It is difficult to write, even very critically, about Republican politicians in Southwest Virginia with any kind of enthusiasm.
To a man (and they are almost all men), they encapsulate so completely the utterly cynical and wretched “God, guns, gays, gummint (not!)” agenda that apoplexy may be a serious risk for an older writer like me.
Or perhaps anyone not in favour of invoking a politically expedient deity, or wanting any Jack (or Jill) to own all the AK-47s they want, or persecuting gays and lesbians, or thinking that a government which works for us is a dispensable luxury in an advanced industrial society.
The proverbial plunge has to be taken, however, because individuals such as “Bad Bob” Goodlatte (about whom I wrote a few months ago in CounterPunch), and Bad Bob’s colleague Morgan “The Morgue” Griffith, who happens to be the Congressman for the district in which I live (though as a non-citizen I can’t vote in US elections), are simply appalling.
The Morgue, who has been a Congressman since 2011 (he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates before that), is a merciless supporter of policies detrimental to the public good.
Griffith has refused to provide voters with his positions on key issues covered by Project Vote Smart’s 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from the organization. However, we have his voting record to go on. What it shows is not pretty.
The Morgue voted in favour of a bill allowing concealed weapons in vehicles without a permit, and allowimg concealed weapons in bars and restaurants.
While voting to permit legalized abortion in the first trimester, the Morgue voted to restrict state funding of abortions, and to require abortion clinics to meet the licensing standards of surgical centres. He is also opposed to government funding of stem cell research.
He supports raising the retirement age.
He is in favour of replacing welfare with workfare.
He voted for Trumpcare (which will cut Medicaid by 35% in 20 years, depriving millions of healthcare), while supporting the repeal of Obamacare.
He supports Trump’s rescinding of regulations to protect the environment, and favours a US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. He supports offshore oil drilling.
He opposes tax credits for non-carbon energy sources.
He supports Trump’s agenda of deep tax cuts (for the rich).
He opposes restrictions on the sale of internet personal data.
He is in favour of widening the scope of federal wire-tapping of civilians.
He opposed reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
He supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
He opposes gay marriage, and measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
He opposes an amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
He wants US troops to remain in Afghanistan.
He opposes Palestinian rights, and supports Israel moving its capital to Jerusalem (a breach of international law, even though the Morgue is a lawyer).
The Morgue doesn’t live in the district he represents, preferring instead to live in the adjoining district of Bad Bob Goodlatte. So, Bad Bob’s district has the luxury of having two resident Congressional representatives, one who happens to be de jure (Bad Bob), the other de facto (the Morgue).
As of February 2017, 27,400 people in the Morgue’s district (population in 2014: 715,465) were registered with Obamacare. Repealing the deeply flawed Obamacare without anything approximating to an adequate replacement would therefore deprive tens of thousands of people in the Morgue’s district of minimal healthcare.
According to CNN Money, as of March 2016, 6.3 million people living in a US district with a Republican representative were registered with Obamacare, as opposed to 5.2 million living in districts with a Democratic representative.
Despite these numbers showing a preponderance of Obamacare enlistees in Republican districts, the campaign against Obamacare has been spearheaded by Republicans such as the Morgue!
Republican politicians, understandably, now have their knickers in a twist (as Brits like to say when referring to a predicament of this kind) – their intractable commitment to repealing Obamacare is something many of their own constituents, their ambivalence notwithstanding, may not really want if the alternative to Obamacare is the even crappier Trumpcare.
The Morgue and Bad Bob have studiously avoided holding town halls in their districts because they know furious constituents, about to be robbed of the little healthcare they had under the auspices of Obama’s scheme, will show up and let them have it with all the barrels of their verbal shotguns.
The Morgue, perhaps sensing his unhappy constituents need somehow to be placated, is now resorting to his feeble Plan B by inviting them to take part in a phone-in town hall.
A couple of days ago, a robocall from him invited my American spouse and I to participate in this phony “town hall” — his flunkeys will no doubt be instructed to cut-off anyone the moment they had questions or comments that discomfited the Morgue.
His supporters probably believe the Morgue is guided in all of this by deeply-held moral scruples. Well, he may be. However, a look at the sources of his political funding tells a somewhat more complicated story.
According to The Center for Responsive Politics, Griffith’s top donors in the 2009-2018 election cycles were (* denotes Coal, † denotes Energy):
Griffith’s biggest donors are concentrated in a few industries, mainly petro-chemicals and energy and coal, all with a vested interest in reducing regulatory oversight regarding the environment. His legislative record shows the Morgue is very assiduous in delivering on this score!
It is high time he got the boot in the 2018 mid-term elections.
Alas, nearly every Republican Congressional representative has the Morgue’s legislative profile, and some are even worse, so a clear-out of them is needed as well.
Given the nature of two-party politics in the US, a great many Democrats will also need a kick into political oblivion.
I’m not however holding my breath on either score.
Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.