Beyond routine corruption: Claiming to love America while systematically embracing the rule of oligarchs
Republicans claim to “love America,” but what does that mean? They sure don’t love our religious freedom. America was founded in 1789 as the first secular republic in the history of the world, an accomplishment the Founders and Framers reveled in. Secular literally means “not religious” or “not based in religion.”
But Republicans will openly tell you that they hate secularism and want, instead, the opposite of the core value on which this country was founded: instead, they want to put the interests of a particular religion (and only one sect within that religion) above all else.
While our Constitution explicitly says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Marjorie Taylor Greene recently said, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.”
Republicans will tell you that they love “working people” but they hate unions, the only institution in America that exclusively works on behalf of working people. Every single state that has adopted union-destroying “Right To Work For Less” laws has been Republican-controlled when these vicious anti-worker laws were passed.
Republicans say they love “opportunity” and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” but to take advantage of most genuinely meaningful economic opportunities in America these days requires a college education, and they’ll also be the first to tell you they hate college professors, students, free university education, and stand behind policies that have created a nation of college-debt peons. And now they’re banning and burning books, while driving teachers out of the profession in state after state.
Republicans say they love “democracy” and a “republican form of government” (to quote this nation’s Founders), but they hate the idea of everybody voting. Republican-controlled states — and exclusively Republican-controlled states — have passed literally hundreds of laws over the past few years to make it harder and harder for people to participate in our democratic republic by voting or even getting citizen referendums on the ballot.
Every year they purge millions of voters — predominantly in Democratic-heavy areas — off the voting rolls (since that practice was legalized by 5 corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court in 2018).
Republicans say they love the American tradition of political dissent, but hate people protesting the police murders of unarmed Black people. “BLM,” in fact, has become a slur on Fox News and in Republican circles.
Republicans say they love the police, but have gone out of their way over the years to militarize our police forces, but hate any efforts to get weapons of war and “cop-killer bullets” off our streets. They openly promote, in fact, armed militia movements that are illegal in all 50 states and openly brag that one day soon they’ll be the vanguard of a “second civil war” in which they’ll be killing cops and politicians. Not to mention their ongoing defense of the January 6th attackers who killed two capitol police officers and put another 140 in the hospital.
Republicans say they love entrepreneurs and small, local businesses, but they hate laws that protect small businesses from predatory pricing and monopoly by corporate behemoths. Every effort at anti-trust enforcement since 1983, when Reagan instructed the DOJ and SEC to stop enforcing the anti-trust laws for all but the most egregious violations, have been opposed by Republican lawmakers.
Republicans say they love the flag, but, as Jillian Berman notes at Huffington Post: “Ninety-four percent or $3.6 million worth of the flags imported into the U.S. last year came from China, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.” While most flags are “made in the USA,” the materials they are made from, in many cases, also come from China.
Republicans claim to love nature, but oppose every effort to protect our parks, wild places, and environment. When Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt was asked why he was selling off federally owned wild-lands to mining and drilling companies for pennies on the dollar, he said the environmental destruction wouldn’t matter because Jesus was going to return any day now and “make all things new.”
Along those same lines, Republicans claim to love Jesus, but they hate his teachings. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned against praying in public, but Republicans are the first to grab a microphone and jump on stage to lead a prayer. In the Matthew 25 Parable of the Goats and Sheep, Jesus explicitly says that the only way to hang out with him in heaven is to feed the hungry, clothe and house the homeless, have compassion on those in prison, and heal the sick, yet every effort to do any of those things are shot down by Republicans in Congress and state legislatures.
Republicans claim to “love our fellow man” but are the first to demonize people because of the color of their skin, the country they came from, or the religion they practice if it’s not fundamentalist white supremacist Christianity.
And, for Republicans, the “fellow man” part of that appears to literally only apply to men. They’re passing laws all across the nation to insert police, judges, and even vigilantes into the private decisions women must make around birth control, pregnancy, and abortion.
Republicans claim to love the family and support the difficult work of raising children. But they don’t stop at wanting to control, regulate, and maintain power over women, non-white people and non-Christians: now they’re using the power of law, police, and guns to go after parents who support their queer kids. From publicly trashing and shaming such children, to threatening to imprison their parents, to threatening to lock up the kids in institutions or foster care, Republicans are spreading their hate of loving families from coast-to-coast.
