Commentary: A flash of sanity
Just when we thought that the entire Republican party was aping Trump by becoming a mirror reflecting all the barely contained rage and resentment plaguing Americans today, there is a thread of sanity that surfaced in the Senate.
Recently the Senate Republicans had the foresight to begin, at least in theory, to reduce military excess, in a small but significant way. While this is only a proposal by the Senate Republicans, and may well not last beyond its first encounter with the House Republicans, the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by the Republican majority, have proposed cutting the number of military brass. Modest cuts, but still, an idea that makes sense in this era of a streamlined, more efficient military no longer tasked with fighting large scale land wars.
The focus now should be adapting to a new world and new enemies. Specifically, they have suggested a 25 percent cut in the number of generals and admirals fighting the nation’s wars. According to Time magazine, the proposal says the officer staff has become increasingly out of balance with the size of the force it leads. They note that the size of the overall force has shrunk by 38 percent, while the ratio of four-star officers has increased by 65 percent. The committee is headed by Sen. John McCain, and their suggestions are part of the Senate’s 2017 defense budget.
Like anti-communist Nixon going to China, or LBJ, a southern president, passing a Civil Rights Act, this may only have a chance coming from the Republican side of the Legislature, since a Democratic effort in this direction would be assailed by endless claims of gutting the military, and weakening the country’s defenses. Only a party that has never before questioned the reach and the money spent on the American military could propose something like this.
What’s next? Maybe cutting some of the more than 255, 000 military personnel we maintain worldwide? Maybe not acquiescing to every congressional attempt to increase military spending whether the Pentagon wants it or not? Will some Republican, maybe McCain, in a return to his maverick side, declare climate change to be real? After all, the Pentagon has already incorporated it into their future planning, and has admitted that the Syrian revolution was sparked by drier than ever weather causing population shifts and igniting the horrific civil war.
It is encouraging that the Republican Party still has flashes of common sense despite its humiliating move from NeverTrump to acceptance of the Orange One in pursuit of a victory. Any deeply held conservative positions, religious beliefs, or affected regard for constitutional beliefs or sense of decorum are rapidly abandoned in their search for relevance or at least eking one more victory out of their outmoded, no longer coherent party. The party of rock-ribbed convictions is willing to put aside their cherished ideology of conservatism for one more chance at electoral success with a candidate using their name who has no more need or regard for them than a dog has for its fleas.
The Republican Party has become a creaking, shaky vehicle for the disaffected followers of Trump, no longer a political party, but a mere façade pasted together and shamefully swallowing its pride in an effort to not end up a footnote in the history books, like the Whigs, or the Know-Nothings. The party of Lincoln has shed any dignity to become the party that will swallow any ideas, even conflicting ones, in their quest for relief from the very policies that party has backed for generations. It only took a month from most in the party railing against Trump for their collapse into grudging acceptance, if not approval.
Even McCain has criticized party leaders who deny the will of the people, while acknowledging that Trump has made his own re-election more difficult. Apparently, the maverick saw the writing on the wall, and is ready to throw his lot in with Trump.
Now, I would never say this, but I did hear someone say, that Trump’s only concern is what is good for Trump, and feeds his base. In a year where anti-politics rules, and a fleeting relationship with the truth is all that is required, maybe we will see some common sense prevail.
Steve Foreman is a Warren County resident.