Essay:RoninMacbeth/An Open Letter to Senate Republicans

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Dear Republican Members of the United States Senate[1],

Recently, in displays of disgust with the current administration, two of your number have declared their retirement from the Senate effective the end of their terms. I speak, specifically, of Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN). They have recently made the usual trips around "Resistance" media outlets, receiving congratulations from pundits for this "heroic" display. From what I can tell, they will probably not be the last.

Please let me explain why this is not, in fact, the heroic sacrifice that the two senators and the media make it out to be.

Populism[edit]

The electorate can be a fickle consort. On your side one election, then on the other the next. You, the Republican establishment, have spent the last several decades creating an environment ripe for populist denunciations of liberal/progressive politics. You used dog-whistles, euphemisms, astroturfing, and every slimy tactic in the goddamn book to gain an edge over the Democrats.

Then along comes Trump, who seizes the reins of forty years of careful machinations on your part. What did you expect to happen? Tell me, would the outcry be the same if Ted Cruz or Chris Christie had been elected over Trump? They pose similar threats to the rule of law and democratic institutions that Trump does. The two main differences are:

  1. Trump is more obviously an authoritarian nutjob.
  2. Trump wasn't one of you.

Take Senator Corker as a prime example. In the 2006 Tennessee Senatorial election, Corker was behind his Democratic opponent, Harold Ford, Jr., by several points. Then, just before the election, the RNC ran a series of ads preying on the inherent racist tendencies of the electorate.[2] Did you, Senator Corker, object then? Did you object on the grounds of common decency and basic morality at that point? No, of course, you didn't. Why? Because you benefitted from it.

Senator Flake, on the other hand, has no similarly damning controversies to his name, as of this writing. So, Senator Flake, congratulations! You are not an entirely despicable and hypocritical person.

As for the rest of you, well, not so much. You all expected to reap the benefits of your demagoguery, and those of you who were elected or reelected in 2016 did. But you created a system where a casually racist, sexist, warmongering, clearly unhinged lunatic with no knowledge of or respect for ethics or civics could become your party's candidate for the Presidency. You invited gibbering madmen into your home and encouraged their antics. And now, after all that, we're supposed to shower you with praise for noticing that the house (in both senses of the word) is filled with gibbering madmen?

Your Politics[edit]

Every day, I grow less optimistic about the political situation in this country, which was a pretty low bar to begin with. But still, let's play optimist:

Suppose that the day comes when Trump and his ilk are expelled from the White House. Maybe it'll be a Democrat or an independent, but let's sate your fantasies and say it's one of you. What then? You still stand for ideas that I and every other progressive find misguided at best and abhorrent at worst. You would still subvert the rule of law and democratic principles for power. You would still be utterly and completely morally bankrupt. Corker stood by the military interventions of the Bush and Obama administartions, Flake voted for military force in Iraq, and every single one of you in the Senate in 2003 did the same. You have consistently rejected diplomatic solutions in favor of sanctions and, wherever possible, troops. And now, Trump is acting exactly how you seem to have wished Presidents Bush and Obama acted. Why the change in attitude? Is it because you realize that your rhetoric could get people, including you and your families, killed? That millions could be incinerated in the world's first global nuclear war? You realized that your rhetoric has consequences. Congratulations, nitwits. You learned as adults in Congress what I learned as a fifteen-year-old in PoliSci1: "Warmongering leads to war, war kills people."

Setting aside the possibility that what you've done could possibly lead to me getting incinerated tomorrow, you're still not very good as far as political positions. And that's leaving aside the fact that the overwhelming majority of you have acted as Trump's enablers, going with what he suggests. How many of you voted against Jeff Sessions' appointment to the post of Attorney General? Senator Collins was the only one. How many of you voted against Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, despite the fact that he barely knew anything about the Department he found himself in charge of? Not even Senator Collins is immune from that criticism. Or Ben Carson, a man who really has no place being in charge of a post office, let alone one of the critical Cabinet-level Departments.[3] Again, not one of you voted "Nay." Each of you is basically a carbon copy of the positions that Trump seems to support. You don't support women's choice, or marriage equality, or trans/non-binary people's rights, or the security of the welfare state. If Trump were gone tomorrow, you would still be there. Virtually nothing would change.

Ethics[edit]

You don't get a reward for common decency because it's (in theory) common. Every single one of you should have been denouncing Trump from the words "When Mexico sends its people...". And by "denouncing," I do not refer to what you actually did, which was the equivalent of a bored substitute teacher telling her students to stop hitting each other while she's paying more attention to her fascinating book. You should have been running dozens of ads, writing hundreds of speeches, sending thousands of letters to your constituents denouncing what Trump said. Granted, it probably wouldn't have done much anyway (see the "gibbering madmen" analogy above) but it would have shown you cared. It would have shown that you had some measure of courage and decency. But you couldn't manage that. Most of you couldn't even muster an appearance on the news, spouting the usual line of "respect for immigrants is key to being Americans." By the time of the election, most of you were either on-board with Trump or merely ambivalent.

To Senators Corker and Flake[edit]

I now write to the two newly minted heroes of "The Resistance." What you have done is not heroic. It is neither courageous nor commendable. I have heard the line about how this allows you to speak against Trump without fear of electoral reprisal, but that's exactly why this isn't courageous.

Had you an ounce of honor or bravery in your bodies, you would have stuck it out. You would have borne the political consequences of finding your moral compass to the bitter end. You created this monster. Now that it is rampaging, you expect us to praise you because you (politically) locked yourselves in your offices with a bottle of whiskey and a service revolver. Had you opposed Trump and lost reelection, you would have gone down in history as men who finally found their consciences and faced the consequences.

As for Trump in general? Senator Corker, you were one of his most fervent supporters. Flake, your criticism of Trump rings hollow because, once he was elected, you allowed his plans to pass. You enabled him to enact his agenda, which sounds eerily similar to yours. You don't object to what Trump wants, you care about how he achieves his goals. And even then, you can barely muster the courage to truly criticize him.

tl;dr[edit]

Don't give people credit for opposing Trump when they enabled him and want the same things he wants.

P.S.[edit]

Daily Show, NBC, CNN, and all the other "Resistance" media outlets: Don't give these guys credit. Belated opposition to Trump does not a good person make.

Update[edit]

Jeff Flake recently mentioned what we have been saying all along; that Trump is merely the manifestation of a deeper, systemic problem in the GOP. Well done, Senator Flake. Now ask yourself what you can do about it?

References[edit]

  1. With the exception of Senator Susan Collins, a person that, while I disagree with on some political areas, does not appear to be totally hypocritical.
  2. No specific jab at the denizens of Tennessee, though. Everyone in the world is kind of a racist piece of shit, they included.
  3. For those who forgot, I'm referring to the Department of Housing and Urban Development