Democracy? That’s for losers. For the Republicans, the name of the game is winning—and rigging the system the better to ensure perpetual winning.
One year and a month into the Donald Trump presidency, it’s increasingly clear that the Republican Party drunk on the power of unified government under a man it once despised has given up on the idea of democracy and decided instead to stand firmly at his side and to maintain control by any means necessary. They have decided to not to govern-but to rule.
Democracy works only if all of the parties to it agree to its ground rules. We now have entered an era when only one party does so, often to its detriment, while the other continually blows through the guard rails of democratic normalcy in pursuit of perpetual power and monetary gain. The result: the most ostentatiously corrupt administration since Richard Nixon’s is completely off its tether, while his political party’s soul vanishes a little more each day.
The tax cut rammed through the Senate on a party-line basis, which promises to suck $1.5 trillion out of the treasury and which could yet set up draconian cuts to social services for the poor, children and the elderly was but one example of the rot. Holding hostage a Supreme Court seat, which Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell made clear he would allow to be filled only by a Republican president, was another. There are the serial attacks on voting rights in state after state under GOP control that, combined with likely continued Russian meddling, threaten the very democratic character of our elections. And the current determination of House Republicans to burn it all—including the intelligence community and the FBI—to protect Trump, and by extension the Kremlin, is the most outrageous of all.
Trump’s elevation to the White House, thanks to the anachronistic Electoral College, combined with the gerrymandered control of state and federal legislatures made possible by the Obama backlash and the short-sightedness of Democratic voters in 2010, gave Republicans a rare gift. The party has controlled all three branches of the federal government only three times since its founding as the anti-slavery party in 1854.
Since rebranding itself as the party of big business during the Gilded Age and losing losingTeddy Roosevelt in the process, the Grand Old Party controlled the presidency and Congress four times: during the presidencies of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover from 1925 to 1933, to disastrous results for the global economy; then again under Dwight Eisenhower, due to the deaths of nine Democratic senators and the resignation of another; and finally during parts of George W. Bush’s tenure. (It’s worth noting that Eisenhower, who presided over a period of rare economic stability under a Republican, was so non-ideological, he was offered the Democratic nomination by party bosses in 1948. With Bush, the GOP returned to deficit-busting, tax-cutting, recession-inducing form.)
Even without the White House, Republican control of the federal legislature has been disastrous for anyone but the super rich.