I am typing this after hearing news of the shooting of Republican Steve Scilise at a practice for a Congressional baseball game. I wrote this article last night and then, in light of this morning’s events, felt that I could not post the article without expressing the sadness I feel and my sorrow about how frightening this must have been. I may rail against the activities of Republicans in Congress but I would never wish to incite anyone to violence or to see violence as a way to turn the political tide around. I will be listening intently all day to hear about the condition of those who were shot. I also hope we are able to hear the shooters reasons for his attack.
In fact, I was awake at 5 am this morning remembering that I forgot to mention the pitched battle over gun control that raged throughout the Obama administration between Republicans and Democrats. Even when young children were targeted, even when it was clear that people with varying degrees of mental instability owned guns, gun control talk was met with hysterical claims that Democrats wanted to take people’s guns away. Republicans repeated this over and over again and whipped some Americans into a frenzy over the inculcated fear that their 2nd Amendment rights were at risk. At many points it seemed the Civil War would break out once again, especially around the activities to get Cliven Bundy to pay for grazing his cattle on federal land. I will remember forever that photo of an American citizen lying prone on the pavement sighting through a gap in two concrete barriers ready to shoot an official representing the US government.
In those Obama years certain members of the 112th-114th Congress acted like a band of Mad Marauders especially Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, and Sarah Palin (not even a member of Congress). They threatened to shut down the government and did shut it down for a brief period. Many of us felt that bigotry was at the heart of all of these activities. There were members of Congress who were not happy to see an American of African Descent in the oval office as the President of the United States of America.
Even so, taken separately it would be difficult to say that Republican strategies always broke laws. After all they were operating in a window in time when the Supreme Court was leaning right (it still is). The Court legitimized many of the moves Republicans made. The Court made money speech, the court made corporations people. Republicans used the court to pass legislation in a sense. Although most of us were disgusted that the Court did this we saw that it was done legally (although the Constitution did not design the Supreme Court to be a partisan body). Even the huge wins in the states could not really be pinned to anything illegal except for a few examples of outrageously skewed gerrymandering and a few blatant voter suppression laws which were sometimes overturned by lower courts. And although most of the strategies pursued by the Republicans under Obama, were not truly illegal they seemed to walk the line of what is legal.
However, to really see how outside the norm Republican strategies were you have to think about the overall goal of the Koch’s and the Republicans. The one outcome to which all of these actions seemed to lead was not only illegal, it is at least seditious and at most the Republicans were committing treason. Clearly the Republicans were staging a coup, a bloodless coup, to take over the US government. And guess what? That coup was successful, although they ended up having to bring Donald Trump along on their ride and have not, therefore, been able to revel in their victory as they might have wished. They also have not completely destroyed the Democrats, although they are seriously wounded and side-lined, except for the rise of a grass roots Resistance movement. And even this movement is not a Democratic Party wave, it trends perhaps even further left than the Democratic Party. I will always recall that one of the first things Paul Ryan did the morning after the election was to proclaim “Welcome to the US Republican Government.” Coup accomplished.
Obviously the Democrats were aware of the things the Republicans were up to. Were they unwilling to raise a fuss? Were they too aware that the mood of much of the nation was not on their side? Did they downplay the Republican takeover aspect of this to try to preserve the Constitution and as much of regular order as they could? If you staged a coup and the other side refused to recognize it, was it actually a coup? Democrats tried to fight back but their battles were small. They relied on the lower courts or on email campaigns and Facebook comments. Democrats won small victories in terms of stemming the worst abuses of gerrymandering and voter suppression. Their emails were so focused on collecting money that, perhaps, they lost their effectiveness as fight mechanisms. People were riled up but not enough people. We are not really a nation of activists, although perhaps we are learning. The resistance group I have been attending is made up mostly of seniors with a few young people scattered in, and has little diversity.
Democrats, for these, or other reasons I have not thought of or have forgotten, were not able to stop this Republican coup. Did these Republicans break the law? Did they commit treason? Are their actions seditious? Regardless of how we answer these questions it is unlikely that any court will go after them and their wealthy ring leaders.
We can be thankful that so far some internal squabbles and re-election worries have kept this all Republican government that we are presented with from passing in quick order all the cruel pieces of the Republican agenda. Perhaps our resistance has helped the 115th Congress see that getting or pretending to have a conscience re your constituents might be politically expedient.
As for the Democrats – better late than never. They have been excellent partners in the Resistance as we attempt to find our way back to bipartisan government. Of course the joke could be on all of us. We could all end up as subjects of the new American monarchy led by the Golden Plumbing King, trailed by his less-than-royal family.
Here’s an article that Google News sent to my tablet this morning. It explains why the Koch Brothers are “collecting” states. (Yikes!)