Gutless Wonders

This past weekend I listened to two career politicians waffle and essentially refuse to answer questions about Trump and his administration. Both were Republicans, and it was clear that they didn’t agree with what Trump had done [in one case, selling military weapons systems to the Saudis without Congressional authorization and in the other sending more troops to the Middle East], but neither wanted to disagree publicly. In my own state of Utah, Senator Mitt Romney bounces back and forth on Trump, but so far still votes for whatever Trump wants.

Congressional Republicans, for the most part, have no plans for leading, and they haven’t for years. What few initiatives they do have are based on spending more money on defense and pork barrel in their own districts, while effectively reducing programs that benefit working Americans and decreasing the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. They’ve given up the idea of a balanced budget, or even reducing the deficit, although they occasionally give lip service to it, because they know and won’t admit that, at the present time, there’s no realistic way to reduce the deficit in any meaningful way without increasing taxes on wealthier Americans.

In the meantime, across the board, Trump tries to minimize Congress and its responsibilities under the first section of the Constitution. While the Democrat-led House tries to stop this Presidential overreach, the Republican Senate does nothing. Pretty much, the Senate Republican leadership’s reaction is either “no” or a refusal to address anything but a minimal effort to keep government running. They all know that Trump’s trade war with China is a disaster for American farmers and some industries, but they refuse to admit it. While they’ll admit, if quietly, that Russian interference in our elections is a real problem, they won’t even look at the fact that Trump openly invited the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, or that Trump denies that he benefitted from Russian interference.

Nor will Republicans address the thousands of outright lies and falsehoods made by Trump… or his “re-tweeting” of false and falsified material, such as the distorted video of Speaker Pelosi.

Now, Trump has proposed to issue pardons for several Americans on trial for war crimes, including one who brutally murdered a helpless Middle Eastern teenager. The U.S. military strongly opposes such pardons. These wouldn’t be Trump’s first totally unwarranted pardons. In 2017 he pardoned Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff convicted for refusing to end his racial profiling of the state’s Latino residents and noted for his long-standing, brutal, and dehumanizing treatment of prisoners.

Once again, most Republicans are mute, and that makes all but a very few truly gutless wonders. What’s worse is that a few Republican lawmakers even support such pardons, something I find incredibly appalling, and unfortunately reminiscent of all too many repressive regimes and dictatorships. The other appalling aspect of all of this is that over 40% of the country presently supports such a President.

3 thoughts on “Gutless Wonders”

  1. Wine Guy says:

    The current GOP is not the GOP of the 1950s-1980s. The current GOP at a state and national level is made of people who either survived the evangelical christian right takeover or have grown up within that takeover. A la 1984 by Orwell, there is a curious doublethink within the GOP and those who work outside that framework of the GOP’s thought control are often labelled RINOs – Republican In Name Only. The Tuesday Group and Republican Main Street Partnership are examples.

    I’ve said this before and I’m repeating it now (and I may have paraphrased it from a Pournelle novel, now that I think about it): the qualities a person needs to be elected to Congress are very different from those a person needs to actually be in Congress. Too many of the former have too few qualities of the latter.

  2. Hanneke says:

    As this trend is showing up in multiple countries all over the world, it seems a certain percentage of people (less than a third) really like the authoritarian, bully-and-sycopants, totalitarian dictator-style of leadership – at least as long as the would-be dictator pretends to be part of and to protect their in-group. They can stop thinking and deciding for themselves and just ‘be a good follower’, and the bully will protect them – against whatever he’s used to scare them into following him.

    To get from that percentage of natural sycopanthic followers, that is too low to force their agenda on the whole population, to winning elections takes something else.

    I’ve been thinking more about the ‘king-making’ role of media in this. Decades of gerrymandering in the USA, winner takes all, and first-past-the-post voting in the UK play a role, but in all the established democratic countries where I’ve noticed these shifts toward authoritarian leaders there has also been a long and strong media push towards this end. Not always towards this specific leader, but towards the power-structure out of ehich this leader arises, and within which the corruption and crony-capitalism or kleptocracy holds sway.
    As the media gets more and more consolidated in the hands of a few billionaires and giant companies, their interests are aligned whith the powerful, and the influence they can exert to bend the rules in their own favor.
    Both Fox News in the USA and the Murdoch-owned media in England and Australia, and Berlusconi’s media-empire in Italy waged decades-long campaigns of misinformation and promoting their chosen party, and this has clearly had an effect on the electorate.

    The root causes may be diverse and it’s less important whether these media empires are occasionally influenced by Putin’s campaigns to stoke disaffection in the West, orby their owners’ financial and political interest, as by Murdoch’s own leaning toward fascism or their hunger for power – as Murdoch once said, if he talks to a British cabinet member they listen, but the EU doesn’t.

    What really matters is the result, a distrustful and fearful electorate looking to their chosen leader to save them from a ‘threat’ that’s been blown out of proportion; and what can be done to mitigate that and to avoid this in the future.

    1. Hanneke says:

      To finish linking the thought to the post, the media play a part in the gutlessness of the Republicans.

      They know that the only media their base follows and trusts will portray any resistance to Trump (or Brexit, or Berlusconi, etc.) as treason, and play up their so-called betrayal instead of honestly stating the awful effects of whatever they want to vote against or protest.
      They know that being repeatedly called traitors and false and other bad things will have a lot of influence on their electorate, and they will lose their job at the next election.

      I agree, they should have the guts to stand for their convictions and speak truth to power, but since almost all politicians nowadays are beholden to the media and the big money donors (to buy them media campaigns) they are well trained *not* to do that but to be a good mouthpiece for whatever their donors want.
      People with strong convictions don’t get picked to front national political campaigns, in that climate.

      Now, some rich donors might not like the endpoint their decades-long strategy is pushing towards, now they see the havoc Trump’s tariff war is causing, and the threats of more wars he’s pushing (others love the idea of even more military spending). But disenfranchising and disadvantaging a whole swathe of poorer Americans is not the sticking point for any of them, it’s the whole point they’ve been working towards. They want poor wage slaves (including lots of prisoners and maybe-illegal seasonal workers) dependent on them for everything, including healthcare, so they can be mercilessly exploited for a bit more profit.

      And that has been done, by pushing this narrative of “false news”, listen only to us Republicans, don’t believe anything else that might lead you to question if voting Republican really is in your own or the country’s best interest.

      And that, in turn, has led to the king-making and king-breaking power of that Republican media, which is helping quite a lot to keep any dissident Republicans silent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.