Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Depth Of Republican Loyalty

                                                                                                written 24 March 2019
                                                                                            published 31 March 2019

            Republicans used to stand for something.  Though I have always voted Democratic, I share Republican pride in American democracy, and the principles of personal responsibility and basic conservatism, as it applies to conserving real values.
            The first Republican president in my life was Eisenhower, who fought against white supremacists and led American to victory over Nazi fascism.  He created the Federal Highway System, the largest socialist infrastructure investment of its time, and warned about the increasing power of the corporate "military industrial complex", though he was ignored.  
            The next Republican president was Nixon, who opened relations with China, signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union, and oversaw the final retreat from Vietnam, ending that war.  He enforced desegregation of Southern schools and founded the Environmental Protection Agency, a model for other nations.  However, he was a flawed man: the only president to resign to avoid being impeached.  
            By 1980, the American economy had peaked.  Corporate concentration of wealth and power, which Eisenhower warned against, had become the foundation of the Republican party.  Laws supporting the environment, public health, responsible banking, and social justice, became "job killing regulations" to be repealed for corporate profits.  Foreign diplomacy shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon.  Taxes and social services were cut and the military budget expanded.  The traditional Republican concerns for fiscal responsibility and low Federal deficits were abandoned, and the debt grew by 400%, under presidents Reagan and Bush, the elder.
            President Bush, the younger, took office without winning the popular vote: the first president in 112 years.  Corporate interests were fundamental to his administration, primarily administered by the autocratic vice president Cheney.  The longest war in US history was begun, among others.  Although there were no real victories, corporate profits flourished, and the deficit increased by another 250%.  The administration ended with the largest financial collapse since the Depression, caused by the deregulated financial sector.
            Today we are experiencing the administration of president Trump, the next Republican who lost the popular vote.  While Trump has continued the tradition of placing corporate leaders in positions of power over their own industries, he seems less concerned about how competent they are, as his turnover rate is larger than any administration in modern history.  The corporate benefits of regulatory rollback are more blatant, sacrificing public, fiscal, and environmental health.  
            More than any other president, he has worked the system for his own personal gain and aggrandizement.  He refused to divest himself from his more than 500 corporations, and is being investigated for violating the emoluments clause in the Constitution which prohibits the corruption of personal financial gain from public office.  As the House investigates, it appears Trump's Ponzi financed empire has been subsidized by foreign agents and governments for years, compromising his loyalties.  People on his team have already been indicted and sentenced for being unregistered foreign agents.  Members of his family were placed in sensitive positions over the objection of security officials and he supports foreign dictators over American intelligence information.  He embodies the worst aspects of a tyrant, creating enemies lists and denigrating any press not laudatory to himself.  
            Through all this, the leaders of the Republican party give unwavering support. Misogyny, racism, white nationalist terrorism, destruction of a free press: none of that seems important. Trump recently threatened armed insurrection, claiming he "has the support of the police, and the military and the Bikers for Trump" who are "tough people" and after a "certain point it would go very bad".  Even declaration of a national emergency to subvert the will of Congress, a declaration he admits he didn't have to make, gets a Republican pass. Their only goal seems to be remaining in power, without concern for what values they sacrifice.  
            Loyalty is an honorable trait, but it is important to choose where you put loyalty.  Mendocino County hosted another group loyal to their leader.  Peoples Temple was founded with good goals and a strong leader. But Jim Jones was primarily self-serving, and violated his follower's trust.  He was crazy with paranoid thoughts, seeing enemies everywhere and punishing defectors.  Group loyalty led the loyal to drink cyanide in mass suicide.
            Is that the depth of Republican loyalty?