What follows is a personal look back on my life – mainly prior to 2016 – as a registered Republican. I believe it’s historically accurate and revealing, but it does not set out to summarize that party’s history in that period.
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1. My early adult life as a registered Republican
My Dad worked in banking throughout his working life. He was a Republican. Because I wanted to be able to vote when I turned 21, I simply accepted his advice, and registered as a Republican.
If I’d been asked way back then, I’d surely have agreed that we the people need government.
Government — by either party in our 2-party system – would, of course, be needed to help protect citizens from uncivilized individuals – we’d look to government to firmly, even forcefully, protect us from cunning or unthinking lawbreakers among us, from criminals – thieves (including rip-off peddlers of dangerous products), from murderers, and similar “doers of disservice.”
Although there would be no need for prisons in heaven, in this world we still need government for some sort of police, for courts of law, and prisons. That sort of government obviously also requires law-making, and who better to make the laws than “we the people” or those individuals we carefully, thoughtfully choose for those tasks, and whom we can re-elect periodically if they’re doing well?
Admittedly not everyone – whether we citizen-voters in general, or the law-makers we elect — is consistently thoughtful and careful in choosing. But that sounds something like our own obviously imperfect representative democracy.
I doubt I’d have mentioned back then that we citizens need the US Post Office. I simply took the inexpensive sending and receiving of 1-cent postcards, and of letters and packages, for granted. And I had earned money there as a kid (making an $18.75 loan – in 25-cent stamp increments — to the US government) to help – in my child-size way, win World War II, and earn $6.25 for myself after ten years.
I would not have realized back then that our desire to be protected is rooted in our instincts, our genes, our genetic material – an instinct for self-preservation that’s part of the self-love we’re born with.
We’d certainly need military protection against foreign aggressors. When I became old enough to vote, it was that huge, rising communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which most nearby folks called simply “Russia.”
I’d have agreed that governments do and should also take part in protecting us from other evils – like La Cosa Nostra (or the “Italian Mafia”) and similar gangs.
And governments should promote our wellbeing – by establishing and maintaining public schools and hospitals. And governments should help see to it that private businesses provide a suitable array of affordable goods and services for the residents.
The idea of needing to be protected from our own government and those who govern us would have struck me then as really strange. But I hadn’t learned of examples where the people have chosen governments from which many of their residents would need to be protected – as in Germany during Hitler’s inhumane rule in 1930s.
When I was ten back in 1945, America celebrated after bringing World War II to an end. That end came about by our dropping two of our new and awesomely destructive nuclear bombs on Japanese cities, killing hundreds of thousands of people! I wondered why we didn’t first show the Japanese leaders – by dropping such a weapon in an unpopulated region of their nation – what lay in store for them if they didn’t surrender.
Then, just four years later, the Union ofSoviet Socialist Republics – “Russia” – (“Communist Russia”) — exploded a nuclear bomb of its own.
So it seemed obvious that the Republican stress on a strong American military defense was very much in order.
But I also became impressed by Republican President Eisenhower’s warning about our own financially very powerful “military-industrial complex.” (Would we Americans ever need some kind of protection from them? Why? And what kind of protection?)
Back in the late 40’s, ongoing advocacy by the Republican Party for limited government, for paying off the national war debt, for low taxes, and for balanced national budgets, and for not increasing the national debt must have been appealing. Who wants to pay high taxes, or get deeper in debt?
Although our family still had not purchased a TV, in the US at the beginning of the 1950s, times seemed quite good, and our family was comfortable and happy in small town America. A lengthy and very wide-ranging 1952 Republican Party platform that favoredsmall government,low-taxation, and government friendliness toward privately-owned free enterprise, must have seemed fine.
I now have to admit that in my years as a teen-ager in my all-white home town village in western NY State, I was ignorant about racial tensions, abuses, and large racial disparities that had existed elsewhere in the US for centuries. Although I wasn’t to blame for it, I’m embarrassed now to acknowledge that then I was completely ignorant about that (all white) Ku Klux Klan and their all-too-common unpunished murder by lynching of black Americans.
