One year ago, on September 23, 2020, Ariadne Schulz published this brilliant essay about the situation that has engulfed the nation.
The political news is often presented in a binary manner that substitutes objectivity for fairness but in reality, Republicans are still destroying our nation with lies, cheating and financial advantages.
Media reports cannot make a false equivalent when two opposing sides display wildly different levels of respect for the entire society.
While we are still hearing unfounded lies about Donald Trump’s ignominious defeatand his attempted coup d’état on January 6th, this essentially reveals the narcissistic and unAmerican Republican tactics that predated the election of Democratic President Joe Biden.
For years, in fact as long as I can remember, Republicans have been spreading the outright lie that they stand for “real” America and are the “true” Patriots who supposedly safeguard the economy, honor the military, and are the stalwart defenders of the American way of life. And yet, for years even before Trumpism and once again, as long as I can remember, Republicans have torn down every aspect of America.
Republicans have driven us to a crossroads and now we stand at the precipice of destruction. If America and the oldest modern democracy is to survive we have to disown Republicanism and expose their unAmerican activities for what they truly are. We can have our nation or we can have the Republican Party, but we can’t have both.
Here is a short list of some of the ways Republicans are destroying our nation.
1. Celebration of Civil Rights Abuses
This one has quite the history and as Republicans will gleefully remind you civil rights abuses were originally the purview of the Democratic Party. And while that’s true, it’s not really relevant. That Democratic officials prior to (and to a lesser degree post) the Civil Rights Act engaged in racist legislation, diplomacy, and voter suppression tactics does not excuse or exonerate the practice going forward. Yes, this is a part of our history and yes we’re going to have to find a way to answer for it but allowing it to continue is not the way.
There is also a tendency among white voters to try to deny non-white or non Christian, LGBTQ+, or disabled people rights or benefits. White people want these benefits for themselves, but they want to see them denied to others. Without delving once again into the ethos of white supremacy this is pretty obviously problematic.
Republicans are currently excited about potentially tilting the Supreme Court super conservative and stripping back rights like women’s healthcare, voting rights, marriage equality, and equal pay. And they’re openly gloating about it. The idea being: make the libs cry. So cool story bro, but the problem with that is illustrated in a poem by Martin Niemöller.
Autocracy is never satisfied. It doesn’t matter how obsequious and cringing you happen to be, or how much you look like the man in power, eventually you, like Robespierre will find yourself the victim of your own cruelty.
And if that’s too “hysterical,” for you observe the dampening effect the 200k deaths has had on the economy and imagine that extended to some 70% of the working American population. If you decimate civil rights even if you’re not terribly worried about humanity and decency it will destroy the economy.
2. Genocide at the Border
There are presently credible allegations that ICE has a forced sterilization project underway. As in they are grabbing women in their custody who have anything from ovarian cancer to heavy periods and forcing them to undergo procedures including hysterectomies which render them sterile. That is — according to international law — considered genocide. And I haven’t until just now in this very sentence mentioned separating families and detaining children in such horrific conditions that they die of things like the flu.
You may think, “oh well they broke the law,” or “yeah, but it will never happen to me,” and I am here to tell you lols no. Some of them sort of committed what might be classed as a misdemeanour by crossing the border without proper documentation but many of them just got caught in a bureaucratic quandary that they probably had no way of preparing for. It’s like if your thirteen year old kid were to get caught trying their first cigarette or drinking and as a result the police imprisoned them and either cut off their testicles or removed their uterus.
And yes, it could happen to you. An American citizen was actually detained in one of these concentration camps and ICE does occasionally grab people off the street. I actually live abroad and I don’t always have my passport on me. Could you prove at the drop of a hat that you’re documented?
Even if you don’t live near the border you’ll eventually be at risk particularly if the rest of the world decides to stop letting a clear violation of international law slide. They could impose economic sanctions or diplomatic sanctions causing you to take a hit to your pocketbook even if you think you have no connection to the world outside of America. But there is also a possibility of armed conflict.
Republicans are actively encouraging international censure that will adversely effect you.
3. Destroying Healthcare
This one should be pretty straightforward. The ACA whether you love it or are mad that the Black guy is paying for your meds was a great piece of legislation and a wonderful boon for Americans of all walks of life. It was not perfect, but it was an excellent first step towards Universal healthcare.
But let’s say you’re still mad about it for various reasons that have very little to do with the actual legislation and more to do with Republicans trying to dismantle it. Let’s say you’re of the opinion that people should JUST get healthcare through their employer. Okay. How’s junior’s job search going? Pretty crap, huh. How long do you think you’ll be able to COBRA him?
