I wouldn’t have asked for single-party Republican rule, but now we’ve got it, I hope they overreach badly and get tossed out on their asses for it in two years.
Over the years, I’ve occasionally wondered whether it would be a good idea to let the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency. My logic went like this: once they’re in power, they’ll overreach so badly that the next midterm and Presidential elections will go overwhelmingly to the Democrats. It’s not that the Democrats wouldn’t necessarily overreach, but rather that Democrats’ sense of fairness and general willingness to follow data to wherever it leads makes them less likely to overreach as badly. That and the fact that it’s past time for the pendulum to swing back toward the left (not just the center-right, as it did under Obama).
But I’ve always concluded that, while the Republicans taking over might sound good in theory, practically speaking it was a very bad idea for a variety of reasons. The Republicans might install a right-wing conservative onto the Supreme Court. They would probably cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. They likely lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor and middle class. They might cut unemployment insurance, food stamps, and housing credits for the poor. They would be more likely to get the US into even more wars and spend even more on an already massively military-industrial complex.
So even though I’ve thought about voting Republican in an attempt to force the country back to the left in the following election cycle, my values wouldn’t let me.
Which brings me to 2017. Donald, who claims to be a Republican, is President. Republicans control the House of Representatives. Republicans also control the Senate. And while I certainly wouldn’t have wished for this to happen, it has.
So, the question is this: what now? What would I “like” the Republicans to do with their newfound power? I think what I’d like them to do is overreach so badly, on so many things, that they walk right up to the edge of permanent damage to the United States, but no farther. I think I’d like them to do just about everything they can to screw things up, but in ways that can be reversed starting in two years.
Yes, this will cause a great deal of damage to America, both at home and abroad, and it’s going to hurt a lot of people. But the damage and hurt is a foregone conclusion at this point. The question isn’t whether the poor, people of color, transgendered people, women, non-Christians, and homosexuals are going to be hurt by single party Republican control, but rather by how much they’re going to be hurt. Similarly, the question isn’t whether the ideal of America as the city on the hill, our economic clout, and our “brand” will be damaged by the Republicans, but by how much. And frankly, the more our nation is hurt by the Republicans’ overreach, the more Donald’s supporters are hurt by his and his Republican allies’ actions, the more more likely it is that rational, fact-driven progressives will reclaim the federal government starting in two years.We’ve been partway down this road before. We know where it leads. It leads to Kansas under Governor Brownback. It leads to massive tax cuts that did nothing for job growth even as jobs recovered nationally and that created a massive budget hole that the state is using education and transportation dollars to fill. And yet Brownback called on Donald to replicate the failed Kansas economic experiment – an experiment that has failed so badly that the newly elected Kansas legislature is trying raise taxes (they failed, unfortunately for Kansans) and has inspired Brownback to cancel quarterly state economic reports because the economic facts contradict him.
The budget and tax cut that Donald called for in his speech to Congress will be far worse than anything Brownback has dreamed of in his wildest economic fantasies.
I’m inspired by the Women’s March and the national response to Donald’s immigration and travel ban. These fights are critical and must continue, especially if Donald is, as I still fear, an authentic fascist (his speech to Congress will filled with fascist themes straight out of the the 1930s). But even if he’s only a corrupt businessman leveraging the Presidency to make more money, non-stop pushback by liberals and centrists is the only way to keep Donald and the Republicans from permanently and irreversibly damaging America itself. Ongoing defiance is necessary to minimize the harm the Republicans will do to those least able to handle the injury.
Never forget that, of the approximately 320 million Americans, 227 million are of voting age. Of those, only 55% voted at all in the 2016 election, and of those less than half voted for Donald. That’s about 26.3% of the voting age population of the United States. The other 73.7% of potential voters didn’t vote for Donald. That’s one hell of a lot of people who just might find themselves motivated to vote against the Republicans in 2018.
Here’s hoping the Republicans do everything they can to motivate those 167 million people to protest, to defy, to resist, and to vote in two years.