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How Will America Weather the Historic Times We Face?
These are moments pregnant with possibility, but also saturated by danger - they require exceptional and farsighted leadership, statesmanship instead of politics & a commitment to the general welfare…
We are living through one of those hinge points in history, a time people remember other events in the context of “before” and “after” that moment, the kind that comes along only once every few generations.
— Putin’s terrorist attack against Ukraine, and his ally Iran’s proxy attack against Israel threaten war across Europe and the Middle East; America is sending the 5th Fleet into the region. China’s massive naval buildup around Taiwan could vaporize parts of Asia in a nuclear conflagration.
— The citizens and civic institutions of every democracy in the world are under assault from trolls and bots fielded by strongman regimes exploiting Facebook’s and Twitter’s (X’s) unwillingness to bear the cost of taking responsibility for the content of social media.
— Climate change will soon render large parts of the planet uninhabitable; half the plant, animal, and insect species teeter on the edge of extinction; and antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses for which there is no cure haunt humanity.
— Here in America, Donald Trump and his MAGA army daily threaten violence against their perceived enemies. Rightwing billionaires are funding programs designed to destroy social democracy in America and are finding success after success, both with bought-off legislatures and wined-and-dined judges and justices.
— Neofascist media spoon-feed Americans a steady diet of hate and fear on 1,500 radio stations nationwide and billionaire-owned television platforms.
These are moments pregnant with possibility, but also saturated by danger. They require exceptional and farsighted leadership, statesmanship instead of politics, and a commitment to the general welfare held above personal or tribal self-interest.
In this generation, we Americans may well determine the fate and future of democracy all around the world. If our democracy falters in the 2024 election thirteen months from now, the United States will almost certainly go neofascist like Russia and Hungary have. As a result, authoritarianism and oligarchy will spread all across the world and it could be decades or even centuries before democracy again emerges.
When Lauren Boebert tweeted “This is 1776” during the January 6th siege of our Capitol, she was more correct than she imagined. Today’s Republicans, by and large, are calling for a sweeping transformation of America’s form of government and have even proven they’re willing to incite and use violence to accomplish it.
And they have tremendous resources to accomplish their take-down of social democracy in our nation.
Judd Legum at Popular.info documents how one fossil fuel billionaire just moved $5 billion into funds that will be used to terraform the American political landscape to his liking. The man who oversaw the packing of our Supreme Court and appeals courts has over a billion dollars at his disposal, a gift from an elderly rightwing billionaire. The billionaire Murdoch empire daily poisons political discourse on three continents.
While the Democratic Party has steadily moved away from Reagan’s neoliberalism (embraced by Clinton and Obama but now repudiated by Biden), the Republican Party has gone all-in on the agenda America’s oligarchs have laid before them.
There’s an old saying, often attributed to both Alexander Hamilton and Malcolm X, that proclaims: “When you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” Welcome to today’s Grand Old Party.
The top two Republican candidates for Speaker of the House include a man accused of covering up a sex scandal and a fellow who described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.” Both voted to overturn the 2020 election.
Patrick McHenry, the bow-tie-wearing Republican congressman from North Carolina who became the temporary Speaker of the House when Kevin McCarthy was unseated took in 90 percent of his campaign money (well over a million dollars so far) this year from the very lobbyists and industries he regulates as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and, as Lever News notes, only $856 from small donors.
That kind of cynical self-serving behavior is the norm across today’s GOP at both the state and federal levels: Teddy Roosevelt is rolling in his grave.
While Democrats most often go into public service to serve the public (although there are a few who “solve problems” for corporations and have gotten rich doing so), Republicans generally seem to run for office because of the money it brings and the doors it opens.
The results of this are obvious from their output.
— Speaker candidate Jim Jordan, for example, has been in Congress for 16 years and gone from being an Ohio wrestling coach to having a net worth of over $30 million; he has sponsored four pieces of legislation in all that time, none of which became law.
— In the past three years, Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, providing low-and medium-income Americans with $1,400 a month to help with food and rent; extended federal unemployment benefits for the 9.7 million Americans Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic had thrown out of work; cut child poverty in America in half with an extended child tax credit; provided small businesses with $7.25 billion in loans; and distributed $128 billion to states for aid to education.
— President Biden signed a trillion-dollar infrastructure program into law; oversaw the largest investment in renewable energy in history ($558 billion); and passed the first major federal gun safety legislation since the 1990s passage of the Assault Weapons Ban.
— The CHIPS and Science Act provided $53 billion to bring advanced electronics manufacturing back to America; the Inflation Reduction Act slowed inflation, raised corporate taxes, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, modernized the IRS, and capped Medicare prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year. Democrats also passed $44 billion in aid to Ukraine to fend off attacks by Russia.
These accomplishments prove America can still get things done; sadly, only one party is committed to this work.
During that same time, Republicans unsuccessfully demanded more tax cuts for billionaires, successfully sued to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gasses at the Supreme Court, killed Biden’s student loan forgiveness program at the Supreme Court, and passed out of the House (it died in the Senate) a law that would expand subsidies for the fossil fuel industry while zeroing out support for renewables.
At the state level, they’ve passed laws outlawing abortion in half of America, put into law over 300 restrictions on voting rights, and gerrymandered state after state so tightly that Red state elections have become largely meaningless.
The leading Republican candidate for president is a convicted rapist and serial adulterer, a convicted con man, and a traitor who tried to overthrow the government of the United States.
His main opponent for the nomination, Ron DeSantis, waffled repeatedly when asked this week if Republican politicians should have dinner with white supremacist holocaust deniers. Both, along with numerous Republicans in the House and Senate, support Putin in his attack on the Ukrainian democracy.
Locally, Republican politicians are trying to destroy public education and replace it with private, for-profit or religious schools; arrest women traveling through their towns to get abortions; and deny queer people, Black people, and refugees basic rights and human dignity.
Christian nationalism and white supremacy are the banners they proudly fly proudly, along with the AR15s they wave at people who dare to exercise their First Amendment right to protest in public.
When America confronted the Nazi threat during WWII, Republicans joined Democrats to fight for freedom and world peace. Today’s Republicans, however, don’t have that kind of spine, courage, or even common decency.
Much of this moral rot in the GOP tracks back to Clarence Thomas, after being groomed for over a decade by a few rightwing billionaires, casting the deciding vote in Citizens United to legalize the bribery of politicians and judges. It’s compounded by the remnants of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, pandering to racist whites to win elections.
Republicans in the House and Senate proudly put their utter corruption on display when 100% of them voted against the 2022 For The People Act that would have banned dark money in political campaigns and re-established race-neutral voting rights across the country.
There’s still hope for a revival of the American values of decency, trust, compassion, and democracy: in 13 months our nation will go to the polls and determine the fate and future of both our country and possibly much of the rest of the world.
Given how critically urgent these times are, the world and our country require patriotic Americans of good will to be well informed and to show up to vote. At the very least, we owe it to our children and grandchildren.