Trump and the GOP: Lessons Learned? Not According to History

I find it so hard to address any political subject these days, I suppose because The Lügenpresse campaign has been such a complete success with Trump’s supporters that they now live in a complete self-constructed, mental North Korea.

Add to that the complete acquiescence of the broadcast media to corporate greed, and it seems fairly futile. But I think this is a huge issue, and is the most dangerous and difficult problem that faces us. Although it’s taken weeks, as opposed to days to do, I’ll take a stab at it…[there only so many Bloom County, or Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons I can occupy my mind with by rendering my own replications]. At least I’m learning that there are particular types of paper one needs in order to replicate cartoons with colored pencils.

 

According to the unanimous conclusions among traditionally competing U.S. intelligence agencies, the way Russia is acting, [America’s longest, most dangerous, nuclear, global rival, and our most steadfast enemy during and after the Cold War] would be the stuff of spy stories…except that it’s sadly, all true. A released report  from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence states that Russia’s intelligence agencies, sanctioned by President Vladimir Putin, deliberately obstructed and manipulated the 2016 United States presidential election with the goal of helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

But instead of confidence in our security, Putin’s interference has been greeted by paranoia and vulnerability by many Americans, typical weakness from the Democrats, and a combination of indifference, mystification, denial, and outright lying by the Republican Party.

Over the last several decades, Republicans went to painstaking lengths to create a narrative for themselves that they are the party of “national security” proclaiming they are the only Party that can keep Americans safe [despite 9/11 of course!). Yet Donald Trump has become the poster boy of American fascism as a Republican. Now, this is the party whose political DNA consists of conspiracy-driven John Birchers, paranoid, communist-branding McCarthyites, Christian fundamentalists who prey on the elderly and desperate, and Ronald Reagan worshipers who have apparently “flipped” their support to Putin’s and Russian communism and atheistic proclivities.

It comes as no surprise that authoritarianism has been on the rise among the Republicans and, of course, Donald Trump supporters. Advocates of conservatism, a type of motivated social isolationism, are inherently attracted by demagogues and political strongmen. Patriarchal and white nationalists are synonymous to conservatives. In Trump and Putin, American conservatives have found two central characters to drool over in a deviant, fascist, right-wing bromance.

Republican elites have craved power at any cost since the end of World War II, and choosing partisanship and electoral victory over patriotism and loyalty to the common American is quite normal for them now.

But what about the rank-and-file Republicans, so-called “Patriots” (Reaganites and others) who rallied to Donald Trump’s banner? How do they rationalize the revelations about Russia’s interference and sudden good graces of our new President, Emperor, or however Trump sees himself? The obvious answer is that most of them don’t care as long as the evil liberals are shackled and silenced.

Conservatives come to conclusions about political matters first and then reason backward, [see: Repeal and Replace with no viable “replacement”] ignoring any facts that are inconvenient or that threaten to change their predisposed mindset.

Partisanship, like its distant inbred cousin, Rationalization, can sustain gross and obvious hypocrisy effortlessly. If a Democrat, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, had been aided and abetted by a foreign power, much less a communist dictator, to win a presidential election, Republicans and Trump supporters would be howling about high crimes, treason and impeachment, invoking the ghost of Reagan, with millions in taxpayer money spent on endless “Benghazi-esque” investigations [which have unmiraculously stopped now that they served their political purposes].

It’s clear that Trump’s voters have little regard for America’s political institutions, but it also appears that they do not believe in democracy.  Such cynicism is not unexpected in an era of the Supreme Court’s darkest shit-stain in a century; its Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission decision, which granted personhood to corporations and facilitates unbridled corruption and direct influence on politicians.

We’ve embarked on a new gilded age of lopsided wealth and income inequality, a corporate news media that has abandoned most of its responsibilities to investigate and inform the public, and overtly promotes extreme political polarization for profit and de-regulation, the Holy Grail for Republicans.

But Donald Trump has taken, as predicted, the narcissistic, authoritarianism to a whole new level, while spineless Republican congressional leaders sit back, as flaccid as Mitch McConnell’s chin wattle, and plot their own and their benefactor’s enrichment while Trump keeps everyone’s attention right where he likes it….on himself.

Comparing the U.S. to the Titanic, the band plays on, the captain and crew proclaims “all is well; there is nothing on heaven or earth that can take down this mighty ship”; Trump’s elite Goldman Sachs Cabinet raise their glasses of champagne on what is sincerely believed to be an indestructible humongous party boat.

It took over two hours, a maritime eternity, for that huge ship to finally sink. Had the passengers simply taken the time to investigate the damage that had been done for themselves, maybe they could have survived…but we  got Leonardo, so isn’t that trade-off well worth it? Pfffft.

And like the Titanic, unless Americans come to their senses and see for themselves that something is terribly amiss, our economy, our democracy, our reputation, and our humanity as a nation will sink and die the same frigid, fatal death…and the clock is ticking.

Don’t take my word for it, be honest and seek answers for yourselves about the following  which the history-deficient American public ignores:

We betray our ignorance believing U.S. “free markets” even exist. Unchecked, our unregulated, government welfare-supported, oligarchy and its misnamed, so-called, “free markets” 1 are bringing global economies down at a staggering rate.” And every single time we inch towards legislating the first rule of Capitalism2 conservatives convince their rube followers to vote against their own interests.