You got a wife or a daughter? What happens if she, God forbid, gets uterine or ovarian cancer, suffers from endometriosis, an auto-immune disorder, migraines, or simply dysmenorrhea? Her employers insurance might not cover her medication for those conditions. So you can either pay for it or watch her suffer and die. Your choice.
And then there’s your own cholesterol medication or heart medication or what have you. How long do you suppose your employer will cover that before they decide that your heart condition is due to your poor diet and they shouldn’t have to pay for it?
Healthcare used to be a bipartisan issue. But Republicans know that if they can keep you sick, weak, poor, and desperate, they can control you. Your American dream is going to be shattered by the inevitable existentialism of your body.
4. Lowering Confidence in the CDC
As a researcher in Palaeopathology the CDC used to be my gold standard for getting data about modern disease, trauma, and biological stress. I personally trusted it more than I even trusted the WHO. I’ll admit that difference was marginal, but the CDC was just a few years ago the standard for research and data collection excellence.
Trump and his toadies have destroyed that. And there is no research institution that can reasonably fill the void the CDC has left.
This is another one with a history dating way back. The CDC has been barred from funding or even being associated with research on firearm related injury or death. And that’s unfortunate because whether you like it or not trauma adversely effects health and is considered in a wider sense a pathology. So that is problematic and has stymied a lot of good research.
But of course, the most relevant issue right now is the CDC’s ability to handle the pandemic. Like it or not, the vast majority of medical doctors are in it to keep you yes you alive and healthy. They’re human and they sometimes do incredibly questionable things, but particularly in an institution like the CDC they’re about … well CDC stands for Center for Disease Control so you figure it out.
They’re not saying what makes them feel good, they’re using data to try to curtail the spread of a deadly pathogen.
But of course, data and facts are not compatible with the Republican platform so the CDC has been pressured, bullied, and threatened into disseminating false information and taking data offline. This in and of itself is going to delay the creation and distribution of a safe vaccine, but it also means the general public will be relying on false, misleading, and politicized information which can and has negatively impacted their health.
200,000 Americans are dead. We don’t get them back after this is over. They’re gone forever.
Republicans are actively helping you into your grave for cheap political points.
5. Lowering Confidence in our Intelligence Agencies
Unlike many of the other points in this list this one is new. Republicans before Trump were generally a bit more permissive of intelligence agencies to the point that three-letter agencies became a sort of dirty word among Democrats. Republicans absolutely used intelligence and law enforcement agencies to try and jam up particularly civil rights causes. Even as recently as the George W. Bush administration the capacities of intelligence agencies were used by Republicans under the auspices of security for some rather questionable purposes.
Yeah, they spied on Americans. You can debate if you want if that’s worse than spying on our allies, but it’s a question of degree.
But the Republican love affair with the intelligence agencies hit a rock when said agencies started applying the same standards to both Democrats and Republicans. Suddenly, rather than being able to use these agencies in Nixonian political threats Republicans found their own finances and suspicious liaisons being perused.
The GOP refrain prior to Trump in regard to such surveillance was “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to complain about.” So aside from clear evidence of wrongdoing by multiple GOP operatives it is terribly interesting that Republicans are now turning on the Intelligence Agencies.
As much as I question and will continue to question the ethics of surveillance, the Intelligence Agencies are …. pretty darn important. I do wish they’d dot their “i”s and cross their “t”s a little better, but having information on domestic terror groups for example is an important part of keeping Americans safe. Ideally, these agencies also safeguard our elections (aka the primary exercise of our democracy) and our troops and citizens abroad.
But, having outed Trump as a Russian asset the Intelligence Agencies are now under fire and are unable to complete their mission because of intentional interference from Republicans.
6. Undermining the Armed Forces
Honestly, is anyone as shocked as I am that I’m doing this?
— Selina Meyer, Veep
I’ve never been a fan of the military and I am as anti-war as they come. With that said, I do have a few members of my family who have served and at least one who is actively serving. One of my cousin’s when she was married the best man had to pre-record his toast because he was deployed at an inopportune time.
But my personal rather conflicted feelings on the military to one side it is an important and necessary part of really any nation and the American military is relatively regularly deployed on peace keeping missions.
Additionally, for a lot of Americans and a lot of American families military service is tradition or the only way to get an education. I have additional mixed feelings on the military’s position on gays and women as well as issues with military schools being the means of entering politics, but my problems with how the military fits into our society are not a reflection of the individual in the system and does not subtract from whatever good the military is able to achieve through giving disenfranchised Americans a leg up or directly through peace keeping.
