Summarizing U.S. political news these days sometimes feels like following two entirely different threads. On the one hand, there is the story about what’s happening in the White House and among the Democrats in Congress, who are trying to pass laws that are really quite popular—like the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Build Back Better bill—and to shore up the democratic alliances that have been central to our place in the world since World War II.
"...the ongoing attempt of the Trump Republicans to undermine our government and seize power."
As though there were any other kind?This implies a distinction without effective significance. Not withstanding a few Republicans in Congress for whom the Jan 6 insurrection was a bridge too far and a few pundits, the entire apparatus of the Republican party did everything it could - and much they could not do legitimately, and much they ethically ought not to have done - to put Trump in office, to obstruct any oversight of his activities, to keep him in office past his expiration date, and to deflect and deny responsibility for Jan 6, for the very purpose of undermining our government and seizing power.
In fact, ever since since Ronald Reagan declared government the enemy, Newt Gingrich set out to burn down the House, Trent Lott made a bullwhip his badge of office, Sarah Palin made 'lock and load' a GOP slogan, and the Republican majority on the Supreme Court enshrined the NRA misreading of the Second Amendment and gutted civil rights protections - rhetorical, political and procedural violence to the institutions of government has been Republican business as usual. Physical violence was sure to come.
Undermining government is intrinsic to the Republican 'small government' agenda. The party reveled in anti-tax militant Grover Norquist's statement "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." (Interview on NPR's Morning Edition, May 25, 2001) and did not repudiate his saying "We're sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see." (from the National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, Crown Publishers 2004, pg. 50)
Yes, it is very much like that. And each subsequent generation of Republican officials is more bludgeon than scalpel - Trump for Reagan, Lott and then McConnell for Dole, McCarthy for Gingrich, Kavanaugh for Scalia. There is a direct line from the rhetorical and procedural violence of GOP officials to its physical expression on the ground.
After the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City by right wing domestic terrorists, Republican officials publicly stepped back from their embrace of armed militias for an eyeblink moment, although not from arming them and although playing footsie with them. By the time armed anti government militant Ammon Bundy seized and occupied a Federal facility, Republican officials openly supported him.
The Republican insurrection on Jan 6 and the sacking of the Capitol has recent right wing precedent and a GOP pedigree. And the GOP's big money paymasters are still hedging their bets that a GOP dystopia of unregulated violence and greed will sustain their unconscionable wealth and their outsized influence. No matter the cost to everyone and everything else.
Republican descriptions such as "radical", "fraudulent", "illegitimate", "highly partisan", "political hacks" aimed against anyone and everyone who questions them are tactics that every authoritarian has exhibited. It's not a surprise that both the tactics and labels are most applicable to those who make and use them. They spend a lot of time in front of their media mirrors preening themselves.
Republican rallying cries like "purging" their ranks, "kill shot", "martial law", as well as applauding those who promote or have used violence, using violent symbols, images and sounds that refer to guns are all tactics to incite violence, intimidate and create fear. It's no surprise that Republicans have been leading the pro gun movement without restrictions or regard for safety or law enforcement to protect the unarmed.
All of these character traits and activities are easily traceable to past and present authoritarian regimes regardless of economic ideology. It remains a pointless distraction to add "Nazi", "fascist", "communist" or any other label to what authoritarians do and the violence they rely on. We are dealing with a clear and present danger to our lives, our democracy and the future of mankind.
We must support our institutions, our leading democracy advocates whether they be Joe Biden, OAC or Liz Cheney and our business leaders who actively support democracy.
We must criticize and comment on all media that present this contest incorrectly. FOX of course promotes the authoritarians. Other media presents both sides as being equally justified. Some like PBS Newshour are insufficiently informed, asking questions that invite inappropriate doubt about our present administration, covid19 measures, legislation, etc. For example, we have had vaccine going to waste while about 30% of Americans refuse to vaccinate due to Republican political posturing and constant conspiracy theories that vaccinations are not safe or don't work. Yet PBS questions the administration if they are doing enough, have they made mistakes, is the vaccine working? And saying that Biden's low approval ratings are a result of "what he and Democrats are not getting done" as if they had control over the numb skulls who thrown wrenches into the works every waking hour.
On BBB, PBS harps on Joe Manchin and Democrats for not passing this, giving all 50 Republicans in the Senate a pass. I don't recall Walter Cronkite being this deferential to the roots of our dilemmas in his time.
As always, my thoughts are: Brava, Heather! And, I love that you end with a rhetorical question!
