The Dark Feckless Heart of the GOP

McConnell expects Trump to lose, and therefore, for him to spend political capital to support Trump by forcing through a bill which would put his own leadership position at risk after the election, to me, doesn’t make any sense,” Ian Shepherdson

Senate leader Mitch McConnell

“…in the absence of a coronavirus relief bill, poverty is growing. Depending on the scale they use, researchers say 6 to 8 million Americans have slipped below the poverty line. Republican strategists appear to be willing to deepen the recession if it means crippling an incoming Biden administration. According to a report in Bloomberg, Republicans are setting the stage to kill future federal spending. If Biden is elected but the Republicans hold the Senate, they will refuse any aid to address the coronavirus crisis, thus hoping to cripple a Democratic presidency from Day One.” ~Heather Cox Richardson

o, as those who’ve followed me for a while know, I — like so many middle-aged folks — have had a long rough patch of loss and grief that has taken some years to transcend. There’s really no way to explain that experience to anyone who hasn’t been through it, but it seems to be the nature of life that somewhere in the forties the world starts to close in in a way for which no one can be prepared. And owing to all sorts of outside forces utterly beyond my control, that dragged on far longer than I ever could have anticipated. As a result of discovering that my college degree and all my stellar professional experience came to naught when I needed them most, I have been humbled.

In the past few years, though, things have been coming back into focus. I’d been doing more and more contract work, getting some semblance of a new normal. Investing in new relationships and finally beginning to envision a future that for so long seemed unattainable.

hen, in one week in mid-March the world stopped: New York City just stopped in its tracks. The contracts I had lined up vanished. It was an odd illusion because, while the city got very quiet it was not still, the hospitals were in a catastrophic spasm, and no one could really help. On some subterranean level we were all hanging on by our fingernails.

Like everyone else, while I had a little cash to tide me over, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get through to the Department of Labor regarding unemployment, and we were all on edge awaiting the passage of the CARES Act to get abruptly unemployed Americans some relief. Begrudgingly the Republican Senate finally signed off on the bill.

It wasn’t much and it certainly was not sufficient for the long haul, but it saved millions of us from the abyss. At least for a minute.

Fortunately for me, having been materially without for so long, I had scaled my needs back to basics well before all this happened, so I was able to create a reserve. Having been recently destitute myself, I never forgot for a moment that millions of people did not have the latitude or the leverage to save any of the pittance we were getting from this administration, nor did I ever give a second thought to our right to receive that help from the federal government. We worked for lifetimes and dutifully paid our taxes: it is our money.

ince there was no work to be found anywhere, I embraced the opportunity to get back to the thing I had set aside years ago when the demands of my own life started its slow motion implosion: screenwriting. Yes, I was starting to get real traction when I walked away years ago and I’d been contemplating getting back to my heart’s folly when I stabilized my life again. So I finished the pilot and several episodes of the limited series I’d envisioned from my memoirs and started getting those out to industry types. My feeling was — and is — that in a few years, when our great national period of madness and despair passes — there will be a need for new voices and original stories, and I have that. Especially as it relates to Texas.

when the first round of benefits ended at the end of July, I’d put away enough to get through the next few months. But lots of people couldn’t do that, so there was reason to expect that the House and the Senate would — and should — address this calamity with a new bill. The HEROES Act was put on Mitch McConnell’s desk in May by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in anticipation of the need for another round of relief by August, given that Covid-19 was not going anywhere for a long time. Jobs would not be coming back soon — some will never come back — and working Americans and small businesses would remain in dire straits.

enate Leader McConnell did not even look at the House Bill for months. Senate GOP is still, apparently, more interested in holding desperate Americans hostage to their obsession with forcing through the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg; a nominee who refuses to answer questions about the most basic matters of law. Astonishingly, Amy Coney Barrett didn’t seem to know that the right to ‘peaceful assembly’ is covered in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

ell, now I — and every single professional person and small business owners I know — are about out of resources. Owing to a serious injury decades ago, I require my chiropractor, my therapeutic massage therapist and my acupuncturist to manage my pain: all of them are struggling to maintain. They all had thriving practices when this started but clients who could afford to go away did and others of us simply suffered — some horribly — until these offices could reopen after the shutdown. And until we had the money to seek their help. All those practitioners are struggling to keep their offices aloft until business is back up to speed. They need the Paycheck Protection Program.

