Recently I have been quite puzzled by the dedication of the Republicans in Congress to the ‘man’ in the Oval Office. So today, when I came across an op-ed titled, What’s the Matter With Republicans? by Paul Krugman of the New York Times, I realized that I was not alone in my puzzlement. In the article, Krugman posits that it is the nature and structure of the Republican Party itself that keeps those riding his coattails from abandoning ship. A few excerpts are in order:
- Faced with questions about the Flynn scandal and the Comey firing, Ryan waved them away: “I don’t worry about things that are outside my control.” This might sound like a reasonable philosophy — unless you realize that Ryan is speaker of the House of Representatives, a legislative body with the power to issue subpoenas, compel testimony and, yes, impeach the president.
- At this point we know who and what Trump is, and have a pretty good idea of what he has been doing. If we had two patriotic parties in the country, impeachment proceedings would already be underway. But we don’t. What’s the matter with Republicans?
- First, Republicans are professional politicians. The G.O.P. … is one branch of a monolithic structure, movement conservatism, with a rigid ideology — tax cuts for the rich above all else. Other branches of the structure include a captive media that parrots the party line every step of the way. And this monolithic structure — lavishly supported by a small number of very, very wealthy families — rewards, indeed insists on, absolute fealty.
- Why did Marine Le Pen, often portrayed as the French equivalent of Trump, lose by a huge margin? Because France’s conservatives were only willing to go so far; they simply would not support a candidate whose motives and qualifications they distrusted. Republicans, however, went all in behind Trump, knowing full well that he was totally unqualified, strongly suspecting that he was corrupt and even speculating that he might be in Russian pay, simply because there was an “R” after his name on the ballot.
- In a perverse way, we should count ourselves lucky that Trump is as terrible as he is. Think of what it has taken to get us to this point — his Twitter addiction, his bizarre loyalty to Flynn and affection for Putin, the raw exploitation of his office to enrich his family, the business dealings, whatever they were, he’s evidently trying to cover up by refusing to release his taxes.
Krugman’s piece concludes with a thought that echoes sentiments I have expressed more than once:
- The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we’d be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control. Trump may have done himself in; but it can still happen here.
The one thing that is noticeably absent in the ideology of the Republican Party as described by Mr. Krugman is the will of the populace. Does any single “average Joe” voter place ‘tax cuts for the wealthy’ above above affordable healthcare, the environment, quality public schools, etc.? I think not. And yet … republican voters seem to have the same loyalty to party that is a staple of the republican members of Congress.
Look closely at the above picture of Paul Ryan … does this look like a man who is comfortable with his decisions, a man whose conscience is at peace? Not to me.
I have been saying for months now that most house republicans will be unemployed after November 2018, but is that true? I remember an old friend, long gone from this world, who back in 1976 said of then-candidate Jimmy Carter, “I can’t stand the man, but he’s a democrat and I’m a democrat, so I’m going to vote for him.” It is this line of thinking that may be the end of our democratic system of government. Loyalty to a party rather than choosing a candidate who puts the best interest of the nation and its people first is a mistake no matter which side of the aisle it benefits.
Republican loyalty to party rather than to conscience rather reminds me of the abused wife who stands by her husband no matter what … she knows he is a cad, a jerk, but she believes it is her duty to be a loyal wife. Else she is afraid of the alternative.
According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, the breakdown of voters is: 29% Democrats, 26% Republicans, 42% Independents, and the other 3% apparently neither know nor care.
The surge in the past 5 years of independent voters is a result of voter dissatisfaction with the gridlock in the federal government, and I see it as a positive, a sign that more voters are considering issues rather than a blind loyalty to party. I also wonder if it doesn’t potentially open the door for a third party to eventually gain a foothold in the political process? Typically third party candidates do not stand much of a chance in presidential elections (though they do better in local elections) because of such things as the electoral college’s ‘winner take all’ system, ballot access laws, and debate rules, but perhaps the time is ripe for a candidate who is not tied to long-standing alliances with big business, wealthy corporations and lobbyist groups.
Whatever the outcome of the current fiasco in the White House, it has shown us, I think, that it is time we started voting our consciences, that we hold our elected representatives in Congress accountable for making our best interests their top priority. If we do not, we risk becoming a plutocracy, government by the wealthy … if, indeed, we are not already.