REAPING THE WHIRLWIND


Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

Proverbs 22:8

Many Republicans are in a tizzy these days, because Donald Trump won’t go away, each week saying something more and more outlandish.  I’m reading conservative columnists, because they are attacking Trump and not the Democrats.  How refreshing.

What strikes me most about Trump, however, is he never apologizes. He’s never wrong.  On the other hand, he is a candidate of a party that is never wrong on any issue, be it the climate, ISIS, the economy, immigration, or education. The Republicans sowed the seeds of never being wrong, never compromising, and never apologizing, and now they are reaping the whirlwind of a campaign that they can’t control.

We should all be worried about Trump, because the guy is electable.  Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be a poor campaigner and has more baggage than the Texan who shared a French train with us, who had to stand between two cars for four hours, because his wife’s huge pink suitcases wouldn’t fit in the overhead.

Many of the young will be upset that Bernie Sanders didn’t win, and they may stay home.  I had hoped we had learned a big lesson from Nader.  A lot of those who ought to vote Democratic for the next five generations—beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicare, Gay Rights—may stay home. There are those who bag it because it is becoming more difficult to vote rather than less.  There are others who now have to bring photo IDs, which cost money, on the basis on non-existent voter fraud, and now the Republicans are floating the idea of having Congress represent the voters rather than the people, which will give rural America, red as a beet, disproportionate influence.  We should have a national holiday weekend just to give people time to vote, and yet hours are being cut.

The Republicans sought the Evangelical vote, because the Democrats were in favor of abortion, civil rights, gay rights, and other social causes that the Evangelicals wouldn’t support.  The megachurches supported the Far Right, were able to do so without tax consequences, their leaders invited to prayer breakfasts, and the Republicans were able to capture the “family values” group, despite a high number of divorces and scandals in high placed Republicans.

When the Tea Party came into existence, the Republicans sought their support too, for here was a group that had rabid members and hated the President.  The Tea Party was well organized, and after the fiery debates over the Affordable Care Act, were able to take over Congress, winning 63 new seats.  They may have changed Congress for a generation, much as Civil Rights lost the South probably permanently, except for a few retiree states.

The Tea Party was a game changer, and contrary to what I read now, they are still a powerful force in the country today.  They are a bunch of boors.  One yelled “Liar” in the middle of a State of the Union speech. One simply does not do that.  Congress had always worked by compromise and politeness until these people appeared.They have proven to be like Trump, non-apologetic, against everything Obama has tried to do, unwilling to compromise on anything—much like the Dr. No I had to deal with in my medical director days—and have single-handedly shut down the government.  Only forty or so are in the House now, but their power is essentially that of 220.

When Boehner was Speaker, he used the “Hastert Rule,” named after a prior speaker, which means that no bill gets introduced unless the majority of the majority party agrees.  This renders Democrats ineffective.  The minority has no say.  No bill they write has a chance.  It is ironic that this year Mr. Hastert pled guilty to a hush money scheme that is still not clear what for, although I am betting on pedophilia.  We are therefore governing the House based on what one speaker—now felon—thought best years ago, which has limited severely the number of bills that we can pass.

The Tea Party convinced Boehner to shut down the government, costing several billion dollars and accomplishing nothing. We almost defaulted on our debts, and indeed our bond rating fell a notch, for the first time ever.  The Tea Party eventually caused Boehner to resign, and the first and second choices to succeed him appeared to have baggage of their own, forcing Paul Ryan to make a decision to take over, rather than to spend time with his family.

One would think with 246 representatives, somebody could have come forward to serve who might have been a great speaker.  But not if the Tea Party can stop anything they want.

Ryan is himself dangerous.  He doesn’t want to give “one red cent” to Planned Parenthood.  Being a good Catholic, I suspect his religious beliefs are getting in the way of the idea that having fewer children and planning when to have them would go a long ways to alleviating poverty within two  generations.  Fewer children would also decrease the number of abortions, but when one believes that anything greater than zero is wrong and should not be allowed to happen, options are limited.  Ryan wants to make Medicare a system of vouchers.  I can’t imagine the huge number of people on Medicare trying to make sense of vouchers and shop for the best coverage.  I’m 67 and a retired physician.  I have difficulty understanding the system.  What about an 85 year-old widow who isn’t thinking too clearly and doesn’t have a lot of money?  Does one really think this is what market choices is all about?

Lindsay Graham is the only contender in the Republican Party who has said that he will refuse to vote for Trump, should the latter become the nominee.  Not even Paul Ryan said that.  That speaks volumes about the Party.

The Republicans wooed the Evangelicals and then the Tea Party.  They did nothing for the Evangelicals and figured the Tea Party would do their bidding.  Instead, the Republican Party is being whipped around by the tail of the tiger they grabbed.  Trump is the leading contender, and he is threatening a third party run, currently supported by 68% of his supporters, very few of whom would likely vote Democratic.  The Republicans have sown hatred, bigotry, lack of compassion, lack of collegiality, and boorishness, and they are now reaping the whirlwind.

What the country will reap remains to be seen.  I am not optimistic.

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