I’m not sure which is the most astounding: the treasonous cowardice of Congressional Republicans or the ignorance of those who support them. It’s clear that all of them—legislators and supporters alike—have been taken hostage by the most unqualified and ill-prepared president in our history. It’s the Stockholm syndrome on steroids.* How Donald Trump became, in the minds of so many, the savior—or, in his words, “the chosen one”—is an enduring mystery.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for this sad pass, and not all of the blame goes to the Republicans. An unresponsive government breeds discontent, and discontent, unaddressed, breeds desperation. Desperation, it appears, produces a kind of collective insanity.
Girded by ludicrous rulings (Citizens United,** anyone?) handed down by the Supreme Court, the Congress—its members flush with money from corporations and wealthy donors--has been empowered to ignore the needs of the many in favor of satisfying the greed of the few. This has gone on for far too long. We have tax cuts for the already-undertaxed wealthy while infrastructure crumbles, teachers take on extra jobs in order to survive, environmental protections are rolled back, children are locked in cages at our southern border, international affairs are in the hands of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight … and on … and on … and on.
Meanwhile, in the greatest of ironies, many who have gained little in the time of Trump are among those thronging to the crass performance art he calls rallies. It’s free entertainment and as full of fiction as the CBS series, Madam Secretary, which is a lot more educational.
While I haven’t given up all hope, I’m discouraged by the ease with which we’re drifting into autocracy (Madeleine Albright warned us***) and the lack of awareness of the electorate. But more than that, I’m disturbed by the irresponsibility of the Republicans in Congress. They could stop this drift in an instant but that would require courage. Instead, we have willful blindness, self-serving gullibility, groveling before a world-class bully. How do they live with themselves?
One of the advantages of longevity is the personal memory of events that those less seasoned know of only through history books. I can clearly remember, for instance, the hearings and events leading up to the resignation of Richard Nixon at the behest of his own Republican party. And I remember Gerald Ford, assuming the presidency, announcing, “Our long national nightmare is over.”
Compared to the Trump presidency, that “national nightmare” was a child’s bad dream.
Where are the heirs of that party now?
*The Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological condition in which hostages identify with their captors and come to see them in a positive light
**In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court ruled that campaign expenditures by corporations and unions are protected under the First (free speech) Amendment and not subject to restriction by the government.
***Albright, secretary of state during the Clinton administration, warned of a drift towards fascism in the U.S. and other western democracies in her book Fascism: A Warning.