The Screeching Silence of GOP Lawmakers

I grew up believing in the American political system and was comforted by my civics lessons which taught me that our governmental structure protected our country from becoming a dictatorship.

The three branches of government, with the system of “checks and balances” built in, were put there by Founding Fathers, who had seen first-hand what tyranny looked like.

But what I see today is a complete breakdown of this government. The man who promised to “make America great again” and to “drain the swamp” is methodically and strategically breaking down the government as we have known it, and is filling the swamp with new sea monsters.

What is most disturbing is the silence of the GOP. There have been precious few who have criticized this president, few who have dared stand up and demand that he and the Congress honor their promise to “preserve and protect” the Constitution of the United States.

While there is ample evidence to show how this president began this openly virulent political season, his GOP friends refuse to call him on it. They follow him like hungry dogs follow anyone who might have food. They excuse and explain away his lies; they resort to pointing out the shortcomings of Democrats when confronted with the hateful rhetoric spewed by the president. They shuffle along and grin, looking like hapless, toothless sycophants. And it is disturbing to watch.

While in Germany this year, I read how the German people actually gave the government to Adolph Hitler. In 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg named Hitler the chancellor of the Nazi Party, largely because he was intimidated by Hitler’s rise to power. He worked to make Germany a one-party state,  he expanded and increased the powers of the Gestapo, and worked to silence or eliminate any opposition. (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/adolf-hitler-is-named-chancellor-of-germany) In 1934, von Hindenburg died, and Hitler declared himself “Fuhrer” as he combined the offices of chancellor and president. (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hitler-becomes-fuhrer) Hitler had run for president in 1932 and lost, but he was ushered into the political space when von Hindenburg appointed him chancellor. Once von Hindenburg died, Hitler had the capacity to take over the government, which he did.

Author Tim Snyder, in his book, On Tyrannynoted that as democracies have fallen throughout the world, a key commonality is that they were elected to leadership positions. The people, often distraught by economic hardship, have voted these dictators in with the hope that they will make good on their promises to bring more prosperity to all people. They have seldom done that, but the power of their promise has been a need of people struggle to make ends meet.

A woman I spoke with in Germany asked me about America and its president. “What is going on?” she asked, and she added that what is happening here seems strangely similar to what happened in her own country.

What I am struggling with and am angry about is what I perceive as the failure of our elected leaders to protect this country. The president is talking to and firing up his “base,” because he understands their angst and anger. In spite of his claim that when attacked, he fights back, the truth of the matter is that he started these fights; he began and has perpetuated the name-calling and insults. He has given more respect to America’s known enemies; while attacking our allies, he has made dictators his best friends.

And the Congress has sat idly by.

If people do not vote in the mid-terms, the downward spiral of this democracy may not be able to be stopped. That is scary. Mussolini captured the hearts and spirits of his populace by knocking Italy’s government and promising that only he could fix it. It didn’t take long for his promise to ring hollow, just like Hitler’s government fell after 11 years in spite of his promise that his party would rule Germany forever.  I take that as evidence that the desire for freedom can eventually cause a despotic government to fail.

But this kind of scenario was not supposed to happen here, and I personally blame the GOP for remaining silent, for living in fear, and for putting their political ambitions above their mandate to protect this country.

People talk about impeaching the president, but in reality, maybe it’s the GOP Congress which should be impeached. Our country is in their hands, and they have not only dropped the ball but are watching it gain speed as it rolls down the hill of tyranny.

A candid observation …

America Has the Flu

If one of the main problems of influenza is that it attacks the body’s respiratory system, leading to pneumonia and other pulmonary issues which ultimately cause death, it would seem that America, under this president, is on life support, unable to breathe. This president and his administration  have shown us our disease and instead of leading us to ways to heal it, is ignoring everything that would “make America right again.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pneumonia is one of the most common and serious complications of the flu. Pneumonia caused by the flu can be viral or bacterial, but both can be deadly and in fact, do cause many deaths. (https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/index.html)

America’s racism has been its chronic illness  – its flu, if you will – since its inception; English people came here to escape British oppression, but also to make this “New World” a land created by white people for white people. They immediately began to oppress Native Americans and soon, black people. They declared Native Americans as being savages and brutes and justified their treatment of them on those beliefs about them. Racist ideology was included in nearly everything that these very religious people did from the 1600s on and was built into the United States Constitution.

Black and other oppressed people have fought the racism and sexism, anti-Semitism and many other “isms” for generations. Gains have historically been made and are then lost because angry white people have risen up and worked to undo the gains made by the oppressed groups, almost always violently.

Under this administration, the white backlash is serious and toxic; the venom of white nationalism is filling the lungs of America’s capacity to breathe in “liberty and justice for all,” while simultaneously breathing out racism, sexism, Xenophobia and all other forms of oppression.

Whenever blacks have made gains and fought racism, whites have done everything they could to undo those gains, furious that the federal government has at times supported the quest for freedom, justice, and dignity of people who are just as American as are whites.

