NO HONOR AMONG THIEVES
How has America arrived at the point where our president may have been extorted by a hostile foreign power to craft a foreign policy that seeks to subvert congressional sanctions, alienate our NATO allies, and threaten our national security? And how do we explain a Republican Congress that appears to be participating in a coverup for this president while refusing to stop his anti-democratic behavior? These two questions may appear to have two different answers, but perhaps they are merely branching from the same historical tree.
When we were faced with unambiguous proof of Richard Nixon’s criminality, Congress exercised its duty to remove him from office. We were spared the turmoil of conviction through Gerald Ford’s pardon, and because a weary public accepted the notion that Nixon and his administration were somehow sui generis – a uniquely dishonest cadre that had burrowed deeply into our American political system. We believed that as Nixon faded into the mists of history, alone and disgraced, we were rid of a pernicious element in American politics – and that, as a nation, we could look into the mirror once again and see the image of a virtuous people that have prospered because they are decent. And we comforted ourselves in the notion that the law had gotten them all – 48 of them convicted for criminal acts. But we didn’t get them all. The young ones got away: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Roger Ailes, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort…. sound familiar? We simply put a Band-Aid on it and called it a flesh wound.
But this habit of ours of failing to peel back the onion for fear of the rot we might discover within is a bad habit that we need to overcome. In the wake of the Mueller investigation, it would be a national tragedy if all we do is rid ourselves of Donald Trump and his associates so that we, once again, can look ourselves in the mirror and feel sanguine about our future.
As it is, we tend to look at the policies of the Republican Party today only individually – and not as representing a party that has become rotten and malignant. Their opposition to entitlements and their endless attempts to repeal the ACA; their opposition to civil rights legislation through voter suppression tactics; their bigoted stance on immigration – all excused away as not representative of the party as a whole, not representative of America’s Grand Old Party. And in the shadow of Charlottesville – and standing in the shadows of the continual slaughter of innocent people by angry gun enthusiasts, Republicans cite the rights granted by the 1st and 2nd Amendments more loudly than they repudiate what are obviously unspeakably horrific moments when their chickens have come home to roost.
Perhaps it is time to take a look at the tree from which today’s Republican Party has branched – the seed from which Donald Trump has sprouted. It’s time to read up on The John Birch Society and ask how – if at all – this formerly far right movement of the 50s and 60s differs from the beliefs and practices of the Republican Party of today. If you take a look, you’ll recognize Steve Bannon and his hatred of the “administrative state”; you’ll see the conspiracy theories of anti-globalists that now materialize into the demonization of George Soros; you’ll see the roots of a fear of “collectivism” and see how it has led to the GOP’s hostility toward big government. You’ll see where characters like George Wallace, Karl Rove, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist got their ideas.
Every tree has its roots. But the GOP of today is not like an oak tree that stands alone. Today’s Republican Party is more like a grove of Quaking Aspens – each tree genetically identical to its neighbor because they all sprout from the same massive underground root system. And what was once a small grove of saplings is now the tangled forest of political corruption and crooked frauds who think taxes are for chumps, duty is to themselves, and that there is no honor among thieves.
Artist: Christopher Dombres from Wikimedia Commons
Deborah Long is a Principal at Development Management Group, Inc. and founder of several non-profit charitable organizations. If you find her perspectives interesting, controversial, or provocative, follow her at: https://www.facebook.com/debby.long.98499?ref=br_rs