Editorial: How will 2020 be remembered on the political front?
Will 2020 be remembered as the start of the nation’s rejuvenation, its crawl back from the edge of insanity to a nation once again embraced in the world community, and respected for its leadership in human rights, political realism and its adherence to science-based facts to guide national and international policy?
Or will 2020 be remembered as the year Trump undermined America’s democratic principles, led the Republican party hopelessly astray embracing one conspiracy theory after another, endlessly denigrating opponents yet never offering a platform from which to bridge divides, reduce inequity and strengthen the middle class?
After four years of dominating the airwaves, Republicans are accustomed to Trump molding the party and many expect him to continue in that role. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds the key levers of power to determine which path the Republican Party will take over the next four years (assuming Republicans hold the Senate.) If McConnell continues to view his role as opposition leader to any Democratic President as one in which he forestalls all progress under the premise that making things worse for all Americans hurts the party in power, the GOP will embrace the politics of anger, resentment and hypocrisy. It’s politics that deliberately misinforms the public, portrays opponents as monsters (socialism is the current dog-whistle), and lavish spending is coupled with sky high taxes and the need — after four years of tax cuts for the wealthy and unchecked spending — to suddenly proclaim that austerity is the only salvation to the problem poised by the federal budget deficit. To project such blatant hypocrisy would confirm the party’s complete abandonment of any core principles.
But if McConnell seeks compromise in an honest effort to move the country forward, he could rebuild the party’s core values, demonstrate the party is capable of responsible leadership and deserving of a seat at the table.
At this point, however, that’s a bad bet. McConnell has already shown his preference to make life as difficult as possible for President-elect Joe Biden. In his latest effort to stop or minimize the amount of aid given to states, local governments and individual Americans in need, he has shown his willingness to deliberately hurt fellow Americans if it means hurting the Democratic Party in the next election.
It’s that type of thinking that led the Republican Party to embrace the lunatic that is Donald Trump. In their willingness to worship the failed politics of trickle down economics, they embraced a dictatorial madman who now imagines himself as an ill-treated saint who has been deprived of his rightful place on the throne.
Following his stunning defeat to Biden, a “landslide” in Trump’s own terms four years earlier, that he is given any credence by GOP leaders is a matter of choice. While Trump still holds sway over many of his supporters, McConnell surely knows Trump’s influence will wane when he’s out of power. Furthermore, he knows that the criminal investigations Trump will soon face will unearth more unseemly allegations of tax fraud and other business-related crimes, as well as ample justification for his alleged collusion with Russia and his previous business dealings with Russian oligarchs who may have propped up the Trump family’s business in times of need just a decade or so ago.
McConnell may have few morals and hold American’s democracy in disdain enough to use Trump as the lap dog to get conservative judges appointed and tax cuts for business and the wealthy, but he’s no fool. He knows the Republican Party has gone astray under Trump, is now fighting within, and that it could implode. How he keeps the moderates intact and separates his Republican party from the Trumpists will be one of the major sideshows of the next four years. The irony is that to save the GOP from the conspiracy-crazed Trump supporters, McConnell might have to move the party back to the political center and in the process help Biden.
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