The Face Of Jim Crow 2.0? Republican Lawmakers

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent persuasive and unrealistic.  Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” (President John F. Kennedy)

Almost all Republican lawmakers – from the very top at the federal government level all the way down to the state and local levels, are supporting the bill that was recently made law in Georgia making it harder for citizens of the state of Georgia to vote.  Many of these lawmakers are openly supporting this law while others are tacitly supporting it.  But make no mistake, all of them are supporting it; as regards those who are providing tacit support, their silence is deafening!

And all of these Republicans are openly attacking democracy in an effort to silence American voters of color to try to assure that white Americans will always rule no matter the will of the American people as a whole.  What they do not seem to realize is that they are taking away the voices of white Americans as well: Or maybe they do realize this but simply do not care as long as they, those that are currently in power, will remain in power.  Mr. Donald J. Trump – previously the occupier of the Oval Office, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Matt Gaetz are among a number of Republican congressmen who have said that Republicans will never win another election if congress makes it easier to vote.

Donald J. Trump, the immediate past The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America, has emboldened Republicans and no matter how brazen their acts, they are doing exactly what they want to do no matter what their constituents are telling them that they want them to do: They are showing their true colors and like gangbangers they are flashing the gang signs of the gang that they belong to, the Donald J. Trump Republican Party (DJTRP).

They want everyone to know that they are proud to be a part of the DJT-led Republican Party.  And like with any gang, those who flash the signs of that gang who are not totally committed to the gang or who are fake gang members – if caught – will pay a terrible price.  They will be challenged in a primary election (primaried) so that they will never reach the general election.  In some extreme cases their political careers will be ruined, chasing them completely out of politics.

These Republican politicians who come under attack by Mr. Trump and the DJTRP gang, depending on how ambitious they are and their individual political calculus, react in different ways.  Some of them suddenly decide that it is time for them to retire.  Some, like Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who refused to be bullied by Mr. Trump into cooperating with him to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia, have buyers’ remorse and try to kowtow their way back into Mr. Trump’s good favor.

Still others, like Senator Mitt Romney, go completely silent and slowly fade to black as if they are some sort of minor supporting actor in a theatrical play.  No matter how they react, they are abdicating their responsibility and sworn duty as America’s elected leaders by voluntarily placing the decision of whether or not American democracy will survive into the hands of the DJTRP: And they are doing this while aware that American democracy is under full frontal attack, that the reason for this attack is founded on lies and myths and that those supporting the DJTRP are supporting Mr. Trump and his gang based on these lies and myths; especially Mr. Trumps “big lie” which claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him!  These Republican lawmakers are completely aware that there is an existential threat to the American Republic!  Who are these people that “We the People” placed all of our confidence in to protect America against all enemies foreign and domestic; are they at all recognizable?!

Although it is easy to point out Republicans because it is their party that is leading the charge to support Mr. Trump’s “Big Lie” and punish those who refuse to support it, there are a few Democrats who must be held to account for what smacks of placing their political ambitions ahead of country.  Chief among those few Democrats is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.  Although according to a national poll released by Data for Progress and Equal Citizens – 67% of Americans support H.R.1 (For the People Act) which when broken down by party affiliation equals 56% Republican, 68% Independent and 77% Democrat – Senator Manchin still feels that he knows what is best for all of America and since the For the People Act does not meet his criteria as the proper solution to this particular problem, he says that he cannot support the bill.

Because the senate is controlled by Democrats by an extremely slim margin (Democrats and Republicans each hold 50 seats) and Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote is needed to break any tie votes, Senator Manchin’s vote is crucial.  Senator Manchin knows this and so therefore knows that he wields great power.  This power appears to be presenting him with a challenge that he is finding hard to deal with; or not.  Whether or not this is due to his political ambitions is hard to determine but he is unabashedly basking in the large amount of press attention that he is suddenly receiving.

This feeling of “I know what is best for America and only I can fix the situation” is not something that is without precedent with Senator Manchin.  Senator Manchin and Republican senator Pat Toomey worked together in 2013 on a senate compromise version of a gun bill passed by the House that they were confident would be passed in the senate. But it failed because it could not garner the 60 votes that it needed to overcome the filibuster.  And still, here we are in 2021 having the same old discussions about gun control even after all of the people that have died between 2013 and 2021 – and before that, and lawmakers are likely to do the same thing that they have always done: Nothing!

This time – as mentioned previously in this article, we are not only confronted with violent gun deaths that have been perpetrated by individuals using assault rifles, but we are faced with an obvious frontal attack on our democracy.  And even under these circumstances Senator Manchin seems determined to exercise his “I know what is best for America and only I can fix the situation” power: He seems to be eager to be the first to let the press know that he does not support the House gun control bill or the For the People Act and that he is against eliminating the filibuster or in any way altering it.

What is Senator Manchin’s angle and how hard and how far is he willing to push to achieve his goal, whatever that might be?!  Has he fallen victim to his own political ambition?  Maybe…maybe not.  But whatever it is that is driving Senator Manchin, when the reckoning actually arrives, one can only hope that he will come down firmly on the side of democracy.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Politics, SCOTUS And The Republican Party

At this point in our American democracy it can be reasonably argued that decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States are at best, highly questionable and at worst just short of a political joke.  And since the appointment of three (3) Justices by the former The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America, somewhere in between that “at best” and “at worst” assessment, it is hard to label these SCOTUS decisions as anything other than Party tainted: That is, whether decisions are made in favor of the interest of the Republican Party or against it, Party is definitely taken into consideration when making rulings.  To make matters worse, Mr. Trump has constantly added fuel to that fire of questionability by referring to SCOTUS Justices that were confirmed and seated during his tenure as occupier of the Oval Office as “my judges” or “my Justices.”  And whenever those Justices have supported rulings that he disagreed with, he has openly railed against the Supreme Court and lamented the incompetence and lack of courage of its Republican Justices.

