BY VERN TURNER
If this past week didn’t show how inept our current denizens of Congress and the White House were at actually governing, there’s no other way to explain it without using words like counter-productive, collapse, dysfunction, palace coup, etc.
As this writer has predicted in several essays and books, the current Republican style of politics is not fit to govern. Even Paul Ryan threw up on himself when he said that the change from the party of opposition to the governing party has “growing pains.” Please. Since Abraham Lincoln died, only two Republican presidents have shown even the slightest glimmer of interest and respect for the middle and working classes of this nation: Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.
The Republicans have been in charge of the House of Representatives since 2010 and, with scarcely a month in between them, have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times. They have promised and boasted that they will replace it with something ranging from “affordable” to “terrific” depending on the IQ of the speaker.
Ah. The Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the acolyte of Ayn Rand, the science fiction writer who floated the fantasy world of total free-market systems creating a wonderful life for all, had to stand there and admit that the American Health Care Act was not healthy and, indeed, so diseased as to not even get to ICU, aka a floor vote.
One must ask: After seven years of railing against the Affordable Care Act and labeling it constantly with names it isn’t, why didn’t the insurance lobbies running the Republican Party come up with something that was actually coherent and sellable? I guess money can’t buy intelligence as well as not being able to buy love.
Anyone still above ground who could read this ridiculous legislation would realize that it was flawed from the first paragraph onward, and that Ryan’s boasting about it providing better health care to all while lowering all sorts of costs and debts was pure carny barker stuff.
It’s hard to squeeze in another lie these days, but Ryan and President Donald Trump managed to elbow their way into the forefront of prevarication while shamelessly doing what they do best. I don’t think I’m alone at wondering how in the hell these guys got this far down the road of life without being laughed out of town by rational people.
Speaking of ridiculous actions, the “Freedom” Caucus [I always think that the word “freedom” used here actually means freedom from doing something smart or sane] mostly offered No votes because this draconian bill didn’t go far enough to the right and take away the entire health care safety net. Their attitude is such that even Ms. Rand would blush and turn away. These people are not of sound mind, as a group, and are also cruel and selfish beyond civilized social norms.
Perversely, they are what the Republican Party deserves after over 30 years of embracing the failed and backward economic policies of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan.
The most telling comment was the one about how governing and legislating is hard. Of course it is. If it was easy, anyone could do it. In fact, that’s why we have a democratic republic so that the collective wisdom of the people can select those who best represent their interests.
How did the simple concept of creating a government of our peers to serve the needs of the people in a non-profit, egalitarian way such that the “pursuit of happiness” was a guaranteed right of citizenship [and legal visitors, too] get so botched up with this ridiculous cabal of blundering fools? Mind you, this applies to many Democrats, too, but with the Republicans claiming dominion over our government, they must shoulder most of the blame.
The blame game is easy to play. Just point your finger somewhere and talk. The thing is, there are three other fingers pointing right back at the speaker. This applies figuratively as well as literally.
In the case of the voter, we have only ourselves to blame for what gets put into office … unless, of course, you have a Russian consultant putting fingers on the scales. We all have the constitutional right to believe any lie we like, endure any betrayal of promises we choose and to vote for any corrupt fool we want. In addition to the current blooming scandals, we, the people, have yet to grasp the antiquity of a part of our Constitution that is in dire need of repair or retirement: The Electoral College.
Isn’t it enough of an attention-getter that the last two worst and most dangerous presidents have been appointed or elected due to the EC overruling the popular vote? George W. Bush lost the popular vote by about 500,000 votes, but, with a politically favoring SCOTUS, was allowed to slip into the Oval Office while thousands of Florida votes went uncounted or miscounted. The Trump thing lost by almost eight million votes over everyone else in the election, but the EC sorted itself such that No. 45 became Donald Trump.
Donald Trump, like our speaker of the House who is third in line for the presidency, have both exhibited their inability to craft laws that serve the best interests of the people of this country. Those skills are included in the concept of governing.
Add to that the fundamentally and philosophically flawed “Freedom Caucus,” aka the Tea Party, and you have a virtual Keystone Kops comedy of slapstick and errors in the hallowed halls at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But we put them there, didn’t we?
Or did we? The boiling scandals of the Trump troop being involved intimately with Vladimir Putin’s empire and enterprise are only the most sordid and current flaw in our weakening ability to govern ourselves.
We must understand that many of our wounds have been self-inflicted with idiotic court rulings like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission where bizarre proclamations about money equaling speech and corporations equaling people have re-defined what language is.
This decision has shown anyone breathing that there are dire consequences when large amounts of money titillate the greed centers in would-be and in-office politicians. Only the banks, corporations and the richest .1% of our people have the kind of money that can bribe our politicians on a grand scale.
The funny thing is that our politicians are cheaply bought, but most of the money goes to the lobbyists who purchase the government influence on lawmaking. The most disgusting part of this most recent health care bill fiasco was the Koch Brothers coming out and saying that they would withhold campaign money from the Congress people who voted for this bill.
What is disgusting is that this naked bribe came from the people who already accept corruption as normal in our government. While you and I were watching a movie, the country became a Third World, banana republic.
Finally, this all-too-visible display of government ineptitude and counter-productive legislation is also Exhibit A in the utter betrayal of our people, the nation and the legacy of our unique style of government given to us by our founders who did so at peril to their very lives.
The greed, incompetence and self-serving nincompoopery of the Republican Party is the root of the betrayal, and their craven acceptance of Donald Trump as their driving force completes the tapestry of how that betrayal takes shape, in a new form every day.
The Democrats are not without fault in this current spiral of government-by-purchased influence, but then they aren’t dancing with any Russian ballerinas disguised as computer hackers or money launderers, either. Greed and corruption are inseparable bedfellows, and the Supreme Court we’ve allowed to exist has enabled those human frailties to the peril of our society and nation.
Until we, the people, once again gain control of the reins of how our government is selected and operated, we will continue on this downward spiral headed by the fundamentally incompetent and corrupt politicians like Ryan and the egregious Mitch McConnell. They both have brazenly and shamelessly betrayed the good faith of their own constituents and rubbed the rest of our noses in the mess they so happily create.
We are accepting and responding to our mistakes through activism and participation now, as more and more people begin to file to run for office as Democrats. The demonstrations at the offices and Town Halls of representatives and senators are freaking the most heartless of them to the point of hiding like children playing hide and seek.
Good. That’s what all roaches do when you turn on the lights.
We must continue to let them know that we are feeling betrayed by them and that they work for us. Once we realign that paradigm, we can once again say we are a government of, by and for the people. We cannot, after all, betray ourselves.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.