In the late hours of Monday night, the Republican Party concluded its self-destruction at the hands of racist, corrupt homophobe Donald John Trump with a questionable confirmation of right-wing ideologue Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. She was sworn in immediately as a potential tool to provide instant corruption, if possible, in next week’s election.
The despicable actions of the GOP and the Senate brought back memories of Sept. 11, 2001, when I shot news photos of the carnage at the Pentagon on the side of Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA, alongside Larry Dowling of Reuters. “What we are capturing on film today marks a day that changes America forever,” he said.
His words are even truer now.
In 2003, I interviewed and photographed a resistance fighter in Afghanistan, who told me: “You are very fortunate. You live in America, where you are free and not under attack.”
Is that true in today’s America? Not really.
The New York Times editorializes that much of the blame goes to the demise of one of the country’s two political parties. “R.I.P., G.O.P. The party of Lincoln had a good run,” the headline reads. “Then came Mr. Trump.”
Of all the things President Trump has destroyed, the Republican Party is among the most dismaying.
“Destroyed” is perhaps too simplistic, though. It would be more precise to say that Mr. Trump accelerated his party’s demise, exposing the rot that has been eating at its core for decades and leaving it a hollowed-out shell devoid of ideas, values or integrity, committed solely to preserving its own power even at the expense of democratic norms, institutions and ideals.
Tomato, tomahto. However you characterize it, the Republican Party’s dissolution under Mr. Trump is bad for American democracy.
A healthy political system needs robust, competing parties to give citizens a choice of ideological, governing and policy visions. More specifically, center-right parties have long been crucial to the health of modern liberal democracies, according to the Harvard political scientist Daniel Ziblatt’s study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe. Among other benefits, a strong center-right can co-opt more palatable aspects of the far-right, isolating and draining energy from the more radical elements that threaten to destabilize the system.
Today’s G.O.P. does not come close to serving this function. It has instead allowed itself to be co-opted and radicalized by Trumpism. Its ideology has been reduced to a slurry of paranoia, white grievance and authoritarian populism. Its governing vision is reactionary, a cross between obstructionism and owning the libs. Its policy agenda, as defined by the party platform, is whatever President Trump wants — which might not be so pathetic if Mr. Trump’s interests went beyond “Build a wall!”
When the Senate Republican majority confirmed rapid right-winger Amy Coney Barrett as the latest Trump appointee to the Supreme Court in the waning hours of Monday, just eight days before the presidential election, it was a fitting late-night ritual that violated the norms of the legislative body, the tradition of placing a justice on the highest court of the land and a hijacking of the intent of the Constitution.
An avowed homophobe who served on the board of an anti-gay private school, Barrett has limited judicial experience, was not properly vetted, and was rushed into the appointment as the last gasp of the fading, illusionary, racist president who faces certain defeat by American voters next week. Hell, even classmates of her alma mater say they do not think she is qualified.
Rhodes College alumni Rob Marus and Katherine Morgan Breslin wrote a letter criticizing Barrett’s stances on abortion law, the LGBTQ community, and the Affordable Care Act. Signed by 1,513 alumni and posted online, the letter says the alumni are “firmly and passionately opposed to her nomination,” declaring Barrett fails to represent their views and values.
“We are likewise firmly and passionately opposed to Rhodes administrators’ attempts to embrace Amy Coney Barrett as an alumna of our beloved alma mater,” the letter said. “We oppose this embrace because we believe both her record and the process that has produced her nomination are diametrically opposed to the values of truth, loyalty, and service that we learned at Rhodes.”
Trump is likely to use his deceptive bag of illegal and corrupt tricks to try and inject a court where his three appointments have destroyed into what should be the voice of the voters and nothing more. He does not believe in the will of the people, not when they disagree with his wannabe Emporer mannerisms.
Along with many Americans, I believe the election on Nov. 3 is the most important one in modern times and, perhaps, for all of America’s existence.
As voters, we should have the power to bring America back from the brink of totalitarianism that threatens our democracy and way of life.
Let’s hope, collectively, we are up to the task. It’s time to dump his corrupt ass out into the street and let the justice system of New York State, which is prosecuting him for crimes, tax fraud, and other offenses, punish him to the full extent of the law.
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