Once Upon A Time, When The GOP Had Some Integrity

America has more than her fair share of fascists and white nationalists.

Some of them even serve in congress.

The vast majority, if not all, vote republican.

Donald Trump is a White Nationalist. That’s why White Nationalists supported his presidency.

When someone says they supported Trump’s policies but not his white nationalist and authoritarian views, its no less ludicrous than a German citizen in 1939 saying they support Hitler’s economic policies, not his views on the Jewish population.

In throwing your support behind a president, you have to look at the totality of the man – not just policy bits and pieces that you can align with and rationalize to yourself and your friends.

As we saw with President Trump, it’s the totality of the man (all of his views and values) that set the tone and attitude of his administration. Under Trump, the party’s platform was built on divisiveness, hate, mistrust, and anger, and that’s exactly what was reflected in most of Trump’s policies and actions.

It’s important to keep in mind that the anger, hate, and mistrust of government and institutions that Trump used to divide America and strengthen his position politically, are alive and well today. Those feelings and attitudes didn’t magically disappear when Trump was trounced in the 2020 election.

Many Americans who supported Trump are simply waiting for him, or the next Trump-wannabee to come along and validate those feelings, while cultivating and promoting policies that weaken our democracy and march us down the path to authoritarianism.

Colin Powel was a lifelong republican, military man, and honorable public servant who understood the danger of authoritarianism. When he saw fellow republicans refuse to stand against a dangerously authoritarian president, he called them out for their cowardice and left the party.

We need more republicans of stature to do what Colin Powell did – speak up and shine a light on the dangerous and dark influences taking hold of their party. And more importantly, we need strong and outspoken leaders in the GOP to provide a roadmap for getting the party back on track to decency, integrity, and basic American ideals. Without a roadmap, we’re going to see the GOP continue it’s downward spiral towards authoritarianism.

The four years of the Trump administration laid the groundwork for dismantling democracy in America. Colin Powel understood that and voiced his disdain for Trump and the political cowards who failed to stand up to him.

If democracy is to survive in America, we’ll need more voices like Colin Powel’s.

Donald Trump, Cousin Eddy, Josef Goebbels, and the GOP

Donald Trump saw masses of hateful and uneducated Americans as an untapped resource. He pandered to them from the very beginning of his campaign, all the way through his presidency. He adroitly tweaked their xenophobic fears and white nationalistic attitudes and transformed them into votes.

He effectively made them the foundation of today’s Republican party.

In the past, Republicans would have blanched at welcoming these types of people under their tent. But once invited, they’ve spread like invasive vegetation, choking out moderate republican and authentic conservative voices.

Today, a uniquely unqualified brood of jackals and jackasses like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, “Gym” Jordan, and Devin Nunes has turned the GOP from a party of ideas to a demeaning cult of personality, with zero ideas.

We see them scrambling to prevent the release of phone records that will likely show collaboration with the President in his attempt to subvert the 2020 Presidential election.

When Donald Trump became President, the old guard Republicans lost control of their party. The GOP is now controlled by a bunch of cousin Eddies’ (from Vacation), except this version of Eddy doesn’t have an ounce of decency or kindness. In fact, he’s more like an Eddy / Josef Goebbels hybrid, and he’s parked that God-awful RV smack dab in the middle of the Republican party.

Instead of taking out the trash, Donald Trump opened the front door and dragged the garbage into the GOP. And now, decent/moderate Republicans find themselves between a rock and a hard place, where If they turn their back on the Cousin Eddy Goebbels of the GOP, they’re likely going to be out of a job.

So, they sit and watch the transformative ruin of their party.

Democrats should work with Republicans to help them get back control of their party for the country’s good. They should reach out to moderates and cut some deals in exchange for expelling the growing number of Eddy Goebbels from the party – it might be the only way we save our country.

Man’s malevolence

Mankind is a misnomer. 

For as long we’ve existed, man’s kindness has been matched by his cruelty. 

We’re a volatile and combustible mix of the easily misguided. Too often (under the influence of others), we drift towards our darker nature, nestle up to fear, hand reason over to blind faith, or swear a misguided allegiance to political tribes. In the past, this has led humankind down dark paths where we deny our fellow man freedom and dignity on a mass scale. 

