Trump Brutally Represents an American Version of the Taliban

And now almost the entire Republican Party has chosen to go down the same Taliban-paved path with him.  What could possibly go wrong?

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Yesterday afternoon while watching CNN, Louise and I were treated to an ad by the Wall Street-funded “No Labels” group that finances the “Problem Solvers Caucus” in Congress, extolling the virtues of Kurt Schrader, a Democratic Congressman who represents part of Portland. 

It’s grim enough that Schrader was one of the 9 Democrats who threatened to blow up President Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure deal; now he’s being lauded on my TV by the very fat cats who own him.

But Schrader and his handful of fellow “corporate-owned” Democrats in the House and Senate simply occupy the same political space the GOP did when I was a kid during the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations: putting the interests of corporations and fat-cats over those of working-class Americans.

That’s neither novel nor particularly pernicious; it’s always been part of American politics.

Today’s GOP, on the other hand, has become something that would be entirely unrecognizable to Nixon or Eisenhower.  It’s become an American version of the Taliban.

Lest you think that’s hyperbolic, consider these parallels:

The Taliban, as my SiriusXM colleague Dean Obeidallah pointed out last week in his MSNBC commentary, don’t believe women should have any social or political rights. 

Today’s Republicans occupy much the same space, refusing to vote for the Equal Rights Amendment, refusing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and proposing to put women who try to get an abortion (even when raped) in prison along with anybody who may try to help them.  

Two-hundred-twenty-eight Republican members of Congress even signed a brief to the Supreme Court asking it to overturn Roe v Wade saying they are interested in “protecting women from dangerous … abortion” while “upholding the integrity of the medical profession.”

Republicans, like the Taliban, don’t believe women should be in the workplace and so work to actively discourage them by refusing to vote for legislation ensuring they get the same pay as similarly-qualified men. 

But that’s just the beginning. 

While the Democratic Party (and the pre-2000 GOP) still believes in free and fair elections, the Taliban ridicules the idea of democracy, and, when elections are held, does everything they can to intimidate voters, rig the outcome, and even threaten politicians with assault or death. 

The way that Trump supporters in Michigan plotted to kidnap, try and execute Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer would have brought a smile to the face of any Taliban official, as would their storming the US Capitol in an attempt to assassinate the Vice President and Speaker of the House while disrupting the election of 2020. 

Neither the Taliban nor the Republican Party believe in democracy. 

Look at how Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania (among others) — states where a majority or near-majority of voters chose Democrats in the last election — all gerrymander their states to send a majority of Republicans to Congress and keep the GOP in control their state legislatures. This even though statewide a majority of voters choose Democrats (as evidenced by their having Democratic governors). 

North Carolina, for example, which voted about 50/50 statewide Democratic/Republican in the 2016 election, ended up sending 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans to the US House of Representatives.

Democracy? “Hah!” say Republicans and the Taliban.

The Taliban reject secular government and say that religious law and doctrine should be the basis of all lawmaking — as does the Republican Party. 

While the Taliban encourage religious leaders in democratic countries in the Middle East to break or ignore the law to seize power, the GOP openly embraces lawbreaking by fundamentalist Christianists, encouraging them to preach politics from the pulpit in violation of federal tax law. 

Republicans, like the Taliban, also cite Bronze Age religious doctrine in their opposition to rights for LGBTQ folks and in support of state-conducted killings, much like the Taliban routinely carry out.

The Taliban believe political power should flow from the top-down, ignoring the will of the people.  Here in America, this same worldview is so well-ingrained in the GOP that we have cliches like “Democrats fall in love, but Republicans fall in line.”

The Taliban are intolerant of people of different races or religions, as are Republicans. The cornerstone of Donald Trump’s 2016 candidacy was that brown-skinned refugees were going to rape and murder white people.

Racism is the animating force behind the so-called Republican “militias,” and the #2 Republican in the US House of Representatives, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, once said he was like the Klan Grand Dragon “David Duke without the baggage,” speaks before white supremacist groups, and refused to condemn antisemitism.

The Taliban are quite open about their belief that violence is an appropriate tool to accomplish political goals.  So, too, are members of the Republican Party, like those planning a rally next month in support of the “patriots” who engaged in the deadly assault on the US Capitol on January 6th and whipped up the crowd at the rally that launched it that day.

As one Trump/Taliban supporter told CNN over the weekend: “There’s millions of guns here. You know, it took 11 days for them to take over Afghanistan. Wonder how many days — just asking for a friend — how many days it would take the patriots to take over this country. Think about it.”

The Taliban fetishize guns and other weapons — the bigger and more powerful the better — as is common among men suffering from sexual insecurity or a general hatred of women. 

Republicans do the same, using guns and shooting targets as regular props in their political ads and as giveaways at fundraisers.  Republican followers, like the Taliban, love to intimidate people by driving around in big trucks waving semiautomatic weapons and giant flags.

The Taliban hate public schools, just as Republicans do.  In fact, Republicans despise free public education so aggressively that they work overtime to prevent public funding of colleges and to destroy public K-12 schools. 

Their most recent trick in multiple Republican-controlled states has been to force public school (but not private school) teachers to expose themselves to the deadly Delta variant of the Covid virus by preventing them from requiring children to wear masks in school.

Before that, Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos led a full-scale frontal assault on public education which continues in GOP-run states and counties across the nation.

The Taliban hate gender minorities and harass them, sometimes to the point of putting them to death. Republicans encourage gay-hating and assaults on LGBTQ people with so-called “bathroom bills” targeting non-cis-conforming children while pushing laws forbidding gay and lesbian couples from adopting or being foster parents.

Ronald Reagan, for the entire 8 years of his presidency at the height of deaths from the AIDS crisis, was so hostile to gay men that he refused to even say “AIDS” out loud in public.

The Taliban look to wealthy patrons for the money needed to carry out their political and religious agendas, as do Republicans.  The Taliban get money from wealthy sheiks and potentates across the Middle East; the GOP gets their money from a handful of rightwing billionaires and massive anti-worker corporations. 

Many people were baffled back in 2019 and 2020 when Donald Trump cut what his National Security Advisor HR McMaster and his Defense Secretary Mark Esper called a “surrender” deal giving Afghanistan to the Taliban without getting anything for America or protecting our troops or allies within that country. 

In fact, he cut the democratically elected government of Afghanistan entirely out of the deal, promising to hand the country over to the Taliban in May of 2021 over President Ghani’s government’s loud objections. And yesterday at his super spreader rally in Alabama he came right out and praised them, saying that the Taliban were “great negotiators” and “tough fighters.“

Trump’s reasoning shouldn’t have been a mystery, any more than the “mystery” around why he would choose the brutal, anti-woman kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the first country to visit in his new presidency or why he’d defer to Russia’s President Putin over US intelligence or about American history: Trump, these autocrats, and the Taliban all share the same worldview. 

Trump is an accused serial rapist, thief, bully and oligarch who openly despises democratic institutions — and the same is true of the leadership of the Taliban.

And now almost the entire Republican Party has chosen to go down the same Taliban-paved path with him.  What could possibly go wrong?

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