Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Tyranny of the Republican Minority

The sad reality is that Donald Trump is a racist misogynist who, as Christianity Today noted in an editorial Thursday, is morally unfit and who needs to be removed from office. Yet his base, especially evangelicals, who comprise a minority of voters,  continue to support him with an almost cult-like fervor.  Despite all the denials and excuses by members of his base, the take away is that members of his base are as depraved as Trump himself and/or outright racists who cannot countenance the demographic changes occur in the country or the reality that the 63 million voters Republicans whine about did NOT and do NOT represent a majority of voters.  Thus, the 2016 vote in no way granted Trump and/or Republicans a mandate.  Indeed, but for the highly flawed and outdated Electoral College, Trump would not and should not have been elected. A column in the New York Times looks at the disingenuous effort by Republicans to depict Trump's impeachment as an effort to overturn majority rule. Here are highlights:

[T]his constant trumpeting of a vote total that is more than two million less than the total received by Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump didn’t just lose the popular vote — he lost it by a greater margin than any successful presidential candidate in American history. The right’s bombastic repetition of Trump’s 63 million could be just a propaganda trick meant to bully America’s anti-Trump majority into seeing itself as marginal, despite the more than 65 million votes Clinton received. But as I watched impeachment unfold, it seemed like something more than that — an assertion of whom Republicans think this country belongs to.
Over the last three years, a political narrative has developed that Republicans in Congress secretly dislike Trump but overlook his personal degeneracy in the interest of enacting their agenda. Wednesday should explode that fiction forever.
The Republican identification with Trump is total. Again and again, histrionic Republican congressmen equated hatred of the president with hatred of themselves and hatred of the sacred 63 million. They spoke of Trump with an awe and a maudlin devotion bordering on religious; Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, declared that Trump had been given less due process than Jesus Christ himself.
All day, Republican speeches delivered by old white men alternated with Democratic speeches from women, people of color and young people. White men make up 90 percent of the Republican caucus and 38 percent of the Democratic one, and the day dramatized the representational gulf in the starkest visual terms.
We face the horror of Trump because the structure of American democracy gives disproportionate power to a declining demographic group passionately convinced of its right to rule. Trump, with his braying entitlement, his boastful ignorance, his sneering contempt for pluralism, is an avatar of a Republican Party desperate to return to the 1980s, or the 1950s, or maybe the 1910s. He can’t betray America if, to those who fetishize the 63 million, he embodies it.
At the start of this administration, many who are horrified by Trump, me included, thought that at some point the Republican fever might break, leading conservatives in Congress to check a dictator-worshiping buffoon for the sake of the Constitution they claim to revere. I’ve become ashamed of my naïveté in imagining any overlap between my ideas about what is valuable in this country, and theirs.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the 63 million people who voted for Mr. Trump,” the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, said in his surprisingly moving speech on Wednesday. “Little talk about the 65 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton.” With the House’s impeachment vote, the America outside of Trump’s ruling faction finally mattered.
Democrats didn’t want to impeach, but once they decided to, Trump’s insistence that his Electoral College victory grants him impunity didn’t work. For one night, democracy asserted itself.
In the end, Trump’s impeachment passed with more House votes than Bill Clinton’s. All but one of the Democrats first elected in last year’s blue wave voted for impeachment, some at real political risk, given the conservative lean of their districts.
“Today, especially today, I reflect on the founding documents that have set us apart in the world, leading people across generations and across the world to risk everything because of their belief in our great nation,” said the Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a Constitution scarf around her neck, her voice charged with emotion.
Women and people of color, of course, were originally outside the protection of those founding documents. But on Wednesday, the most diverse Congress in history declared that even the most powerful white man in the world should be bound by them. When Republicans act as if that’s a sacrilege, they show us what they worship.

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