Blame

So Trump said (more or less) that if the midterms go well, he should get all the credit and if they go badly, he should get none of the blame. This is politics. He then noted that what would likely happen is the reverse—that a Republican victory would garner him no credit and a defeat will give him all the blame. Again, this is politics. This kind of thing is standard. We see this at the presidential level all the time, if only in the rather shallow fact that a newly-elected president inevitably gets the blame for what his predecessor did when the new guy fails to magically fix everything in the first hundred days. More seriously, presidents get blame for things that are out of their hands—currently, that would include inflation.

The predicted Red Wave did not happen (except in Florida, but that state currently seems to inhabit an alternate universe) and the Republicans are scurrying about trying explain how it’s not their fault. My take is somewhat different—I’m amazed they did as well as they did. I realize people vote their wallets, but I keep wondering at people so divorced from how things work that they would happily vote away their rights for anticipated solutions which the people they vote for have little to do with. The institution that deals with things like inflation is the Federal Reserve and it is doing its job and as the Fed has a firewall between itself and Congress, there is no value in voting out the party that had nothing to do with the situation in the assumption that the other party, which have virtually no meaningful say in any solution, will magically fix the problem. I look upon the citizenry of my country in bafflement that this simple reality is so hard to grasp.

Oh, funding bills? Like for infrastructure? It is largely accepted by both parties that America’s infrastructure is in sore need of attention, so exactly where is the issue? Inflation or not, roads need repair, as do bridges, and we need a high-speed rail system and high-speed internet, regardless. Not funding these things would make the economy worse. But monetary policy—which is where we find things like inflation—is out of Congress’s hands. Do people really not know this or do they just vote the way they do to be arbitrary?

Let’s assume they do not. Then that means a great many people have no problem with the social fascism extant in the GOP. That voting away civil liberties is somehow worth it to keep a book about LGBTQ+ issues out of the hands of kids, that this is a reasonable trade-off.

Likewise, crippling the healthcare system for women and criminalizing gender-specific treatments is worth reducing half the population to conditions wherein they have much harder times to fight poverty and establish equity, things they have been and are still fighting to obtain for over—well, pick your date: half a century, over a century, since the Founding. Mind you, I am not referring only to abortion, but to a whole host of gynecological needs which even now we see examples of women being denied treatment because healthcare workers are afraid that such treatment might land them in jail, depending on the state. This is not theory but practice.

So the GOP is now making statements about who to blame as if their problems are simply a matter of selecting the wrong candidates. They cannot find it in themselves to look at their policies and recognize that they are out of step with actual people. (Because I can predict with a certain amount of certainty that on any of the above issues, many of them while being quite happy to deny Other People those rights, will expect to retain them as privileges, under the table or otherwise, for themselves.)

I’ve been hearing a handful of Republicans broach the possibility that they have failed on social issues. A few voices, here and there, identifying the problem in their alienation of certain voting blocs with unpopular or tone-deaf stances.

And yet, the over-half-century long propaganda train that has labeled Democrats as, originally, Tax-and-Spend Liberals and more recently as Socialists disturbs enough people that they will blink when given the opportunity to categorically repudiate a party that serves an idea of the free market that doesn’t actually reflect reality and assumes isolationism and defense spending are the only things that matter and that to stay in power is willing to strip people of their civil liberties and their ability to act on conscience and backs censorship and has perfected gerrymandering to the point now that elections are imperiled, too many people seem willing to put their actual rights at risk rather than face a future with the boldness America is supposed to be filled with.

It is heartening that damn near every election-denier across the country has lost their election race, but that leaves us with a party that seems to think this is just a temporary set-back, a matter of popularity rather than policy, too close to securing unassailable positions. Our own Senator Hawley (Missouri) has stated that it is time to bury the old GOP and create a new party, and as far as it goes, I agree. But such a new party, in order to be viable—philosophically, morally, politically—and be something identifiably in step with American principles, would necessarily have no place for people like him.

We cannot rest on this election. It will take a few more election cycles to re-establish the confidence the GOP has damaged in our democracy. And we need a federal election law to prevent states from arbitrarily rejecting fair elections.

Fair elections. It’s amazing how the fraud being claimed by the deniers, when you get right down to it, always ends up demeaning traditionally minority voters and impairing their ability to cast ballots. If you don’t want to be labeled racist, stop tilting the scales to white (usually male) voters. After the 2016 election, when evidence of foreign involvement was demonstrated, commissions worked heroically to close loopholes, plug gaps, and establish the next elections as the safest and most secure in our history. There may still be work to be done, but after all that, to claim that the 2020 election could be stolen is purest fantasy. All that really means is, your candidate lost, and you can’t deal with that. Apparently, a lot of Americans, of both parties, agree. The deniers lost.

Don’t go looking to blame the candidates as such. The problem is in the policies. The shift we may be seeing is a clear statement that those are in need of fixing.

This time, at least, I am somewhat relieved. I’m not holding my breath today. Next time, we need to oust the reactionaries.

Published by Mark Tiedemann

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