These are high level professionals who are now at risk of losing established businesses, never mind their homes, because Congressional Republicans have put the appointment of a judge so religiously ideological that she served as a ‘handmaid’ — literally, that is what her church calls these women — first. Holding relief hostage to SCOTUS, Mitch McConnell will not even discuss passing relief legislation to help millions of unemployed working Americans, some now homeless and uninsured in the midst of a pandemic.

personally, have the tiniest of advantages in that I live in New York State where the state is providing an extension of New Yorkers’ meager unemployment benefits. But that is only because I have a governor who has been scrupulously on top of the epidemic and the economic consequence from the get. Tragically, many red states pretended the whole crisis didn’t exist until the body bags were piling up ‘in front of god and everybody,’ as my momma would say. If you are unemployed in one of those states you are shit out of luck.

ot for nothing, but the Federal Reserve has warned of a deepening recession or worse without stimulus funds so that consumers can keep putting money back into the economy. The GOP is simply ignoring this warning.

Mitch McConnell won’t risk his Senate leadership by forcing fellow Republicans to back a big stimulus bill, as he expects President Donald Trump to lose in November…

itch McConnell’s apparent logic here — and follow me because this is bizarre — his logic for withholding assistance from desperate Americans appears to be an assumption that when Trump loses in November, that McConnell himself will still be in his ‘leadership’ position come January. McConnell assesses that he will be blowing political capital by doing anything that appears to support this failed president, capital that he could use to get his way legislatively. That does not track.

When voters repudiate Trump, Republicans down ballot will almost certainly lose the Senate, so what in the world in Mitch McConnell even talking about? Chuck Schumer becomes Senate Leader and McConnell quickly becomes just another old man way past his ‘sell by’ date funneling taxpayer money back to cronies in Kentucky.

As of now, rumor has it that the GOP is so undone by their impending annihilation in the upcoming election — all of which they brought on themselves by worshiping cultishly at the alter of Trumpism — that they think crucifying the working class, leaving the next administration with a literal holocaust of human carnage on day one is a winning strategy? The GOP apparently thinks that is a campaign strategy for their future political resurrection. Like we will have all forgotten about that by what? 2022? 2024?

What’s the ‘sell by’ date on this dementedly cynical calculation? When does the GOP think we will have forgotten what they’ve done here?

hand full of Republicans are lending lip service to their disgust with Trump: Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME). Romney, Murkowski and Collins even said a few weeks ago that they would not vote on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee because Americans were already voting and that ‘just wouldn’t be right.’ Evidently Mitch McConnell took them into the Congressional coatroom and slapped them back into line because they’ve since reversed course on that, now saying they will support this appointment.

Here’s the thing: it is unlikely that Barrett’s appointment will be stopped unless a few of these senators either vote ‘no’ or don’t vote at all. Republicans up for re-election are about to have their asses handed to them: at this point they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. It is not really their fault if Mitch McConnell continues to delude himself about his place in all this.

So I fail to grasp, if their values are all they claim they are, why— just these senators — can’t tell McConnell they won’t vote for this ‘Stepford Wife’ with a law degree if he doesn’t move immediately to pass this relief bill. What do they have to lose? And for those not up for re-election, they can say they acted in the best interests of the people when the time comes.

eyond the purely self serving political cynicism of this insane Machiavellian calculation, there is such cruelty and brutality that it’s hard to comprehend it as ‘strategy’ to anyone but the most soulless of psychopaths, or just the most feckless of Republicans. Mitch McConnell has realized that separating his own political fortunes from Donald Trump is a good tactical move way too late in the game. If Trump is willfully complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds, little brown children, now Covid deaths — and the list goes on — Mitch McConnell’s been right there urging him on.

McConnell’s GOP seems to be making the closing argument that “hey, we’ve killed so many people and destroyed so many more lives, what’s a few more in the spirit of scorched earth.”

And did I forget to mention that all these people call themselves ‘Christians’?

Author of “Dwelling in the Vast Divine.1 & .2" Political consultant, policy wonk.

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