Friday, May 12, 2017
THE COMEY MESS
The stereotype has been around for years: Republicans are the daddy party, Democrats are the mommy party. The daddy party will keep the country safe by spending more money on defense, making sure you can buy any kind of gun you want and acting tough. And it dispenses tough love by saying that you have to earn what you have, sink or swim. The mommy party wants the country to more fair by making sure that schools are well payed for, and that the poor and middle class should be given some help. While both of these stereotypes are often untrue, (although Republicans like to paint Democrats as weak on defense, the US's defense budgets under Barack Obama were still much larger than any other country's) they still seem to define both parties in the modern world. This is especially true in right wing media, where accusations of Democrats "feminizing" our country are common place.
One of the realities of these seemingly different world views, is just how much more aggressive the Republican party is grabbing onto and holding power; put simply, they always seem to want to lead more than the Democrats do. Back in the presidential election debacle of 2000, they very effectively pushed the narrative that Al Gore was trying to "steal" the election with recounts. And then when George W Bush won with out winning a majority of the popular vote, he swaggered into office as if he had a sweeping mandate from the people instead of a narrow victory in a deeply divided country. And the Democrats in congress, for the most part, went along with it; some of them even voted for his tax cut plan.
Conversely, when Barack Obama won a far more sweeping victory in 2008, the Republican party acted as if his win was not legitimate, from spreading false rumors about Obama's birthplace to filibustering his every move in the senate, they showed none of the acceptance that the Democrats had in 2000. And in 2016, the Democratic party got more overall votes, but hold no majorities in congress, thanks to Republican drawn congressional districts, while Democrats saw another presidential candidate go down to defeat while winning the popular vote. Somehow, in a divided country, the Republicans have gamed the system, giving them more power than they proportionally should have.
This lust for raw power has now lead the Republican party into supporting and defending both a
candidate and president that may be threatening American democracy itself. They fell in line with Donald Trump as a candidate, despite his lack of experience, and racist and misogynistic comments, and now that his actions as president are becoming less and less easy to defend, the vast majority still stand with him. Just a few days ago, he fired James Comey, the head of the FBI, in a completely unprecedented move; although the firing is within presidential power, and he's not the first to do it, the firing came while the FBI was still investigating Trump's campaign ties to Russia. While Trump's people have given a flurry of answers as to why he did this, from Comey mishandling the Clinton email investigation (which Trump actually praised on the campaign trail), to workers at the FBI losing confidence in him (which was contradicted by testimony from actual FBI members), to Trump himself in an interview dismissing Comey as "a grand stander" and "a showboat." (Projecting a little there, Donald?). The most convincing reason to me is that POLITICO magazine reports that Trump would watch TV reports on the continuing Russian investigation and scream and yell at the screen like a psychopathic toddler, leading to him inevitably lashing out at Comey, foolishly assuming that this would somehow end the Russian investigation.
The good news is that the Comey firing has had the opposite effect, drawing even more attention to the possible treasonous collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The bad news is that the Republican party is still almost entirely standing behind him, with Mitch McConnell and others rejecting a call for an independent investigation. Worst of all, as an apparent distraction, Trump has appointed a panel to investigate so called voter fraud, a panel that includes Kris Kobach, a proponent of tough voter laws that inevitably target minority voters. (In yet another example of their raw quest for power, the Republican party has no problem with suppressing the rights of minority voters to gain a political advantage.)
Yes, just as they ignored Trump's use of the White House to expand his and his family's wallets, while appointing unqualified family members into important positions (the president's son in law Jared Kushner, has been given many different governmental duties, including negotiations in the middle east, not bad for a real estate business inheritor with no political experience!). And they ignored or tried to defend his absurd accusations of millions of illegal voters going to the polls, or that Barack Obama had him wire tapped. And now here they are, going along with Trump as he tries to distract and move the country along from what could be the biggest presidential scandal in our nation's history. In the past few days, there have been numerous comparisons made between Trump and Richard Nixon, and while many of these are apt (Nixon fired a special prosecutor instead of the head of the FBI, but the nature of the firing was very similar), the sad fact of the matter is that in Nixon's time, there were enough Republicans of principle willing to stand up to him in the face of obvious wrong doing. Do such Republicans even exist today? Perhaps a handful, but for the most part it appears that the Republican party is just fine with Trump acting more and more like a corrupt third world dictator than a president as long as he can bring them the tax cuts for the rich, rollback of environmental regulations and the removal of Obamacare that they so crave for. It's getting really hard to feel any kind of patriotism for this country and its leader these days.