moving, there may be new revelations by the end of the day.

The scandal has also taught political watchers several lessons about both political parties.

Here are a few of them:

Republicans don’t give a damn about family values

The whole family values thing has been a running joke in the Republican Party for a long time. This line should have been sunk when Donald Trump, a thrice-married libertine whose wife did girl-on-girl porn, was named as the 2016 presidential candidate.

And to make things even more ridiculous, the “family values crowd,” AKA Evangelical Christians, embraced him! So essentially, people who loathe pornography embraced the guy who appeared in a softcore porn movie! If that doesn’t make a joke of their so-called values, I don’t know what does.

Gaetz is just the latest member of the “family values party” to be caught up in a sex scandal. And there will be others, the GOP doesn’t really care about “traditional values.” The phrase is just a wedge issue to get working-class people to ignore the fact they’ve been screwed by the GOP’s policies of tax cuts for the rich and cutting social benefits. You wonder how long this scam will continue? I guess until working-class people finally wake up.

However, Evangelical Christians’ closeness to right-wing politics is turning off many Americans.

How many Republicans knew of Gaetz’s activities before he was exposed? If the party of family values really cared about those issues, they should have canned Gaetz the minute he first showed nude pictures of possibly underage girls to his coworkers.

“’Many Americans — especially young people — see religion as bound up with political conservatism, and the Republican party specifically,” David Campbell, professor and…



Manny Otiko

Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.