For some people, military service is specifically about service. And there are ways to serve without carrying a gun. So when Donald Trump or Republicans deride the military what they’re really deriding is people giving back to their nation or engaging in social mobility. Trump and the GOP have no problems using the military for photo ops and political antics, but Trump’s own loose lips have cost American lives and his disrespect towards servicewomen and men is not just astonishing but deeply unAmerican.
7. Normalizing Corruption
There’s an infographic that has made the rounds since about 2018 which demonstrates just how incredibly corrupt the Trump administration is relative to virtually every other Presidency with the possible exception of the Nixon administration. I won’t share it because I couldn’t find an updated version, but just looking at the numbers, it’s pretty staggering. The Mueller investigation alone resulted in 34 indictments and — as we found out well after the fact — the scope of the Mueller investigation was severely curtailed. As an article in Forbes points out it’s pretty rare for criminal charges or convictions to hit so close to home for US Presidents.
Simply put, this is not normal.
But it’s worth noting while the GOP is hardly clean as a whistle, Donald Trump’s corruption well predates his run for the Presidency or even his formalized association with the Republican Party.
Donald Trump’s claim to fame is actually his corruption. He doesn’t understand it, but the entire reason he became a reality show star is because he was widely known to be corrupt in virtually all aspects of his life. It has only recently come out that he and his siblings cheated his niece and nephew out of millions of dollars as part of a tax fraud scheme, but it was widely understood that he was a rather stupid “businessman,” who relied on poorly advised loans from the banks, didn’t pay contractors, and was quite easy to dupe.
The Republican Party nominated this openly corrupt fool to lead them. Regardless of where you stand ideologically, you have to recognize that if America is a country of law and order this kind of malfeasance cannot stand.
At present Trump still has not divested from what remains of his father’s empire putting him in violation of the Emoluments clause. He has never willingly released his taxes violating norms in place since the Nixon era. He is surrounded by flunkies who have been sentenced to prison for crimes Trump must have been involved in which again, has not happened since the Nixon era. He’s fired and bullied out nearly every cabinet member or department head approved by the Senate replacing them with sycophants. He’s deployed the army against civilians and tried to take over Congress’ power of the purse on multiple occasions.
Oh yeah and even his (third) wife wasn’t surprised when the world found out he was cheating.
Remember when Republicans were saying Bill Clinton needed to be impeached because he supposedly lied about having an affair? (If we’re being super technical all we know is that fellatio was performed on him by someone other than his wife and what he said was “I did not have sex with that woman.” So if sex includes oral sex then yes he lied, but otherwise he didn’t.) Anyways, Republicans were pearl clutching over that and yet here we have a Republican President who had mediocre to poor sex with a porn star, tried to pay her for her silence with campaign funds, lied about it multiple times, got his lawyer to lie about it, lied about a bunch of other stuff and almost definitely raped a child.
Say whatever you like about Bill Clinton and Epstein, but you won’t find any credible accounts of him raping children. This is not normal.
But to really spell it out, normalizing corruption like this means that nothing you have or have done is safe. You can be jailed at any time and all your worldly possessions can be taken from you just because someone in power decides they don’t like you or that you have the wrong Party affiliation. You think I’m joking? The reason I was born American is that is exactly what happened to my grandparents right after my father was born. My grandfather only escaped execution because he was a superb polyglot and talked his way out of it. How many languages do you speak? Think you can talk your way out of a firing squad?
8. Using Government Resources to Target Whistle-blowers
The most obvious example of this is Alexander Vindman, but he’s hardly the only example.
Vindman had served in the US military (see point 6) for 21 years. He was a Lieutenant Colonel and worked in his position as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in part because he was fluent in both English and Ukrainian. He apparently was in line to be promoted to a full bird colonel when Trump in his typical vindictive childish manner, blocked it.
The scandal which really should have resulted in Trump being removed from office and still may result in his incarceration was Trump using the State Department to try to force Ukrainian officials to fabricate evidence against his political opponent, Joe Biden. Vindman was on the call as part of his duties, and after hearing that continued to uphold his oath and reported it.
So this is basically a turdunken of corruption. This is an inception of corruption. This is corruption wrapped in wrongdoing surrounded by malfeasance. It is a Russian doll of corruption.
But having being more or less foiled in his attempts to use government resources and departments to target an American citizen, Trump then directed Government resources and departments to target the whistle-blower who’d foiled him.
