I was quite a young man when Ronald Reagan was elected. Yet right away, I knew that we came from a different political place. While no ‘one-issue voter,’ the environment has always been a main concern. Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, said things that made me want to scream. “When the last tree falls,” he was once quoted, “Jesus will come.”
In some ways, nothing much has changed in the Republican Party since then. Religious zealots still influence party leaders. The GOP still cuts taxes and blames government spending for causing the national debt. Conservative warhawks rattle swords and send young men (and now women) to useless wars. Stories are invented and blame is deflected from all these ideological travesties. Reagan claimed surprise at the Iran-Contra scandal. Bush claimed not to know that terrorists were plotting the 9/11 attacks. Then he claimed to know that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Behind the scenes Dick Cheney sent war profiteers to work and profited massively in the process. Then news of torture emerged. As a nation, we behaved no better than Saddam Hussein.
Then the Recession hit and millions lost their jobs. From that wreckage emerged a healing candidate named Barack Obama. He led the nation out of its tanked conditions and set a course of steady economic recovery that continues to this day.
Bitterness and denial
But people bitter about their party’s persistent failures were also in denial about the effects of Republican policies that devastated unions, devalued labor, flattened worker wages and shipped jobs overseas under the capitalist philosophy of globalization. So they cast around for blame and found cause for their anger in an intelligent Black President whom they accused of sowing the seeds of economic, race and class division in the country. It didn’t take much for those same people to transfer that hatred to a woman possessed of a similar intellect to Obama, and who spoke plainly about the “deplorables” more eager to make trouble than to make peace and work toward a better America.
These disgruntled Americans found their hero in a troublemaker named Donald Trump, whom they praised for his “honesty” about the state of the country and embraced the euphemistic slogan “Make America Great Again” because it conveniently covered up the greedy notion that the nation would be improved by turning back efforts to grant civil rights and economic parity. Instead, MAGA masked the selfish notion that diversity is the enemy of all prosperity.
These are the people that voted for Donald Trump. They may have had varied reasons; desire for tax breaks, banning abortion, contracting in a fit of xenophobia, or replacing the Constitution with conservative Christian beliefs, but all became one with the cultish opportunity to vote into a power the man promising to give them each what they wanted.
To some extent, that is what happened. Massive tax breaks were passed. But the result was that the nation tumbled into greater debt and a bulging national deficit. That doesn’t make America great again. Then Trump struck a trade war with China whose effects required billions in farm subsidies to bribe farmers into accepting the market losses incurred as a result. Guess who paid for that? American taxpayers.
Everything the Trump administration did, it seemed, produced a net-loss or required a quid pro quo that too closely resembled his bankrupt behavior in personal life. Then news broke that Trump University was nailed for fraud and forced to pay a $25M settlement to those bilked by the fake school. Then the Trump Foundation got caught doing illegal stuff as well. It was also forced to close down with a warning that no one involved could engage in non-profit activity again.
Avoiding facts at all costs
Trump’s defenders, including the Republican Party, whose platform Trump absorbed like orange face paint, were increasingly forced to go outside the realm of fact to find ways to defend their corrupt leader. Even the seemingly righteous on the Right Wing so often collapse under the falsehood of their virtues, it is no longer a joke to brand all of them a tragedy waiting to happen. Such was the case with Jerry Falwell, Jr., now Rudy Giuliani, and a long line of Fox News sexual harassers whose highbrowed social and political criticism was proven farcical when the truth came out about their immorality and corruption. They’re all phonies in the end.
How do Right-wing defenders deal with the hypocrisy? They deny it is real.
When Trump was impeached for engaging in corrupt behavior in trying to coerce Ukraine into doing his political bidding in favor of his campaign, his supporters conveniently called it “Fake News.” Then the Senate broke its oath to the American people by refusing to conduct a legitimate inquiry by calling witnesses associated with the high crimes and misdemeanors Trump committed. Trump then doubled down in his corrupt instincts with even more disturbing behavior by granting favors to other world leaders, especially where his personal business interests lie. Donald Trump is the most corrupt politician to ever hold office in America. Anywhere. No one comes close.
Hoping for change
Rational Americans have awaited a political awakening when it comes to Trump’s entire lack of character on these and other issues. His verbal and social media support for white supremacists, violent militias and police who commit acts of brutality, even murder, are all signs that his fascist instincts lie just beneath his fake tan and vainglorious hairdo.
This all goes back to the Republican belief that began with Ronald Reagan’s unwitting tolerance for men and women who believe that the “ends justifies the means.” It is ironic indeed that the GOP and Trump should be questioning Joe Biden’s mental fitness when Reagan proved daft and fecklessly blind to the corruption taking place under his watch.
I saw it all for what it was way back when I was in my twenties experiencing my first political awakening. I’ve listened carefully over the years for signs that principled people were at work within the Republican Party. Those people have all been silenced, chased away or forced to act with complicit devotion to a narcissist brute with zero morals and even less character.
They call him a hero. A Savior. Some even insist that he’s a Messenger of God.
If any of those things were true, Trump has done nothing to earn them. In fact, his denial of the Covid-19 threat has produced 20% of all the world’s deaths from the disease even though the United States of America represents 3% of the world’s population. He’s not a Savior. He’s a failure.
The same goes for virtually everything thing advocated by the GOP for the last forty years. What single policy can anyone point to that improved the lives of everyday Americans? The Bush tax cuts were a pittance for middle class and poor Americans. So were the Trump tax cuts. These policies were lies designed to bribe people into supporting a policy with just two priorities: retaining and granting the rich even more money.
Tomorrow is another election. The GOP is doing everything it can to ignore its ugly, corrupt past and horridly compromised present in order to win the day. This is not America’s finest hour. I’ve been railing at Republicans ever since the dawn of my political awareness. My successes on that front are admittedly local in nature, but we do what we can.
Let’s hope this election is not America’s last faint cry for survival as a democracy, a republic, or a nation. Because that’s what’s at stake this time around. If Trump wins, the best we can hope for is a Senate and House takeover so that the man writhes in frustration until he withers and dies while Tweeting on his golden toilet bowl.