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Sun Dec 15, 2019, 08:33 AM

This week was a big one in the history of this country. - Heather Cox Richardson, Historian

Found on Facebook-

December 14, 2019 (Saturday)

This week was a big one in the history of this country.

The House Committee on the Judiciary voted to impeach the President for the fourth time in American history. But that was not, actually, the biggest story. The big story was that it became clear that the leadership of today’s Republican Party, a party started in the 1850s by men like Abraham Lincoln to protect American democracy, is trying to undermine our government.

Even as I write that, it seems crazy. But I can reach no other conclusion after watching the behavior of the Republicans over the past few weeks, from their yelling and grandstanding rather than interviewing witnesses in the Intelligence Committee hearings, to the truly bizarre statements of Trump and Attorney General Barr saying the report of the Justice Department’s Inspector General about the investigation into Russian interference in 2016 concluded the opposite of what it did, to the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee making a mockery of the hearings rather than actually participating in them, and finally culminating in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing on Sean Hannity’s program last night that “There’s no chance the president will be removed from office.”

A look at the members of the House Judiciary Committee who voted for or against impeachment explains how we got here. It was a strict party vote, and of the 23 Democrats who voted to impeach Trump, 11 were women, and twelve were people of color (California’s Ted Lieu did not vote because he was recovering from surgery). Of the 17 Republicans who voted against impeachment, two were women. Zero were people of color.

That the Republican Party has turned itself into an all-white, largely male party is the result of a deliberate campaign of industrialists to destroy the national consensus after WWII. Unregulated capitalism crashed the world economy in 1929, then an activist government both provided relief during the Depression and enabled the Allies to win WWII. By 1945, Americans of all parties embraced the idea that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. This belief was called the “liberal consensus,” and it was behind both the largest welfare program in American history—Social Security—and the largest infrastructure project in American history—the Interstate Highway System. Taxes of up to 91% under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower helped to pay for this popular system.

But a small group of businessmen loathed the idea that government bureaucrats could tell them how to run their businesses. Rather than having to abide by government regulations, they wanted to go back to the world of the 1920s, when businessmen ran the government. They insisted that the government must do nothing but defend the nation and promote religion.

They made little headway. The economy was booming and most Americans loved their new nice homes and family cars, and recognized that it was labor legislation and government regulation that enabled them to make a good living. The liberal consensus kept wealth spread fairly in society, rather than accumulating at the top as it had done in the 1920s.

But there was a catch. The logical outcome of a war for democracy was that all Americans would have the right to have a say in their government. The idea that men of color and women should have a say equal to white men in our government gave an opening to the men who wanted to destroy the nation’s postwar active government. When a Republican Supreme Court unanimously decided that segregation was unconstitutional in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the way was clear for these men to argue that an active government was not about protecting equality; it was simply a way to give benefits to black and brown people, paid for by white tax dollars.

This argument drew directly from the years of Reconstruction after the Civil War, when the Republican national taxes invented during the Civil War coincided with the 1870 Fifteenth Amendment guaranteeing black men the right to vote. In 1871, white supremacist Democrats in the South began to argue (disingenuously) that they had no problem with black men voting. What they objected to was poor men voting for leaders who promised “stuff”—roads and schools and hospitals in the war-damaged South—that could only be paid for with tax levies on the only people in the South who had money: white men. This, they said, was socialism.

One hundred years later, this equation-- that people of color would vote for government benefits paid for by hardworking white men-- was the argument on which businessmen after WWII broke the liberal consensus. Their candidate Reagan rose to power on the image of the Welfare Queen, a black woman who, he said “has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names." In his inaugural address he concluded, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He promised to take tax dollars from welfare queens and give them back to hardworking white men.

These new Republicans slashed government regulation and social welfare programs, as they promised, but their laws did not help middle-class white men. Instead wealth moved upward. Voters pushed back, and to stay in power, Republicans purged the party of people who still believed that the government should regulate business and provide a social safety net—people Newt Gingrich called RINOs, for Republicans In Name Only—and then began to purge opposition voters. As Republicans got more and more extreme, they lost more voters and so, to stay in power, they began to gerrymander congressional districts. Increasingly, they argued that Democrats only won elections with illegal votes, usually votes of people of color. Those voters were “takers” who wanted handouts from “makers,” as Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney put it. It was imperative to keep people of color and women from voting. Their desire for government regulation, social welfare, and infrastructure funding was “socialism.”

A generation of vilifying Democrats as “socialists” has brought us to a place where Republican leaders reject outright the idea that Democrats can govern legitimately. To keep voters from electing Democrats, Republicans have abandoned democracy. They are willing to purge voting rolls, gerrymander states, collude with a foreign power to swing elections, and protect a president who has attacked Congress, packed the courts, and attacked the media, looking everything like a dictator on the make, so long as he slashes taxes and attacks women and people of color. While Republicans used to call their opponents socialists, they now call them traitors.

We are at the moment when Americans must choose. Will we allow these Republican leaders to establish an oligarchy in which a few white men run the country in their own interests, or do we really believe that everyone has a right to a say in our government?

