This piece is appearing in newspapers in my very red congressional district (VA-06).
It’s hard to figure whether today’s Republicans have lost their values, or their ability to interpret the evidence right in front of their faces.
Do you remember when the Republican Party was the party that proclaimed its patriotism? But now, as the GOP has become the Party of Trump, no such claim is plausible.
After all, how could a patriot not be asking himself: “What does it say about Trump that Russia’s Putin wanted Trump to become President?”
Every well-informed citizen knows:
- that Putin’s operatives intervened in the 2016 American elections to help Trump; and
- that Putin’s Russia is the world power most hostile to the United States and to America’s democratic values.
So why would this enemy of the United States – who has worked continually to undermine American power so he can revive the days when the Soviet Union could rival the United States—want Donald Trump to be the American President?
Shouldn’t the clue of Putin’s choice suffice to make clear where the allegiance of American patriots should lie? Yet 90% of the supporters of this one-time Party of Patriotism support the President our nation’s enemy helped to win.
Driven by Greed
The Koch Brothers have long been billionaires—making their billions from the fossil fuel company they inherited. But despite already being enormously wealthy, they’ve consistently chosen to damage our world so they can get still richer.
They’ve used the great political power they’ve brilliantly amassed to unravel environmental protections and deceive the public about climate change, crippling the nation’s ability to deal with that urgent challenge.
Because not even billions are enough, the Koch Brothers have endangered the future of our children and grandchildren, and indeed all of humankind. The greed that possesses the Kochs swallows up all other values. And greed is no “value.”
And what does it say about the Republican Party that the Koch Brothers work so hard to put Republicans into power?
Not only is the Republican Party the only political party among advanced societies to deny climate change. It is also the party whose one major legislative achievement — the much-ballyhooed tax bill — transfers more than a trillion dollars from average Americans to the billionaire class.
All of which shows the GOP to be clearly a fitting home for the spirit of greed.
(Of course, many Republican voters cannot interpret such a clue because they’ve bought the grotesque Republican lie that fossil-fuel industry propagandists should be believed over a worldwide group of thousands of responsible scientists.)
A Penchant for Destruction
As if all that weren’t clue enough as to where all this falls on the spectrum running between “good” and “evil,” consider that 90% of Republicans support a President whose whole modus operandi seems dedicated to breaking good things up.
- Even Trump’s own economists – the departed Kohn, the current Kudlow – didn’t see the nation as needing any kind of trade war. But Trump chose to toss a bomb into the world’s trading system.
- The nation certainly had no need for the NFL players’ protests over police shootings of unarmed black men to be made into a racially divisive political issue. But Trump chose to increase racial antagonisms.
- Most foreign policy experts – including Trump’s own Secretaries of State and Defense – regarded the Iran nuclear deal as a net positive for the United States and world peace. But Trump chose to blow that deal up.
- Virtually everyone involved with American foreign policy regards the Atlantic Alliance and the international order in whose creation the United States led as an important and beneficial system for advancing American interests and values. But Trump has chosen to tear that apart.
- There has been no crisis on the border with Mexico – the flow of undocumented immigrants has been less than in years past – and the immigrants have created no crime wave – they are less likely to commit crimes than the American-born population – but Trump has lied about all that to create a crisis with policies that traumatize children.
What does it say about Trump that he routinely chooses conflict over cooperation, chaos over order, division over harmony?
The Pursuit of Power Through Strife
One thing it says about Trump is that he really does belong in today’s Republican Party—for it, too, has made every issue an occasion for political war for the purpose of gaining additional power.
From the Republicans of this era, one hears no evocation of a good to strive for. No positive values.
For the GOP in these times, virtually every issue —the environment, immigration, health care, tax policy — is treated as something to fight about.
(Even with the abortion issue: There was a time Republicans presented the issue in terms that sounded truly “pro-life,” i.e. that conveyed a belief that their position was founded on the notion that human life was sacred. But now it has devolved into just another battle that justifies treating people who see the issue differently with contempt and hostility.)
Among Republicans – both the elected, and the voters – cooperation and compromise have become dirty words.
Regardless of the issue, today’s Republicans in Congress will not even bring the Democrats in on the discussion—even in violation of normal congressional procedure. Only what is supported by most Republicans is allowed consideration. Again and again, a solution to a national problem that commands the support of a majority of the people’s elected representatives is barred from any vote.
Always Us against Them.
The Republicans’ continual insistence on conflict renders it impossible for the nation to use politics to make America better.
What does that insistence on fighting say about where this “conservative” force stands in relation to good and evil?
And what does it say about the Republican voters that they support all this?
Andy Schmookler — who was the Democratic nominee for Congress in 2012 — is a prize-winning author whose most recent work, available on the web, is “A Better Human Story.”