That’s been our history.

We’ve seen how the fluidity by which we move from our better selves to our darker nature is influenced by the world around us. We’re not immune to the momentum of tumultuous events. And, because we’re more connected (technologically speaking) than ever before, we’re more susceptible to being collectively influenced, manipulated, and pushed towards our darker nature.

This is nothing new. We’ve teetered on the edge of darkness before. Manipulated by political and religious movements that feed on fear, hate, and irrationality. Unfortunately, I believe we’re teetering one of those precipices now, as world events push mankind towards our darker nature.

I still believe America can be a force for positive change. I’m not talking about nationalistic flag-waving “USA, USA, USA!!” patriotism, but rather all of us living by and promoting the ideals and ideas of Western Democracy. 

To make mankind kind again, we must consciously engage in acts of kindness, resist being influenced by fear and fear mongers, put reason above religion, and ditch political tribalism for critical and idea-based thinking. 

The uptick in political, social media posts about what’s going on in Afghanistan reveals just how shallow and vulnerable we’ve become. Sadly, the willingness to parlay human tragedy for political hay (I’ve done it myself) represents troubling fault lines for our country. 

Joe Biden did not blow up Americans and Afghanis at the Airport in Kabul – religious extremists did. Instead of focusing on the enemies of reason and rationality, many Americans devolve into sectarianism, focusing their contempt on the American President. 

I’m not suggesting Biden not be held accountable for missteps and intelligence failures that occur on his watch – he should be. But, instead, I’m suggesting that we remember Biden is not the enemy. Biden is not a religious extremist. He believes in American ideals. Our fight is not with him; it’s with ISIS, the Taliban, and any of the other man-made entities that are hellbent on pushing us to a darker existence.

I’m also suggesting that we differentiate malevolence from incompetence when critiquing our leaders. But, unfortunately, that requires nuanced and critical thinking – lost skills in America today.

Every President has moments of incompetence. Kennedy had his Bay of Pigs; Obama had his healthcare rollout. Bush fucked up majorly with his weapons of mass destruction debacle. Reagan screwed the pooch with Iran Contra, and Jimmy Carter botched a hostage rescue. 

Humans are at the helm of intelligence. They push the pen and ink onto intelligence reports, and leaders act on the assessments. And sometimes, they make mistakes. And when this happens, citizens should speak up and demand accountability. 

But Malevolence is a different kettle of fish. 

Malevolence is knowing a pandemic is deadly but telling others just the opposite for personal political gain.

Malevolence is proposing our military shoot protesters in the legs or that leakers of information be executed.

Malevolence is spreading lies about election security and promoting insurrectionist movements against America. 

Malevolence is courting and praising dictators for the control they have over their citizens.

That’s Malevolence. 

Let’s not confuse Incompetence with Malevolence. 

And malevolent leaders and wanna-be dictators thrive in periods of uncertainty. And sometimes, in a storm of uncertainty, citizens become blind to malevolent leaders. 

Let’s stay vigilant.

Have you heard enough?

After five years of crap, I keep waiting for the tipping point.

I keep waiting for my Trump-supporting friends to say they’ve had enough. I want to believe in their humanity. I’d like to think that after listening to yesterday’s testimony from the officers who defended the capitol on January sixth, they’re saying to themselves:

“You know what? I’m a proud Republican and a conservative, but what Donald Trump and members of congress promoted in the lead-up to January sixth – and the lies they continue to spread today, are despicable. I can no longer support Trump or any other politician who continues to espouse those lies. I’m fucking done with Trump.” 

That’s the humane response that people who care about this country hunger for. And we keep waiting for it. We long for the days to argue and differ on politics, not humanity, not democracy, not on basic human decency and integrity.

For more than 5 years, there’s been no normalcy around our politics, and that’s because America voted into office a sociopathic fascist with low-level intelligence. And even though he’s no longer President, Trump continues to control the Republican party.

For more than 5 years, more than half of the country sat bewildered at the number of people who went along with the Donald Trump shit-show, cheered him on, and sent him money. For most us, it was a deflating realization that America was not what it claimed to be. 