And no high school (or college) class of mine ever mentioned the Wilmington, North Carolina racist Massacre/Insurrection of 1898, or the shocking 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma race massacre by whites.
And no one pointed out to us young people that the hallowed US Constitution we’d been taught to revere – in Article One, Section Two, Paragraph 3 — treats an enslaved black American person as equal to three-fifths of a white person!
And although I must have heard or read something about the Holocaust, I didn’t know anyone who was Jewish, and I don’t believe that my small Western New York hometown had a Jewish congregation in those days.
Dad’s brief prayer each evening before supper asked that we be kept mindful of the needs of others, but I was not really aware of poverty in America. From the school bus, I had seen a few neglected-looking homes – mostly in the countryside outside our suburban village. I just didn’t give it a second thought.
Later, having a summer job “measuring and listing” homes for a real estate tax re-adjustment, I wondered how many of those outwardly neglected-looking homes were deliberately kept that way in order to minimize their real estate taxes.
Although still a teen-ager, I should have been concerned with the huge amounts of tax money required for the nuclear Arms Race, and then – following the 1961 Soviet launch of “Sputnik,” the world’s first manned satellite, — I should also have become concerned – as a taxpayer — about the huge costs of the new Space Race.
Of course that Republican emphasis on National defense continued to make very good sense.
But I doubt now that the Democrats were opposed to a strong national defense!
As a teen-ager my first real job outside the family (other than caddying) was for the local, privately-owned Firestone store on Main Street. I started at fifty cents an hour.
I didn’t question it when I was told to use two pens when marking the price on items of new stock: Write one price high on the tag, then, with a different pen cross it out, and below it write the lower price. Without a second thought I carried out that really minor dishonesty, as I had been told. It would help sell those products, and so be good for business.
I was only slightly taken aback when Nick Biro, a choir member from our church, came to the store and was asking – I think it was about different lines of Firestone tires: I said to him “To be perfectly honest with you . . .” Nick interrupted me and said“ I should hope so!”
Late in the 1950s — while doing surveying in Buffalo for a segment of the new interstate highway system — I was shocked to see what looked like raw sewage pouring into the Niagara River.
I became aware of, and I favored, the environmental movement that soon arose.
A rising awareness of environmental threats followed the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. Readers can easily review online such harms as had resulted from the Hooker Chemical Company’s waste disposal near Niagara Falls, at Love Canal. The film “Erin Brockovich” dramatically depicts humanly very harmful results of inadequate chemical waste disposal by Pacific Gas and Electric. That film clearly illustrates some harmful (and commercially short-sighted) lack of concern for their neighbors and for the environment.
I approved the Environmental Protection Agency – the EPA — that was soon created by Republican President Nixon. Cheers for him – on that! And in the early ‘70s, the Republican Nixon Administration created OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — in response to corporate failures to treat their employees responsibly – failures to treat their employees the way they themselves would want to have been treated if they had been in the employees’ shoes.
“OSHA’s first original standard limited worker exposure to asbestos, a proven carcinogen. Standards for a group of carcinogens, vinyl chloride, coke oven emissions, cotton dust, lead, benzene, dibromochloropropane, arsenic, acrylonitrile, and hearing conservation followed. Early standards responded to health issues well known to the occupational safety and health community.”[fn. Osha.gov/about osha/30-years]
Cheers for Nixon for creating the EPA and OSHA with their regulations to protect our American environment and our American workers, but no cheers for choosing the crooked Spiro Agnew as his Vice-Presidential running mate, nor for his own Watergate crimes that led – largely thanks to tape recorded evidence — to his own resignation from our presidency.
Recalling the sight of that sewage flowing into the Niagara River reminds me of the idyllic small, rural stream in southern Ontario, winding through some woods and then through a delightful country estate, where my grandfather and some of my uncles had spent satisfying hours fishing for brook trout in the ‘30s.