The violent rhetoric of the cornered GOP can only increase the hatred between these political parties. The BBB should be plucking at the heartstrings of every living American citizen, but the bigotry that runs through the blood of GOP leaders increases their callous and impervious reactions to caring for poverty, homelessness, and the well-being of their kin. It beggars the imagination how a group of people elected to improve the lot of their co-equals can be so cold-blooded, so soulless.
[Trump loyalists] "are declaring that they are not bound by our laws (although they are apparently eager to try to use them to reduce their exposure)."
Political scientist Frank Wilhoit was thinking of people like this when he wrote:
"Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect."
Thank you for your ongoing reporting and educating, Dr. Richardson. Your work means more to me and my family than I can adequately express.🌿
Here is the text of a letter I sent to our local paper:
Provisions of the Build Back Better bill include universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds; a limitation on the cost of child care to no more than 7% of parental income; and strengthening an existing program through Medicaid so older Americans and people with Disabilities can remain in their homes and communities and improving working conditions for home care workers who take care of them.
And of course there is the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), which, according to Forbes, would reduce child poverty in a typical year below 10 percent in 47 states – if it is extended beyond 2021.
It seems to me the Republicans, who have long claimed to be exclusively the pro-life party, would embrace the above provisions of the bill. The bill delivers assistance with day care, whether pre-K or otherwise and assistance with the costs of food and clothing via the Child Tax Credit, allowing parents to go to (or return to) work, knowing their children are safe, fed and stable. Finally, although Republicans focus almost exclusively on opposing abortion, the bill would benefit seniors and the disabled by assisting in their remaining at home with higher quality care.
Build Back Better IS a pro-life bill. So why don’t Republicans support it?
It's 3 days before Christmas. The Omicron variant is raging. Anti-vaxers/anti-science are making life miserable for many. Holiday plans have changed for many. Biden is trying. The rethuglicans seem to be winning. I can't read news today. It's my 8th wedding anniversary (although we've been together for 30+ years). I'm going to be glad we are healthy, raise a glass to my wife, and wrap her Christmas presents. The news will be here tomorrow.
The subject of "inflation" is kicking around, and it surprised me a bit. The news media seems to equate this to "higher prices."
There are at least three very different things that cause prices to rise:
1. Supply shortages,
2. Price gouging by cartels or monopolies,
3. Currency devaluation.
Modern news outlets seem to lump all of these together.
They all have different remedies.
One thing about legislation that seeks to spend money on benefits for low and middle income Americans; that money goes directly into the economy, because low and middle income folks spend those benefits on goods and services, reverberating through the economy multiple times. Legislation that benefit the rich only lands in the economy when they decide to spend the excess on activities that filter down into the pockets of wage earners, or occasionally the recipients of charitable giving. In most states, spending on goods and services directly supports both the business class AND local/regional governments, who tax those goods and services in a variety of ways and then return that money into the economy to the local infrastructure, and through the wages and benefits of public servants. 1.75 trillion, over a decade, amounts to $175 billion per year, hardly an amount that's likely to tip over the country in additional debt. The US economy approaches 20 trillion per year. Injecting 175 billion per year is a fairly modest stimulus, IMHO. My guess is, it's not the amount of money that is driving a couple of democratic senators to hold out against the entire party and the administration. It's something else. Otherwise, why would so many prominent organizations in W. Virginia be speaking out pointedly/loudly to their senator, asking him directly to reverse his stand on the BBB legislation. I think it has more to do with personal ambitions and beholdedness to donors, future donors, future employers post-political career or something along those lines.
In regard to the other story line, scandal sells newpapers, or in this case, clicks and reads on the internet. It's going to continue until enough prosecutions and convictions occur that the remainder of the scurrilous mob that occupied Washington (I'm not referencing the rioters here) tucks their tails and runs for cover in the backwaters of the nation, hoping that newer and even more scandalous events will divert the attention of the feds, congress and the public from the events of an increasingly remote and shameful chapter in our national political history. On the other hand, we're still tearing down statues and rewriting history books about events concurrent with the civil war, so perhaps I'm far too optimistic about the durability, or lack thereof, of the interval between 2016-2020 in its ability to continue capturing the imagination of the press, literary and scholarly professions.
Well...I am in shock over what Lauren Boebert is doing. She is most certainly trying to incite violence. How is this happening? Also, the increasing number of people who refuse to appear before the Jan 6 Committee and are not in jail...how is this possible?
I am tired of Godless people pretending to be Godly and making a mockery of Christianity, Christmas, as well as anything decent. As to Cawthorn, he is exactly what I would expect from an uneducated, home-schooled, ignorant moron. No examples please of some great home-schooled people. I know there are few, but I write from my experience as a high school counselor. The efforts people go through to remain ignorant would astonish even Benjamin Franklin.