We kept hoping that maybe this was just an example of people being caught up in their personal and familial political history “I grew up in a Republican family, I support conservative values, I’ve always voted red.” We kept waiting for Republicans to have an epiphany; we kept hoping for that “lightbulb moment” where Republicans would wake up and see that Trump was not a Republican or conservative; he was only interested in politics in so far as it benefitted him.

Yesterday’s testimony should have been that moment for my Trump-supporting friends. If after yesterday you still support the former President, then please, just fuck off.

I’ve no space in my life for shitty human beings.

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

Almost all standard responses you get from Trump supporters when you criticize their idol are cloaked in whataboutisms. So, for example, when you mention the lies that Trump told (and continues to spread), you get an immediate response of “You don’t think that Biden lies?” as if there’s an equivalence – as if both of these men are in the same area code for lying when nothing could be further from the truth.

Trump’s lies and lapses in morality are now coming to light since the orange abomination left office. Members of the military say that Trump was a clear danger to the republic. This crazy narcissist suggested executing people who leaked stories to the press or shooting protesters in the legs. Comparing Trump’s lies and behaviors to past presidents (republican or democrat) is like comparing the flames in my backyard fire pit to the wildfires raging across the midwestern U.S. — they’re both fires, but. . . .

The 2016 election was not that long ago; those of us without dementia remember the aftermath.

Were there claims of election fraud? Yes.

After her loss, did Hillary Clinton go on for month after month after month about a stolen election? No.

Do you remember a constant, never-ending push of lies about Hillary being the real president-elect? No.

Do you remember Hillary riling up her base, inspiring and praising a traitorous assault on the capitol to try and stop the election from being certified? No.

The false equivalence that Trump supporters employ is stunning, but what’s even crazier is the total disregard of their own senses and experiences. Like me, they lived through 2016 – was that post-election experience anything like what we see now? No, it was not. And how do we know the situations were different? Because we observed, experienced, and lived through both.

I saw Fox news show a montage of Dems claiming the 2016 election was rigged, suggesting that what Trump did (and continues to do) is no different than what Dems did in 2016. The strategy behind these types of videos is not to inform viewers but rather manipulate them into believing the claims made by democrats back in 2016 were frenzied and constant, that they had a velocity and critical mass and are no different than what Trump is engaged in.

But anyone who lived through 2016 knows that’s not the case at all.

There was no massive push to overturn the elections or fake ass “fraudit” of the vote conducted by partisan and conspiracy-addled companies.

From Orwell’s famous novel 1984, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

When Fox News tells you the claims of election fraud by democrats in 2016 mirror what’s happening today, or when republican congressmen and senators tell you January 6th was just a regular tourist event, they’re telling you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. Don’t do it.

Patriotism Polluted

What does it mean to be a patriot?

We’re finding that it means different things to different people and that patriotism today is shaped by where you get your information.

Many Americans view the insurrectionists who stormed the US capitol as patriots, mainly because of what they were told by a lying president and by conspiracy-based news sources, neither of which benefit from a truthful accounting of the 2020 presidential election.

The former President’s attorney general, William Barr, stated that he knew the President’s claim that the election was rigged was “total bullshit.” More than sixty cases were brought to courts across the nation by the President’s legal team — all of them, including the case heard by the US Supreme Court, were rejected as baseless bullshit.

But the court’s decision, and all the states that ratified the results of the 2020 election, don’t matter to Americans who continue to get their information from the former President, or conspiracy “news” agencies and websites, mainly because both are telling Trump supporters what they desperately want to hear.

Millions of Americans simply don’t want to hear the truth because they are too uncomfortable with what that truth reveals. They’d rather live in the comfort of the lie than the discomfort of facts. I don’t think this is a liberal or conservative phenomenon – it’s a human one that is further complicated by the sheer quantity of misinformation available to people.

Under normal conditions, people eventually resign themselves to the truth, even when the truth is painful – they can be honest with themselves because the truth is plainly evident and indisputable. It’s what Hillary Clinton supporters and the supporters of every other losing presidential candidate go through. Disappointment, denial, acceptance.

