I’ve said it so many times, I’ve lost count, lost breath, and lost the vociferousness with which I say it… but I’ll say it again: The Republican Party has been tearing this country apart, deliberately, since the rise of the Gingrich Congress. And, you know what, let’s expand it. Their actions have been intentionally detrimental to the Union for nearly 50 years, not out of any belief in what they’re doing “to form a more perfect Union,” but to destroy the establishment from within in order to win, and hold on to, power.
The Republican Party has been corrupt for much longer than that, however. This is the organisation that gave us Nixon, Reaganomics, and both Gulf Wars. These are the people who have defunded public education, cut regulations for clean water and air, and opposed their own health care reform bill simply because a black president wanted to sign it into law. They wilfully subvert science education with religion, leading to disastrous consequences ranging from teen pregnancy and the spread of STIs to American’s trailing test scores in STEM fields. They pound their chests and exalt the military industrial complex, but refuse to take care of the men and women who have served. And all the while their base, so drunk on the Koolaid® of their lies and braggadocio, consistently votes for them to return to Washington to enact policy against their own self-interests precisely because of that defunded education and religious interference.
Nixon’s corruption was intensely paranoid. He was afraid of losing, which is why he ordered the Watergate operation to begin with. But in so many other matters, he was a truly disgusting individual. He was racist, warmongering, and self-aggrandising. If you don’t believe me, listen to the tapes! The fool recorded everything in the Oval Office, and it’s all a matter of public record now thanks to the Presidential Records Act. You can hear him talk about Vietnamese, African American, and Chinese people using racial slurs and utter disgust in his voice. You can see it in the policies of his government, too.
Reagan was a fool. The first of many complete airheads in the modern era to be elected President of the United States, Ronald Reagan had absolutely zero relevant administrative experience to prepare him for the presidency and developed the worst economic policy this country has ever seen—one we are still struggling to get out from under some 30 years later. Supply side, trickle-down economics is a sham. It’s make believe. It’s a fairy tale for imbeciles. There’s no sound economic theory behind it and no economist worth a damn who can give a convincing argument supporting it or give an example of it working in the real world. And there’s a reason for that: It is, again, make believe. And we’ve been crippled by the Cult of Reagan, ye ole Movie Star President, since the late 80s.
During this time we had the rise of the “Moral Majority,” which was neither moral nor a majority, led by Jerry Falwell, Sr., who, in true Falwell fashion, abandoned traditional Baptist principles of separating religion and politics in order to suit his own, personal ideas of what the nation should be. (That seems pretty morally sound, right? Using the power and reach of your station as a religious minister to influence people to vote in a particular way even though there are precedents inside your ministry and laws on the books prohibiting such actions? Eh, don’t worry about it…) Never mind that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” the Moral Majority sought to campaign on issues it and its personnel believed were critical to maintaining Christian “moral law” within the United States. As a lobbying force, the Moral Majority was a savage and effective political action committee, effectively campaigning against gay rights, abortion access, and the equal rights amendment. They also promoted Christian prayer in public schools and promoted “traditional family values,” whatever that (coded language) actually means.
And then we had George H.W. Bush and the first Gulf War. While uniquely qualified for office after having served in Congress, as Ambassador to the United Nations, and as Reagan’s Vice President for eight years, Bush was a tragically poor president. Inheriting an unregulated and increasingly regressive economy favouring the wealthy, Bush quickly invaded Panama after Manuel Noriega lost an election to Guillermo Endara, “representing a new era in American foreign policy” according to historian Stewart Brewer. Operation Just Cause was just the first—and, in fact, the first in 40 years—in a long and as yet continuing deployment of US Military forces around the globe in armed conflicts begun by Republican presidents on the grounds of being in the best interests of the United States rather than in advancement of containing Communism or under the Monroe Doctrine. And then Bush convinced the UN Security Council to invade Iraq after Saddam Hussein attacked and invaded Kuwait, destabilising the Middle East further and opening the region to international scrutiny and military occupation. It’s important to note that the majority of Democrats in Congress—both in the House and the Senate—opposed the AUMF for the first Gulf War in 1991.
After which we saw the Gingrich Congress come to power during the Clinton Administration, signalling the beginning of the end of civility and bipartisanship in the legislature. Frequently questioning the “patriotism” of the Democratic party as Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich—a particularly ethically bereft individual—instilled a combative mentality within the Republican ethos, adopting hateful, divisive language and hyper-partisanship as commonplace, abandoning democratic norms of bipartisanship and civility. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their political beliefs, calling your coworkers and compatriots “corrupt, fascist, bizarre, pathetic, radical, selfish, sick, traitors” is not acceptable, yet this was Newt Gingrich’s strategy to sew a divide between Republicans and Democrats within Congress. It’s documented, you can look it up. Political scientists cite Gingrich’s instructions to his fellow Republicans to use language such as “betray, decay, destroy, devour, greed, lie, pathetic, shame, and steal” as well as the aforementioned pejoratives as examples of the breach of social and political norms and an exacerbation of partisan prejudice. And his strategy was wildly successful: the 1994 midterm “Gingrich Revolution” vindicated these divisive tactics when Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House and eight seats in the Senate, cementing control of the legislature.
I’m not even going to talk about George W. Bush… we all remember that train wreck vividly enough. And while we thought he was going to go down in history as the Worst. President. Ever.™, we had no idea what we were cued up for, but we should have. The rails were laid out before us when McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate, when the Tea Party materialised, and when Moscow Mitch blocked Merrick Garland’s Senate Confirmation Hearings, we were collectively wearing rose coloured glasses if we thought that the logical conclusion to these escalations wasn’t going to be today’s state of affairs.
We have seen the tactics of Gingrich explode on the national stage and infiltrate state and local elections as well while Republicans have stuck to the failed economic philosophies of Reagan and maintain the corrupt mindset of Nixon throughout their tenures in office and their campaigns over the last 50 years. This confluence of corruption and madness is what gave us Trump. Racist, xenophobic, anti-intellectual, hyper-partisan, nationalism is the fuel on which the Trump Administration feeds and its flames are burning down the structure of our government and our national identity.
Donald John Trump is the direct result of the corrupt behaviour and intent of the Republican Party going back as far as Nixon, perhaps even farther. The “Stable Genius” is nothing of the sort, he is an immediate, incalculable threat not only to our national security but to the very structure of our government: from the separation of powers to the oversight ability of Congress to the checks and balances of the three branches. The Republicans in office today may be terrified of losing their seats and offices by going against this man because their voting blocks are so brainwashed and feverish in their support of the Orange Charlatan, but they only have themselves and their forebears to blame for that state of affairs. Now is the time to hit the reset button. Now is the time to respect and honour their oaths to the Constitution and protect the national interest, not to protect their own self-interests and status. But will they have the courage to be statesmen? Or will they be as shortsighted as Nixon, Gingrich, and Trump himself?