GOP Wraps Itself Around the Axle

“Wrapped around the axle” is an old saying in Montana that refers to what happens when your truck hooks a piece of old, rusty barbed wire and it “wraps around the axle.” As anyone who’s done it knows, it’s no fun crawling under a rig to unwrap the seriously tightened wire.

But euphemistically, it refers to any situation that has reached a point where forward progress comes to an abrupt halt until you deal with serious problems. And right now, it’s a perfect description of the GOP, the party’s relationship with their former president, and the befuddling actions of Republican members of Congress.

It boggles the mind to think that not one Republican in either the U.S. Senate or House voted for the massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed into law by President Biden last week. How, one might ask, is it possible to justify these cult-like unified votes against measures that significantly help their constituents? What, there’s not a single Republican out of the nation’s 331 million citizens suffering from the year-long trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic?

The measure contains, among many, many other widespread benefits, serious financial assistance for state and local governments, getting kids back in school safely, helping people meet their rent so they don’t get evicted, supplementing and extending unemployment benefits, child care assistance, and providing relief to businesses from airlines to cross-continent trains to bars and restaurants that have been especially hard hit by pandemic restrictions. Plus it puts real money into the pockets of citizens — money that will roll over into the economy to keep local businesses going, keep the family fed, and the lights on.

While the Republicans pull out their oh-so-phony concerns about fiscal responsibility and the national debt now that there’s a Democrat in the White House, it’s worth remembering they had no such problems when their misfit occupied the Oval Office — and doled out a trillion-dollar tax cut with the lion’s share going to the already wealthy.

And speaking of problems, how wrapped around the axle is the GOP when their Grifter Boy the voters sent packing tells Republican donors not to donate to the Republican National Committee — but to him! Then again, given his enormous personal debt burden accompanied by pending civil and criminal indictments, perhaps he’s decided to change his “America First” scam to the “Me First” scam — which isn’t much of a change now, is it?

Closer to home, the Republican-dominated Montana legislature is not exactly garnering widespread applause for its actions — just the opposite, in fact, as Montanans rightfully wonder at the nutty legislation emanating from the Trumpers in the first half of the session. Far from helping fellow Montanans, so far the focus (if you can call it that) seems to be on doling out favors to special interests and bashing those that don’t fit the Republican ideological mold into which they’re trying very hard to stuff the wide diversity of Montanans.

But Republican ideological purity is about to face a major test when the federal assistance dollars from the Democrats’ COVID relief measure arrives. Surely true Republicans will send back the checks, especially since they’re not even signed by the president. And of course no Republican-owned business would think about accepting the rank socialism of the federal government actually helping its citizens. Nope, they’ll be busy pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

Just joking of course. They’ll take the money, they always do. And somehow they foolishly think Montanans won’t notice the confusion and incredible hypocrisy of the “wrapped around the axle” GOP.


George Ochenski is a columnist for the Daily Montanan, where this essay originally appeared.