But we’re not living under normal conditions. This time around, we face a cult-like leader who cannot accept the truth of his defeat because of his narcissism. Trump is bolstered by a cottage industry of conspiracy-based websites that profit from lies and misinformation. And a congress of cowards who fear being “primaried” out of a job does nothing to help their country.

Now that the former President is in legal jeopardy, we should expect him to react as any criminal backed into a corner does, with desperation, fear, and violence.

If American democracy is to survive, she’ll need to rely on true Patriots in the coming months.

Fake Patriotism – Blech!

Republicans all over Facebook are trying to hijack patriotism with fake-ass outrage at an Olympic athlete protesting. These are the same people who turned a blind-eye to a lying ex-president who inspired and praised an insurrection against the United States of America.

“Look at me supporting the flag wavers, the anthem standers, the pledge sayers – I’m a true blue American!!”

Blech!

Posts of proud and talented athletes draped in the stars and stripes, don’t make you “patriotic.”

Posts showing disdain and disgust towards the American athlete who protested, don’t make you a “true American.”

And all the patriotic posts in the world won’t erase the un-American act of supporting a President and a political party that tried to overturn a free and fair election and destroy our democracy. That dark, dank, stank envelops you. It sticks to you like white on rice, and you can’t “patriotic-post” your way out of it.

You want to be a true blue American? Speak out forcefully against the big lie, protest voting laws that make it harder for your fellow citizens to vote, and show your outrage at the refusal to investigate a politically-motivated insurrection against your country.

Be a patriot, not a parrot

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings
Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king
– Bob Dylan

Injecting patriotism into politics is nothing new. But what we saw under the Trump administration was a dangerous and poisonous variant of political patriotism that continues to threaten our democracy today.

Trump weaponized patriotism — not to marshal and unite Americans for the greater good of the country, but rather to pit Americans against one another. Trump understood that a divided America was his best hope of holding onto power — and a false and cheap patriotism was a way to achieve that.

Trump’s patriotism smacks of fascism. Its mob-like and fervor-based. It’s an America-first / white-is-right / bend-the-knee-and-kiss-the-ring form of patriotism. It’s anger-based and nationalistic. It feeds, grows, and lives on grievances, bigotry, and religious intolerance.

And what mattered most with Trump patriotism, was how loudly you proclaimed it, or how prominently you displayed it. Volume, visibility and violence were the primary elements in measuring one’s commitment to Trump’s vision for America. From MAGA hats, to Trump banners, to beating capitol police officers unconscious with American flags, Trump patriotism was loud, obnoxious, violent, and devoid of American values and human empathy. It drove a wedge between Americans and divided the country into two groups – those who shared Trumps warped view of American democracy, and everyone else.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a plethora of puffed-chested patriotic posts on social media from Trump supporters. Images of the American flag, videos of the Pledge of Allegiance, pictures of the Statue of Liberty, in what seems to be a reflexive response to the continued coverage and news stories about the January 6th insurrection.

As we learn more about that day, we now know with certainty that the violence behind the insurrection, and the ongoing lies about a stolen election, are inherently tied to Trump and the Q-wing of the Republican party. And so, many traditional republicans find themselves caught in this fuck-tangle of lies and un-patriotic behavior from the leader of their party.

What to do when faced with this sticky wicket?

Well, what we’re seeing from many Republicans is an almost obligatory need to vomit out a bunch of flag and pledge posts on social media. Maybe they think they can “patriot” their way out the conundrum in which they find themselves.

“Look at me, I love my country!!!”

I’ve no doubt that many of these folks are decent-minded Americans who actually do love their country and are now trying to reconcile their support for a man who cheered and praised the January 6th insurrection against America.

I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

By the way, I’m not suggesting that everyone who says the pledge is un-patriotic  (though publicizing it on social media seems a bit, I don’t know . . .  .  over-the-top) . What I am saying is that reciting the pledge in-and-of-itself is just a gesture, and has nothing to do with being or not being patriotic.

I can teach a parrot to recite the pledge, that doesn’t make the Parrot a Bald Eagle.