Gramp caught the biggest brookies; as I recall hearing, one of them didn’t even fit in the creel! But in the late ‘30s (or early ‘40s) that stream had become polluted by waste from a canning factory upstream. The brook trout were gone. The canning factory owners apparently didn’t know, or didn’t care. No government had intervened.
As a newly-married graduate student, interested in seeing more of the world, I spent the 1961-62 academic year in Germany. Of course I was pleased that it was cheaper to live and to finish my master’s thesis in Germany than it would be in the US.
During a one-week, heavily subsidized student group bus trip to Berlin – after my new wife and I crossed into East Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie – we were immediately aware of the dramatic contrast between West Berlin’s glittering free-world prosperity and EastBerlin’s obvious poverty amidst piles of 17-year-old war rubble.
Berlin had just been divided by a militarized wall built by the communist “German Democratic Republic” to prevent refugees from escaping impoverished, USSR-controlled, East Germany to West Berlin.
Back in the US in the early 1960s, and still a registered Republican, I took only a little time from my new family responsibilities, and from my demanding new college job teaching Philosophy, to pay some attention to political matters.
I often voted a split ticket.
Twice, (as a home owner with a thirty-year, six per-cent interest home mortgage), when urban and industrial waste dump threats to our largely unspoiled rural environment arose, I played an active role in local groups (PACE and SLAYE) that were formed to successfully oppose them. My “job” was to spell out relevant lines of reasoning to make our case.
In the ‘70s, to compete with small foreign imports, the Ford Motor Company vigorously marketed its subcompact Ford Pinto, while its leaders were fully aware – as a result of Ford’s own crash tests — that a very low-cost fix would sharply reduce the number of fiery passenger deaths for “consumers,” since the Pinto gas tank was easily punctured in rear-end collisions. But management chose not to interrupt its exceptionally short design and production schedule, to provide that fix. In class I showed films depicting this corporate carelessness.
American tobacco companies (still in our own time marketing cigarettes to people outside the US) continued to promote cigarette smoking for decades in America. Lawsuits have made it clear that — in the 1940s and 1950s — their leaders knew that smoking was both highly addictive and frequently a cause of deadly cancer. That (like Ford’s decision regarding the Pinto) was a clear case of corporate selfishness or greed: treating their own corporate profits as more important than the health and safety of consumers.
Would those corporate leaders have wanted their loved ones traveling in a Pinto, or smoking the cigarettes they were marketing?
Also in the ‘70s, (after I had bought low-octane “Gulftane” for 19.9 cents per gallon), and following Arab oil embargoes and US gasoline shortages and price-hikes, government regulations regarding automobile gas-mileage arrived on the scene.
We also adjusted to regulations and laws requiring the use of three-point seat belts. I don’t recall anyone taking up arms and claiming that this was a violation of their “right to liberty.” Although using the belts is a minor inconvenience, statistics prove that they generally protect life and limb in auto accidents, and control car owners’ insurance costs. Those regulations became accepted parts of our lives.
2. From 1981: Republican De-regulation begins
This was a matter of loosening laws and regulations governing privately-owned businesses, for the sake of greater prosperity – at least for some.
Some of the predictable gains for big businesses and their shareholders (owners of their stock) were supposed to “trickle down” to the rest of us — “we the people.”
Like most citizens, at the time I was not really aware of what was happening.
Reagan’s Republican administration favored a “Laissez-faire” attitude of government toward business: In general, “laissez faire” is French for a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering — “a laissez-faire imperative for life” might amount to: “Live and let live.” (Not a bad attitude, I suppose, provided everyone has it!)
In the context of Government, Laissez-faire is the policy of NOT REGULATING the workings of the free market of privately-owned businesses. It’s the idea that businesses can regulate themselves.
Ronald Reagan’s De-regulation of Savings and Loan Associations
In 1982 the Reagan administration de-regulated savings and loan associations, making it legal for them to begin making risky investments with their depositors’money. Legislation (the Glass-Steagall Act) that had been blocking such risky investments since 1933 (in the midst of the Great Depression) was repealed.
