Republicans to the Rescue!
A history of the Law & Order Party
Democracy nor Americans
If there’s one thing that Americans have been able to consistently agree on over the years, it’s the fact that the Republicans are the party that will keep us safe. They are, after all, the “law and order party” and they more readily recognize the dangers we face – and only they have the backbone to actually do something about them. It is the Republicans that keep America safe from criminals, immigrants, socialists, communists, takers, and of course, terrorists. They are the ones that will protect the Constitution, our Democracy, our economy, our values, our faith, common decency, and even integrity itself. Just as important, they stand up to and constrain the Democrats, whose policies are an obvious threat to the “American way of life”. Above all else, they have what it takes to protect our liberties.
And these aren’t just words. Pounding the lecturn with their fists, screaming with reddened faces, and even mustering up the occasional tear, they speak to us with a passion that tugs at our heartstrings and stirs up our patriotic pride. Republicans are more likely to have a flag on their lapel, the Bible in their hands, the Constitution in their pocket, and a gun in their campaign ads to prove to us that they have our back. These “Defenders of Democracy” use more than just words – they also use showmanship and props and it’s a performance that has outlasted any Broadway show by a mile.
So yes, all the above was sarcasm…
Republicans have been exploiting their self-designated role as sheriff for political gains for decades. When we take a closer look we see that it is truly and only showmanship. In fact, it is not hard to see that they have done much to hurt America and its people. This isn’t about picking on Republicans – this is about truth and clarity. Neither party is perfect, but for decades and many reasons, Republicans and conservatives of all types have been leading us down a path that has been slowly destroying America and literally killing Americans.
Let’s see what’s really behind that sheriff’s badge – and behind the curtain
Although this first example predates the Republican chest-thumping mentioned above, it’s worth going back to something that was only recently revealed that is both shocking and enlightening – it shows just how far “politicians” of any political party might go.
Before to the presidential election in 1968, Richard Nixon (prior to becoming president) and his staff secretly ended the Vietnam War peace process by convincing South Vietnam to back away from the peace talks for a better deal later. Nixon saw that the best way to defeat Democrat Hubert Humphrey and win the election was to manipulate the conditions such that the Democrats would fail to stop the war, thus creating an illusion of their incompetence. As a result, the war dragged on and thousands more of our sons and fathers were sacrificed for the ambitions of a treasonist politician. It’s hard to imagine that someone would scuttle those peace talks (something Americans desperately wanted to succeed), knowing many more would die, all for a temporary job. It’s clear that actions like this do not keep Americans safe.
Just imagine if he got caught. This was a thousand times worse than his Watergate scandal and he got forced out of the White House for that. Well, imagine no more because he did get caught. Federal authorities were able to record the discussions held by the Nixon team as they schemed. Unfortunately, it was believed that the country could not deal with a presidential candidate committing treason and it was further believed that Democrat Hubert Humphrey was going to win anyway. But Nixon won and the killing continued for years. Unfortunately for our Democracy, this brutal lesson of the damage caused by the awful calculation and inaction on the part of the Johnson Whitehouse and senior Democrats was wasted on us when President Obama didn’t do anything about the shenanigans between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The war in Afghanistan and the second Iraq War were waged because of the surprise attacks against America on September 11th, 2001. As it turns out, that infamous surprise was not all that surprising. The Bush Administration had several strong warnings that attacks were imminent. One was in July of that year, two months ahead of the attacks when CIA director George Tenet and CIA and anti-terrorism deputy Cofer Black went to the White House to personally raise the alarm that there were going to be multiple attacks against the United States either here or abroad or both – and with heavy casualties. The only thing the Bush administration did was to strengthen the defenses of some overseas bases. The CIA asked the White House to go on a war footing against Al-Qaeda – but that didn’t happen. Another was in early August when Bush was handed a memo that described Al-Qaeda’s activities to hijack planes and their recent surveillance of New York City buildings.