For my part, I will stand with Lincoln, who in the midst of a war against oligarchy, charged his fellow Americans to “highly resolve that…, this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply This week was a big one in the history of this country. - Heather Cox Richardson, Historian (Original post)
Snarkoleptic Dec 2019 OP
Kitchari Dec 2019 #1
Snarkoleptic Dec 2019 #2
panfluteman Dec 2019 #3
Perseus Dec 2019 #7
Efilroft Sul Dec 2019 #8
KPN Dec 2019 #12
Efilroft Sul Dec 2019 #15
FailureToCommunicate Dec 2019 #4
dalton99a Dec 2019 #5
Perseus Dec 2019 #6
Upthevibe Dec 2019 #9
spike jones Dec 2019 #10
YOHABLO Dec 2019 #11
KPN Dec 2019 #13
erronis Dec 2019 #14

Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 08:41 AM

1. A good summary

of the sad condition of our country.

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Response to Kitchari (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 09:09 AM

2. She's a must-follow on Twitter as well, although she used Facebook for this one.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 10:05 AM

3. OR, "How the Republican Party Wound Up Becoming the Exact Opposite of What It Originally Was"

Now the GOP is a bunch of renegade traitors and backers of fascist oligarchy. When forced to choose between democracy and their own crazy, deranged version of "conservatism", they abandon the former and choose the latter. A democracy can only function with a minimum of two parties who are willing participants in the constitutional rules and regulations that guide the government. We don't have that now, and how on earth we can get the Republicans to repent and come back to being willing participants in a constitutional democracy is beyond me.

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Response to panfluteman (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 10:28 AM

7. "how on earth we can get the Republicans to repent..."

 

That is a great question, but I think they have been compromised in ways that they cannot get out of it, they know that if they do turn around that their careers are over and may also be candidates for jail.

The creature, aided by Putin, have done the mafia job of compromising many republicans, they have received money from Russia, and who knows what other deeds they have performed and are now in so deep they cannot get out.

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Response to Perseus (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 10:54 AM

8. Why bother trying? They are irredeemable.

We don't negotiate with terrorists, and we shouldn't find common ground with Republicans because that will compromise our values and the lives of those most adversely affected by their policies.

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Response to Efilroft Sul (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 12:05 PM

12. Yup. And finding common ground for 40 years

has put us where we are today — a precarious state in which the quality, general well being, safety and, perhaps, assurance of life is at peril for many, maybe millions; a precarious state in which it is not unrealistic to worry about the survival of our democracy and the likelihood of world war, mass extinctions and even threat to human existence.

Last night I learned an old and dear friend in my early adult years took his own life on Friday afternoon. It was a shock to my system. Absolutely no fore-warning and contrary to everything I saw and understood in and about my friend. My world is shaken. Pardon me if my views above are depressing.

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Response to KPN (Reply #12)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 02:31 PM

15. I am so sorry to learn about your friend's passing.



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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 10:17 AM

4. Excellent!

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 10:18 AM

5. Kick

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 10:25 AM

6. The republican claim that "Democrats cannot govern"

 

can be shot down if one takes the time to browse through government facts and see how the USA has prospered when a Democratic government is on the wheel, and how the country has been diminished when republicans are in government. The "Economic Cycle" is very simple, republicans take the government then the economy goes down the deficits go up, we all suffer, when Democrats take the government then the economy goes up, we all benefit. It is a puzzle how people cannot see this, is it that the stupidity of USA voters is such that makes them blind, or is the hate against people of color, other religions the one motivator that keeps people voting against their own interests?
USA can easily be turned into a Russia, "It CAN HAPPEN here!" the fantasy that it can't must be removed from your minds, the corruption of the republican party is such that they don't bother to hide it, it seems they are convinced their base likes the corruption, as long as they hurt the other party they are willing to sacrifice themselves as well.
Republicans are up to no good, and we will all suffer, the fantasy that because someone voted republican will make them exempt of the chaos that will come if we don't get rid of them is just that, fantasy. Those republicans in office who think they will not have their moment under the bus are also kidding themselves, when trump is done using them, that is where they will end up, under the bus and humiliated.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 11:34 AM

9. Thank you for the post....

Accurate summary. We could take the first words of just one paragraph of this assessment "A generation of vilifying Democrats..." and write a f'ing book....Rush Limbaugh and absolutely crucifying The Clintons, AM talk radio owned by right-wing extremists, no point in going on......those of us in this group could probably write that book ourselves....

I'll start following her on twitter.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 11:40 AM

10. Also this week in history December 12, 2000

The Supreme Court decided that votes do not count.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 12:04 PM

11. If we allow Trump to get away with criminality, our Democracy is over.

 

Perhaps it's been over for quite some time, clearly it's debatable. We are now living, or soon will be, in the United States of America Inc.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 12:20 PM

13. A concise but epic summation of how and why

we got to our current precarious state.

Everyone should take the two minutes to read this. It couldn’t be explained better, more clearly or more succinctly.

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Original post)

Sun Dec 15, 2019, 12:26 PM

14. Heather Cox Richardson's blog on substack

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Cox_Richardson

She is also a founder and editor at Werehistory.org,[4] which presents professional history to a public audience through short articles. Between 2017 and 2018, she co-hosted the NPR podcast Freak Out and Carry On.[5] Most recently, Richardson started publishing "Letters from an American," a nightly newsletter that chronicles the 2019 Ukraine Scandal in the larger context of American history.[6]

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