Monday, December 19, 2016

Republicans Don't Believe In Democracy Anymore

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Somewhere along the line, Republicans got so caught up in their own sense of self-righteousness that they quit believing in democracy and began, instead, to believe that America belonged to them by divine right.

I think it began with Bill Clinton. Republicans were so incensed that Americans would choose someone they considered white trash from Arkansas (the very same kinds of people, ironically enough, who now make up a large part of their base) that they began to try to destroy him from Day One. The Clinton's weren't Washingtonian elites and therefore, weren't fit to live in the White House.

So Republicans obstructed and investigated and prevaricated. The list of -gates they came up with was endless - Whitewatergate and Travelgate and RoseLawFirmgate and CattleFuturesgate and, well, there were so many, I can't remember them all. And the media was complicit. They didn't like the Clintons either. The New York Times was one of the prime purveyors of breathless accusations about Whitewater, all of which proved to be nothing.

In case, you've forgotten, we had fake news back then too. Groups like Judicial Watch started the whole thing in the early days. Men like David Bosse (now part of Donald Trump's cabinet) made their careers on scurrilous allegations against the Clintons (Hillary Killed Vince Foster! The Clintons Are Involved In Drug Dealing Out Of Mena, Arkansas!) There was a whole cottage industry devoted to making life miserable (and costly) for the Clintons and their friends. Was there a "vast right-wing conspiracy"? You bet your ass there was!

And then along came Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg and her son, Jonah, and poor Monica Lewinsky. And they finally had a real thing. Granted, it was a small thing - far from constituting a high crime or misdemeanor but it was enough. So they hired a special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, with the mission to hang Clinton out to dry and that they did. It wasn't even enough to impeach him, they put every lascivious detail on the internet to further humiliate the president. Because, they so strongly believed in the "public's right to know". Uh huh.

I expect it was David Bosse who was able to get back in touch with the Clinton women to bring them to the Trump/Hillary debate since he'd been their mentor and payee during the glory years of the Clinton scandals. Once you've accused someone of murder and drug dealing, can rape be far behind?

In the meantime, just for fun, they shut down the government. That was the first time but it wouldn't be the last because everything is fair in love, war and politics, don't you know?

That whole "disagreement ends at the water's edge" philosophy American politicians used to honor went by the wayside early on. They accused Clinton of "wag the dog" when he tried to bomb Osama bin Laden (you remember bin Laden, don't you?)  The right-wing media and Republican representatives were on cable news and radio calling him out constantly. Any respect they once had for the office of the presidency was gone.

So, then we had the election of 2000, in which Al Gore won the popular vote. The Republicans who now preach to Democrats to "suck it up, Buttercup" and accept Donald Trump as our president, weren't quite so accepting themselves in 2000. When the results seemed in doubt, they immediately hired every lawyer on their side who knew election and constitutional law. They fought their case all the way to the Supreme Court until that august body decided George Bush should be declared the winner. After which, in the spirit of a united country, Al Gore gave a gracious concession speech.

So, then we had 8 years of Bush and the Republicans were deficit hawks no more. They positively reveled in spending money. Dick Cheney said deficits didn't matter so they fought two wars without paying for them and they passed a new entitlement, Medicare Part D, without paying for it. And they handed out tax breaks like there was no tomorrow. And 2 + 2 still equaling 4, the deficit soared but they didn't care....until, that is, Barack Obama became president, of course, when they all became super-hawks again.

They treated Obama every bit as badly as they had Clinton, promising on the day he was inaugurated that they would stonewall everything he tried to do and then proceeded to do exactly that for 8 years. They again shut down the government. They threatened to default on our nation's bills (earning us a lowered credit rating). They walked us up to fiscal cliffs. They refused to confirm his nominees. They set new records for using the filibuster. Their contempt dripped from their voices as they called him weak and feckless. Gee, they said, wouldn't it be great to have a strong leader like Vladimir Putin? They wrote letters to our friends (Israel) and enemies (Iran) deliberately undermining their own president.

I'm sure they would have impeached him too had he given them even the slightest grounds but he didn't. He has been honest and faithful and gracious and rational through his eight years as president, as have Michelle and his daughters.

That didn't prevent them from calling him a Muslim. It didn't prevent them from declaring that he isn't an American. It didn't prevent them from yelling out "liar!" at the State of the Union address. And that's the mild stuff. If you want to hear the rest, listen to Rush or Sean or Breitbart or InfoWars. If you want to see vile renderings of the First Family, mosey around on Facebook sometime.

And in the last 8 years, they have become more overt and more bold. In the states, they've engaged in voter suppression of all kinds - demanding often difficult to obtain photo i.d., closing polling places where Democrats (read: African-Americans) are the majority so that people have to stand in long lines to exercise their franchise, taking away early voting hours. In Florida, they refused to let people hold their place in line so they could go to the bathroom.

When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Republicans refused to update it. They opening laughed about the new regulations they would put in place since they were now free to do so.

And on a separate track, the Supreme Court (this was once again David Bosse's group) gave us Citizens United which declared that corporations were people and money was free speech.

In various states, Republicans have enacted undemocratic legislation to benefit themselves. In Michigan, many towns are ruled by Town Managers appointed by the government to supercede duly elected representatives. They pass bills by voice vote with the Speaker declaring the winner though it is far from obvious that their side had the votes to prevail. Republicans have had sessions on holidays or in the dead of night to work their will. They don't allow Democrat minorities to call witnesses or even sometimes to attend hearings. In Ohio, the Republicans put abortion restrictions in their budget, something that had never been done before and couldn't be repealed.

Kansas tried to remove power from its judiciary when they didn't approve what the governor wanted. In Indiana, when the citizens elected a Democratic Secretary of Education, the Republican legislation simply took away the power of that office.

The latest and most extreme example that the Republicans have given up on democracy in favor of "to the victors go the spoils" is North Carolina. The voters in that state had nerve enough to elect a Democratic governor to replace the sleazy, corrupt Pat McCrory. First, McCrory fought tooth and nail to try to declare the results invalid, alleging voter fraud and demanding recounts. (So much for "suck it up, buttercup")  He finally had to give up but in the most blatant power grab in modern times, the Republicans introduced bills a) requiring Senate confirmation of the new governor's appointees (something that had never been required before), b) cutting the number of employees who report to the governor from 1,500 to only 300, c) giving themselves more power on the Board of Elections which sets the rules for balloting in North Carolina. (Republicans will be in charge on election years; Democrats will be in charge on non-election years. Clever, huh?)

So now, we come to Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by almost 3 million. But yet, those paragons of propriety, the Republicans, caution us not to buck the system but to be good Americans and give him a chance.

I can tell you one thing - in light of what I've watched from the Republicans for the last 30 years, I'm fucking sick and tired of being a gracious loser.

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