Just a few Major de-regulated industries and the results:

  • Airline Deregulation:
    • Result: In the early 1970s there were 16 major “trunk” airlines3 (don’t take my word for it, look at the visual representation in the footnotes). After deregulation? Failure of Eastern Airlines, Midway, U.S. Airways, Pan American, and the bankruptcy of carriers such as Continental, America West, and TWA…just to name a few…deregulation inevitably brought corruption, less competition, fewer safety inspections, outrageous fare pricing, fewer carriers, fewer services for customers, and additional charges for services that used to be part of the ticket price.
  • Agricultural DeregulationIn economic terms, farmers were asked to take on risks previously assumed by the government in exchange for deregulation and the promise of profits, increased exports, and cheap healthy food for Americans.
    • Result: The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 – the top 10% of the biggest farms, mostly large corporate agribusinesses, began to collect 80% of the $125 billion per year budgeted for crop subsidies while the export-led growth strategy upon which it was based has been a massive failure. Since the 2002 law, speculation [by a few massive companies] has been controlling food prices. If Trump’s tariffs get approved, good luck affording everything from avacados to automobiles.
  • Electricity Deregulation: replaced 100 years of cost-of-service regulated rates with prices in many parts of the country set by market-based prices thereby treating an essential service—electricity—as a commodity.
    • Result: The Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief and the resulting  Enron ScandalSenator Phil Gramm of Texas pushed for, with his wife, Wendy, the Reagan administration’s chairwoman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1988 until 1993—granted government exemption for energy commodities from government or public disclosure resulting in gross accounting malfeasance by Arthur Anderson and J.P. Morgan, swindled investors, and eventual company collapse, unindicted co-conspiracy by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Former Treasury Secretary, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Attorney General John Ashcroft, etc.The electrical infrastructure grid is more vulnerable to foreign attack than at any time in our history while in Germany 45% of all residences and 40% of businesses are totally solar powered and off the national grid.
  • The Savings and Loan {the Original Mortgage Industry} Deregulation:
    • A savings and loan association (S&L) was a financial institution that specializes in savings deposits and mortgage loans, was a major source of mortgage loans for homebuyers. It offers mortgage services to people from the savings and deposits received from private investors. It was established in 1831, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System was set up in 1932 to administer it and was the primary source of home loans for 157 years.
      • Once regulations were loosened in 1982, S&Ls began engaging in high-risk activities, such as commercial real estate lending and investments in junk bonds, to cover losses. Depositors in S&Ls continued to funnel money into these risky endeavors because their deposits were insured by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) [just as today, deposits in federal banks are insured by the FDIC—which is currently underfunded to the tune of 80% of total insured deposits).
    • By 1983– 35% of the country’s S&L’s were unprofitable, and 9% were technically bankrupt.
    • By 1989, Congress and the president had to bail out the industry with a taxpayer-financed bailout measure known as the FIRREA providing $50 billion to close failed banks and stop further losses; eventual total collapse of S&L Industry. All in all, Reagan’s “jack-pot” cost the taxpayers of the U.S. approx. $150 billion back when that was a lot of money.
  • Gramm Bliley Leach Act of 1999 by Senator Phil Gramm(R) Texas-Repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate. Granted exemption to private insurance companies for insuring Publicly Traded Investment Banks. AIG insured $50 for every $1 it was actually able to pay in the event of defaults by customers of Investment Banks.
  • Broadcast and Digital Media Deregulation: FCC Chairman, the arrogant and imperious Michael Powell’s (son of Colin Powell) decision to remove the restrictions that made it unlawful for a company to own too many television, radio or press outlets that was expressly indicated by the Constitution for a free and unemcumbered press.
    • Result: The unrestrained consolidation of media conglomerates (6 corporations now control 90% of American media) is allowing Trumpism to go unchecked, unchallenged, undetailed, and virtually unvetted spectators by broadcast media, rather than as watchdogs of American corruption.
  • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission January 2010, tossed out the ban on making unlimited expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and PACS the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools opening the door to rampant corruption.

Now, aside from Trump offending and alienating our allies, Trump’s voters (as well as Republican elected officials) will place few if any checks on the power of the incoming President and the GOP controlled House and Senate as evidenced by the Trump Cabinet. Russia did not vote for Donald Trump, the American people — those who voted for Trump, those who stayed home on Election Day and those who supported third-party candidates in this most critical and unusual election — did it to themselves. Despite whatever plots or machinations were cooked up by Putin and his spies, there is no avoiding that basic truth. This is a disgraceful state of affairs enabled by an electorate where a “great” turnout is 50% of eligible voters.

America’s democracy has been plundered from within, not from without.

Empires have been toppled by its enemies throughout history. Germany rose up twice in a single era from near destruction. Great Britain has been destroyed and risen again and again. But those empires were destroyed by outside forces.

The United States is destroying itself from within, as did the Romans, as did the Titanic. And though it won’t happen overnight, make no mistake…it is happening while we all sit around and re-arrange the deck chairs. All it takes is for too many people to sit around and do nothing as it is happening.

And whether its empires or ships, those that crumble from within are dead. Forever.

Harvey Gold

1 The Illusion of Free Markets; http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674066168&content=reviews

2 Capitalism only works if greed and avarice are offset by laws and regulations to prevent fraudulent and deceptive practices.”

3 YESTERDAY’S AIRLINEShttp://yesterdaysairlines.weebly.com/trunk–local-service-airlines.html