The Republican Party is certainly not the party that it was forty years ago and I am distressed by my impression of what it has become: an unprincipled agent of corporate interests. I’m not just talking about Trump’s rhetorical appeal to the basest sort of populism (if you want to call it that) while overtly advancing the monetary interests of the very wealthy. Rather the party itself has morphed into something that I can’t recognize.
What brought me to this thought was a statement by Texas Republican representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee: “Civil liberties and privacy are still rights worth protecting, and I intend to protect them.” This was said in defense of the Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee voting unanimously to decline the right to receive Trumps tax returns. This is the same person and party that that day voted not quite unanimously to do away with the FCC’s privacy rules.
More than that the Republican Party seems to be doing everything in its power to hamper any investigation of the extent of Russia’s involvement in corrupting our election process and clandestinely influencing policy. This is the “evil empire ” that Reagan railed against, now run by a former KGB agent. The current situation to all appearances involves a far greater threat to our government than Watergate which involved a break-in by political operatives of the president. Yet the Senate in 1973 voted unanimously to create a committee in investigate the matter. The reputation of the Republicans on the committee was greatly enhanced by their concern for the truth over party loyalty. The opposite situation applies today.
The party’s domestic agenda now seems to be to eliminate regulations designed to protect consumers so that business will be able to operate free of these concerns, and to reduce taxes for corporations and wealthy people. The party apparently hopes that this agenda will be masked by gestures designed to appeal to Trump’s base. Those gestures include a Muslim ban, a wall, the elimination of Planned Parenthood and all arts funding, among other things.
As offensive as these things are, my greatest fear is that Trump will do what every Republican has done since 1980, find a war to engage in. This has been the Republican opiate for the masses to quell flagging popularity. Trump’s proposed budget with historic increases in defense spending and virtual suspension of diplomacy seems to anticipate such action.