As we were awaiting the memo that, hyperbolically, could change America forever, the one that would expose the imaginary rot at the heart of the FBI, the innocence of a President who seems more guilty with every passing day, and the memo that will prove that Mueller is too biased to continue his investigation, I found myself still stuck on the state of the union, still thinking about what I would predict we will see in the next three (and, I hope, final years) of the Trump administration. So much of politics is about predicting how a policy implemented today will affect an aspect of our society tomorrow. Where we will go over the next three years was already determined by the GOP and the Conservatives long before Trump inserted himself into the GOP moment. Perhaps there would have been no GOP moment without Trump. But many of the places we are headed in the near future were laid down by Conservatives groups even before Obama was elected. So, as I see it, we are in the midst of the “Grand Conservative Experiment (with a twist)”. How did we get here? How will it turn out? Is our course plotted on hubris or expertise? Well I would bet on the former but it may be years before I know if I am right.
When I started posting articles online ten years ago I was reacting to what right wing talkers like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh were saying as Barrack Obama started to attract crowds in the primaries before the 2008 election. They were not saying anything nice. After Obama won the election they were trying to draw parallels between Obama and Hitler. (Ironic given the events of 2017.) If Obama bore any resemblance to Hitler beyond being a great speaker I did not feel it.
The Washington Post once published a count of how many times Beck said Hitler and Obama in suggestive proximity. It came to about 140 times in one week.
So I started to tune in and pay attention to politics and I had only the vaguest historical perspective on current events. I read a lot but had not focused on political history. Rachel Maddow filled in some of my gaps and the people on news panels also knew their political history and were my teachers. Their knowledge gave them the chops I lacked.
I always wrote based on my emotional reactions to the things that were happening at the moment and that disconnection from the past probably gave me more perspective in some ways; but my perspective suffered from my lack of that strong historical base also, at times. When I thought things were happening for the first time, these professionals set me straight by tracing the precedents. But the fact that there were historical parallels perhaps led the experts to normalize characteristics of the right wing that are indeed unique to this age.
Even I could hear the echoes of Southern resentment seeping through the statements and actions of the Republican Party. The modern resentments of tea party folks who were mainly upset about taxes they were paying and what they were paying for (safety net/ entitlements/ deadbeats and illegal immigrants) seemed to be a grassroots kind of activism until it became clear that it was simply a new form of racism. But we all saw the drive that anger brings. When those harboring antique Civil War resentments saw what the energy behind this modern anger, joined to theirs might offer in terms of momentum to their party, they were quick to forge a bond. Even though the anger seemed to come from different sources it was the same anger and it was aimed in the same direction.
Through seven years of obstruction and talking points it was clear to me that the Republicans were riding the coat tails of these powerful waves of anger. Add to the tea party the fairly new eureka moment that the Evangelicals and Roman Catholics seemed to reach that forged another alliance of anger around the failure, so far, to overturn Roe v Wade, and you have the battering ram that the Republican Party became.
Republicans, Conservatives, and Evangelicals had, along with members with deep, deep pockets, already laid their plans. They knew how to be sure they would win the next election. They made money speech, and then gave each dollar a vote (metaphorically). When they did this they were able to openly invite wealthy donors into the fold. They overturned a key section of the Voter Rights Act which allowed Republicans states to make it more difficult for Democrats to vote. They had used their gerrymandering privileges to engineer districts that would maximize Republican votes and ensure that these districts would remain in Republican hands. They were involved in a concerted plan to turn the US map “red”. You could see them collecting more and more states. (If you collect 36 states you can call a Constitutional Convention and rewrite the Constitution to reflect your views.) There strategies were pretty transparent and virtually unstoppable.
They had wins (the wave election of 2010) and setbacks (the death of Judge Alito – turned into a win by a move that will live in infamy) (the 2nd term of President Obama). But you could tell the GOP was all dressed up with nowhere to go. And then a bad boy asked them to the prom and promised to get them everything. Common sense dictated caution, but bad boys are seductive. However the GOP was not totally besotted, the passions of the Republican/ Tea Party/Conservative/Evangelical/ Roman Catholic alliance never wavered from those talking points, now a decade old.
It became obvious, at least to me, that they would never stop obstructing until they took over the US government. That, to me, is a coup. They were and are so convinced that they know how to bring back “the Shining City on the Hill”, the golden age of their hero, Ronald Reagan, and also a booming economy. We knew what their plans were if they did get control of the government – limit the size of the federal government, get rid of regulations on business and finance, lower corporate taxes, end entitlements, drill everywhere, and cancel environmental protections which are obviously unnecessary if you, conveniently, deny climate change. This whole agenda is clearly designed to please big business and was perhaps even created by big business (Koch brothers and other wealthy donors).
Curses the GOP coalition said – they still had to overturn the right to have an abortion and perhaps even access to contraception – but (because Obama) they now had to repeal Obamacare and reset the definition of marriage back to when it described a union between a man and woman.
The Republicans want to undo every Democratic influence since the Great Depression (maybe even since the Civil War – although the Dems were called the Republicans then).
The Republicans won in 2016. The State of the Union is in their manipulative and reactionary hands. They are trying to complete their entire list of talking points, which has now turned into a check list. We had better hope that their predictions about what is best for America are correct because they are becoming our new reality. (Winning seats in 2018 for the Democrats would slow them down.) If we can slow them down long enough the fever could break and they could come to their senses. (Highly unlikely)
The Republicans have a new leader, 45, and he has added a few items to that GOP checklist which were not, perhaps, priorities but are still policies dear to Republican hearts.
- Deport all illegal immigrants
- Take land from national parks for fossil fuels and private owners
- Rewrite trade agreements
- End old alliances
- Pack the courts with Conservatives
- Pit human rights against “religious freedom”
- Lead citizens to question what is true and what is false
I could go on but you get the drift. The GOP is in charge and they told us all along what they would do, although maybe they would not have pursued so openly the items mentioned above if Trump had not been elected President.
To me the state of our union could not be worse. The GOP cannot and will not control Trump, who wants to destroy the Justice Department and the FBI for personal reasons, and deconstruct every other department to show the GOP how to downsize.
The Republicans and their wealthy donors/overlords are so married to their vision for America that it almost feels as if the only way to get around it is to go through it so they can see that it will not work. That could take a while. Big business will be so delirious over the prospects of unfettered capitalism that things may seem on the uptick for quite a while. Eventually the GOP spending spree and the relaxation of necessary standards will prove to be a terrible match with the global economy which is becoming an inevitable reality. We should not let this GOP vision play out if we can help it because we don’t know if we will ever be able to win back the human rights and environmental progress we fought for so long to get, or how long it might take to govern again, or if our democracy can ever function again. Right now my sense is that the state of the union is just about as bad as it was before the Civil War, and worse because of the authoritarian overtones of 45. Our only recourse right now is to fight, fight, fight and try to change the majorities in Congress in 2018. What kind of damage will eight, or perhaps even more, years of Republican/Trump policy bring? If we don’t go there we will never find out – and that would be the best course of all.