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 …

Is White Supremacy a Disease?

As I have watched and listened to the GOP fight to “repeal and replace”  Obamacare, the ACA (Affordable Care Act), and have listened to the president say he is undoing policies put into place by President Obama, I have found myself wondering if what we are seeing thus far is nothing more than a serious backlash against the former president, instead of a desire to govern our country.

The current president seems to be competing with Obama, even now; he seems obsessed, actually. It began on Inauguration Day, with the president worrying about his numbers. He clearly wanted to be able to say that he had drawn more people than had his predecessor, though the pictures of his crowds, as compared to Obama’s, clearly showed that he had not.

He and the GOP have been intent on repealing and replacing the ACA because “we made a promise to the American people.” They did. When the ACA rolled out, there was stiff and virulent opposition to it. The Tea Party was able to organize around its opposition to the law, but now, even Trump supporters realize that the ACA, though not perfect, has enabled them to have health care …and they want the law to stay in place.  The town halls being held not just in Democratic strongholds, but also in places where the president is loved and supported, are showing that people want the ACA. They don’t want it repealed. They want lawmakers to fix it and then leave their healthcare alone.

In other words, the people do not care about the GOP keeping that particular promise. They like what they are getting, flaws and all.

That being the case, why isn’t the GOP hearing “the American people?”  If they want to get rid of the bill so that they can give the wealthy a tax break, and give advantages again to the insurance companies, they should say that. That’s an OK goal, meaning, it’s in line with what seems to be Republican ideology. “The American people” don’t want that, but the GOP and the president ought to at least be honest in why they want to repeal the ACA.

But the ACA was attacked as soon as it was passed, even attacked as it was being formed. The anger was real; the Republicans felt like the bill had been “rammed down their throats,” an ironic complaint since the Republicans really tried to do in three weeks what the Obama administration took over a year to get into place.

What the GOP and the president seem to be intent upon, however, is undoing Obama’s signature piece of legislation.  That would be an apt slap in the face for the black man who dared be president of these United States. The president seems hell bent on erasing Obama’s legacy and it is proving to be harder to do than he thought it would be.

I can’t help but go back to the fact that on Obama’s first inauguration day, there were GOP leaders meeting to decide how to make him a one-term president. Before he had done a single day’s work as president, the Republican leadership was working to destroy him. Mitch McConnell said in October, 2010 that his party’s primary goal was to make Obama a one-term president.

The Republicans obstructed Obama at every turn. in January, 2016,  he had a budget which called for $4.15 trillion in spending – and the Republicans refused to seriously consider it. The president is busy undoing policies Obama put in place to protect the environment, to protect immigrants and children of immigrants…It feels like “anything Obama” has to go, according to the GOP mindset.

And it feels like nothing more than racial resentment, boiling over.

Rev. William Barber, the creator of the Moral Mondays movement, talks about this being a time of the Third Reconstruction. The first rReconstruction happened after the gains made by blacks after the Civil War. Whites did not like it, and after the federal government took troops out of the South to protect black, all hell broke loose. Whites put laws and policies into place that not only undid all of the gains made by black people, but also to prevent any more progress from being made.

Whites wanted to “make America white,” and therefore, “right” again, in their eyes.

It feels like that is what is happening now. The operative mindset – that of white supremacy, believing that America was made by white people for white people …is running wild. People of color will be put in their place, if these lawmakers have their way. White supremacy as a way of life corrodes the capacity for compassion and care, and makes people blind with a false notion of white superiority.

It is hard to watch. It is even harder to manage the feelings of resentment that the diseased lawmakers are stoking.

A candid observation …