Just this week Der Trumpenführer has signed executive orders and directed minions to take actions that will trash the environment, erase LGBT citizens from the 2020 census, rescind non-discrimination protections, and reduce safety regulations. And this follows last week's thankfully failed attempt to throw 24 million Americans off of healthcare insurance and budget cut proposals that would slash the social safety net. Yet the Republican Party farcically continues to claim that it is the party of Christian values even as its agenda and the seething hatred of much of its base towards others make the biblical Pharisees look like a combination of Mother Theresa and generous philanthropists. What is stunning is the fact that the GOP wasn't always this way. Indeed, not to sound like a broken record, the party was not so cruel and, in my view evil, until its base was hijacked by Christian fundamentalists, a large portion of whom (if not a majority) are racists. Yes, this is a harsh statement, but if one looks at leaders of the so-called "family values" organizations, these groups are lily white and beneath the surface there is a strong current of racism and white supremacy. Here in Virginia, The Family Foundation traces its roots to the proponents of segregation and "Massive Resistance." At the national level, individuals like Tony Perkins of Family Research Council has open ties to white supremacy groups. Having seen the rise of these factions in the GOP prior to my leaving the party and having watched the rot that has occurred since, this element of the GOP based bears much of the blame. Throw in the Koch brothers and those who want to rob the poor to benefit the rich and one gets an ugly and toxic result. An op-ed in The Guardian looks at the horror that today's Republican Party has become. Here are excerpts:
Last week I was taking an Uber (I know, I’m sorry, it was a necessity) across an unfamiliar town when the driver, whom I’ll call Randy, started telling me about this cool dude named Jesus. Randy’s big opener, earlier in the ride, was to gesture at a homeless man panhandling by the side of the road and say: “Isn’t it terrible?”“Yeah,” I agreed, though I was unsure whether he was referring to homelessness as a blight or a form of state violence. “I can’t believe my tax money pays for the president’s golf vacations while people are freezing to death on the street. It’s robbery.”
At least Randy cared about that homeless guy, though, which is more than I can say for the Republican party.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of “care” lately. Care can be florid and romantic or bureaucratic and dry; it is maintenance and stewardship and only sometimes love. You can take care of something without personally caring about it, which is precisely what we pay our elected officials to do: take care of our communities and our planet, whether or not you share our priorities and fears and weaknesses and religions and sexual orientations and gender identities and skin colours. We put ourselves and our money in your hands. Take care.
I don’t know that America has ever seen a political party so divested of care. Since Trump took office, Republicans have proposed legislation to destroy unions, the healthcare system, the education system and the Environmental Protection Agency; to defund the reproductive health charity Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion; to stifle public protest and decimate arts funding; to increase the risk of violence against trans people and roll back anti-discrimination laws; and to funnel more and more wealth from the poorest to the richest. Every executive order and piece of GOP legislation is destructive, aimed at dismantling something else, never creating anything new, never in the service of improving the care of the nation.
That void at the heart of the party, that loss of any tether to humanity, is breeding anxiety on both sides of the political divide. According to the Atlantic, Florida Republican Tom Rooney recently turned on his cohort with surprising lucidity: “I’ve been in this job eight years and I’m racking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening. We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.”
In the wake of the Republican party’s luscious, succulent failure to obliterate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and replace it with catastrophic nationwide poverty and death, an old video of a Paul Ryan gaffe went viral. “We’re not going to give up,” Ryan assures his audience, “on destroying the healthcare system for the American people.”
The clip is from 2013, not 2017, and obviously Ryan did not mean to say into a microphone that he wants to destroy the healthcare system. But here’s the thing. I talk into a microphone in front of people all the time, and not once have I ever accidentally said: “Hitler was pretty cool” when what I meant to say was: “Throw all Nazis into the sea”. Even if we acknowledge that such a slip of the tongue is technically possible (if not likely), we don’t actually need to wonder about what Ryan secretly believes. Gaffe or no, we already know he wants to destroy the healthcare system for the American people, because he tried to pass legislation that would destroy the healthcare system for the American people. And because destruction, not life, is the foundation of Ryan’s party.
I truly do not know how decent, moral people can continue to support the Republican Party. Those that I know who do, like to see themselves as decent, informed people. Yet, most are highly uninformed - Fox News brainwashing should be categorized as a clinical condition - and if pressed either cannot support their positions or end up agreeing with liberal positions. I truly do not comprehend the desire to "be a conservative" when conservatism as represented by today's GOP is something so abhorrent. As for the "godly folk" who comprise the GOP's care base, they are such hate-filled and hypocrisy-filled people, that I no longer even want to call myself a Christian because the connotation has become so negative. Witness the under 30 generations, a third of whom have walked away from religion. I am hardly alone.