America’s influenza – its racism – has not only been toxic but contagious. We are seeing white nationalists boldly declaring and boasting about their racism; Steve Bannon the other day said that whites should wear the badge of “racist” proudly. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/steve-bannon-racist-label-is-a-badge-of-honor) while the GOP-controlled Congress and Senate sit idly by and let the president do and say what he wants, as well as his followers. There is no outrage about the violence being perpetrated by White Nationalists; there are no efforts to stem the tide.

America’s capacity to be a just nation – a place where there is true “liberty and justice for all” – is being hindered by her lungs filling up with the deadly bacteria which causes cultural pneumonia. The safeguards of liberty and justice, morality, and goodness do not apply in the minds of those who believe that this nation should be a nation of white people. Our very plurality – something which other nations have celebrated – is what the White Nationalists abhor, and neither the US Constitution nor the Holy Bible or the religion called Christianity protect those who are attacked and discriminated against simply because of who they are.

Historian Forrest G. Wood in his book The Arrogance of Faith notes that Christianity has been “fundamentally racist in its ideology, organization, and practice.”  Christian idealism apparently means that the dominant ethnicity or race of this country must be homogeneous and puritanical, Wood says.

To hear and to watch this country backslide into a blatantly racist and sexist “norm” is disheartening, but worse, it is ominous because pneumonia damages the lungs and makes it impossible for a person – or in this case, a nation – to breathe. Empires fall. America, the Empire, is in the intensive care unit and its lungs, filled with the bacteria of hatred, are getting more and more weak.

A nation which despises, ignores, and casts aside “the least of these” is destined for death.

A candid observation …

 

On Patriotism

American-flag-America

Watching what is going on now in our country is at once fascinating and terrifying.

I thought I knew what “patriotism” meant. I thought that an American patriot put America first, truly, including the tenets of its US Constitution. Being a patriot for me never meant that a person was anti-racist or anti-sexist, or was, in fact, interested in steering away from any kind of discrimination. But for me, one who waved the flag meant that they believed in the basic tenets of the Constitution, including the basic freedoms.

In the past, a patriot was virulently against Communism. The Soviet Union was America’s enemy and everyone knew it. To even give a hint of being all right with communism was a death knell.

But surprisingly, more than a few Americans seem not to care about communism or about its threat to democracy. More than a few Americans are unconcerned about the intrusion into the heart and core of our democracy by a former KGB agent named Vladimir Putin. It is breathtaking to watch the silence of the United States Congress, letting the current president cozy up to Russia with little more than a sniff.

Russia has an agenda. Russia wants to be recognized as a world power and not a pariah, and under the leadership of Putin, it is running its agenda in this country with disturbing ease. That the Congress has said nothing and done even less, that it does not demand that the president stop weakening the very fiber of this country, is astounding. The comfort I had in the three legislative branches of government being in place to check unbridled power is all but gone. It feels like we are headed toward an authoritarian government, and the Congress, which could stop it, is not doing its job.

Where are the patriots?

The small group of very wealthy people who are in power seem blind to history, or if they see and know history, they do not care about it. They are running roughshod even over the “base” that elected the president into office, as they push for policies which will make life most difficult for that very group of Americans. How nobody in Congress is talking about that, showing blatant disregard for the millions, for example, who will lose health care if the president’s health care bill gets through the Senate is beyond comprehension. These people purport to be religious people, specifically Christian, and yet they are pushing policies which leave “the least of these,” whom Jesus the Christ said we should take care of, out of the ring in which the fight for justice is being waged.

The White House is filled with old, angry white men primarily, who resent the browning of America. Their resentment is not new; there was a similar backlash against “globalization” in the 1930s. Anti-immigration sentiment back then led to the passage of anti- immigration laws which would today appall many of us. When the report came out that by 2030, America would no longer be a “white” nation put the fire underneath the bigots, the white nationalists, and many non-politicians for whom the thought of not being in the majority was painful and frightening.

It seems that what is going on, fueled by white working class Americans who are angry that they have been ignored, is a fight which has at its roots the most vile racism and bigotry. The leaders of our nation are virtually silent about white nationalists taking their anger out on people of color – white domestic terrorist activity – even as they decry the terrorism carried out by ISIS.

What also seems to be going on is toxic capitalism. The very rich have abandoned allegiance to America and have decided to become best friends with Russia, our enemy, for the sake of making more money. Patriotism be damned.

Tom Snyder the Yale history professor who wrote On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, said that America has about a year to stop the path toward tyranny on which America is now traveling. The impotent Congress will not stop what is going on; it is not clear that the United States Supreme Court will be much more of a protector of America and her Constitution, all the vitriol about caring about that document notwithstanding, and the Executive Branch is filled with angry, old, racist white men who want America to be as white and male as can be.

Patriotism as we know it is gone. Or maybe the issue is that I never really understood what patriotism really was in the first place.

A candid observation …