“I did nothing wrong,”
“I invoke my 5th Amendment rights.”
The second statement belies the first one, but that seems to matter not at all to the party that used to be all about taking personal responsibility.
The casual invocation of martial violence points to more bloodshed ahead. Will those encouraging it stand behind the 5th on that as well?
We are all walking talking populations of zillions of bacteria. Inside and out. The troublesome are held in check by the good ones. But occasionally, the bad guys begin to dominate. The symptoms can be a rash. Or ulcerative colitus. It can escalate and possibly lead to death unless treated.
There have always been Boeberts and Palins...Gosars and Perrys. But they were held in check by other "bacteria" - Romneys and Bakers...Hogans and Thunes. The inaction of the latter in the face of this raging disease are at the core of the problem. They have been intimidated, squelched, made irrelevant by a human who has more flaws, insecurities, and mental illness than any public figure I can recall. He has given cover and encouragement to haters and bigots.
Yet "they" stand by and watch. Why? It's not money, they are very, very comfortable. You KNOW they sit around with close friends and family and bemoan the obscenities of TFG's behavior.
Where is the Teddy Roosevelt of our time who has the guts to challenge the sick orthodoxy of his party? What is the source of TFG's power that we don't have Republican leaders with the courage to challenge this madness? Where is John McCain reincarnated when you need him most?
Said with respect and admiration for Reps Kinzinger and Cheney.
Dr Cox Richardson, I noted, understandably, that you concluded today’s letter by stating, “I don’t have the space to follow both these trends every night, they are really two parts of the same story: who should have a say in our democracy.”
In my view, though we the people have an obligation to follow the House’s investigation of the January 6th insurrection centered largely on the attempt to overthrow the last election, the best we can do is mostly watch and wait. Hence, I believe our efforts are better spent if we focus mainly on what is happening now to lay the groundwork for Trump and his allies to undermine the next election. I, further, would suggest we focus on the major elements of BBB that I still think have a good chance of passing. Though it’s not going to be everything Democrats want, putting back together even some of the BBB bill could be momentous for the country, most importantly, but getting it done also will be important politically if we expect to galvanize the base for 22.
If I may speak briefly about voter protection legislation, I would note that the perpetuation of false grievances that the 2020 election was stolen likely will succeed unimpeded if Senate Democrats don’t change the Senate’s filibuster rules, which allow partisan minorities to permanently veto laws that are backed by a majority. Lastly, because I view “the big lie” as laying the foundation for changing election rules, removing non-compliant personnel, and inciting violence, we must work far more aggressively to expose deception, connect the dots, and reveal the truth.
"who should have a say in our democracy?"
The answer to this test question, Professor Richardson, is known and was defined in 1780, for the first time in history, by John Adams when he wrote the predecessor to the US Constitution by crafting the Massachusetts Constitution; which looks remarkably similar to the US Constitution and was undoubtedly what was used in 1787.
Here is a photograph of a copy of the original document, on the table it was written on, that John Adams wrote in his childhood home, alone in the front room by the fireplace, by hand. I took my kids there to show them three years ago.
In that document John Adams answers your question: We Do.
Furthermore, he answers it in the most beautiful of ways: He defines three branches of a balanced government, with various elected representatives from the people, who govern those who ASSENT to being governed by voting.
However, Republicans, always with the scent of money in their nostrils, since Ronald Reagan first showed them the way to the carcass of Federal Reserve printed money, want to take over the government by force. And they may well do so.
What better way to garner control of the Federal Reserve's infinite money printing process to generate massive wealth for Republicans?
A heist Professor Richardson. That is where it is headed. The largest bank robbery in history.
After all, the Fed's most aggressive action the last two years of Trump's Presidency?
->-> Yep, Fed printed money to purchase Corporate bond ETF funds.
Blatant welfare for corporations which is essentially welfare for wealthy white men.
A heist. In plain sight.
Cloaked under the newly minted definition of: Patriot.
For all of those out there interested in the best history book in, well, history:
by Catherine Drinker Bowen.
NOT McCollough. He starts where Bowen left off.
Catherine Drinker Bowen was an astounding woman historian before women historians were allowed. Her book on John Adams should be what all high school kids study for early American history. It is like reading a good mystery novel.
“… they are declaring that they are not bound by our laws (although they are apparently eager to try to use them to reduce their exposure).”
May our system of justice trump these hypocrites and their delusional hypocrisies.
“Godless people who hate America.”
In my Psychology 101 class, Boebert’s statement would’ve been viewed as an example of projecting. In my understanding of God, her words sound more like the other guy. 👿