Republicans like to take credit for there being no major attacks on American soil ever since 9/11. How convenient for them that they just happened to start counting terrorist attacks after their massive 9/11 blunder. A blunder that led, not only to the 9/11 attack but to two Wars (one largely fabricated) and one million people, including thousands of Americans, killed or injured. These conflicts continue, generating a hatred toward America that terrorist recruiters are only happy to exploit. We remain less safe because of this gross incompetence 20 years later. No one is perfect and it certainly can be argued that these two warnings (and others) could have been misinterpreted, but holy shit, imagine if the Democrats screwed this up as the Republicans did…
Promoting violence here at home is another way Republicans keep us safe. They do this by making sure that there are as many guns floating around our country as possible. To complement this massive number of guns, Republicans make sure that there are as few gun safety laws as possible or weaken existing gun safety laws. They even found it difficult to require that people on the no-fly list should get a second look before buying a gun. In fact, ever since that devastating day in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been more laws that increase gun ownership than laws that decrease gun safety. The Republicans created a “gun society” by repeatedly claiming that “liberals want to take your guns away”. This has been drilled into the heads of many of their constituents – now Republicans have to keep those votes flowing in (and those NRA checks flowing in) by proving that they won’t budge an inch on gun safety. It’s easy to include the NRA in this blaming, and we should, but the NRA has greater influence thanks to a conservative heavy Supreme Court that continues to enable corporate money and corruption into our government.
If we are more likely to be shot then it seems only fair that we are less likely to have medical insurance. We can always count on Republicans to work tirelessly to keep us from getting the healthcare we need. Republicans act as if medical coverage is reserved for the healthiest and wealthiest of us. They have spent years bending over backward and burning through millions of our taxpayer dollars to terminate Health Care for millions of us. They like to say that “the country” can’t afford these handouts, but the truth is “the country” has more money than ever before. The problem is that the folks (the predator elite) that keep the Republicans in power have taken all the money and they don’t want to give any of it back, even to keep us alive.
The more of us that are healthy, the more of us can contribute to the economy by staying employed. The more of us that get regular checkups and the resulting medical attention, the more jobs are created in the healthcare sector – which means more money flows through the economy. The more of us that DON’T have health insurance, the more unneeded financial burdens on our families and society are created. The more of us that DON’T have health insurance, the more of us die.
While minimizing the number of us that can get healthcare, Republicans are maximizing the chances that we will get sick by maximizing deregulations. Deregulation is literally killing us. Conservatives are constantly pushing our Government to deregulate corporate activities related to food safety, pollution, nuclear energy safety, the airline industry, worker safety, consumer protection, etc. The claim is that this is all done to push back against an overreaching and incompetent government that is stifling job creation, the economy, and the progress of America. The reality is that deregulation is done in the name of more money for corporations at our expense. There is no doubt that it costs money for companies to take steps to protect the environment and keep our food safe, but that is part of the deal. It’s great if you want to run a business in America, but that doesn’t mean you get to harm the planet or people in the process – it’s a pretty basic concept.
Another way conservatives twist our government into favoring industry is to do it from the inside out. This is done by replacing those pesky qualified, objective, and agenda-free government employees with cronies, loyalists, and profiteers. Sometimes we briefly hear about it on the news when someone from industry is picked to head the EPA or the appointment of unqualified judges. The news fades but the damage will continue out of sight. Sometimes we see the damage such as President George W. Bush’s head of FEMA, Michael Brown, handling of the hurricane Katrina disaster, or President Trump’s Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, gutting the Postal Service just before an election.
Republicans have shown that they are willing to go much further, such as when they wanted to completely do away with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get it out of the way of business. It’s not clear what the FDA would have looked like if Republicans had succeeded but it kinda came in handy during the pandemic.
One Agency that Republicans were able to destroy was the Office of Technology Assessment back in the mid-1990s. The OTA provided valuable, non-partisan, science-based information and reports to congressional committees (for example) and, importantly, provided consistency of knowledge as congresspersons came and went over the years. Unfortunately, science, facts, and data were, and still are, counter to most policies of Conservatives and corporate America – so Newt Gingrich and the Republicans made it go away, purposefully making Congress ignorant. They tend to do that with the truth. Of course, they framed it as saving taxpayers from a wasteful and incompetent government – they tend to do that too. There has been some bipartisan interest in undoing the damage, but this is getting pushback from some conservative think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, who reframe it as politicizing science – they tend to do that.
What makes sense for corporate America does not necessarily make sense for Americans. If Capitalism is not contained within a properly functioning Democracy it will evolve into slavery.
Even better than denying us healthcare and healthy bodies, Republicans excel at denying us a livable planet. The Republicans, on behalf of fossil fuel, manufacturing, big ag, and other industries are doing all they can to deny climate change science even though both the oil industry and the coal industry knew many decades ago that it was real and that they were causing it. They continuously push back against the regulation of polluters and the power of the EPA right when we need them most. In case you haven’t heard, climate change is spinning out of control and it is way ahead of schedule. Climate change is the ultimate failure of the conservative/libertarian/corporatist/free-market clusterfuck of lies. These non-human ideologies tell us that everyone should act in their own interest (which they translate into an excuse to justify their pursuit of corporate profits over people and the planet) are being proven wrong in the most devastating way.
