After the right-wing terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, some people might be confused in thinking that only Trump led us here — not Republicans.
The two are indistinguishable.
Republicans today are a far cry from the past. Where are today’s Teddy Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower?
The Republican Party today is a vicious lying smear machine that spreads conspiracy theories among its followers and engages in widespread voter suppression to win elections, and which doesn’t even have confidence that its ideas can persuade the majority of people to support its policies.
Here is a summary of the last 40 years of Republican politics.
Ronald Reagan started his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where civil rights workers were killed in 1964 trying to register Black people to vote. Reagan’s move told supporters that it’s OK to suppress the rights of Black people to participate in democracy.
Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to “present controversial issues … in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced.”
That makes him the godfather of verbal bomb-throwing propagandists Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and the entire Fox “news” crew, as well as other extremist television networks that now pervade our public airwaves.
Reagan enacted massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and raised taxes on the poor and middle class in the form of Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes, setting the stage for the enormous widening of inequality in the country.
His idea that cutting taxes on the wealthy would increase government revenues was a fantasy. Reagan turned the United States from the world’s largest creditor nation to its largest debtor. Everybody used to owe us. Now we owe them, including the Chinese government — no friend of ours.
Reagan cut federal aid for college kids, meaning they had to take on enormous loans to go to school, just when they were starting their adult lives. That often put higher education out of reach for millions of poor and middle-class kids.
Under the gloss of his sunny optimism, Reagan started us on this road.
His successor, George H.W. Bush, hammered his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 election over the specter of Black criminals rampaging through the country because of liberal policies, scaring the hell out of white America.
George W. Bush, H.W.’s son, won the razor-thin election of 2000 by persuading a Republican-majority Supreme Court to stop Florida from counting its ballots. Does that sound like democracy to you?
Then the younger Bush gifted the wealthy massive tax cuts, after President Clinton — despite his many faults — managed the miracle of balancing the federal budget after the disastrous Reagan/George H.W. Bush deficits. Bush’s tax cuts once again blew up the federal debt.
Now we have the racist, fascist Trump — along with the entire Republican establishment — who give massive tax cuts to the wealthy, while avidly destroying the environment we depend on for our lives.
These Republicans are not conservative. If they were, here are the principles they would work to uphold:
• There is no such thing as a free lunch. Republicans cut taxes, but don’t try to cut government deficits. Trump’s deficits now total $3 trillion — the highest ever.
• Examine the facts. Denying climate change is not a strategy, Denying the microscopic apocalypse of COVID is not a strategy. They will come for you, whether you believe in them or not.
• Clean up after yourself. The fossil fuel industry trashes our air, water and ground while the public is too often left to clean up their mess.
• Act responsibly in the community. We have too many people who believe they have the right to do anything — from not wearing a face mask during a pandemic, to toting an automatic weapon in public.
“I take no responsibility,” Trump told the American people last year. That’s the perfect summation of the current mindset of too many Republicans today. We need less emphasis on rights, and more on responsibility.
• Tell the truth. The Ten Commandments state “thou shalt not bear false witness.” In denying the results of the recent presidential election, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and countless other Republican officials who profess to be devout Christians break this commandment daily. No one has come up with any evidence of fraud. It’s a lie.
• Maintain a strong defense. Russia recently attacked our computer systems. Trump’s response: China did it. Why are Republican leaders not screaming about this?
We need clear-headed conservative ideas about battling COVID-19 and climate change, fixing government finances, creating better educational and economic opportunities for all citizens, providing better health care while controlling spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and giving families a chance to live decently and raise our children with the Judeo-Christian values of personal responsibility, compassion and community.
That’s a party I would consider voting for.