Once upon a time, most congressional Republican members and leaders had integrity. Believed in science. Considered the environment worth protecting. Created the agency dedicated to doing just that, matter of fact. Guy named Nixon, as I recall.
Nixon won as the “law and order” candidate. Pretty much every Republican candidate for pretty much any office since then has touted his or her law-‘n-orderliness. No one loved our law enforcement agencies more than they. To them, J. Edgar Hoover personified the perfect FBI agent (or was it Efrem Zimbalist Jr.? Doesn’t matter). Attacking the agency as seditious, calling for it to be “cleansed,” would have been unthinkable. A dishonest Congressman ginning up a deceptive “memo” aimed at ending an independent investigation into corruption, rallying around it in unison? Wouldn’t have happened.
I don’t think I’m misremembering a time when Republicans were no more likely to lie than Democrats; when they’d have stood up to a president of either party who told outrageous lies daily, who, when the lies were pointed out, called the out-pointers “fake news.” Wasn’t it honorable Republicans who, seeing Nixon’s obstruction of justice, told him to resign or be impeached? What changed?
Newt Gingrich, for one, with his scorched earth approach to politics. Karl Rove, who considered evangelical Christians gullible fodder. A Republican Supreme Court, declaring that “money is speech,” “corporations are people,” and, laughably except for the crying part, that “independent expenditures do not lead to or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption.”
Today’s Republican Party bears no resemblance to that of a few decades ago. That party would never have excused an amoral, grandiose, ill-informed, vengeful, lazy, corrupt, pathological liar like Donald Trump. Today, though, it’s about money, pouring in through Courtly opened floodgates. Koch money. It’s about being bought and paid for.
In that context, Donald Trump, horrifying as he is, is a convenient distraction from the much more important issues; which may explain why congressional Republicans are so intent on keeping him in power, coughing up Alex-Jones-level conspiracies to end an investigation into what are possibly the most democracy-threatening actions by a president ever. All but silent are they, even after Trump made clear how beholden he is to Putin by refusing to implement sanctions that passed Congress by a combined vote of 517-5. If that’s not threat to the rule of Constitutional law, what is? Surely some Republican voters care, even if those in Congress don’t.
Maybe it’s because the Kochs have pledged $400 million dollars for the midterm elections. They’ve just announced plans to turn public education into a cafeteria from which parents can pick and choose what their children are taught, providing the Kochs another generation of climate-change deniers and Congress a new batch of uninquisitive voters.
Historically incapable of producing a coherent message, Democrats must make 2018 elections less about Trump’s unfitness, and more about what he and Republicans are doing to our country.
• Making climate change worse. “Polar ice is at record levels,” lied Trump.
• Allowing pollution by lead, arsenic, benzene, dioxin and more. Other than polluters, why would anyone support this? Don’t we all want our children to be healthy?
• Turning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has returned billions to cheated citizens, into the Financial Institutions Protection Bureau.
• Expecting the Department of Justice and the FBI to become instruments of presidential power. Surely even Trumpists can see the danger. They did when Fox “news” convinced them Obama was doing it.
• Turning public schools into places to propagandize and mis-educate. Can’t we all agree decent education is key to America’s competitiveness?
• Increasing unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions by preventing access to sex education and birth control. Forcing birth but refusing to help the newly born. This is “choosing life?”
• Kicking millions off health care coverage, offering no sensible replacement.
• Trying to destroy our Constitutionally mandated free press. It’s not mysterious why Russia, China and North Korea don’t allow it, and Trump doesn’t want it.
• Ongoing voter suppression and gerrymandering, even after courts strike them down. Sooner or later, they could come after you, too.
These threaten everyone, even Trumpists. In his fear-mongering SOTU speech (he lied that it was the most-watched ever), Trump, grade-school-level name-caller, demander of jailing opponents, called for “unity.” That’s the last thing he wants. For, were voters of both parties who care about their kids’ future to unite over these issues, there’d be a very different Congress, and he’d be a one-termer. Or less.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.