Getting briefly back to the Republican prop thing… Here is climate-denier and oil bribe-taker, Senator Inofe presenting a snowball to the Senate to prove that climate change is a hoax.
Here is a less dramatic rebuttal to the snowball thing just a few moments later on the Senate floor from a more reasonable Senator. Here’s a little more on climate change (and oil bribes) from the same (reasonable) guy.
Speaking of deregulation, when it comes to favoring corporate America and the wealthy, wealth-inspired policies from the Right far outnumber those from the Left. To be fair, it takes two to tango and it’s not like Democrats refuse to support “wealth-inspired” policies. But to be even fairer, it is our newly corrupted system of government that forces many members of both parties to vote against their constituents and their own morals. The rampant corruption that is handing all the money and power to the wealthy has been brought to us by the Supreme Court. Over the past several decades, findings of the Court have weaponized “freedom of speech” by turning it into an excuse for the wealthy and corporations to write bigger and bigger checks to influence politicians and policies.
It is the Libertarians, Conservatives, and Republicans who have masterminded a steady and purposeful realignment of the Supreme Court to favor industry and the wealthy, resulting in a Supreme Court that has acted against the needs of the rest of us. Republicans make sure that their base believes that abortion is their main focus when it comes to judicial nominations but that is hardly the case – the number one qualification of a Supreme Court Justice nominee is the prioritization of the needs of the wealthy. Over the past several decades, the Supreme Court has allowed more and more money to be spent on influencing politics – in some cases in unlimited amounts from untraceable sources. This not only leads to the deregulation of polluters, big oil, pharma, insurance companies, etc. – all of which causes us physical harm – it also lets the wealthy run the show. SCOTUS has so greatly corrupted our government that most politicians focus on making a buck more than protecting Americans and Democracy. Money in politics is also highly coercive in that if you don’t get in line with what big money wants, then big money will put all their money into getting you “primaried” – remember RINO and the rise of the billionaire-backed Tea Party candidates?
While SCOTUS was methodically increasing the influence of wealth, they were taking away ours. In 2013 SCOTUS gutted parts of the decades-old Voting Rights Act that prevented laws that intentionally made it difficult for minorities, the elderly, and youth to vote. Within hours, several states started removing these protections. The law had been highly effective and as dissenting judge Ginsberg said, getting rid of it was “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet”. Now, in 2021, we see the impact of this “decision” in full force as Republicans do all they can to win unfairly. Shifting control of our government from our hands into the hands of the wealthy and corporate America (think Big Oil, Big Ag, Pharma, polluters, NRA, etc.) is incredibly dangerous.
Some things are a bit more subtle and the resulting damage takes a bit more time to reveal itself. Well back in the 1900s, Conservatives and Republicans came up with two separate strategies, one to gain power and one to gain wealth. While it may not have been their overall strategy, the two strategies ultimately worked brilliantly together. The first, in the 1960s, was the Republican’s “Southern Strategy” in which they started to more gently fan the flames of racism in the South to lure white voters away from the Democrats. Here they moved away from the unsightliness of segregation to more “acceptable” notions such as “states rights” (to determine their own discrimination laws) and then “law and order” (to protect society against rioters) and ultimately just economic policies that favored whites. As pointed out above, this approach ultimately ended up with the SCOTUS doing away with portions of the Voting Rights Act because racism had ended with the election of a black president (wink wink).
The other strategy was the creation and the continual pushing of “trickle-down economics” which started back in the 1970s and has been slowly and steadily shifting more money out of our hands and into the pockets of the wealthy, which in turn has been reducing the flow of money through our economy. We have been conned for all these years (by Republicans, Libertarians, conservative pundits, etc.) to believe that if we just keep finding ways for corporations to not pay their fair share of taxes (or any taxes at all) then they will use this newfound pile of cash to create jobs, which of course they rarely do. If “trickle-down” was about creating jobs, then why can’t the tax breaks go to corporations AFTER they create jobs? The answer is because it is a con.
On the other hand, conservatives will label anything the government does for the working class as a “handout” or “the start down the road to socialism” and therefore an attack on Democracy. They take this a step further and make it not about policy, but about people, pitting us against each other, claiming that our government is giving “takers” and even “welfare queens” the hard-earned money of patriots. Conservatives have enough money and reach into various news outlets and social media platforms that they can drill into our heads every night just how “bad” some folks in our society are. Fox News is by far the biggest contributor to this and they incessantly attack anyone who is not white and Christian as the reason America is failing. For conservatives, this intersected nicely with the foundation of hate that they had secured through their Southern Strategy.