There were, however, “Government” Guarantees (the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation — FSLIC) to provide some protection for depositors (guarantees backed by us, the taxpaying citizens; we the people would be standing behind that deposit insurance).
By the end of the ‘80s, hundreds of those de-regulated US savings and loan associations had failed – gone bankrupt — costing us taxpayers – (the providers of the government deposit insurance) — 124 billion dollars. “Trickle down?”
And despite that government deposit insurance (backed by us, the taxpayers), the bankruptcy of those S & L’s caused many Americans to lose both their savings and their homes! Thousands of S & L executives went to jail for looting their companies.
Perhaps the worst of those looters was Charles Keating.
However, in 1985, Charles Keating had hired private economist Alan Greenspanto lobby federal regulators on his behalf. In his lobbying letter – written in that year — Greenspan praised Keating as a great and sound businessman: Greenspan said he saw no risk in Keating’s plans to invest customers’ money!
Keating reportedly paid Greenspan $40,000 for that powerful, effective lobbying letter.
President Reagan soon appointed Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank, a powerful position that Greenspan held for 23 years!
Financial de-regulation under Republican President Reagan, combined with taxpayer-funded deposit insurance, had set the stage for the explosive growth of those savings and loan institutions and for the epidemic of financial fraud that accompanied that growth.
A 2021 article in the Encyclopedia Britannica describes Charles Keating (so strongly recommended by then soon-to-be head of the US central bank for 23 years, Alan Greenspan) as follows:
American businessman best known for his role in the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and ’90s, which resulted in the closure of about half of all savings and loan associations in the United States and the bankruptcy of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC).
I ask you to apply those two ancient imperatives: Were those Savings and Loan executive looters treating their depositors and their borrowers the way they themselves would want to have been treated, or would want to have their loved ones treated?
Between 1998 and 2008 the Financial “Services” industry — that is Commercial Banks, Investment Banks, Insurance Companies, Brokerage Firms, Wealth Management Firms, CPA Firms — (“WALL STREET”) — alone spent more than $5 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions – and since the Great Recession of 2008 – it has spent much more.
3. Newt Gingrich’s lasting impact
Newt Gingrich was a professor of history and geography at the University of West Georgia. From his earliest years he loved spending time at zoos, and would later don special clothing to go right inside the enclosure for giant tortoises. Newt was elected to Congress in 1978, as a Republican.
He had long been impressed by evolution’s predatory savagery. You have probably seen that predatory behavior yourself in nature documentaries that show old and weak members of one species being cooperatively attacked, killed, and devoured by members of another species.
Republicans had been out of power in Congress for decades when Gingrich was elected in 1978. Democrat (and peanut farmer) Jimmy Carter (also from Georgia) – was US President.
Newt proceeded to trigger a lot of strong and continuing partisan political conflict by distributing to fellow Republicans influential lists of words for savagely attacking – not the old and weak members of a different species, but for savaging their elected Democratic colleagues!
This lifelong, zoo-visiting fan of evolution urged Republicans, in their “war for power,” to use such uncivil warfare words as anti-flag, traitors, radical, corrupt, pro-communist, un-American, and tyrannical – lists of words he actually distributed to them to use when speaking about their fellow American Democratic Congressmen and women!
Gingrich pioneered a style of partisan combat—with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism (including government shutdowns)—that poisoned America’s political culture.
For their party – the Republican Party — to succeed, Gingrich said, the next generation of Republicans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to realize that politics was, above all, a cutthroat “war for power”— and to start “acting like it.”
And those who’ve been paying attention will agree that many Republican congress people have been “acting like it.”
This was not the civility I suppose our “Founding Fathers” hoped would usually carry the day. Looking back, I wish they had recommended that pair of Ancient Imperatives. But it appears they were unaware of the power of those imperatives, and of their compatibility with all major religious faiths – and with agnosticism and atheism. Perhaps, if we’d had some Founding Mothers…
In his perceptive article in the November 2018 Atlantic Monthly, McKay Coppins tells us: Gingrich thought he was enshrining a new era of conservative government. Actually he was enshrining an attitude — angry, combative, tribal — that would infect politics for decades to come.
