A Simple Thing is the Undoing of the Republicans

“What Goes Around, Comes Around” has a certain ring to it


“Politics is not beanbag” is a well-known truism. It can be a tough business. Political parties will go to great lengths to win. The histories of both major parties are full of abuse of power and unfair or illegal acts to gain advantage. Gerrymandering was not invented yesterday.

Yet, today’s Republican party has crossed too many lines for most Americans. Process and protocols are pretty simple, yet their importance is significant. When “anything goes” is the norm, people instinctively react to the effect on representative democracy.

Even some who support Republican goals find that this is an untrustworthy bunch. The party holds on mostly by extreme gerrymandering and by poking a stick of agitation into its ever shrinking but easily aroused base.  This is not a long- term strategy. Greed and hubris have smothered moral principles and fair process. A recent Washington Post headline summed it up: Fairness Left the GOP a Long Time Ago. Is Decency Also Gone?

Examples? A fair question to ask. Let’s look at four. Any one of these four would be troublesome. All four together yield a vile playbook that should lead to the fate deserved of a party that chose to follow them.

— Voter Suppression: The effort to disguise voter suppression as voting security has fooled only those who wish to be fooled. There are occasional incidents of voter fraud. But we know from many sources over long periods that the occurrence is quite small, rare even. Some have tried to cite thousands of people registered to vote in more than one place. That is not a plot; that is forgetfulness. Everyone who moved and remembered to cancel your former registration, raise your hand. Hmmm, I don’t see many hands up there….

It might be possible to erase improper voting completely. But in so doing we would prevent many qualified voters from voting. Simple human error would make it so. That is a cure worse than the disease. The GOP has sought to prevent people from voting solely to minimize votes likely to go for the other party. That is about as un-American as it gets.

–Extreme Gerrymandering: I chose the word “extreme” with care. The intent is to recognize that there is a temptation for any party in power to engage in a bit of gerrymandering. If something is a toss-on to which way to go, those in power will choose the solution that best suits them. Fair enough. But what Republican legislators have done time after time is to engineer districts that ensure large numbers of citizens effectively have no vote. They have no possibility of ever electing an opposition candidate.

I take this one personally, as I now live in such a district. When I moved here, I looked at the district map. It did not take a PhD to figure out how this district came to be. In my state, the legislature has redrawn districts three times in recent years. Every time they did so, the courts ruled they were politically and racially distorted . We expect court directed districts next year.

I don’t like it when Democrats gerrymander either, even though they do not match the Republicans. Until we adapt systems of nonpartisan redistricting by independent boards with expertise, this will continue to be a shortcoming in American democracy. 

–Packing the Courts, including the Supreme Court. This Congress does not do much, but it has approved a lot of judges. A striking number of would-be judges bring only political credits, not judicial qualifications. Remember the nominee who had Republican support until it was pointed out out that he had never tried a case? He had, in fact, never been in a courtroom in any capacity as a lawyer.

Yet the Republican majority was ready to approve him for a lifetime appointment to the bench. This is debasing our judicial system in the most fundamental way. How would you like to have your fate decided by a judge who had no relevant qualifications? He or she was there because of political ties and he or she knew someone who knew the president? The power to confirm is one of the most important duties of the Senate. They have failed, time and again.

— Putting Party over Constitution and Constituents: It would take quite a salesman to convince most people that this president’s tax cuts approved by this Congress was in the interest of the people. This was as blatant a pay back to big donors as I have ever seen. Some congressmen were open about it. They noted their big donors told them to get this done or don’t expect any more contributions. The reply was “Yes, ma’am.”

Health insurance for millions is now at risk, with no replacement plan of any type. Trade wars begin at the president’s behest, with no thought of the impact on US businesses and consumers. The Republican party owes its allegiance to its financial backers and its ideologues. Whatever the president wants to do, the congress will not counterbalance him. Even when it is clear policies and actions are hurting people, no action is forthcoming. People back home are an occasional nuisance to this crowd.

Over time, all this has finally begun to add up. People eventually take you at your word as your actions speak to your priorities. The Republicans have made it clear. As a party, they don’t stand for much beyond their ideology or preservation of power. There has been zero effort to reach out or to govern the whole. As a branch of government, they are missing in action.

They have chosen to follow Donald Trump in action and in word. The simple thing of choosing short term expedience over principle, of hubris in the extreme, will do them in. If you still think that is a winning formula for America and its people, I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

Elections take place in 44 days. Early voting starts in many places in around 25 days. Get out there and do the right thing.

Bill Clontz, Founder, Agents of Reason   Bill Clontz

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2 replies to A Simple Thing is the Undoing of the Republicans

  1. Hey Bill, thanks again for your service to our country. Your comments here remind me of the “cookie jar syndrome.”

    As you say all political parties aspire to achieve power and sway for those “they say” they are looking out for. Hence, all their hands can be found in the “cookie jar” from time to time. The cookie jar being a uphamism for power, money, political connections, agenda, asset redistribution, court appointments, etc.

    Your use of the word “Yet” achieves the same goal of using the word “But” to somehow suggest that we (the people) should think differently this time, unless of course you are just preaching to the choir of the liberal base.

    Political ideology is a tricky thing, and elections do have consequences. Those holding the “cookie jar” obviously do not like it when the other party takes it away.

    Welcome to beautiful NC by the way. We have a rich history of political parties holding sway ”right chere” in the neck of our woods. You may want to research the 100 plus year reign of the Democratic Party over the NC Legislature that came to an end in 2010 as the “cookie jar” was taken away after the citizens were fed up with their experiences and some unsavory episodes. And, let’s not forget the long tenure of liberal control over Bucombe area government and our current efforts to determine what has been swept under the rug. Many will undoubtedly try and will be hard pressed to sell a Yet or But on this story.

    Yet, and But, and What Goes Around Comes Around is all fine and relevant; unless of course we do not remember history.

    • Stanley, thanks for your observations. By the way, no thanks for service is necessary; I always considered it a privilege to serve. But I appreciate the sentiment expressed.

      One could use “yet” or “but” as preferred; my intent certainly is, as you indicate, that citizens certainly should look at the current situation as very different from business as usual. In my view, the closest we have come to this level of distortion of the political process was in the era of Jim Crow. The fact that politicians are always prone to try and tilt the scales in their own favor is different in orders of magnitude from what is going on now. I like to win as much as the next guy, but at some point you have to have some standards of conduct and priorities. In my view, the gerrymandering and voter suppression that is going on in so many places puts winning over the soundness of elective democracy. I believe the fundamentals have been violated. As you state, elections have consequences – citizens need to have confidence in those elections. The fact that our state legislature keeps drawing up districts that are struck down by the courts (they are 0 for 3 rounds so far) illustrates they still don’t get it. Same for the 6 constitutional amendments that a slew of past governors from both parties have condemned.

      Thanks for the welcome. This is actually a return back to NC for me – I was born and raised here. The NC I knew was a leading edge of what we called back then the New South. It was a state that switched back and forth from time to time with Democratic and Republican governors and legislatures who managed to work together fairly often.The state was a leader in two areas: infrastructure investment and especially education.

      Since I returned to NC, I find the gerrymandered majority in the state legislature and the previous governor seems disinclined to invest in infrastructure and has taken us to the bottom three states in most education measurements. The legislature did agree to some pay increases recently – and paid for it by taking away teaching assistants. I think we are a better state than that.

      Could not agree more on your comment about the problems in Buncombe county. I just don’t see how electing Republican replacements, based on their conduct in Raleigh and Washington, offers a solution. Will be interesting to see how we work through this one, for sure.

      Thanks again for reading and responding.

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