Robert A. Levine
Is getting re-elected inevitably the most important consideration for a politician? Aren’t there more critical factors like maintaining one’s moral stances and ethical beliefs? Shouldn’t what is good for the nation take precedence over allegiance to one’s political party or the leader of the party? And how can a political party once associated with certain ideas and policies change so dramatically that the party
supports concepts that were previously alien to its members and elected officials?
Both political parties in the United States are tainted by corruption, money, false notions of what is right and wrong, and what they are able to rationalize away. But the Republican Party that controls both Houses of Congress, the presidency, and the judiciary is far dirtier, with its political figures much more self-serving than the Democrats. The GOP has been transformed from the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren, Barry Goldwater, and John McCain to the party of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Jim Jordan, and Devon Nunes. Whether conservative or moderate, all of the initial group mentioned above were honest straight shooters whose primary allegiance was to the country over their party or to any individual. The moral heart of the party then were moderately conservative New England Republicans, who adhered to their beliefs but were willing to work across the aisle with the Democrats on necessary legislation for the nation.
Now, the heart of the Republican Party has relocated to Texas and the South, though some Western and Midwestern states join the coalition at times. And their standard bearer is Donald J. Trump, whose unending parade of lies and exaggerations can be followed regularly on Twitter, his favorite way to disseminate his views. His bombast and falsehoods are continuous, trying to sway people to his paranoid beliefs. He claims that the media is the enemy of the people constantly spreading lies and fake news, and the only reliable source of news is Trump himself. The investigation of the 2016 presidential election and Russian involvement by the Special Committee under Robert Mueller, an esteemed former head of the FBI, is constantly vilified by Trump as a witch hunt with no basis in fact, digging up false information and making Trump look bad. Unfortunately, the trajectory of the investigation seems to be following the course of the Nixon debacle, except that the Republican Party is making it into a partisan inquiry, refusing to validate the guilty pleas already obtained and Manafort’s guilt by a jury.
This was once a highly moralistic, church-going Republican Party that believed in the law. It would not have tolerated a thrice married womanizer for a leader. This GOP icon is a man who admitted to grabbing women by the genitals, who paid women for sex while he was married, and paid them off when they wanted to tell their stories to the press. But Republicans do not care, supporting this man who was a sexual harasser and misogynist, racist and criminal. This man Trump has also obviously obstructed justice, doing it again yesterday when he blasted AG Sessions for indicting two GOP Congressmen on criminal charges who would have otherwise gotten re-elected. Trump sees justice only in political terms, not in terms of who has broken the law. But the GOP elected officials and most party members support him.
The Republican Party has been known for the last century as the party of free trade, against tariffs and restrictions until Trump came along. Now it is against free trade because Trump said it was bad for the US and that the country was losing out because of it. This is the same Trump who knows nothing about economics or global politics and just wings it when he is asked probing questions; the same Trump who went bankrupt four times, stiffing his contractors and investors. But the GOP follows his lead, wherever it takes them.
And this is the same Republican Party that once lamented the growing national debt, particularly when the Democrats held the presidency. But under Trump, a massive tax cut has been instituted that will help corporations and very wealthy Americans accumulate more wealth while exploding the national debt. It was not needed as an economic stimulus as the economy was already doing well. But the ‘penny pinching’ Republicans accepted the tax cut because Trump told them it was good for the country. Now where will the money come from to curb the deficit and national debt? Will it come from the social programs that help the little guys in America survive, supposedly Trump’s base?
Trump has also turned the Republican Party from wary adversaries of Russia and Putin into best buddies with the Russian dictator who has tried to damage America in so many ways. The ‘law and order’ GOP has also turned paranoid like Trump, seeing an upsurge in crime when there is none and not trusting the FBI and the nation’s intelligence agencies, seeing them through a paranoid lens. How could the Republican Party have changed so dramatically over just a few decades, to the point where Trump could just step in and the party would follow him in all his lies and craziness?