Thursday, April 13, 2017
It's Easier If You Don't Have To Think
To me, this chart is the starkest illustration of the state of American politics today. In 2013, when President Obama was contemplating bombing Syria over their use of chemical weapons on their own people, 38 percent of Democrats approved, as did 22 percent of Republicans. In 2017, when Trump actually bombed Syria for using chemical weapons, Democratic opinion barely changed - 37 percent approved. But suddenly, Republican approval climbed to 86 per cent, based solely on who was president at the time, although the 2013 attack was actually many times more deadly than the one in 2017.
Furthermore, Republicans are now on record as giving their president kudos for finally doing something Obama refused to do. No, Obama wanted to do it but he took the question to Congress (which Republicans then were adamant that he should do - the Constitution and all, you know) but Congress withheld their authorization. Now that it's Trump, who did not go to Congress prior to bombing, it is perfectly fine with his supporters.
Many people say that there isn't a nickel's worth of difference between the parties. They're wrong. It may have been so when I first got seriously involved in politics. Back then the parties had philosophical difference but they were both rooted in a desire to work for the good of the country. Oh, there were the bad apples, as there always will be in any conglomeration of people but for the most part, they were motivated by love of country.
Somewhere along the line, the Republicans changed. The heart and soul of their party was subsumed by a lust for power at any cost.
For the most part, they've used hate to do it. It wasn't enough to disagree with opponents, those opponents had to be demonized. It started with the Clintons. Yes, Margaret, there was a vast right-wing conspiracy and it is still alive and well today. The Clinton years were one long witch hunt. The Republicans threw everything at the wall and finally, Monica Lewinsky stuck. At long last, a reason for impeachment, even if it was trumped-up.
And at the same time, of course, stories circulated about the Clintons that they were drug runners and serial killers. Russia was not the originator of planting "fake news". The Republican right does a pretty damn good job of it themselves.
Then came Obama and conservative hate grew even more intense. Obama was a Kenyan Muslim who wanted to make Sharia law the law of the land. He was a traitor. The R's in Congress stonewalled everything he tried to do. They filibustered on a level never seen before. They shut down the government for the second time in recent history. They let our credit rating be downgraded. They threatened default of our debts and fiscal cliffs. I'm not making all this up. Mitch McConnell, a one-man wrecking ball when it comes to our democracy, has bragged about it.
Take the sequester. It was supposed to be so awful that neither party would allow it to pass. Supposedly, the Democrats were opposed to cuts in social programs while Republicans were opposed to the military cuts. It was supposed to force cooperation. But, surprise, the R's let it go into effect and they lived with it during Obama's administration. Now, they have total power and guess what? The social cuts will be maintained but the military part of the sequester will be overturned. Another battle won by hook or by crook.
Another huge win by McConnell and his crew is the destruction of the Supreme Court. They began by refusing to confirm any of Obama's federal court nominees. Didn't matter who it was. They simply refused to confirm the huge backlog waiting their approval. They practically forced the Democrats to resort to going nuclear if they wanted to get any of Obama's judges confirmed. That set the stage, of course, for what came next. McConnell and the R's simply refused to even interview Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by Obama to fill Antonin Scalia's seat. (You know, Antonin Scalia, about whom all those stories swirled that he was murdered?) The nominal reason was that Obama was in his last year and a president shouldn't be able to nominate a justice so late in his term. (Although we've confirmed 19 justices in a president's final year in office.)
So McConnell held the seat open for ten months until a Republican won the White House and then proceeded to get Trump's nominees confirmed by way of the nuclear option, meaning it no longer takes 60 votes to confirm a SCOTUS nominee. The Supreme Court will now simply be a partisan establishment, just like the rest of our government has become.
And then, after all this, Donald Trump came on the scene and ran the most hateful, vicious campaign I've ever seen in my many years monitoring politics. (I believe sincerely that he had help from the Russians which is rather amusing if Putin thought for one minute that Trump wouldn't throw him under the bus if he thought it was in his best interest. I don't believe The Donald has any loyalty to anyone whose last name isn't Trump.
So, the Republicans hold the levers of power in every area - the states, the Congress, the White House, all the federal agencies, the Supreme Court. Trump ran as a populist but so far, I can't think of one thing the R's have done to help those forgotten working people in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin.... If you know of something, please let me know.
What disturbs me most about all this is that Republicans are so caught up in the pig wallow of their success that they don't even recognize what they've become.
Democrats felt the same about bombing Syria whether Obama was president or Trump was. But the sheep-like Republicans don't need to think about it. It's all about who made the call and they are perfectly happy to be led either way.