Civics Class

Remember when Republicans were hoisting the flag of patriotism, insisting that civics classes be made mandatory and prominent? Well, they’re now conducting the most effective civics class in a generation — a class in the vulnerability of the Republic when a political party, taking advantage of our anachronistic  constitutional arrangements, gerrymandering, and vote suppression, takes power and puts the parochial interests of its donor class ahead of the imperative of removing a dangerous, willfully ignorant thug from the Oval Office.

Trump’s Glorious First Year

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, declared Trump’s first year “a historic success.”

— Conor Friedersdorf, ‘Never Trump’ Will Be the Only Faction Still Standing When He’s Gone, The Atlantic, December 27, 2017.

Breathtaking, no? Ms. McDaniel’s declaration underlines the gulf between what the leadership of the Republican Party actually wants for America and what the rest of us want, including a fair percentage of the Trump nation. We are not, as a nation, neoliberals. The tax bill doesn’t exhilarate us. We do not regard an apotheosis of the market as the single most effective guarantor of freedom in the republic. On the contrary, we generally understand as a people that our freedom would be diminished more and more over time in a society radically committed to enforcing market outcomes. Freedom to the sky for the Koch brothers emphatically does not translate to enhanced freedom for you and me. Our freedom is maximized in a mixed economy undergirded by constitutional limitations on government. Social security maximizes overall freedom by relieving want among the elderly and others. So, too, medicaid and aid to education and many other programs. Neoliberalism is a false god, suspiciously co-extensive with greed, and it is the god the RNC worships on behalf of its well-heeled donor class.

Corker’s Hypocrisy Quotient

How shall we assess Senator Corker’s part in the unfolding American crucible? His open and honest condemnation of Trump’s degradation of the Presidency must be acknowledged and heartily commended. Let’s start with that. But let’s also condemn, at least as roundly, his transparent hypocrisy in helping send to Trump’s desk a tax “reform” bill crafted in secrecy and haste, substantially by lobbyists, to appease the GOP’s donor class and with reckless indifference to fiscal responsibility and to the fate of ordinary Americans.

Corker and the Tax Bill

“The real lesson of the kick at Bob Corker is how terrified the left is of a bill that could be a popular tax cut that helps the economy and lifts incomes.”

— Wall Street Journal

No, that’s not the real lesson. The real lesson is that the American people, with the exception of the GOP core constituencies, know exactly what this bill is. It’s a payoff to the Koch brothers and the rest of the GOP donor class, leaving breadcrumbs for the rest of us. There is no conviction among actual economists that the bill will do anything much to stimulate the economy, and the economy isn’t in any particular need of stimulation. There’s no sizable pent-up demand that corporations are unable to address because they are cash-strapped. Corporations are flush with cash. The bill will balloon the national debt, not to fund a war or other national emergency, but to keep the GOP donor spigots open. The bill was patched together in secret, by and for lobbyists, without the conventional vetting process of hearings and deliberation. The opposition was frozen out. Plenty of GOP members will vote for it without even knowing exactly what’s in it. The whole thing is a f*cking outrage.

The Case for Hope

Figures I’ve seen from the exit polls in the Alabama election should give us some renewed hope in the capacity of the electorate to see through the propaganda to the truth about the modern Republican Party. Among the most telling data are these: Although white women overall favored Roy Moore over Doug Jones, when the evangelical women and the non-evangelical women are considered separately, the non-evangelical women overwhelmingly preferred Jones. Moreover, I’ve read, if the percentage of evangelical voters in Alabama were the same as the percentage nationwide, Jones would have taken the election by double digits. The Republican Party, lead by Trump, has alienated so many voters outside a cultish core that the probability of a rout in 2018 has increased substantially.

Vote Suppression

Once again we have credible evidence that the dominant political party, in this case the Republican Party, deliberately has thrown roadblocks in the way of those who might be expected to vote for the opposition’s candidates. And there are lingering questions about the accuracy of vote-counting. This is intolerable and must be remedied. If the people cannot trust the voting process to be fair and accurate, the Republic will be in big trouble.

The Women, the Speaker, and the Majority Leader

Are we to understand, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, that you can’t figure out any way to investigate the women’s renewed charges against Trump, given that he continues to call the women liars? You two and your party are so far below the bar of political decency and regard for the Republic at this point that you really ought to consider resigning your positions. Where is it written that Trump, who holds our highest office and should be held to our highest standard, instead gets a pass for behavior that we’ve come to regard as offensive enough to justify immediate and serious consequences?

The Fox Poll

Doug Jones has opened a real lead over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, according to a Fox News poll just out. Put me down as skeptical, in part because of the potential effect of the poll itself. Conservative white Alabamians are among the most clannish people on the planet, and they are already organized into churches. They will be at the voting places in great numbers tomorrow. My money is still on them.