Republican program

It Defies Explanation

It Defies Explanation

            Robert A. Levine 8-4-23

We live in a nation whose prime institutions are denigrated by large majorities of the population. Gallop surveys have shown a steady drop in Americans’ confidence in virtually all important public institutions, including the military. Small businesses are the most trusted bodies, with 65 percent of the population having faith in them. However, even this is lower than it was 3 years ago at 70 percent. Only 60 percent of Americans have confidence in military and only 43 percent in the police. And just 34 percent trust our medical system whom people rely on constantly. Organized religion and the church have a 32 percent approval, the Supreme Court 27 percent, banks, the public schools and the presidency 26 percent, newspapers 18 percent, the criminal justice system 17 percent, big business 14 percent, and Congress 8 percent. Given these numbers, with such low levels of institutional trust, it is amazing that America is a functioning state, though there are some who might dispute that description.

However, what is more amazing is the number of people who accept Donald Trump’s lies and believe that the 2020 election was stolen from him. According to a recent Monmouth poll, 30 percent of respondents believe that Trump won the election and Biden used fraudulent methods to steal it from him. Only 59 percent of Americans believe that Biden won the election without any chicanery, 93 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents. 21 percent of Republicans agree that Biden actually won fairly, while 68 percent he won because of voter fraud. These numbers are nearly unchanged from a Monmouth poll shortly after the election itself. The unwillingness of so many Americans to acknowledge that Biden won the election fairly is in spite of the dozens of court cases that Trump brought to challenge the election that were all dismissed for lack of evidence.

In Monmouth’s poll, about half of Republicans call the events of January 6, 2021 that breached the Capitol a legitimate protest. How can so many Republicans still support Trump so avidly when his behavior is so malign and he engineered an obvious attempt to overturn the election and thwart the will of the American people? He tried to mount a coup and directed an insurrection against the government. Can people just ignore these actions? Are his supporters insurrectionists or criminals themselves? What is even more surprising is that many Republicans believe that Trump committed serious federal crimes and they still support him in his 2024 run for president.

All the indictments against Trump for trying to overturn the election by fraudulent means have not appeared to sway Trump’s acolytes to abandon him. There are currently 72 charges pending. In fact, he has been able to raise more money on the basis of these indictments. Perhaps many of his supporters are just naïve and do not understand the seriousness of Trump’s actions and what they meant in terms of our democracy and our constitution. But it defies belief that Americans do not trust the nation’s institutions and so many still have confidence in Trump as a leader.

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Midterm Angst

Midterm Angst

            Robert A. Levine 11-16-22

With the final results yet to be tallied, the Democrats appear to be happy about the way the midterm elections turned out. They held onto the Senate with Georgia yet to be determined, probably lost the House by a hair though there is still a remote chance for them, picked up a number of governorships, secretaries of state, and state legislative seats. However, the Democrats could have done much better if they had presented a more coherent message. Though the party in power generally does poorly in the midterms, there was an opportunity this year for the Democrats to score big. The Republicans were in disarray and running a number of poor candidates who were Trump-backed election deniers who were not beloved by the electorate.

Besides pounding away at these election-deniers and Trump acolytes, the Democrats should have emphasized Rick Scott, the GOP’s Senate campaign leader’s program. Scott, was CEO of Columbia/HCA HealthCare Corporation when it was guilty of the largest Medicare fraud ever at the time, with his company being fined $1.7 billion and Scott being forced to step down as CEO. His huge payouts at Columbia/HCA were responsible for the tainted wealth that he accumulated, which he used to finance his senatorial campaigns. Scott’s policies for the Republicans included cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and raising the ages at which people become eligible for these essential programs.

Since Scott already made his hundreds of millions or more by defrauding Medicare, he doesn’t care about cutting people off from Medicare and other needed government funded programs. He says his and the Republican goal is to balance the budget, yet he and the rest of the GOP were willing to support tax cuts for the wealthy under Trump which increased the deficit. And the GOP is willing to back further tax cuts for corporations and rich people in the future. Certainly many voters could understand what the Republicans want to do if it were more broadly advertised and would be strongly opposed to these Republican policies.

Yet the Democrats did not focus on these Republican objectives, instead concentrating on the abortion issue and saving democracy. Of course, both of these were and are important, but may not have had the same personal impact with much of the electorate as the specific Republican policies to cut off important benefits to the population at large. Had these issues been pushed more avidly in advertisements and speeches by Democratic candidates, even with high inflation, it is possible that a Blue wave might have been initiated instead of a minor Blue ripple.

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