…and a Senate-Cleaning, too
Some of us are life-long Democrats and have always distrusted Republicans, based on the fact that Republicans have typically been selfish, oriented towards White supremacy, and socially irresponsible. Their views have dramatically worsened since the advent of the Tea Party in 2009. Their “I’ve got mine, and to hell with you, Jack” attitude has taken traditional Republican notions of support for limited government and free enterprise and put them on steroids. (Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” provided much of the ideological justification for modern Republicanism’s worst impulses, and we still haven’t recovered from Rand’s cruel and anti-social distress at the requirements that people should work together to seek a just and humane society.)
Some of us remember Richard Nixon from the 1950s and 1960s; Barry Goldwater in 1964; the John Birch Society from the 1950s, and going forward; the numerous hate-filled TV and radio talk shows (Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Wally George, Alan Burke, Chris Matthews, Morton Downey, Jr., Bob Grant, and Michael Savage); the right-wing politicians from Orange County, California, such as “B-1 Bob” Dornan; and, of course, the terrible coverage provided by the Fox Network, especially after its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch.
And some of us remember the so-called “Silent Majority” described by Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew, the Southerners and others who were the “soccer moms” of the day, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These were the people who refused to participate in the social and political movements of the day: anti-war; pro-environment; pro-feminist; pro-Civil Rights. They were the flock being led by modern-day evangelicals, and these sheep kept getting sheared by the Republican Party’s ambitious, opportunistic politicians. They gave rise to the soccer moms, the Tea Party advocates, and the alt-right Republicans of today.
We live in a changing world. No one can stop the“browning of America,” the result of bi-racial marriage, as well as immigration from non-White countries. Notwithstanding that fact, our country’s White supremacists, wherever they are (police, military, Secret Service, CIA), seem determined to reverse the irreversible trend, attempting (like King Canute) to stop the tide. As was the case with Canute, the tide’s force was insurmountable.
The current configuration of Republicans has made it clear that many of them have completely renounced their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution. Their fealty has been to Trump only, basing their loyalty on their fear of Trump’s base. Up until recently, many of us thought that this fear was exaggerated. But with the outpouring of hate on the Internet, coupled with the attempted coup on Wednesday, January 6, the intensity of vitriol coming from these Trumpsters is unrivaled in American politics, and has only been seen in uprisings in banana republics and in pre-World War II Europe.
Ambitious, self-serving scammers, such as Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, along with the others in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have revealed how deep America’s legislative treason has penetrated into Congress.
Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the Constitution provides, in the face of treason or renunciation of one’s oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, that:
“No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Representative Cori Bush of Missouri has prepared and plans to introduce a resolution in the House of Representatives to expel the 139 Republicans who joined the effort to overturn the electoral results, confirming Joe Biden’s victory in the Presidential election. She is also urging similar actions in the U.S. Senate, on the same grounds, for Sens. Cruz, Hawley, Mo Brooks, and the rest of their co-conspirators, a total of at least eight Senators. A total of 147 members of the GOP opposed certification of Joe Biden’s election, despite 60 lawsuits challenging the results, of which ALL were dismissed for lack of evidence.
Now, as we head towards Trump’s second impeachment, the demand for expulsion of disloyal Republicans from Congress will be met with calls for similar treatment of traitorous Republicans in statehouses throughout the country.
While we are pushing for the establishment of a national “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to honestly confront and overcome our long and bitter legacy of racism, we must also have lengthy dialogues about the principles of the Republican Party and whether it can survive, given the profound corruption of its guiding principles. Although many people have suggested that we need a loyal opposition, that philosophy only applies when the two parties are, broadly speaking, committed to bettering the condition of the American people. But when one party is explicitly embracing anti-democratic, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, handicap-prejudiced, and religiously biased values, then there can be no mistake: that party is not the “loyal opposition,” but is, instead, the bastion of treason, which must be extirpated quickly and without fail.
The Democratic Party is far from perfect. In its nascent state, it was a party of slave-holders and of privilege, especially in the agricultural South. During Reconstruction, it stood for Jim Crow laws, and looked for ways to suppress Black folks. In the early part of the 20th Century, it had many highly conservative legislators who promoted restrictive laws. Its history, in short, was based on racism on upholding the tenets of White supremacy.