And in the case of Trump supporters, it doesn’t matter how often or how loudly you proclaim your patriotism, it doesn’t change the fact that you voted for an autocratic white nationalist who defied, and continues to defy, our democratic principles.

We’ve drifted so far away from the true meaning of patriotism, it’s difficult to see how we get back on track (though voting the biggest fake patriot out of office, was a good first step.) 

Fake Political Patriots and False Prophets

There’s nothing like a group-pledge to form a cheap and easy kinship with your fellow Americans. Tie-in a political message like “Make America Great Again” and voila, you’ve got yourself a vociferous Army that you can feed for years with cheap and empty platitudes of patriotism.

Under the previous Administration, it was considered patriotic to shout racial epithets and condemn African Americans (and others) for taking a knee in peaceful protest against systemic racism.

Under the previous administration, it was considered patriotic to support the government when it dispersed peaceful protesters with chemical agents.

Under the previous administration, it was considered patriotic to separate children from their parents and put them in cages.

Over a four-year span of a cult-of-personality presidency, many Americans came to believe the act of supporting a president, even when he obstructed justice and abused the power of his office, was also patriotic.

America desperately needs to get back to a quiet, purposeful, and dignified patriotism. A patriotism that that unifies citizens around the democratic principles on which this country was founded, rather than a politically-fueled patriotism that divides us.

In order to do so, we must disentangle patriotism from politics.

If the four-years of the Trump presidency taught us anything, its that we need to view political patriotism with a healthy does of skepticism and suspicion. Deploying cheap, simplistic, and empty patriotism for self-gain, is not patriotism — it’s a form of fascism.

We need to continue pushing in the right direction

America is not perfect, hence the phrase to form a more perfect Union – the movement towards that objective a more perfect and more complete union, is what makes America great. It’s the journey towards self-improvement (and all the work that entails) that will continue to define America.

America is at a crossroads. To go in the right direction, we don’t need empty patriotic gestures, we need a steady, consistent, and united push towards that more perfect union.

Flag waving and saying the pledge won’t get us there – actions in support of democratic principles will.

So, be a patriot, not a parrot.

Trumpocalypse

Trumpism is America’s Zombie Apocalypse.

It’s a growing and spreading mass of ravenous unthinking humans, driven by a blood-lust, unable to communicate ideas, moving forward in a dangerously backward and unproductive way, while the rest of humanity scrambles to stop the spread.

Fortunately, we know the cure. All that’s needed is for rational republicans to gather up some courage and speak the fuck up. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer rational republicans willing to do so. Instead, we’re witnessing a stunning comradery of cowardice.

The longer this goes on, the worse it gets, not only for the GOP, but for our country.

Trumpism is a metastasizing and cannibalistic political movement hell-bent on eating American democracy.  The ousting of Liz Cheney and the failure of republicans to speak out against it, lends oxygen to this dangerous political movement and increases the likelihood that it will consume the Republican party.

This is not a movie. This is real.

A house divided

Republicans in congress want to remove Liz Cheney from a leadership position because she refuses to lie.


Let that sink in.


If she’s removed, how do GOP voters continue to support the party that removed her?


This isn’t about removing a republican who isn’t conservative enough. This isn’t about punishing a rogue politician for going against the platform or for shitting all over long-held republican beliefs. In fact, Liz Cheney embodies the conservative principles that for years defined the GOP.


The effort to remove Cheney stems from her audacity to speak the truth and contradict Donald Trump’s outrageous lie about a fraudulent election.
It’s as simple as that.


The GOP has devolved from a party of ideas, to a cult of personality. They’ve cut a deal with devil, to save themselves from a rabid, fact-denying, and hateful base of voters.


How will rational republicans react to what’s happening to their party? Will they fight, or will they just say “fuck it” and go along with a dangerous game of follow the liar?


Is there a strong and deep enough desire to return the GOP to a party of ideas, or will they bend to the will of conspiracy theorists, religious charlatans, and a crazed pillow salesman?


Anyone who rationalized their vote for Donald Trump on the basis of being loyal to the GOP, has some serious soul searching to do. Will republicans do the tough work that entails, or will they let someone as despicable as Donald Trump become the architect of the new republican party?