If you listen carefully, you can probably hear the other shoes dropping across the mountains from us, in Washington, D.C.
The ever-shifting kaleidoscopic mess that is the Donald Trump reality show is rapidly coming apart, destroyed by its own actions. How could such a compromised venture, based on lies and hate, hope to succeed? Beginning with Trump’s assertion about Obama’s African origins, to pronouncements about rapists and murderers, to the absurd fiction about building a wall, to banning Muslims, or mocking a handicapped person, to sexual abuse, to a public fight with Gold Star parents, to numerous petty fights picked with all manner of Americans, all served one purpose, to put the spotlight on Trump’s inflated ego. The glare has illuminated aspects that Trump and his cult wish would remain hidden.
Mostly responsible is the Republican Party, which slowly but completely embraced Trump, using him as a smokescreen to divert attention from their attempts to sell out the voters they claim to love, and to reinforce the economic might of the top 20 percent that is their donor class. From removing health care for the disadvantaged to creating a windfall tax cut for the people they work for, those who need it least, the Republican Party has plenty to hide.
During the Trump campaign, it was popular to disparage the opposition, charging that anyone with even a hint of guilt was unfit for office. Somehow that standard does not apply to Trump and his appointees, despite the ongoing investigations. With the new administration, we have a Supreme Court justice appointed to a position disgracefully robbed from the preceding president, and a flood of radically conservative appointments to federal judgeships and administrative posts. What legitimacy does this administration have, given its aura of corruption, incompetence and divisive policies?
The so-called public servants now in charge are not acting in our best interests. We see them rolling back protections and practices put in place through experience and benefiting the common welfare; environmental, judicial, consumer, trade, and diplomatic measures all being thrown aside without concern for the aftermath and potential disastrous effects on the nation.
They call for a convention to effect changes to the Constitution, including removing the direct popular vote for senators. Witness the actions this summer, when Republicans tried to remove health care for millions of their constituents – it only failed after a public outcry convinced a few senators that it would endanger their reelection. Or the recent effort to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which uncovered Wells Fargo’s efforts to take advantage of their customers and which gave money back to consumers? What about the Federal Communications Commission whose Trump-appointed head is trying to roll back net neutrality, allowing large corporations to dictate individual internet use? Or the biggest give away possible, transferring billions to the top 20 percent in the guise of tax cuts to help the middle class? Even though most economists say this would blow up the deficit and ultimately harm the middle class and poor, Republicans are so beholden to their donors that they would forsake the people they represent to keep the campaign donations flowing. Never mind that the deficit hawks of the last eight years would not allow any infrastructure work or spending to stimulate the economy when a Democrat was in charge, they now claim that reducing taxes would result in a boom not a bust, a theory recently disproved in Kansas. After causing the deficit to spike, they plan to cut programs like Social Security and Medicare, long-cherished desires of the Republican Party.
As damaging as Trump is, and there is no space here to list the ways, the Republican Party is complicit in his failures and responsible for his actions. That a minority of voters are willing to look away from cooperation with a hostile foreign government, and accepting of loss of rights like voting or health care, or public safety or clean air, is testament to the ability of Republicans to manipulate public sentiment. Skillful management of hot button social issues allows Republicans to misdirect attention and obscure issues. During Obama’s time, they were the party of fiscal austerity, now that they are in charge, arithmetic and reason don’t matter. The ability to persuade millions to vote against their best interests is almost genius on the Republican’s part.
What will happen when the folks who believed the false populism of the Republicans and Trump realize that they have been sold a pack of lies?
Steve Foreman is a Warren County resident.