Ted Koppel, the veteran ABC journalist and anchor of the program, “Nightline” mentioned something yesterday that has resonated with me. He talked about the ideologues that are driving the Republican Party. I have seen this coming for years. I have talked about those that view political parties like it is their favorite sports team and park their brains on the bench and abandon any thinking. I have seen this close up. Politics for these folks becomes very close to a blood sport, it is a zero sum game, only winners and losers, no middle ground and no room for compromise. Compromise is considered a sign of weakness. Politics like that supported by the Republican ideologues quickly becomes dominated by lies, slanders, and name calling. What I saw is the Democrats were slow and are still slow to respond to this kind of politics not anchored with the truth or by by the norms of decency and fair play. This kind of hyperpartisanship is tearing America apart.
I consider myself an independent and an observer from the outside looking in. I think no party has a monopoly on all the right or best ideas. I do like the government that grew out of Roosevelt’s New Deal. I do like the goverment that grew our most prosperous economic period in the 50s and 60s. I do like the expansion of civil rights to all Americans. I do like a progressive tax system that taxes proportionately to one’s wealth and ability to pay. I do not subscribe to the old argument that grew out of the Civil War South that taxing the wealthy is a form of transferring wealth from the rich to the poor and promotes the poor living off the system. That argument is still being made today.
Getting back to the ideologues, the Left has no counterparts to the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, the Lauren Boberts, Gov. DeSantis, and Gov. Abbot, Louie Gohmert, Alex Jones, Fox News (when push comes to shove, Fox always reverts to their claim that they are only an entertainment program and not a news media) and many others that came into politics out of the Tea Party and the Libertarian movement.
Sarah Longwell recently wrote a piece for “The Bulwark” titled “The End of the Good Republicans; Say goodnight: The party’s over.” (https://www.thebulwark.com/the-end-of-the-good-republicans/
Ms. Longwell writes of what she calls, “…the Republican Triangle of Doom™: The toxic and symbiotic relationship between GOP voters, GOP elected officials, and the right-wing infotainment media.” She goes on to say, “…there is a substantial segment of hard-right voters who only get their news from outlets that reflect their worldview and those outlets are competing with each other for viewership by becoming more and more outrageous.” Fox is self-admittedly part of this infotainment media. I can see this and have said the same for a while now. I am usually very good at reading people and this is my opinion as well.
This will seem sexist, but it is my observation, at the grass roots level, the worst ideologues are women. I do not know why, but this is my observation. Maybe they are more inclined to be part of a party and see total unthinking support as they way to do this. I don’t know, but this is what I see. Listen to any interviews of women at the Trump rallies and you will know what I mean. Some men are about as bad, but the worst pure party followers seem to be women at the grass roots level. I think they do most of the grass roots party work. This is really evident in the primaries. Now, I am probably going to get a ho bunch of folks mad at me, but that’s ok. I can let it roll off my shoulders the way a duck shed water. I’ll be ok.
My closing observation is this: I have watched the middle class in America struggle and try to hang on for the last 40 years. I have seen the Republican Party court this dissatisfaction and sense of middle class abandonment by the system with rhetoric, but with no intention of actual answers, follow through, or programs. What they have tried to do is focus the middle class anger on the least privileged, minorities, and those seeking entry to the country, especially those of non white status. I think this has been a clever political strategy, fan the flames of dissatisfaction and frustration, but with no real programs to help, just tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations with the explantion that their accumulating wealth will “trickle down” to all of us – it never happened, but what did happen was a greater concentration of wealth at the top, and a growing frustration and anger in those barely hanging on.
There has been great opposition on the Right to investing in America, to rebuilding infrastructure, and returning American industries that left for foreign places, especially Asia. I have never been a globalist. I supported H.Ross Perot when he campaigned in 1992 and talked about the vacuum sucking American jobs out of the country. We could see our industrial heartland being gutted and the good paying jobs sailing away to Asia, especially China during all of this. It was supposed to be good for the shareholders in large corporations and our tax code even facillitated this tragedy. You won’t hear any on the Right admitting this, but it is true.
I will finish the piece with another observation, never has a country spent so much of its wealth, both monetary and human, to defend one industry as we did with our Mideast wars and policy defending the oil industry. Interestingly, it was Saudis, not Iraqis or Afghanis that flew those planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11. We have propped up the Saudi regime for years, especially with American weapons and our military presence in the Persian Gulf defending the route for oil leaving the Saudi and other Mideast oil fields for destinations all over the world. We have propped up the Saudis in their wars with Iran and Yemen.
Yet, when we need Saudi help with oil supply, it is not there as recently witnessed with the Saudis siding with Russia in OPEC to cut OPEC oil production by 2 million barrels a day to keep the prices high. This was a direct slap at the U.S. and President Biden’s efforts to fight inflation and ease the energy crisis, both here and around the world, and the OPEC/Saudi decision continues to provide funds for the Russian war effort in Ukraine.
Well, for every action, their is a reaction, and our government is now considering pulling our Patriot Missile defense systems out of Saudi Arabia along with other arms/weapons we have furnished the Saudis with. The Patriot Missile defense system is the same system that has kept Israel safe from Iranian missile and rocket attacks. Our government is considering pulling these weapons systems out of Saudi Arabia and giving them to Ukraine where they are desperately needed. Bravo, a good decision in my opinion. The Saudis have never been good allies.
A long piece, my apologies, but a lot to say here.
Edward Walker Pirie
West Topsham, Vermont