To say that these decisions are highly questionable is not meant to suggest that these SCOTUS Justices are not decent people or that their aim in making decisions is to intentionally undermine democracy or the will of the majority of the American people in order to help the minority and hurt the majority, or to help the political party that they are affiliated with.  The unfortunate thing is, however, that since the Mr. Donald J. Trump era – and his appointment of three (3) Justices to the Supreme Court, there is now so much more room to question SCOTUS decisions because of doubt that Mr. Trump brought about during his time in office due to his myriad lies and unorthodox so called leadership.  I remember the high level of confidence that I had in the unbiased decisions that I believed that the SCOTUS would make even if I disagreed with those decisions.  Can you recall the time when you felt that way too?

I said that what I stated in the first paragraph of this piece is not meant to suggest that these SCOTUS Justices are not decent people.  And I mean that.  But I do mean to suggest that since Mr. Trump was elected The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America, politics has suddenly taken a major leap in the effect that it has on how the Court functions overall.  Are these Supreme Court Justices now Justices in name only and in reality simply Senators and Representatives in black robes?  SCOTUS Justices are granted their “for life” positions in order to assure that they will make their decisions based on their interpretation of the law and not out of loyalty to their party or fear of any kind of political retribution.

As far as how one might define a decent person, are virtually all of the Republicans in the House and Senate not decent people because of the way that they are conducting themselves out of political ambition right now?  What about former Vice President Mike Pence as regards the op-ed that he just wrote referencing the 2020 election and its widespread voter fraud and what appears to be his proclivity to ignore the January 6, 2021 failed coup by Donald J. Trump supporters that could have cost him his life?  And what about all of the false statements that he has made about the 2021 HR-1 bill, the For The People Act; does this make him not a decent person?

It seems reasonable that any person, regardless of whether they are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, can see that these Republican politicians in Washington and around the country are ignoring democracy and the Constitution and blindly pursuing their political ambitions full throttle.  The 33 or more Republican controlled state legislatures around the country that are striving to pass laws that will disenfranchise voters attests to this.  For example, what kind of sense does it make for Georgia’s state legislature to put forward a bill that would make it a crime to provide food and or water to voters waiting in line to vote?!  The only purpose of this is to make it more likely that those waiting in line will become so hungry or thirsty that they will give up waiting to vote and go home! It seems that the main concern of these politicians is to stay in power regardless of what the majority of Americans – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – want.

It is unlikely that Republican voters around the country are not able to decipher what is happening and why it is happening.  But since these Washington Republican politicians and other Republican politicians throughout America are operating using fear tactics and appealing to their constituents based on those constituents’ deepest and darkest fears, they have been extremely successful in convincing their more reasonable constituents who are not a part of the cult-like Trump base to tolerate their political antics.  With their confidence buoyed by this success, they are living in the moment: they have power now and, to them, that is what counts.  It appears that Donald J. Trump, the former The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America, has taught them well.

Finally, President Joe Biden emphasized before he was elected and has continued to emphasize since his election that he wants to use bipartisan legislation accomplishments in the congressional legislative process in Washington to unify Democrats and Republicans there and thereby unify all of the American people.  He has insisted on reaching across the aisle to Republican lawmakers in an effort to create this unity.  He has also often talked about compromise and the necessity of working with Republicans to legislate and move America forward together.

But is unity even possible with the Republican Party as it exists today?  In order to have unity in a two party system it is inevitable that compromise must be involved.  This raises the question of how does anyone compromise with those who refuse to recognize and accept obvious facts and the truth?  Since Republicans continue to push Mr. Donald J. Trump’s “big lie” by overtly or tacitly saying that President Joe Biden is not a legitimate president and that Mr. Trump is still the president and refuse to acknowledge that the January 6, 2021 insurrection was carried out by Trump supporters, how can that not be a non-starter?!

Given the circumstances, perhaps President Biden and the Democrats should just go it alone to equitably conduct the business of the American people.  Perhaps Democrats should increase the number of Justices on the Supreme Court?  Perhaps they should get rid of the filibuster?  Perhaps those centrist Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin, who are so willing to side with Republicans to gum up legislation that will address the dire needs of Americans due to the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, should revisit their rationale and maybe that will cause them to rethink their political calculus.  Perhaps Democrats should do all of these things; after all, so far Republicans are sticking together no matter how ridiculous their positions on the issues are.

I have heard a number of commentators on the cable news shows that I watch talk time-and-time again about how, even in the midst of success, that Democrats fret and wonder about what will happen if they should make a mistake in the midst of this success; a mistake that would cause them to lose this success and force them to return to operating as they had been before that successful situation came about.  And with this in mind, they become frozen by their fear and become much less effective in passing much needed legislation that will help the majority of the American people; Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  This is exactly what the Republicans want when they are the minority party and not in power.  Democrats play right into their hands and Republicans rule whether they are the minority or majority party.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said that “if you are depressed, you are living in the past.  If you are anxious, you are living in the future.  If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”  It certainly appears that Democrats fall into the anxious category of Lao Tzu’s words of wisdom.  Having said that, someone needs to come up with something to help us Democrats out so that when we are in power we will focus on living in the present; that way, we will be at peace and can boldly move forward with or without Republicans and conduct the business of the American people.  This is especially true in the wake of the grave damage that has been done to the American democracy by the former The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and virtually the entire Republican Party that has knelt, kissed his ring and pledged allegiance to him.   It is understandable that President Biden wants unity and bipartisan legislation as he leads America forward.   But if that unity is not possible, we must move forward anyway: And we must do that now!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line