To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, August 12, 2022


A Failure In The Republic



VernTurnerMaybe I read too much non-fiction. Maybe I care too much about how our country behaves and operates. Maybe I think it’s too important to prepare for the future for the coming generations.

I am filled with foreboding when I see mothers with children and pregnant women. Why? Well, I think it’s because it looks like we’ve lost our way as a nation – a democratic republic – and our minds as a people.

It seems that all the good work that was done in my lifetime is being undone – with prejudice – in a flash of time. What happened?

Barack Obama happened. Progressively thinking people hoping for the next leap forward in our society saw a charismatic leader, a dreamer, a thinker, a good man and someone who they felt wanted them to succeed.

Around five million more people voted for Mr. Obama to be their president instead of his Republican opponents twice. But it seems that the moment his hand came off the Bible after he pledged to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, his enemies dropped their façade of decorum and went for the national throat.

No other statement told us what the intent of the “opposition” was more than Mitch McConnell’s sanguine statement about making Barack Obama a one-term President. In a delicious twist, it was the first of countless mistakes made by the Republicans.

Sadly, though, the process by which our naïve, new president used to develop the Affordable Care Act, failed to accept the peoples’ desire for universal health care: the public option. Polls showed that over 60% of our fellow citizens wanted this. They didn’t get it because President Obama thought he could reconcile differences and compromise with the Republican minorities in both houses of Congress. He failed to recognize his enemy. There was going to be no compromising with this president.

Even though the ACA was basically a Republican/conservative idea and plan, one that worked for Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, these Republicans weren’t having any of it. “ObamaCare” became the word of derision, passionate dislike, aka, hatred, and still resonates today in 2014’s mid-term primary election season as the reason for people to vote Republican.

Never mind that it was a GOP plan. Never mind that it is working for the benefit of the poor and the unemployed, the ACA is anathema to Republican politics. Why? The obvious answer is because a non-white Democratic president put it forth in the face of overwhelming health care insurance lobbying – $1.4 million per day.

Republicans decided that they just wouldn’t accept a victory for the people of our country because it was introduced by Barack Obama.

The fight continues for the implementation of the ACA with Republican governors refusing free federal money for increased Medicaid benefits that support the ACA. These governors are willingly hurting their own constituents because of ObamaCare.

But it really isn’t about ObamaCare, is it? No, it’s wider and deeper than that. While we subsidize corporate farms and oil companies with our taxes, we pay for it by cutting SNAP and welfare benefits for our most needy citizens as we keep increasing our military budgets.

While Republicans keep telling us how they want government off our backs, they impose their ideological agenda on women’s reproductive rights and restrictions on voting rights, our most sacred freedom.

Republicans can’t even find good news from a returning POW without dumping on the President for doing the right thing. The amazing hypocrisy of Republicans exhibited in the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is breathtaking in its craven openness; it’s like they don’t care if they look like idiots, just so they can get in another shot of embarrassment at this president.

Perhaps the country wasn’t really ready for a man of color to be president. Perhaps the roots of slavery and its associated racial bigotry run too deep to be killed outright by a mere 150 years, countless battles between races, lynchings, segregation and all the rest of the horrors since the Civil War.

Since slavery and the associated racial separations predate our nation, perhaps we are not yet ready to make the intellectual leap out from under the slimy rock of antebellum primitiveness.

Living, as I do, in Texas, I see and hear first-hand the dog whistle racist verbiage, the slavish adherence to Fox News hate and propaganda and the insistence that anything “liberal” is evil. Texas Republican politicians exhibit almost no grace, civility or intelligence, thus justifying the laughingstock title bestowed on them by the rest of the country at large.

The Tea Party in Texas keeps producing a constant stream of intellectual dwarfism, outright hatred for anything not them and a remarkable ignorance of truth and fact. These traits are symptomatic of our nation’s current confusion about its direction socially and economically.

The economics of Milton Friedman thrive in Texas even though they’ve been shown to produce social malaise and corruption beyond description. The preoccupation with Libertarianism associated with this philosophy is exploited by such unsavory characters as the Koch Brothers. Billionaires must control the working people in order to become … billionaires.

As with most of the nation, 30% of eligible Texas voters are un-registered. In anything but full national elections less than 50% of registered voters do their duty. This means that the Republicans think they’re right, because Republicans, for all their misguided ideologies, vote.

If we don’t vote, we deserve what we get in political representation. If we don’t think, we remain a backward-thinking, race driven people. If we remain selfish, self-centered, self-indulgent and self-righteous, we will never escape the shackles of our own historical shame.

Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. He lives in Marble Falls, TX, where he writes a regular column for the River Cities Daily Tribune. He is the author of three books – A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools, The Voters Guide to National Salvation and Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status – all available through



  1. Thankyou for this. It is the best expression of what i have seen and thought for so long. It is a sad commentary about our nation. This is not the country I grew up in and not the country my Belgian grandfather was so proud of and sacrificed to come to. He wanted his children to have an education, freedom to own land, and a country that fought for justice for all. Again, well said!

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.