Point of View Columns

A Race to the Precipice

This country has now reached that tragic and fearful moment where no sense makes sense. When madness is cloaked in normality there are no more norms, there are no more traditions and most importantly, there are no more laws that need to be observed, much less obeyed.

It has been part of the bedrock of American mythology that the Constitution is a wondrous document created by white slave owners and their enablers. That is certainly an overstatement but the Constitution has served as the governing document for these United States for over two centuries – a Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

And then along came Trump.

It should be made clear that Trump is not an evil genius – so comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, etc. are way off base. Trump is the symptom of a malady that has been coursing through the American body politic since the founding of the Republic. A nation which embraced epic genocide and massive land theft in the name of a white EuroAmerican supremacist concept of manifest destiny does not all of a sudden become well.

A country which embraced race based chattel slavery and then countenanced race based discrimination and injustice for centuries does not all of a sudden become well.

A country which to this very day embraces the concept of a second class of citizenship for all women does not all of a sudden become well.

There have been efforts at recovery to be sure. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were a good start – of sorts. But all the good will that gave rise to that good start were trampled in the rubble resulting from the deconstruction of Reconstruction.

In the modern era we have seen reparations for Japanese Americans, Supreme Court decisions affirming the basic inhumanity of state-based segregation and the President of the United State proclaiming that “we shall overcome” as he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But much in the same way that some therapeutic treatments result in negative side effects, those steps towards something resembling progress revived and restored the malady of racism and supremacy. The therapy of progress created the side effects of a renewed commitment to advancing fake grievances and revived opposition to the notion of liberty and justice for some.

As this nation seemed to progress to some semblance of a better state the side effects festered and grew stronger antibodies to that progress. The Republicans did not help with their dog whistle politics, stirring this toxic brew of racism, sexism and supremacy with calls for “Law and Order” and Willie Horton ads.

Barack Obama became president and the dam broke. The streams and rivers of race hatred and misogyny in this country became a flood – Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, the Tea Party were all further symptoms that the progressive vaccine was not working and the side effects had now become the malady that has been raging through this country.

And then along came Trump. It was more his megalomania that his falsely reputed skills as a marketer which brought him to the fore as the leader of a movement, indeed a crusade, to reclaim America in the cause of white male supremacy. He clearly craves attention like an addict needs his next fix and Trump discovered that he could not only get attention, he could receive adulation for spouting principles that he barely comprehends.

And now, after six years of overdosing on adulation, the favorite drug of megalomaniacs, he simply cannot turn it loose. Unfortunately for the people of America there is no rehab clinic for megalomaniac presidents and as a result Trump gets to play out this insane tragicomic opera of setting the world on fire as he resists losing his drug dealer – the drug dealer being the adoring MAGA hat-wearing citizens of Trump Nation.

And so as far at Trump is concerned, the Constitution is just a piece of parchment. For Trump presidential traditions are incomprehensible and meaningless. And if he sets the world on fire with reckless international actions it matters not to this man.

The question for Republicans and other Trump supporters is this – are antiabortion judges and massive tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the history of the planet worth the systemic dysfunction that Trump has brought about? Are the gutting of environmental protections of the air that we all breathe in the name of even more profit and the stamping out of even the pretensions of racial progress and gender equality worth turning the governmental apparatus of this nation into wreckage, perhaps beyond repair?

No one can truly know how this is going to end.

What we do know is that this madness will not end on January 20, 2021.

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Point of View Columns

Ryan’s Lyin’

Paul Ryan is a living breathing example of why elections do count. It is only because of six percentage points in the 2012 election and Mitt Romney not slipping on a banana peel, that Paul Ryan isn’t President of the United States right now. The fact that his plan to dismantle much of the federal government and the social safety net was soundly rejected has not stopped him from tilting at windmills in a sad parody of “The Man of La Mancha”.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has proposed a budget plan that would essentially eliminate and shred the same social safety net that provided comfort to his family as well as a literal well paved path to wealth and pleasure. By declaring government as the enemy and its beneficiaries as undeserving “takers”, Congressman Ryan and his neocon brat pack – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee – are taking this country on an ugly path that will make the divisions of the Civil War seem like a ten cent family spat.

Consider this recent Ryan quote:

(We are experiencing a)”tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work”.

In just thirty one words Paul Ryan has managed to conjure up an apocalyptic view of this country being devoured by non-working “takers”. Leaving aside the fact that Paul Ryan’s family made its fortune by paving government funded roads and highways and that his college tuition was paid for by Social Security benefits, Paul Ryan’s employment experience in the private sector is just a few single digit degrees away from non-existent.

But it is not just “takers” that Paul Ryan, it is “black” takers. Turning his dog whistle into a bugle, by using the “inner cities” code words, he has transformed class warfare into a racial conflict. Conjuring up visions of Willie Hortons and Zip Coons and Stagger Lees sucking up welfare payments, housing allowances and food stamps at the expense of hardworking white Americans – all because they simply aren’t even “thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work” is meant to justify the permanent shredding of the social safety net that he proposes in his draconian budget from Hell.

The Paul Ryan is blithely undeterred by the fact that most of the recipients of food stamps, housing allowances and welfare payments are white. By demonizing the social safety net as a comfy hammock for good for nothing, shiftless, lazy black men he can be assured that there are enough votes around to shake the very foundations of the governmental system that gave aid and comfort to the family of young Ronald Reagan, provided physical therapy for the injured Robert Dole and John McCain and the stable economic environment that was the platform for the wealth of Mitt Romney, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

Those facts are virtually obliterated by the “Birth of a Nation” vision of watermelon eating, convenience store robbing, fried chicken munching and multiple baby mama black men mooching off America. The fact that most black men are not engaged in this conduct is irrelevant. The imagery is enough to damn the facts and support the damnation of the very system that has allowed this country to even approach the threshold of the possibility of greatness.

Now Paul Ryan is going to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and lie through his federally-cleaned teeth. He will claim that his reference to men is in the inner cities had no racial intent. He might as well spit in the face of the Caucus members and tell them that it is raining.

 

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