Saturday, November 05, 2016

How the GOP Broke American Politics

In some ways this cruise vacation has offered a small respite from politics, but with cable news and network news available in one's cabin, the escape is anything but complete.  Nonetheless, it has provided time for reflection on many matters.  On the political front, I am more convinced than ever that a deep sickness has taken over the Republican Party and some have shown their true colors and, in my view utter lack of morality, in their vitriolic support of Donald Trump and the GOP's reverse Robin Hood agenda.  I've "unfriended" a number of Facebook friends, many of whom once upon a time asked to be my "friend."  Blindly supporting a political party that would take away my civil rights - perhaps even re-criminalize gay relations - and a narcissistic pathological liar to me indicates that one is anything but my "friend."  So how did American politics get so broken?  The media and some pundits like to blame both the GOP and Democrats, but the truth is that the poison and broken state of affairs comes mostly from the GOP.  Taken a step further, the GOP's decline directly correlates to the rise of the Christofascists within the GOP.  These "godly Christians" lie more than almost anyone else in society and they hold hatred towards others more than any other segment of society.   A column in the New York Times looks at the broken political system and correctly lays the blame at the feet of the Republican Party.  Here are highlights:
As far as anyone can tell, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House — and the leader of what’s left of the Republican establishment — isn’t racist or authoritarian. He is, however, doing all he can to make a racist authoritarian the most powerful man in the world. Why? Because then he could privatize Medicare and slash taxes on the wealthy.
And that, in brief, tells you what has happened to the Republican Party, and to America.
This has been an election in which almost every week sees some longstanding norm in U.S. political life get broken. We now have a major-party candidate who refuses to release his tax returns, despite huge questions about his business dealings. He constantly repeats claims that are totally false, like his assertion that crime is at record highs (it’s actually just a bit off historic lows). He stands condemned by his own words as a sexual predator. And there’s much, much more.
Any one of these things would in the past have been considered disqualifying in a presidential candidate. But leading Republicans just shrug.
So how did all our political norms get destroyed? Hint: It started long before Donald Trump.
On one side, Republicans decided long ago that anything went in the effort to delegitimize and destroy Democrats. Those of us old enough to remember the 1990s also remember the endless series of accusations hurled against the Clintons. 
Nothing was too implausible to get on talk radio and get favorable mention in Congress and in conservative media: Hillary killed Vince Foster! Bill was a drug smuggler!
When Mrs. Clinton famously spoke of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to undermine her husband’s presidency, she wasn’t being hyperbolic; she was simply describing the obvious reality.
The flip side of the obsessive pursuit of a Democratic president was utter refusal to investigate even the most obvious wrongdoing by Republicans in office.
There were multiple real scandals during the administration of George W. Bush, ranging from what looked like a political purge in the Justice Department to the deceptions that led us into invading Iraq; nobody was ever held accountable.
The erosion of norms continued after President Obama took office. He faced total obstruction at every turn; blackmail over the debt ceiling; and now, a refusal even to hold hearings on his nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Republican leaders have spent the past couple of decades doing exactly what the likes of Mr. Ryan are doing now: trashing democratic norms in pursuit of economic benefits for their donor class.
So we shouldn’t really be too surprised that Mr. Comey, who turns out to be a Republican first and a public servant, well, not so much, decided to politically weaponize his position on the eve of the election; that’s what Republicans have been doing across the board.
Despite Mr. Comey’s abuse of power, Mrs. Clinton will probably win. But Republicans won’t accept it. . . . . And no matter what Mrs. Clinton does, the barrage of fake scandals will continue, now with demands for impeachment.
Can anything be done to limit the damage? It would help if the media finally learned its lesson, and stopped treating Republican scandal-mongering as genuine news. And it would also help if Democrats won the Senate, so that at least some governing could get done.
 I differ with the author on one point:  in my view, Paul Ryan, is a racist.  Once cannot support racists and support racist policies and then claim that you are not part of the problem.  In many ways, Ryan is just as despicable as Donald Trump.  Perhaps even more so, since he knows what he is doing is wrong and simply doesn't care.  Trump at least has the excuse of mental illness to explain his behavior.  Paul Ryan does not.

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