(Some spontaneous thoughts about the situation we Americans are in, in this extraordinary political time in our nation’s history.)
Things in American politics are so profoundly broken that one can look in just about any direction and see signs of the pathology.
- A President having paid off a porn star to keep their affair secret.
- A President calling a big proportion of the nations of the world “shitholes.”
- The FBI looking into whether the Kremlin colluded with the NRA to help make Trump President.
- Major measures that are supported by the American people (e,g, CHIPs, DACA) , some of which would get big majority votes, never being brought to the floor for votes in Congress.
- America’s standing in the world at an unprecedented low.
And of course all of these bizarre and broken things — and the list could be so much longer! — are being generated into our world by one particular part of the American body politic: the part called “the Republican Party.”
A profound moral, spiritual, and political disease is being given flagrant expression by one of America’s two major parties. There is something — a force of brokenness, it might be called — that’s spreading an ugly pattern every time it impacts the world. What makes the pattern ugly is that it always makes things worse, inflicts damage on the American political world.
The American body politic is convulsed right now with the battle over whether it is the force of brokenness that will have its way with America or whether it will be the force rising in defense of the better parts of America, in forms like
- A relentless Special Prosecutor looking into whether the current President of the United States joined forces with America’s major global antagonist to help him become the President of the United States. (As so many understood beforehand, and is now demonstrated on a daily basis, Trump’s becoming president would be profoundly damaging to America, and to the integrity of the American system of government. It’s as though the Russians– thanks to Donald Trump and the people around him — were able to plant a bomb squarely at the heart of America.
- A Republican Senator — Jeff Flake– going onto the Senate floor to denounce the Stalinist rhetorical tactics of the Republican President, Donald Trump, when he threatened the independent press by calling the media “the enemy of the people.” (Liberals should stop badmouthing Flake for being a Goldwater conservative who votes for bad things and make him a hero for being the man of integrity virtually no other Republicans have been in this dark time, who stands up and speaks the moral truth about how bad — and evil — Trump is.
Yet in some ways, the toxic tide continues to spread on the American scene:
- The Lying Disease spreads from a President of five lies a day to the Senators and Secretary of Homeland Security lying under oath about what they knew the President said when Donald Trump gave such dramatic expression of his fundamental racism.
- And now the additional manifestation of the deep brokenness of our politics that the nation appears on the verge of a government shutdown.
As much as I see behind all these different manifestations an “It” — a coherent thing, which is the force of brokenness that has fully taken over today’s Republican Party — I must confess that I cannot see clearly what it is that leads that Party to make the choices it is making, including tying themselves ever more closely to Trump.
(Like the Republican efforts to discredit Mueller, the FBI, and the legitimacy of the whole Trump-Russia investigation.)
Moving closer to Trump seems to me foolish for them. I would think they are exposing themselves to dangers greater than anything Trump poses to them. Other courses of action could have kept them OK with their base without soiling themselves so thoroughly. (Or do I not see the strategy?)
So I’m not sure whether the Republican game is smart as a way to keep their power — after all, they’ve been gaining power for 25 years — or whether it is a kind of self-destructive folly.
I’ve studied how evil goes, and it seems to be a pattern — cf the Slave Power in the 1850s, the Nazi 1000 Year Reich that ended in nationwide rubble: the evil go off the deep end and self-destruct. And I’m wondering if the Republican Party, has in this age of Trump gone over an edge, becoming so crazy — so driven by brokenness — that it can no evaluate its options rationally and with reasonably sound judgment.
Here is one particular mystery: Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham have both lately complained that Trump is not able to tell them what he wants. The idea is that they can’t do anything because the President is not being clear and they claim they can’t pass something and send it to the President with only the hope that he’ll sign it without needing any such guarantee.
OK. I assume they know that Trump is quite likely to sign whatever comes his way and declare it a win– that’s what he’s done before. They know that the process has a best chance of succeeding if things like the Durbin-Graham “deal” on immigration gets passed. But instead they choose to defer to Trump rather than make something good happen.
Is that good strategy? Or is it a form of the brokenness and madness today’s Republican Party manifests?
Trump seems to have dragged the Republican Party over the edge. Metaphorically speaking, one might say that Trump is the Devil who is dragging the Republican Party down into the depths of hell– down to a level where
- a lying bully gives profound expression to something that was already a covert part of the Republican Party well before Trump.
- the basic dishonesty that had characterized the GOP voice since the rising of Limbaugh, Gingrich, Rove has now blossomed forth into a Republican President who is a liar orders of magnitude more prone to lie than any political figure we have seen, to the point that one even wonders if the question of what’s true even registers for him.
- The Party of hyper-patriotism is continually kissing the ring of an American President helped into the presidency by Vladimir Putin, whose known goal is to bring the U.S. down and to damage the Western institutions of democracy.
- We see, right in public, Presidential assaults on the rule of law such as to dwarf the threat that Richard Nixon posed in the scandals of Watergate.
That’s what this battle is about: whether we will allow ourselves as a nation to be dragged into the ugly mess of brokenness that the Republicans are generating. Or whether we will constitute ourselves as a nation to drive this force of brokenness away from the helm and then out into the margins.
The elections of 2018 now loom as the major battle for that fight between the forces of Trump and the forces of America’s better heritage.
Maybe I misread the game. But my strong suspicion is that the Republicans are making self-destructive choices. But the Democrats are needed to put the noose around their necks.
This has not come readily to Democrats. This Republican force of brokenness pretty well self-destructed when it gave us the Bush disasters, everything they had touched in shambles, from the global economy to the war in Iraq and America’s sullied reputation. It just needed the Democrats to put them away.
Yet the Republicans were allowed to get up off the mat and rise to still greater power over American governance— from the dishonest election of 2010 that enabled the GOP to gerrymander their way to power — so that the Democrats need 55% of the vote to come in even.– to the theft of the Supreme Court.
Such an opportunity may now have returned: the ugliness of the Trumpian Republicans creates the possibility of a reversal of the power-equation. What the Democrats must do with that ugliness is to show it to the American people to help generate that Blue Wave we have every reason to be hoping for.
More and more, the American people are seeing how the Republicans push brokenness at every juncture. Which is why these special elections are skewing so strongly Democratic in race after race, most recently a state Senate seat in western Wisconsin, that swung some 28% away from the Republicans and toward the Democrats.
The Democrats must use this government shutdown — if it comes — as a means to attack the nation-injuring choices that the Republicans continually make, choices that mean that the Republican monopoly on power is profoundly injurious to the nation, with this Republican pathology rife across the political board.