We end this week with the specter of governors from the two largest red states waging war with schoolteachers who are trying to prevent students from being sickened during a global pandemic. Each day, 125,000 people are being infected with Covid-19, and in state after state, the GOP has moved to prevent officials from responding.
For anyone who has endured politics in the 21st century, though, it sort of makes sense. The Republican Party, once a sanctimonious force of white men who lectured about patriotism and the sanctity of life, have become an anti-science death cult devoted to upending democratic elections. And they’re still sanctimonious.
As cartoonishly evil as the Republican Party is now, it’s not a recent thing. In fact, Republicans kicked off the century by bending norms and the law to install a president who received a minority of the votes. That was considered anomalous at the time, not a fallen norm that would lead to efforts to undermine elections themselves. Within a few years, the US was lying itself into wars and arguing for torture. Over my morning coffee, I sat down to think of just the actions the GOP has taken — not the bad faith rhetoric it routinely offers voters and the press, but the things they were willing to fight for and implement. It is … quite a picture:
- 2000: Seized the White House in a dubious claim to the election.
- 2001: Cut taxes on the rich.
- 2001: Ignored warnings of a terrorist attack.
- 2001–2008: Methodically filled the federal and supreme courts with activist conservative judges.
- 2002: Passed bipartisan No Child Left Behind act.
- 2002–2003: Started ill-conceived wars, the second sold to the public with lies.
- 2003: Cut taxes on the rich!
- 2004: Defended secret torture of war prisoners.
- 2008: Crashed the US economy.
- 2009–2017: Tried to prevent Democrats from providing health care to uninsured Americans.
- 2016: Backed a racist demagogue who bragged about his sexual assault.
- 2017–2020: Continued stuffing the courts with active conservatives, many undistinguished, including unprecedented shenanigans to score two new Supreme Court justices.
- 2017: Tax cuts on the rich!
- 2018: Amid anti-immigrant hysteria, separated children from parents at the US-Mexico border and housed them in pens.
- 2020: Grossly mishandled an international pandemic.
- 2021: Sparked (and later excused/defended) a coup to overturn a legal election.
- 2021: Embarked on a series of measures to prevent Democrats (i.e. candidates backed by majorities of voters) from winning elections.
- 2021: Opposed all efforts to address global pandemic, including discouraging vaccinations and preventing schools and businesses from requiring masks.
During the Bush years, the Republican Party actually tried to do real stuff. Mostly malignant, harmful stuff, but real stuff. Since 2016, their entire raison d’être is to thwart democratic elections, pack courts, attack immigrants, and cut taxes on the rich. There’s nothing else left to the Party beyond trolling people committed to democracy and actual governance.
Anyway, happy Friday.