The Republican Party…Beyond the Pale

Image Source: DonkeyHotey – CC BY 2.0

Mitch McConnell, fine gentleman that he is, let us know he plans to launch a “scorched earth” policy if Democrats kill the filibuster. To be accurate though, he’s just planning to maintain the scorched earth policy he has been practicing ever since he became Majority Leader in 2015. He has done everything in his power to block any legislation put forward by the Democrats and overturn anything passed the during the Obama Presidency. Despite his recent plea for bipartisanship he has clearly never believed in it.

He could easily fill a multi-volume memoir with his efforts as the Grim Reaper, he could title it “The Life and Times of an Unabashed Hypocrite”. Of course hypocrisy starts at the top and runs deep in what was once The Grand Old Party. While he can no longer rule by tweet, the former President still dominates the party thanks to the devotion of his base and few Republican officeholders dare to challenge him.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was criticized as too expensive by Republicans, while the $1.8 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) of 2020 was passed and signed by the former President as McConnell and his minions grinned in the background, but to be fair, there were differences. ARPA was a Democratic bill signed by a Democratic President with the majority of the benefits going to suffering low and middle income Americans. The CARES act was a Republican bill signed by a Republican President that provided lavish benefits to the rich who were not suffering economically and in many cases, were increasing their wealth during the pandemic.

ARPA also included debt relief to farmers of color and that drew the ire of some like Austin Scott (R-GA) who, with a full measure of white privilege on display, said “There’s no proof of discrimination. You, by virtue of the color of your skin or your ethnicity, receive 120% of your outstanding loan balance.” Sorry, Austin, but after nearly 500 years of this country’s systemic racism, being Black, or any color other than white, is proof enough of discrimination.

Taxes on the wealthy are, by Republican standards, still too high so their efforts to eliminate the “death tax” was recently trotted out again. While they decried an effort to increase the minimum wage to $15 and the $1400 stimulus payments as unaffordable, Republicans saw no problem in again, introducing a bill to repeal the estate tax which would provide America’s wealthiest a $1.7 trillion tax break. Falsely portraying it as a burden on small family farms and mom and pop businesses, they have made it one of their go to tactics to divert attention away from needed social reform.

While Republicans, with varying degrees of sincerity, condemned the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, they are loath to fully cooperate in establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the events. Understandably their choice would be to put their efforts, (as well as those of the former President and the invading white supremacists) to illegally overturn the results of a fair election behind them. Seeking a broader and totally unrelated scope, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tossed out a red herring saying, “What are the other things that happened as well? With Antifa, and others, I think there should be a lot of investigations.” Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson continued to fan the flames by attempting to blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the insurrection.

Not one to miss the opportunity to again, put his foot in his mouth, Johnson, going full racist, said that “I knew those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.” “Now, had the tables been turned,— this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa, I might have been a little concerned.” Never mind that, unlike the Capitol insurrectionists on January 6, Black Lives Matter protests the over the course of the entire year, were peaceful.

Those who struggle to retain their hold on political power sometimes rely on racism, classism, hypocrisy and outright lies, even though it doesn’t play well with decent folks. Yet power does explain why Republicans continue to disenfranchise voters by gerrymandering voting districts, suppressing the vote and as we saw after the November election, outright attempts to throw out legitimate votes. Again, these efforts have outright racism at their core and there seems to be no depths to which Republicans will not stoop. In the wake of loosing the 2020 Presidential election 43 states are making efforts to further suppress voting. Apparently, if you can’t win fairly, you need to rig the game. The integrity of state voting laws was questioned even though, in many states, those laws were written by Republican legislatures. They cried fraud because the former President lost, even as down-ballot Republicans won on the same ballot.

Wisconsin used to be know as the laboratory of Democracy, but Republicans have scattered those ideals to the wind, thanks to politicians like Ron Johnson who, in his own way, like former Senator Joe McCarthy, seems to have no decency. Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers, not to be outdone by Johnson, recently passed a resolution honoring former talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, but could not bring themselves to honor Black History Month.

It makes one wonder how it all went so terribly wrong, so far beyond the pale.

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

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