I’m old enough to remember when the GOP was one of America’s two principle political parties. Now there’s only one — the Democrats. The GOP can no longer honestly call itself a “political party” because the GOP can no longer honestly do ANYTHING. That’s not a small detail. It’s not exactly a secret either. The Republican Party with two or three exceptions stands one hundred percent with Donald Trump. Never mind a few self-serving votes here and there for infrastructure dollars — despite Trump’s demands that they vote down all infrastructure. That’s pure political cynicism at work. The fact is, they still stand with Trump. Whatever Trump wants to do to their party, they will let him. They don’t have a choice. Yeah, to a degree it’s fear of being primaried by someone even more Trumpified than they are. Anyone with integrity would stand up for what’s right; at the very least, they’d do everything they could to uphold the oath they took to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign AND domestic.
In America, what do we call someone who’s either broken or refused to uphold the oath they took? Frequently, we call them “the current officeholder”. We call them that because there’s no actual penalty for violating one’s oath of office. Funny thing? There’s supposed to be: removal from office. If the act they took that violated their oath of office broke any kind of local laws, then they might face legal jeopardy. As we know from common experience, plenty of politicians violate their oaths of office. Pretty much none of them ever get removed from office for doing it. Gosh, could THIS kind of baked in corruption be one of those reasons Americans have grown cynical about our politics?
We’ve enabled our political class to all nod and wink at each other as they take their oaths of office: “We all understand that this activity is pure kabuki and we all understand that none of us will ever confess that truth”. That is fixable and we must fix it. But, alas, now that the doors have been thrown open to corruption, it’s going to be hard to close them. It’s just easier to be corrupt than to maintain one’s integrity. To maintain one’s integrity, one must deny every greedy impulse one has. One must place the greater good above the good of any one person — including oneself. Like I said — it’s no picnic. The rewards are more subtle than the creature comforts greed provides.
Part of our problem in telling this story is our news media’s inability or unwillingness to differentiate between Truth and bullshit. “Both sides do it” journalism is, by its nature, deeply cynical. It’s also profoundly wrong. Both sides do not do “it” because the two sides are, really, nothing alike. Yes, both sides have their points of view, but both points of view don’t carry equal weight. A point of view based on good, solid data and logical, reviewable analysis has earned the right to be accepted as “truthful”. A point of view based on feelings, conspiracy theories, Fox News and QAnon drivel is drivel. The two things are NOT equal. If you could hold them in your hand, you’d get it: these two things are not even remotely the same thing. But, when, as our news media does, when they give credence to bullshit, bullshit becomes truthful. They’re saying clearly of something they know is bullshit “It may sound like rot, but (“both sides do it” after all), under some bizarre, imaginary, pretzel logic circumstances, it could be the truth and for that reason, we must give it credence as if it is the truth”. Um, no. Bullshit is always bullshit. It’s never the truth. That’s why it’s bullshhit.
We need to get it into our heads that there’s no such thing as a person with 99% of their integrity. Integrity is an all or nothing proposition. Either you have it or you don’t. We’re all born with one hundred percent of our integrity intact. Here’s the problem with that: that is all we get. It surrounds each of us like parapet made of gossamer. If we dig in our heels once under attack — if we make defending that parapet everything — that gossamer will hold fast like titanium. On the other hand, if we waver (worse, if we give in to corruption), that gossamer will have already dissipated into nothingness. The very instant one’s integrity gets dinged, either one addresses the ding immediately or, in time, that one ding will become two and then four and then eight et cetera.
Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks around with literally zero integrity. That’s been the case his whole political life but it became demonstrably factual on June 15, 2016 when Kevin — a month before the GOP convention where it was already a foregone conclusion that Trump would be their nominee — entered a room of GOP leaders and said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” At the same time Kevin lost his integrity, so did everyone else in that room.
Mind you, this conversation was recorded and played a year later for a Washington Post reporter. No one on the recording replies to Kevin with a horrified “Whaaaaaaat? Kevin — are you sure about this?” No one says “Hey, that’s a problem! We’re about to nominate a guy owned by Russia to be POTUS?” Instead, those assembled go along with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s suggestion to not discuss this matter outside this room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Paul Ryan. If we had video of the meeting instead of just audio, I bet we’d actually see Ryan twirling his moustache as he spoke those words.