While President Roosevelt saved the country from the ravages of the Great Depression and helped enact progressive legislation in many areas, our culture was still racist and Jim Crow laws were widespread, not only in the South, but throughout the country. Blue Dog Democrats were in control of Congress and most state legislatures.
But by the time of Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency, times had changed. Nearly 10 years into the Civil Rights Movement, Congress — with Democratic leadership — enacted the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, along with other liberal legislation. Conservative lawmakers were plentiful, but did not have the same dominant control as their predecessors did 20, 30, 40 years before.
When Nixon was first elected in 1968, the Democratic Party was slightly dominant in our political landscape. But by the time of his reelection in 1972, “Tricky Dick” Nixon had brought in a bunch of young, aggressive and opportunistic aides who took on the role of running Nixon’s dirty tricks campaign.
These members of Nixon’s dirty tricks election effort were the values-free, win-at-any-cost folks who came from wealthy families or had connections in high places. Many were participants in crooked student elections at U.S.C., a school for wealthy kids in Los Angeles; others had ties to Ivy League schools where their own political histories were checkered with ethics violations.
Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974, effective as of 12 noon the next day. His coterie of conspirators were tried and, in many instances, convicted.
Many of the Republicans who supported Nixon continued their political careers and launched a generation of lies, dirty tricks, and other forms of political foul play. Eventually, some of them took office. One of the most vile Republican politicians was Newt Gingrich of Georgia who took office in 1978 and continued in the House of Representatives until he resigned as the Speaker of the House due to his extramarital affair with an aide, 23 years younger than he. Gingrich was largely credited with undermining democratic norms in the United States and hastening political polarization and partisanship.
His bifurcation of the country into hardened Left-Right positions has created such antagonism in Congress that the sort of collegial relationships that were commonplace in both the House and the Senate simply no longer can exist. In turn, these Left-Right positions have fed into the culture wars of the last 25–30 years, and have led to renewed racism and antagonism in so many parts of America.
Republican cowardice has long been a major character failing. People who are weak in their critical thinking capabilities often draw false equivalencies, claiming that “the Democrats are the same as the Republicans,” or “the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans.” These people forget or did not know that laws prohibiting six- and seven-day work weeks; dangerous working conditions; child labor; and favoring the right to unionize; favoring the right to vote; favoring progressive conditions in housing, health care, and Social Security, were all the product of Democratic congresses.
The Republicans, by contrast, have provided tax breaks for the wealthy, restricted or prevented environmental protection, provided excessive military budgets, restricted the ability of people to get good, low-cost educations, prohibited fair trade, restricted/prohibited the right to unionize, and have favored voter restriction/suppression, racist policies in arresting, trying and convicting African-Americans and LatinX-Americans, and otherwise fighting efforts for social, political and economic justice.
The efforts of the Democrats to make this a better society and to provide greater chances for equality often took courage and a willingness to fight the establishment. While it is absolutely true that the Congressional leadership was often ploddingly-slow, a review of most of the best legislation coming out of Congress and state legislatures over the last 80–90 years shows that it stemmed from Democratic lawmaking efforts.
This is why it is important that we look honestly at who the Republicans are and make firm decisions on who we want to support. Do we want to continue the rape of Mother Earth? Do we want to continue the oppression of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Red peoples? Do we want to continue the suppression of women’s rights? Do we plan for the continued “dumbing-down” of our people here in America?
Do we plan to create jobs and investment opportunities in the South and other disenfranchised areas, educating the wanna-be rebels and racists, provide psycho-social counseling, help wean these folks from lifetimes of spousal abuse, child abuse, alcohol- and drug-abuse, provide them with environments where they can learn how to be helpful, needed, proud spouses, parents, members of the community?
Maybe a modern-day, internal version of the Marshall Plan to invest in America and to declare war on the cultural and educational ignorance which has created so many losers over the years would be a better way to go. Maybe turning desperately-poor areas into places where people are proud to live, have meaningful lives, and contribute to their neighborhoods, town/cities and states, would be a better way of handling the divisions that beset this country.
But first, we have to have a major House (and Senate) cleaning, and make a clean sweep of the bulk of the Republicans who are prohibiting us from making progress.
Then, and only then, can we take the steps necessary to make America the “shining city on the hill” it was supposed to be, so many years ago.