The harsh name-calling that Gingrich advocated and that was adopted by many Republican Congressmen was obviously not a tactic that would encourage the crucially important civil, non-partisan attitude that’s needed for intelligent joint non-partisan deliberation to develop legislation for governing a democracy!
DO APPLY THE TEST OF THOSE ANCIENT IMPERATIVES: For example, ask yourself: Would you want to be treated the way Gingrich recommended – to be subjected to that harsh name-calling, to verbal bullying and abuse — or want to have your loved ones subjected to it?!
And I urge you, reader: Be sure you notice what Newt neglected when it comes to evolution: He neglected the undeniable fact that evolution is not only about predators, about attacking, about savagery.
Those who currently study evolution in detail (and the rest of us) should surely recognize that evolution also includes crucial, same-species benevolent, caring conduct — within the human species, as within many other species.
Without both instinct-rooted self-love and instinct-rooted love for our youngsters, and instinct-rooted care about others, there’d literally be no human race at all. There’d be no oneto be governed. There’d be no governing. There’d be no opportunity for government of, by and for the people (or any other sort of government).
But – in and beyond the late 20-teens — the attitude Gingrich embodied and promoted: – angry, combative, and tribal – has continued to characterize many Republican congress people and many Republican voters and their leaders. And Gingrich was on candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 short list for the vice Presidency. The long list of their past wives would not have made them popular with many traditional Republican – often white rural Christian — social conservatives!
4. The International Housing Crisis – The Great Recession of 2007 – 2009 . . . which was at that time the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s
For more than 80 years, the federal government has supported mortgage lending through various policies, programs, and institutions. This support for mortgage lending has helped enable millions of middle-class families (and those aspiring to the middle-class) to buy homes.
This is a good thing because home ownership – not ownership of shares of stock — has been the greatest source of wealth for most US households (at least for white households). Having persisted in making their mortgage payments, homeowners can borrow against the wealth they’ve built up in their home and they can use that borrowed money to invest in things like supporting their children’s education, or getting a loan to start a new small business, or coping with a medical emergency.
There seems to be near consensus among experts that the 2008 international housing crisis, — that began during the George W. Bush administration, and known as the Great Recession — was caused primarily by a combination of four things:
(1) Predatory Lending Practices. “Predatory lending” refers to lending practices that impose unfair, deceptive, or abusive loan terms on borrowers. … Predatory lenders use aggressive sales tactics and take advantage of borrowers’ lack of understanding of financial transactions.
Recall the root meaning of “predatory” as illustrated in those nature documentaries. And note synonyms for “predatory:” rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious. To call some human act or practice “predatory,” is to criticize it severely, not merely to describe it.
(2) Sub-Prime Loan Products. Also helping to produce the Great Recession were novel, creative, loan products. Would-be borrowers with mediocre credit scores were offered “sub-prime” loan products — that is, complicated loans with a high interest rate. Often these were “adjustable-rate” mortgages, that had low initial “teaser” rates that lasted for the first two or three years, but then increased afterward, AND their payments soon became unaffordable, when economic conditions changed.
Most of this mortgage lending was for re-financing existing loans, and many homeowners believed – falsely — that they would be getting interest rates that were lower, and were hoping to benefit from the value that they had built up in their homes through having made their mortgage payments.
(3) Poorly-informed Consumers – borrowers. Borrowers were poorly informedanddidn’t really understand what they were getting,but they clearly wanted what that borrowed money would buy. And some were overly trusting, and naïve about what government (“for the people”?? for which people??) would legally allow lenders to do.
(4) These unregulated mortgage-based “securities” were “repackaged” and sold. These risky loans did not stay with one’s friendly(?) local bank that had made the loans. They were repackaged, or bundled, into complicated products to be re-sold to investors hoping to make lots of money themselves. Investment firms like Lehman Brothers bought and sold those bundles of assets multiple times on Wall Street and throughout the financial services system.
