Hell, They Can’t Even Count Votes or Win Fair and Square.
I consider myself someone who believes social democracy creates equal opportunities for everyone when you provide your citizens the right to vote, economic security, investment in public infrastructure, and provide them the best education system in the world. This country was founded on the idea that we provide basic rights to all our citizens regardless of socioeconomic status, heritage, cultural upbringing, religious differences, and more. All these principles stood in stark contrast with autocratic governments owned by monopolies like the British East India Company which the UK depended on for revenue. Those freedoms our ancestors fought for are now under attack by elected Republicans who don’t believe in Democracy like they used to.
When Republicans were Sane
In the 1950’s the Republican Party believed in rational policies that benefitted the majority of Americans. They kept tax rates at 91% for the rich, worked with Democrats to pass voting rights in 1957, created the national highway system, supported revising the Taft-Hartley Act, recognized the right to join a union, and supported the 1956 Air pollution control act. While there were some on the right flank of his party President Dwight Eisenhower was reportedly furious at Senator Joe McCarthy for calling WWII hero George Mashall a Communist. He struck back. While silent in public Eisenhower worked quietly behind the scenes to undercut the Wisconsin Senator by releasing a damning report where he threatened to wreck the army. Taking the bait, McCarthy publicly lashed out at his enemies leading the Republican Senate to censure him 67 to 22.
In Comparison No Republican in leadership has censured the right flank of their party leading to the normalization of Nazism in the party.
Even during the 1960s and 1970s the Republican party while moving slightly to the right believed in Keynesianism economic theory and good government. President Richard Nixon passed the Clean Air Act and worked with Democrats to pass the Environmental Protection Agency, something that would be unthinkable in today’s party. They instituted wage and price controls and him and his successor Gerald Ford were pro-choice and believed interfering with the decision of a women was a violation of individual liberty.
Even as national Republicans lurched to the right with the election of Ronald Reagan and embraced corporatism as a new religion, they did a few things that were somewhat sane. In 1986 the Democratic House and the Republican Senate passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act which would introduce economic sanctions against the Apartheid government of South Africa. Ronald Reagan vetoed those sanctions even after his party weakened some of those provisions to get him to sign it into law. Desmond Tutu said Reagan should be “judged harshly by history” and Republican Senator Richard Lugar said it was wrong and worked to override Reagan’s veto by 78–21. Nelson Mandela later said those sanctions helped end apartheid in South Africa.
The Gingrich Era
Most of the radicalization of Republicans as the bomb throwers and sensationalist click baiters can be traced to the elevation of Newt Gingrich who ignored the good government Republicans who believed in governing. But that governing stopped as soon as he became Speaker of the House in 1995 as the Atlantic explains:
Gingrich recruited a cadre of young bomb throwers — a group of 12 congressmen he christened the Conservative Opportunity Society — and together they stalked the halls of Capitol Hill, searching for trouble and TV cameras. Their emergence was not, at first, greeted with enthusiasm by the more moderate Republican leadership. They were too noisy, too brash, too hostile to the old guard’s cherished sense of decorum.
Gingrich and his cohort showed little interest in legislating, a task that had heretofore been seen as the primary responsibility of elected legislators. Bob Livingston, a Louisiana Republican who had been elected to Congress a year before Gingrich, marveled at the way the hard-charging Georgian rose to prominence by ignoring the traditional path taken by new lawmakers. “My idea was to work within the committee structure, take care of my district, and just pay attention to the legislative process,” Livingston told me. “But Newt came in as a revolutionary.”
Gingrich introduced the concept of becoming the party whining like toddlers in front of the cameras, using projectionism to get what you want, and never once compromising with your colleagues. As the Atlantic continues under their philosophy “The House of Representatives was less a governing body than an arena for conflict and drama.” And this became evident as Newt Gingrich manufactured a crisis with the first ever government shutdown by demanding the Clinton administration give into their every demand instead of genuinely meeting them halfway. Fortunately, Gingrich slipped up when he claimed the shutdown was because Bill Clinton made him sit in the back of the plane. LOL. Leading to ridicule even among conservative newspapers.
Newt Gingrich who was having his own affair impeached Bill Clinton for having an affair. He thought it would ensure a Republican victory in the 1998 midterms except it did the exact opposite, one of the rare instances in decade where the incumbent President’s Party Gained seats in the house when then normally lose 15 to 20. His party soon after forced him to resign as Speaker with an honorary diaper award.
Sarah Palin through Donald Trump
The Republican Party fueled by disciplined obstructionism as Bill Krystol put it along with corporate interests and a right-wing echo chamber led to absolutely disgraceful moments under the Obama Presidency. As the party continued to obstruct and get 90% of what they wanted nobody was ever held accountable questioning that the first Black President wasn’t born in the United States. It began with Sarah Palin, was echoed by Fox News conspiracy theorists, and eventually picked up by Donald Trump who used fake populism and xenophobia to persuade voters desperate for manufacturing to return to elect him instead of Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump openly questioned and promoted bizarre conspiracy theorists and the most atrocious of them was lying (not misinformation, lying) about millions of voters participating in our democratic process to vote. In began during the 2018 midterms when former members of congress like Mimi Waters (CA-45) cited with no evidence that she was losing because the ballots were being counted. Oh no! The horror of math!
She would eventually lose to progressive Katie Porter who has the ability to think critically. Other Republican candidates claimed without evidence that they lost because of voter fraud. Which is funny because you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than encounter voter fraud.
Donald Trump continued this lie much like his lie that drinking fish bleach is a “cure” to the coronavirus. They Republicans can’t win fair and square so they would rather cheat and overturn local election boards in Georgia (so much for state’s rights) than win fair and square. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford would denounce these unprecedented attacks on election workers and voting rights advocates. A person’s right to vote is part of what makes us a democracy, but right now those are under threat from an autocratic party that doesn’t want you to vote. They’re attacks are what recently put the United States of America as a back sliding democracy.
“If you don’t have the guts to run in a free and fair election, get another job, get out of politics.” — Senator Bernie Sanders at the Seattle Rally (3/20/2016)
What Can You Do?
The only counterweight to these unprecedented attacks is to not only vote but to volunteer as a precinct committee chair and speak out loudly about it. It’s to call out these ridiculous attacks on preventing certification of a person who won fair and square. It’s designed to prevent people of color from participating in our electoral process or even getting water while waiting in line to vote for hours. Get involved in the process and educate those who disagree with you to turn off conspiracy theorists advocating Donald Trump is President (he isn’t) and that John F Kennedy Jr is still alive (he died in 1999). Show up at local Republican and conservative town halls and undercut every argument and conspiracy theory that comes out of their mouths.
“Together We Cannot Fail” — Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933