The Party Formerly Known as Republican

“The Republican National Committee (RNC) enthusiastically supports President Trump and continues to reject the policy positions of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as those espoused by the Democratic National Committee today … [and that] the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

A Party platform defines what a party stands for so, with no new party platform in 2020 the Republican’s are admitting they have no new ideas or plans. With a world wide pandemic in progress one would think they might have some official policy objectives, other than yielding to whatever their sitting president may feel are appropriate actions, like suggesting internal use of disinfectants, slowing down the rates of COVID testing, or assuming it will just “go away”.

The president has a long history of racist and religious bigotry that is now part of his America First Agenda. Since, as they have stated, the RNC enthusiastically supports him, they are willing to capitulate to his whims, his need for attention, adoration and his demand for total loyalty both from the party and his administration.

Richard Nixon touted “Law and Order” blaming the Johnson administration for increased civil unrest and rioting across the country in 1964-65. Johnson did want to do the right thing, but as historian Elizabeth Hinton notes, “like many policymakers throughout history and many policymakers today, his own racial assumptions limited the vision of what that War on Poverty could be”. Johnson’s 1967 Kerner Commission called for investments in troubled communities, not expansion of police forces.

In 2016, Trump was the “Law and Order Candidate”, now, fast forward to 2020 and we are told we need more “Law and Order”? Apparently the first go-round didn’t work? Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so in his mind, yes, we need more law and order. More militarized police forces, more armed white militias and less investment in communities that are still ignored and still oppressed by systemic racism.

And just to be clear, de-funding the police does not mean getting rid of police departments, rather it calls for reallocating funding to more community based programs that reduce violence and promote fairness through non-policing forms of public safety and economic community development. Policeare not trained to do the work they are often called upon to do, so it’s not reasonable or fair, nor is it the best use of their training, to expect police to be social workers.

The Republican party has made a grave mistake in ceding the party to Donald Trump. In 2016 Trump stated “I alone can fix it” but what has he fixed? He believes that anything going wrong is not his fault while any success is due to him alone. His overt racism, sexism, lying, even his bankruptcies and business failures apparently endear him to his base. To the Republican party in general, his failings make him appear a bit rough around the edges at most, but they happily hang onto his coattails because they are happy to have those down-ballot votes. Filling the federal bench with ultra-conservative judges would be his (and their) legacy for decades, that and his tax cuts for the rich, would bring old-line Conservatives on board.

When Covid-19 swept the US, Trump would take no responsibility at all, had no plan and so— no plan was the Republicans plan. Again, they had no problem with his repeated lying and withholding information from the public.

In regard to what is the great moral challenge of our generation, as scientists shout the alarm of increasing rates of climate change, his plan is to make it worse by gutting environmental regulations and calling climate change a Chinese hoax. Praising “our great oil companies”, giving them Covid bailout funds (while Main Street went under) and opening up Arctic and off-shore drilling— environmental damage be damned, that’s his plan and of course, no dissent from the Republicans.

There are nearly 400 bills passed by the House waiting for action on Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s desk which McConnell says they will not even look at— this is the Trump party and if no bills are passed it’s the “do nothing Democrats” fault not his, not the Republicans.

In the wake of the most recent police killing of unarmed Black men and women, white supremacist marches, racial unrest and violence, Trump takes no responsibility at all and warns against what Biden’s America will look like, but shows pictures of what Trump’s America looks like. “President Trump is now making two arguments simultaneously: 1) During the administration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, there was violence and unrest, which shows Joe Biden can’t be trusted to keep you safe. 2) During my administration, there is violence and unrest, which shows Joe Biden can’t be trusted to keep you safe”.

Trump’s idea of Law and Order is a recipe for more violence. From his nostalgic longing for the good old days, to his pandering to armed white militias, he deems those who legitimately call for racial equality, fairness for Indian Country, religious tolerance, an end to sexism and gender bias as violent mobs, thugs and radicals. His attacks on political opponents, even entire cities, goes unchecked.

While Martin Luther King knewnonviolent protest was more effective in achieving social change than was violence, he also recognized that “a riot is the language of the unheard” yet he hoped that “we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive”. Four hundred years of continuing subjugation of Black Americans is more than anyone should bear and as King’s contemporary Stokely Carmichael noted, “In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience”. Internal struggle isn’t new, American history is full of violent protests, the Battle of Athens, the Battle of Blair Mountain and others— led by whites.

While Trump claims to be “the least racist person anywhere in the world” we know that among modern day racist Presidents he easily floats to the top— through his racism he has sown hatred, violence and division and thanks to the electoral college, it worked. His divide and conquer hopes for re-election — turning Americans against Americans and rational people against their own better nature along with voter suppression are all he and his Republicans have. Will he snuff out the small slice of the Republican party that has not already drunk his Kool-Aid? If there is any expectation that Democracy might endure, I hope not.

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.