Instead of that hoped-for great wealth for the investors who bought them, these unregulated mortgage-based securities – so-called “credit default swaps”– generated huge losses for big banks and investment firms, and for major auto manufacturers as well.
These firms, however, would benefit from “Government bailouts.” Hundreds of large corporations, and large banks, and very wealthy self-dealing individuals would be helped by “bailouts” from the US government.
And with borrowing costs low, many corporations borrowed in order to buy back shares of stock – driving up the price of shares and enriching their executives, who also often ended up with both large raises and bonuses. To see the immense US debt that resulted, recipient by recipient, state by state, etc., Google: ProPublica’s Bailout Tracker. Wasn’t my Republican Party opposed to such government debt??
We the taxpayers, we the people, have funded the bailouts, and substantially because of that, the U.S. is now, in the 2020’s, carrying a monumental, interest-bearing national debt that’s rarely discussed for the public.
What had happened to that old-time Republican fiscal conservatism? I get the impression that Republican officials hypocritically warn against increasing the national debt – and urge fiscal restraint by government — only when Democrats want to engage in some deficit spending (even when combined with a credible “payback” plan) for programs to assist folks who seriously need a helping hand up.
But, for everyday working-class American citizens, instead of bailouts, that monumentally harmful 2008 Great Recession brought catastrophic bankruptcies and impoverishment. In the U.S. and abroad, millions lost their main retirement assets, namely, their homes, to foreclosure by the banks.
Who – except perhaps right-wing radio show host, the late Rush Limbaugh — would disagree that the resulting “redistribution of wealth” – imposed on ordinary people by some politically empowered, wealthy, self-dealing individuals, and by large corporations, and by large banks, and by their cheating ratings agencies, and by powerfully lobbied government officials — was dramatically unjust, and morally wrong? Government FOR the PEOPLE?
Let’s apply those Ancient Imperatives; it’s not complicated: Would those powerful self-dealing leaders of financial “services” organizations — like the investment bank Lehman Brothers, and ratings agencies like Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s – would they have wanted for their loved ones, or for themselves – to be on the receiving end of their own organization’s undeniably harmful “laissez-faire” decisions and actions?
That obvious bailout-filled governmental assistance had gone far beyond a “laissez-faire” attitude toward business. Instead of “laissez-faire” it was “special governmentally generous support.”
This gives content to the phrase: “Socialism for the wealthy.”
But it was otherwise for millions of working-class families. Entire large “low-wealth” communities were devastated as in California, dramatically in Detroit, and literally across the U.S., and in Europe, including Iceland. Millions of working-class citizens lost their homes because banks foreclosed on them.
“An ordinary person defaults on his debt, he gets to live in his car. A banker defaults, and the taxpayer can be relied on to bail him out.” Peter Bradshaw – The Guardian.
Further: The financial “services” industry has had a corrupting influence on the study of economics itself, in the universities. Since the 1980s more than a few powerful academics have been major advocates of de-regulation, helping to shape US government policy. Those quiet academic faculty get paid big bucks as consultants and speakers.
Larry Summers – who played an important role in de-regulating those bundled, high-risk investment products — became President of Harvard where he made millions consulting to hedge funds, and millions more in speaking fees.
For Inside Job — the multiple-award-winning documentary on the Great Recession — Presidents of Harvard Universityand Columbia University refused to comment on academic conflicts of interest. Both declined to be interviewedfor that multiple award-winning documentary.
Tax cuts favored by George W. Bush — whose chief economic advisor was Alan Greenspan — favored the wealthy, the top 1%.
As Chair for many years of the US Federal Reserve, laissez-faire economist Greenspan persisted in opposing government regulation of the US economy.
But in the wake of the international Great Recession, Greenspan ADMITTED in his 2008 congressional testimony, that his longstanding general opposition to government regulation of the economy (which included opposition to regulating such high-risk financial instruments as mortgage-based derivatives) HAD BEEN A MISTAKE. And what a mistake! Hardly like the mistake of misspelling a word!
TIME Magazine names Greenspan as one of the “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.”
