Thursday, December 15, 2016

The GOP's Descent into a Moral Abyss

Trump and Pence with equally morally bankrupt Paul Ryan
The Republican Party has finally entered into a complete moral abyss where anything is acceptable, no matter how formerly morally reprehensible so long as it allows the party to retain power.  It is not without irony that the process began, in my view, when the GOP decided to embrace racism (think Southern Baptists) as part of the Southern Strategy under Richard Nixon.  The process accelerated when the Christofascists infiltrated the party and drove sane, rational and truly moral people from the party base and party structure.  What was left was a toxic mix of open racists and white supremacists and religious extremists.  Donald Trump played to both these pillars of today's GOP and proved that hate, bigotry and extremism is more widely embraced than most of us ever wanted to admit.  The only comforting news is that Trump received votes from only about 26% of voters and that Clinton won the popular vote by roughly 2.8 million votes.  The moral bankruptcy of the GOP has not yet metastasized nationwide.  Not yet is the operative phrase.  It must be stopped.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the moral abyss of today's GOP.  Here are excerpts:
Whether it concerns President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, his unwillingness to remove conflicts of interest, his bizarre defense of Vladimir Putin on Russian hacking, his nomination of unqualified Cabinet members who happened to be big donors, his attacks on the free press, his threats and inducements to businesses to do his bidding or his announced disinterest in taking intelligence briefings, the reaction of the vast majority of Republicans is to hide or spin for Trump.
The excuses for not objecting when he does egregious things include (these are real examples uttered by one or more Republicans on the Hill, operatives, advisers, etc.):
  • He’s not president yet. (No, really, they say such a thing, as though he’ll be more responsive or Congress will have more leverage after he gets control over the IRS, CIA, FBI, etc.)
  • Maybe he’ll do the right thing (e.g. divest). (Again, they utter this kind of rubbish despite heaps of evidence that he lacks any ethical compass.)
  • But we need to get tax reform and repeal Obamacare. (As if reducing marginal tax rates would justify constitutional violations, or as if their forbearance will make Trump more agreeable on policy issues.)
  • If we criticize, he won’t listen to us later. (No, seriously, they seem to believe that if they are patsies now, they will have influence later.)
  • He doesn’t mean what he says. (We are back to not taking seriously the man who will be commander in chief.)
  • He’s hiring good people. (Mike Flynn? Ben Carson? Stephen K. Bannon?)
  • We cannot do anything. (Didn’t they run for weeks on a message of acting as a check on Trump?)
We find Trump’s post-election behavior to be entirely predictable — not normal or acceptable, but inevitable given his personality and temperamental and intellectual shortcomings. Republicans’ capitulation is far quicker and more complete than we imagined, we admit. Chalk it up to fear of Trump and his voters, to the unquenchable thirst for influence and power and to humans’ ability to convince themselves of practically anything.
At times, one can only cringe at conservative “leaders” prostrating themselves before Trump.  . . . . [Paul] Ryan thinks flattery is going to work, but my goodness, have some self-respect!
[G]iving an ovation to highly problematic nominees such as Rex W. Tillerson, Goldman Sachs tycoons or an erratic personality such as Flynn or hiding under the covers while Trump tramples on the Constitution does the country a disservice and does not help Trump to improve his powers of discernment.
[T]here is no public pressure to discard all independent judgment in deference to the president-elect.
Trump, remember, lost the popular vote and remains a historically unpopular figure. Many of his actions and appointees will draw very negative reactions. There is no need for Republicans to wrap themselves around Trump; indeed, when things go haywire, that tactic likely will be a problem for the incumbent party in 2018. Republicans would be far wiser to stand their ground, at least once in a while, and draw the line in the sand on critical issues (e.g. honoring the Constitution).
Republicans and all lawmakers take oaths to the Constitution, not Trump or the party, and they are responsible to their own constituencies, not to the executive branch. They should behave as such.

Sadly, upholding the Constitution means nothing to today's Republicans regardless of all of their disingenuous feigning to the contrary.

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