Another way they justify not paying taxes is to make us despise our government and prioritize the needs and success of business. It started with President Reagan with his “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”. This messaging has become more aggressive over the years, describing our Government as being in the way of business success, over-regulating, overtaxing, and, of course, taking our personal liberties away. This ultimately degraded to pleas from conservative pundits to “burn it all down” and ”flush it down the drain”. The purpose of all of this is to create an environment where we don’t mind as much when jobs are sent overseas or when wealth-inspired legislation guts the agencies and regulations that protect us or that essential services are privatized (for even more profit).
Even though it started decades ago, all the rhetoric added up as time went on and the results are now front and center all across America. We see it with blatant racism, job losses, and extreme economic inequality along with their inevitable growth in our frustration, depression, and inability to see a future. Tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy defund our government, resulting in decreased public service, especially in the areas of education and mental health, and the lack of mental health specialists. Meanwhile, the gun industry lobbies our newly-corrupted government to allow more and more guns to be pumped into the streets and into the hands of anybody, endangering the lives of all Americans (including police). The parallel growth of social and mental health issues, divisiveness, economic strains, and gun ownership has placed an improperly staffed and trained police force in a bad spot, which further exacerbates the problem.
This is the oldest game in the book – divide us and distract us so we blame our neighbor while the wealthy take all our money and ruin the country. In terms of the damage caused by years of the conservatives’ divisiveness and wealth-concentrating narrative, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.
Then things became not so subtle…
Republicans, Fox News, conservative pundits, social media, and more extreme media sources (often funded by billionaires such as the Mercers and the Koch brothers) all intensified the manipulative rhetoric over the years. Resulting from all this were increases in hate crimes, a widening political divide, and a deeper fear and hatred of our government. The more their base embraced this messaging, the more the conservative relied on it, and in many cases were forced to nurture it to remain in the good graces of Fox News – who were now driving much of the narrative
Republicans finally lost control when folks turned to and ultimately elected the least qualified president in history into office. During the primaries, Republicans desperately tried to hold onto their power by pushing back hard against Trump – calling him every name in the book. But they had spent too many years convincing us that things needed to be “shaken up” and that we had to “drain the swamp” (though no one really had a clear explanation why it was all that bad, to begin with). Fear had been part of the conservative playbook for decades and it set the stage for Donald Trump – and he was the master of fear-mongering – nobody did it better. Along with triggering our deepest fears, he was charismatic, had the illusion of success, and painted himself as an outsider that would provide safety from our “oppressive” government and the many “bad people” in America. Throw in a social media echo chamber, an inept mainstream media, and a dash of foreign manipulation and it all adds up to be the ingredients for a cult. Trump’s followers didn’t see what he was doing to their Democracy, to their fellow citizens, and to themselves.
Once elected, Trump’s manipulation continued as he played the base and stoked their fears more than the Republicans ever did. Divisiveness went through the roof in America, resulting in even more hate crimes, race riots, nationalism, anti-government sentiment, white supremacy, and right-wing terrorist activity. With Trump came “fake news”, “rigged elections”, Qanon, and the immediate embrace of every conspiracy theory that was concocted. We also saw the imprisonment of children and strong pushes against science, saving the planet, and mask-wearing during the pandemic. The Republicans (the self-labeled law and order party) not only looked the other way when they saw the damage being done to our country, they actively supported Trump and embraced these policies. They had to, they were afraid – they lost control of their base to Trump and they were afraid to lose their power as well. It was too late to undo the damage they had caused. It was too late to tell their base the truth because the truth is that they had been lying to them and taking from them for years. Some of them have recently seen the damage they have caused and are fessing up to the lies.
The Republicans turned all of this into an opportunity for a massive and undemocratic power grab; abusing or ignoring the constitution, tossing political norms out the window, shrugging off collusion with Russia, accepting a highly selective use of justice, knowingly spreading Russian propaganda, and claiming the 2020 vote was fraudulent. All along the way, Fox News and their guests, along with other conservative media outlets and foreign actors, fanned the flames of dissent and confusion on behalf of President Trump every night. This, combined with a final rallying call from Trump and his closest allies, provoked a deadly attack on the U.S. Capital and direct threats to our elected officials. Within hours of the attack, many Republicans were pretending the attack never happened or that the vaguely defined “Antifa” were the attackers – within days, many more Republicans joined in on that lie. Republicans were willing to pretend the attempted coup didn’t happen because they were, and still are, willing to take power through a coup. Since the Republican party has proven through its policies and legislation that they are not for the average American, this undemocratic power grab is the most dangerous period in the history of our country.