And that much-awarded documentary film “Inside Job” also identifies Greenspan as one of the persons responsible for the devastating global Great Recession of 2007 – 2009.
Interestingly, by 2010 – just for the financial “services” industry — there were more than five lobbyists for every congress-person in Washington. So – since we don’t have publicly funded elections — everyone competing for a congressional seat — needs to raise very big bucks for campaign staff, TV advertising, offices, and the like. Companies wanting to gain influence will surely want to provide financial “help” to their heavily-lobbied allies in Congress – or are those OUR representatives?
5. Trumpian Republicanism — More de-regulation for a soaring stock market; and – for the wealthiest 1% – tax cuts that raise the national debt.
In 2016, I finally broke with the party when it chose Donald Trump as its candidate for President. I was encouraged, as many others also left, especially those like Steve Schmidt, “Rick” Wilson, and others who led The Lincoln Project in its successful efforts to defeat Trump in his 2020 bid for re-election.
Donald Trump’s conduct since my break has dramatically confirmed my decision to leave the Republican Party.
In no particular order, (and without providing the abundant details and the easily available online evidence for each item, that’s accessible via your laptop or similar device), here are some – not all — of my reasons for breaking with Trumpian Republicanism:
If you’ll bear in mind and apply those Ancient Imperatives that I’ve repeatedly applied in making such judgments, the moral reasonableness of that break should be clear.
1. Trump’s deeply narcissistic preoccupation with himself and with his personal wealth, rather than his oath of office, or serving the public for the common good;
2. and 3. His undeniably fraudulent charitable foundation and his undeniably fraudulent so-called “Trump University;”
4. His obvious encouragement of bullying both by his supporters and by police.
5. and 6. His frequent insults and truly childish name-calling,
7. His frequent refusal to read – even Presidential intelligence briefings –
8. His blatantly racist “birtherism,”
9. His long-standing attitude of disrespect toward women,
10. His refusal to pay attention to experts,
11. His devotion to the fast, short-term stock-market growth that comes from rolling back regulations designed to protect the environment,
12. His almost total lack of “win-win” – that is, mutually beneficial — thinking,
13. & 14. His abuse of America’s NATO allies and his persistent admiration for autocrats,
15, 16, & 17. His prejudiced opposition to immigration by Muslims, and by persons of color, and his absurd promises, such as: “Mexico will pay for the wall.”
18. His pandering to extreme anti-abortion Christian conservatives, while having subscribed to several very different, mutually incompatible positions himself on that topic that were all over the place – one of them even included punishment for any woman who had an abortion! These are “on tape.”
19, 20, & 21 His advocacy of environmental de-regulation – his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, and his promotion of laissez- faire policies toward big businesses, especially the climate- and environment-damaging fossil fuel companies – have yielded billions of dollars for the very wealthy owners, and continuing degradation of our environment for everyone.
All those were worlds away from what I had found attractive in the Republican Party decades earlier.
Add to those: 22. His profound dishonesty: Shockingly, conspiracy “theorist” Alex Jones’s tragically harmful lies were repeatedly parroted by candidate (then US President) Donald Trump. [fn]
So, to protect children, citizen Edgar M. Welch armed himself and drove to Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, DC (where, fortunately, law enforcement stopped him). Welch had heard and he believed that Hillary Clinton and others were involved in murdering and drinking the blood of children in the basement of that restaurant (which has no basement)!
23. Trump despises the honest news organizations, which, he calls “Fake News,” and the “enemy of the people,” thus undermining a critical pillar of democracy – an informed electorate. He insults rigorous media professionals, and news organizations that mention their sources, engage in fact-checking, and self-correcting news dissemination.
24. His appointment of cronies to head departments, including Louis DeJoy as head of the US Postal Service, who destroyed sorting machines and otherwise slowed mail service, adversely impacting 2020 voting by mail, and delivery of vital medications during the pandemic.
25. & 26. The US House of Representatives twice impeached Donald Trump.