Republicans claim to love the poor, the sick, and the elderly, as genuine Christianity commands. But 12 Republican-controlled states still refuse to offer Medicaid health care to low-wage working people, they vote against every effort to expand low-income housing, and have been waging a 42-year war against Social Security and Medicare.
Their most recent effort in the GOP’s “War On The Elderly,” the Medicare Advantage scam started by George W. Bush in 2003, has already succeeded in stealing (yes, the Inspectors General say the money was stolen) hundreds of billions from the Medicare trust fund while issuing literally millions of denials of care to seniors.
Republicans claim to love the American system of government, which requires bipartisanship to accomplish meaningful things for the American people. But they refuse to even use the correct name for the Democratic Party (a name given it by Thomas Jefferson – it’s the oldest political party in the world), instead preferring the 1950s slur Joe McCarthy popularized when he said that “Democratic” sounds too nice and instead Republicans should call it “the Democrat Party, with emphasis on the ‘rat’!”
Along those same lines, Republicans are going out of their way to demonize their fellow Americans to stir up internecine hatred and violence. Marjorie Taylor Greene recently told a GOP group, “[Democrats] hate me and slander me and my country as they hate you and slander you and the America you stand for.”
Similarly, using language characteristic of a violence-inciting demagogue rather than a statesman, Ron DeSantis sent me an email yesterday that said:
“Our enemy is out of the shadows, and they are not limiting their attack on our values and our culture to the halls of government. We’ve seen the woke mob attack institution by institution as they look for more ways to impose their radical agenda on the American people.”
Republicans claim to love the 10th Amendment and the “states’ rights” it enshrines, but they hate Democratic-controlled states providing sanctuary to refugees fleeing violence, offering safety to women seeking abortions, and maintaining high minimum wages and environmental standards.
Republicans claim to love “fiscal responsibility” and hate “welfare” but Blue states consistently support Red states to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars every year. As an “AP Fact Check” laid out:
“Mississippi received $2.13 for every tax dollar the state sent to Washington in 2015, according to the Rockefeller study. West Virginia received $2.07, Kentucky got $1.90 and South Carolina got $1.71.
“Meanwhile, New Jersey received 74 cents in federal spending for every tax dollar the state sent to Washington. New York received 81 cents, Connecticut received 82 cents and Massachusetts received 83 cents.”
Republicans will tell you they love “life,” but relentlessly promote and protect the two industries manufacturing the only products in the world that “cause death when used as directed”: cigarettes and guns. They also fetishize using the power of the state to murder Americas through the death penalty.
Republicans claim to love products made in America, but are the first to defend the GATT/WTO/NAFTA “free trade” agreements negotiated by the Reagan and GHW Bush administrations. When Trump tried his little China tariff stunt he didn’t even bother to have it go through Congress where it may have actually had the effect of encouraging US-based manufacturing; instead he did it through executive orders that only last a few years and are just performance art. (And they backfired at that.)
Republicans claim to love democracy and hate autocracy, communism, and dictatorships. But they embrace Hungary’s white supremacist dictator Viktor Orbán, vote against aid to help democratic Ukraine fight off Russian war crimes, and repeatedly have sabotaged and voted against Democratic legislators efforts to bring our manufacturing back from Communist China to the US (the CHIPS act being the most recent example).
So, all their high-sounding rhetoric aside, what is it that Republicans actually do love?
The evidence is pretty clear. They embrace illegal wars, tax cuts for billionaires, subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, religious bigotry, violence, weapons of war, foreign autocrats, and white supremacist racists.
Republicans also love raking in millions every year in “campaign contributions” to their Super PACs that they can keep after they leave office (Trump walked away with three-quarters of a billion dollars).
And, of course, they’re big fans of the $2+ billion spent by billionaires and giant corporations in the last federal election to support GOP candidates and ballot measures.
In other words, Republicans, when you simply look at their rhetoric and votes, most love racism, religious bigotry, political corruption, bribery, and autocracy. Everything else is just talk.
If this was just routine political corruption by a few rogue politicians, it would be a problem but not a crisis. Tragically, however, this cynical embrace of strongman oligarchy has corrupted an entire political party, and is thus putting our system of government at risk.
If we truly value America continuing as a democratic republic, all truly patriotic Americans must repudiate today’s corrupt Republican Party.
© Thom Hartmann, used with permission. Originally published on The Hartmann Report as What Is It that Republicans Actually Do Love?
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