What the Republicans did that day was treasonous. That is a stone cold fact. If you even suspect that America is under threat from a hostile foreign power (and a country engaged in CYBER WAR with us is indeed behaving with hostility) then you are obligated to ACT. If you don’t — as the Republicans didn’t — we have to ask “WHY?” Why did Paul Ryan and Kevinn McCarthy and every other GOP leader in the room that June day NOT tell anyone about what they suspected? Why did they lie about “joking” the one time any of them were confronted about the conversation? Trust me: no one there was “joking” in large part because no one there was capable of making a joke. One must be able to laugh at oneself to have a “sense of humor”.
If you can’t laugh at yourself, that means you can only laugh at others. That’s the tell. If you can’t laugh at yourself but only can laugh at others, it means YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR. Donald Trump notoriously has no sense of humor. But, you could pretty much point at any Republican and find the same thing: people incapable of laughing at themselves but more than happy to laugh their heads off at others. That’s bullying. And bullies are notoriously unfunny. Because they have no sense of humor. Kevin McCarthy was not joking. He was learning something plenty of his GOP fellow travelers already knew — that Donald Trump was a fully owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin.
Everything that follows — every lie, every attempt to obstruct justice, every brazen attempt to overthrow the last election’s results — is flat out one hundred percent ILLEGAL. What the Republicans are doing isn’t them “expressing their opinion about American democracy”, it’s them trying to end our democracy — in direct opposition to the majority’s wishes (and that’s not some slim majority either!). This is NOT “political behavior”, it’s CRIMINAL behavior being done for a political reason (to force permanent minority rule down the majority’s throat).
Democrats have a frustrating habit of dithering when they should be acting. We get lost in the weeds because the rules matter so much to us. We don’t feel entitled to fix what’s wrong if we’re behaving wrongly at the same time. We really do value people over profits (unlike Republicans who always favor profits over people) but the evidence of that is harder to discern. The child tax credit Team Biden just introduced (which has already cut American childhood poverty in half!) is evidence of that. That same sense of caution stands between us and calling out Republicans for who and what they really are.
How treasonous does Trump have to behave towards Putin before some intrepid reporter focuses on it? How many times does he have to openly support Russian intelligence over our own or give Putin the benefit of the doubt he never deserved? How many openly obstructive acts must one person attempt on a regular basis before sensible people stop giving that obstructive person the power to obstruct justice? Or the benefit of the doubt that THAT’S what they’re up to?
Donald Trump was the ONLY American president to run for office AFTER having been impeached. He’s the first American POTUS to run for office after having been impeached for cheating in the election he was about to run in! All by itself, that screams volumes. When we get to the moment when we FINALLY say out loud to ourselves that, yes, but for Russia Trump would never have become POTUS, we will be on the road to recovery. For starters, we will have finally said out loud what Kevin McCarthy did on June 15, 2016: Trump is a criminal and because the Republicans did nothing about it, so are they.
Now — what do we do about the fact that the criminal behavior the Republicans STILL are engaging in is TREASONOUS? For one thing, how about we don’t call it what it isn’t: “an opinion”.
Criminals have opinions just like everyone else. Everyone’s got a point of view. But not all point of views carry the same weight. Not all points of view are based on facts and observations. Some points of view traffic in conspiracy theories or cultural-political hackery. That’s not the same as reality or the truth.
America needs to start calling bullshit what it is: BULLSHIT. We need to start calling people who obstruct justice what they are: criminals. We need to reframe how we see ourselves not as two equally valid points of view but as a complex, multi-faceted point of view. Also we need to understand that not all points of view have a “point”. A traitor like Donald Trump absolutely has a point of view — that he’s happy (if not desperate) to share. But, being a lying, rapey, greedy scum bag, his point can only be to justify his awful point of view. His awful, INDEFENSIBLE point of view.
The press keeps reminding us that the common wisdom is that the out of power party (in our case the Republicans) always do great in the first mid-term after a presidential election. That’s almost always the case during normal times. Except these times aren’t even remotely normal. They’re like nothing we’ve ever been through before. America and Americans are more woke than they’ve ever been. For some reason, people wanting to defend democracy isn’t sexy enough for our news media to stay focused on. They like covering crazy people better. And pretending they’re sane.
It’s like covering Republicans like they were honest actors.