27. And there is his so-called “Big Lie” about his 2020 loss to Joe Biden: Trump was psychologically committed to remaining in the presidency beyond one (2017 – 2021) term. To that end, and contrary to fact, Trump insisted that he had won the 2020 Presidential election. His “Big Lie” may have been more like a “Big Delusion.” Lie or delusion, it was widely believed by watchers of Right-Wing media, and helped produce the violent January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol that aimed to prevent the traditional, peaceful, constitutional transfer of presidential authority to the newly and democratically-elected US President, Joseph Biden.
Unless thwarted by results of midterm elections, or by current investigations by the US House Select Committee On The January 6, 2021 Attack, and by the US Department of Justice, will reveal to what extent Trump himself was engaged in the “seditious conspiracy” and in the fraudulent submission of forged state electors by Republicans in at least five states (Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia) that were closely contested.
28. Trump’s televised incitement of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol confirms my change in political party membership with full assurance.
29. And the 2017 Trump tax cut was worlds away from what I had found attractive in the Republican Party decades earlier: Charts from multiple sources and available on the internet make it clear that the huge 2017 tax cuts by the Republican-controlled Congress, and signed by Trump, went overwhelmingly to large corporations and the wealthiest individuals, and added substantially to the national debt. Were traditional fiscally conservative Republicans paying attention?
This important quotation from 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Joseph Stiglitz’s Dec. 3, 2018 article “Beyond GDP”—(which concludes that piece) is to the point:
A little more than a quarter-century ago, US President Bill Clinton ran on a platform of “putting people first.” It is remarkable how difficult it is to do that, even in a democracy. Corporate and other special interests always seek to ensure that their interests come first. The massive US tax cut enacted by the Trump administration . . . is an example, par excellence. Ordinary people – the dwindling but still vast middle class – must bear a tax increase, and millions will lose health insurance, in order to finance a tax cut for billionaires and corporations. (Emphasis added.)
That $1.9 trillion dollar figure with benefits primarily to the very wealthy from a Republican administration is – ironically — the same huge dollar figure as one associated with the Biden Democratic administration’s 2021 “American Rescue Plan” enacted by Democrats without the help of even a single Republican vote!
The beneficiaries of the American Rescue Plan are mainly those who had been overlooked in both huge Republican tax cuts under George W. Bush and Trump.
According to former Republican Senator Jeff Flake: “This is the president’s party without a doubt. And to win in a Republican primary in just about every state, you’ve got to be with the president. And there’s a lot of fear that if you aren’t, you’ll get primaried” (that is, defeated in your state’s party primary election, by an opponent who is a Trump supporter, and so is publicly endorsed by Trump.)
In the spring of 2021, apart from a small minority, members of the Republican Party (that very remarkably provided no new party platform at all for their 2020 presidential campaign!) have gone quite blindly and selfishly and destructively astray. They remind me of the unthinking children in the old children’s story, who in one of its several versions, followed the attractive tune of the Pied Piper — to their death.
Their deluded (and/or lying) twice-impeached leader’s ignorance of, and disregard for, the Constitution and the laws of the land, and for simple civility, in 2022 may be about to catch up with him.
Republican Congressional manoeuvers (that they’d certainly not want to be on the receiving end of) led to a Trump-dominated US Supreme Court, which (1) promptly overturned Roe v. Wade, creating nationwide turmoil for citizens experiencing troubled pregnancies; (2) And put an unproductive, essentially Republican-controlled Congress – rather than the qualified specialists at the EPA – in charge of enacting and repealing regulations to protect the environment.
What proportion of the “Trump base” in the Republican Party will see the error of their ways thanks to such well-researched and well-designed TV programs as (1) CNN’s two-hour June 20, 2021 “Assault On Democracy” and (2) CNN’s one-hour January 9. 2022 “The Fight to Save American Democracy,” and (3) thanks to honest investigative reports in reliable (but not infallible) newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, and especially (4) thanks to stellar revealing work by The House Select Committee On The January 6, 2021 Attack — remains to be seen.
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So, that’s why a lifelong Republican from Upstate New York is no longer voting for Republican candidates.