Just like President Bush was opposed to the 9/11 commission to investigate what led to one of the worst days in American history, the Republicans were opposed to the Jan 6th commission to investigate what led to the other worst day in American history. Part of the purpose of these commissions is to prevent a recurrence of the events – if you don’t want to figure out what happened, then you either have something to hide or you want it to happen again. Also, if they were so convinced that “Antifa” attacked the Capital, then one would think they would embrace the investigation…
Okay, so we now know that Republicans are fine with taking power through violence, but it’s hard to know when they became comfortable with the idea, what their end-game is, or how far they will go. But we do know that the growth of right-wing extremism and violence has been tracked since the 1940s and has ramped up considerably due to conservative rhetoric. Not only have conservatives nurtured right-wing extremism along, but they have also stymied efforts to stop it through pushback against reports, having reports retracted, and defunding efforts to track and thwart these groups. So while the Right has been overplaying the threat of terrorism from Mexican and Muslim immigrants, they have been assuring the threat of terrorism from within
Then of course there is the small matter of the pandemic. All of us watched the ever-growing pile of ignorance, missteps, exploitation, and outright lies at the hands of the Trump Administration, Republicans, and conservative media – but not all of us survived it.
The poor handling of the pandemic was also related to a voter base that had been manipulated over the years, fed conspiracy theories about the government, and had fallen under the spell of the least engaged, least intelligent, and least caring president in our history. It didn’t take much of the above-mentioned manipulation to convince these folks that wearing a mask was not about saving your lives or the lives of others, instead, it was all about the government attacking your personal liberties and it was just the first step of some sort of socialist/communist takeover from the radical left. The GOP, conservative media, and certain religious leaders had no problem sending out the wrong message in order to create further hatred of the government and the Left – in other words, they had no problem killing Americans, even sacrificing members of their own base, for political gain. It even got to the point where Republicans, from Trump on down, attacked Dr. Fauci] so much that he had to get bodyguards – welcome to Republican dystopia.
Republican leaders around the country tried to show that they were tough – always pushing back against the suggestions from doctors, scientists, and government agencies. Not surprisingly, those that were infected got the best medical treatment and they gladly took the vaccine. The fact that President Trump took the vaccine, but kept it secret is really all you need to know about the man, his priorities, and the “lead by theater” approach of the GOP. For Republicans, the pandemic was not something to deal with, but something to exploit. Their instincts were to use showmanship, props, grandstanding, and chest pumping in a power grab and to further divide the nation. They took something that could have brought the country together and should have showcased what a competent government could do, and instead turned it into a shitshow and showcased what their corrupted, grifting, gutted, and incompetent government was all about
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Republicans have destroyed truth and are using that accomplishment to destroy our Democracy. Republicans and conservative pundits and media outlets are continuing their “big lie” about the 2020 presidential election. Some states (only those where Trump lost and where Republicans are in control) are using the GOP-perpetuated “big lie” pile of “alternative facts” to rewrite election laws that will allow Republicans to decide who gets to vote, and if that doesn’t work they can use their other new laws that will allow them to simply overturn election results.
As this is being written, Arizona Republicans have hired a completely unqualified private firm (operated by known conspiracy theorists) to recount the Arizona election results. Apparently, bi-partisan and monitored recounts aren’t good enough for Republicans if the results aren’t in their favor. Other states are starting to do the same. It is not clear how the results of partisan, privatized, unqualified, and unmonitored recounts will be used against the actual results of the 2020 election, but minimally, the long-term goal is to sow more seeds of doubt about Democracy so that the actual destruction of it is acceptable. Just as Conservatives and Republicans have weaponized the Constitution to take over our Democracy, they are now weaponizing election laws to ensure that there is nothing that we can do about it…
Anyway, you get the idea, the Republicans are full of shit. They pretend to be the “true patriots” and “one of us” while they torch our health, wealth, future, and Democracy itself, all in the name of the wealthy, corporate America, and their own personal gains. No matter how patriotic they sound, no matter how adeptly they tug at your heartstrings, the conservative movement is about manipulation, exploitation, corruption, obstruction, and destruction – and nothing else. They are not the “law and order” party – they are the “power at any cost” party. If at the moment, you happen to feel safe in their version of Democracy, then you better start paying attention, because history shows that that feeling won’t last.