My late-childhood and teenage years, a time when I was in theory developing some awareness of a greater world than my own, coincided with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Critics rightly argue that his administration began the gradual extinction of a meaningful middle class that continues today, and that he welcomed the onset of the religious perversion of the Republican Party, and that he did his best across two terms to pretend AIDS did not exist. But for present purposes, the pertinent fact is that, although he was adored by his party (and respected by most Democrats) and well-protected by various weasels in the intelligence and military communities, none of that would have resulted in his anything besides immediate removal from office by aghast officials before a mortified populace well before the tear-gassing of nonviolent protesters for the sake of insulting an Episcopal Church under the advisement of the U.S. Attorney General. And that ignores three straight years of obstructing justice and other absurdities that Adults In The Room were supposedly going to quash from the outset.
This is absolute madness, and mostly sadness for me and the people around me out of direct harm’s reach, and now falls entirely on a complicit Republican U.S. Congress. All of them are committed weasels now. The current Republican U.S. Senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner, is not a jerk by nature and didn’t begin as one in 2014. He was bipartisan on immigration and other issues. Then he decided his only strategy for re-election in a state rapidly trending blue was to go all-in on Donald Trump, and immediately began saying and doing things that he clearly didn’t want to, because they were embarrassing. But he did them and still does. And in fact, he was probably right about his strategy choice. But because he chose tha route, he now has an indelible stain on him and he is only in his middle forties.
And therein lies the problem. Once people become U.S. senators. their only real motivation is getting re-elected — Democrats and Republicans both. Everyone knows this, and everyone knows it is because these people are not merely bribed or bought by special interest, they are owned by them from the start. This is not a conspiratorial or even contentious idea; even if you were ignorant of politics generally and only knew that certain individuals had tens of billions of dollars more than even the wealthiest member of U.S. Congress, you would immediately recognize who really makes the laws and paus lawmakers their real salaries. It is a literally inevitable consequence of our system. Bernie Sanders is rich as hell, too.
So when you watch Mitch McConnell say that he doesn’t really see a problem, remember that Mitch McConnell started his political career with squat and is now worth $34 million, and Kentucky’s people have only suffered for it. People will publicly debase themselves for money, be it in reality shows where the worst result is a stupid person eating bugs or in the federal government where the result is barely contained violence set against the backdrop of a devastatingly mismanaged viral illness.
George Will, who for at least 120 years has been an arch-conservative (and a lovely wordsmith) wrote this yesterday:
“The measures necessary for restoration of national equilibrium are many and will be protracted far beyond [Donald Trump’s] removal. One such measure must be the removal of those in Congress who, unlike the sycophantic mediocrities who cosset him in the White House, will not disappear “magically,” as Eric Trump said the coronavirus would. Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting.
“In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed.”
And writing in Slate, Ben Mathis-Lilley underscores the fact that people like Gardner are not prisoners by any means but are actively corrupt, as a failure to get re-elected hardly spells doom for someone in his role:
“The U.S. has a mechanism by which it can remove a president, and all that mechanism currently requires is for 15 or so Republican senators to accept the possibility of losing a primary election sometime between five months and six years from now, a loss that would compel them, at worst, to accept lucrative corporate board of directors jobs and speaking engagements at Mastercard sales conferences. The pressure on these senators should be as intense as possible; for the rest of the government to allow the president to remain in office in this situation would be an admission that it, too, has failed.”
I hope that the next administration deals appropriately with the grip Evangelical Christianity holds on government and the fact that the driver of this concocted brand of Christianity is and always has been white nationalism and across-the-board bigotry. In the past, they weren’t fooling anyone who glanced under the hood of their newfangled form of “faith,” but in recent years and evermore today, they have stopped hiding it.