I will defend and continue to defend the high salaries of public officials because for the job they do it is necessary. It may seem excessive particularly for those of us surviving in the gig economy, but it genuinely isn’t. However, the reason they get remunerated to such a degree besides making it possible for them to do stuff like buy a pre-cooked meal is because they are expected not to take bribes, not to use government resources to do favors, and CERTAINLY not to use government resources to target American citizens who they just don’t happen to like.
Again, either we are a country of law and order or we aren’t. If Trump can’t be expected to operate within the law then he shouldn’t be President and we are all in danger. Even if you spend most days kissing his pimply butt he has shown that he will turn on people entirely without reason or cause.
Edit: Apparently before I was even able to hit publish on this thing there have been further attempts to use Hunter Biden’s business connections in the Ukraine in an attempt to sully Joe Biden. This was done to distract from the fact that Eric Trump has lost his appeal and will have to be deposed regarding the family “business,” before Election Day.
9. Voter Suppression, Gerrymandering, and Election Rigging
This isn’t a tale as old as time so much as a tale as old as Black suffrage. Well, I lie. Gerrymandering does date well before that as does election rigging but voter suppression became an art in the Jim Crow era. Once again these are longstanding issues with our democracy that are not entirely the fault of the GOP but which the GOP has lately really exploited.
Voter suppression occurs when — you know, just hypothetically — the Secretary of State in Georgia whose job it is to register and enable voting in his or her state purges the voter rolls of all names with similar or inconsistent spellings including typographical errors like punctuation and extra spaces to the point that they themselves have trouble voting for themselves in the gubernatorial election and end up winning it because Black voters were mysteriously disenfranchised.
Gerrymandering occurs when districts are “packed,” or “cracked,” or otherwise distributed in a way that a given demographic has less representation or voting power than they may have otherwise had. It can but does not always result in weirdly shaped districts.
Election rigging is arguably the worst of all these and that’s when a Party or candidate uses their position to change voter counts or destroy ballots. You could make a case that particularly in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan the Republican Party engaged in election rigging in 2016 through methods which included promoting third party and write in candidates, voter suppression techniques, and possibly even tampering.
It should be relatively obvious why this is bad, but I’ll spell it out. America is supposed to be a constitutional democracy. James Madison who more or less authored the Bill of Rights talks about his desire for a truly representational democracy in the Federalist Papers. (Go read them. They’re voluminous because Hamilton does go on, but they are pretty interesting. And yes. I am a nerd.) But the primary means by which we practice our democracy is via our elections.
Republicans destroying our elections is the same as if they were actively shredding our founding documents.
10. Stripping the USPS
Yes, I am aware that the USPS was financially in dire straights well prior to Trumpian Republicans trying to dismantle it and literally selling the sorting machines for parts. But several things:
a.) If the USPS were to be dismantled because … I dunno we’ve gone entirely digital and drones are now delivering our packages in this short respite before the machines gain consciousness and stage a deadly uprising driving humans to near extinction that really should be something decided by Congress rather than intentional mismanagement by a toady of the worst American President in the history of the world.
b.) The USPS employs a rather high number of veterans who would be out of a job were it not for this government agency and therefore the honorable and decent thing to do would be to find some way of employing them before dismantling the agency.
c.) The USPS does actually provide a pretty necessary service to American citizens and despite the fact that we have gone largely digital remains relevant.
d.) And per those relevant and necessary services ballots which are mailed are safest in the hands of the USPS. Or, at least they were prior to this whole debacle.
It’s not a revolutionary statement to say that Trump and his herpetopoid Attorney General, William Barr are targeting the USPS in an effort to interfere with the 2020 elections. They have been pretty transparent that they hope to cast it into disarray and confusion in order to hang onto power thus plunging our nation into autocracy and likely no small amount of anarchy.
The reason you should care is this is your country they’re destroying and your vote they’re taking from you. We have in our country an unbroken tradition of peaceful transfer of power. George Washington stepped down after two terms as President and made way for John Adams. Even when Trump lost in 2016 but Russia installed him as their puppet President anyway Barack Obama honoured the tradition and gave the ancient toddler his coffee before the inauguration. And yet Trump who has gutted our institutions and done everything he can to destroy our country and way of life refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Most of this was exacerbated by Donald Trump, his family and the few people stupid enough to be loyal to him. But he was enabled and is still enabled by the Republican Party. We Americans have a choice right now between our country and the Republicans. We have to choose our country.