If You Lie Down With Dogs, You Get Fleas
That’s an old adage, attributed to actress Jean Harlow, but what makes adages old is their truths. And the truth is that the Republican Party is in deep shit. The depth is measured in this case by the 35,000 actual and provable lies their putative leader, then-president Trump, told during his four-year presidency.
Don’t send me hate-mail, I once was a Republican.
The fleas in this case are an infestation
A serious case of itching lies beneath the robes of the three Supreme Court justices nominated by Donald and hurried into their seats by an out-of-breath Mitch McConnell prior to the 2020 elections.
The trouble with fleas is one never knows where they will bite next.
Denouncing a national election
Trump, in the tradition of Olympic-grade tellers of lies, saved his greatest effort for last, claiming his 2020 loss was the result of massive fraud and stolen from him by murky forces lurking in the deep state. In his paranoia, they had always been against him.
No defeated presidential candidate in the history of America has ever done that before.
Hillary Clinton called Trump at 2am (no doubt through clenched-teeth) the night of the 2016 election to congratulate him and wish him a successful presidency. In Bush vs Gore, the 2000 presidential election was decided by the United States Supreme Court, halting a Florida recount-in-process, yet Gore conceded that highly contentious loss and offered George Bush his congratulations and support.
Trump not only claimed illegality, he pursued that claim in court after court (losing in each) and enabled and encouraged the first attempted sacking of the Capitol since the War of 1812, when the British burned the White House. That was a riotous break-in by his misguided (“I will march with you”) followers to stop the January 6th confirmation of the Biden win by Congressional affirmation of the Electoral College count.
Senators, including the Vice President, were hunted down in the Senate, hiding under their desks and behind locked doors. $30 million in damages and three deaths later, the premises were cleared. Indictments and prosecutions are underway. No small infestation of fleas in that case.
Moving on in the panic among Republicans
The party was so traumatized by fear of crossing Trump that 135 sitting Representatives and 12 sitting Senators joined him in disavowing the election results. Nary a can of flea-powder in sight.
Yet this entire unfortunate and illegal process is not without backlash within the party. We are not (yet) 1933 Weimar Germany and enjoy a freedom to speak and write and argue the pros and cons of a demagogue ex-president and his hold on national politics. This from the NYTimes, Feb. 10, 2021. (Bear in mind that this article is two months old and does not reflect more recent defections).
In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the phone lines and websites of local election officials across the country were jumping: Tens of thousands of Republicans were calling or logging on to switch their party affiliations.
In California, more than 33,000 registered Republicans left the party during the three weeks after the Washington riot. In Pennsylvania, more than 12,000 voters left the G.O.P. in the past month, and more than 10,000 Republicans changed their registration in Arizona. An analysis of January voting records by The New York Times found that nearly 140,000 Republicans had quit the party in 25 states that had readily available data (19 states do not have registration by party).
Apparently not everyone is immune to demagoguery.
And the beat goes on
Reaching in panic to rid themselves of an intolerable itch, laws are underway in Republican-majority state legislatures to substantially narrow voting opportunities. It’s unclear just how this will empower an already dwindling Republican base, but the powers-that-be have decided that standing between the poor, the minorities and the ballot-box is a good idea. Apparently they feel they have a compliant Supreme Court in their corner—and that may well be true.
But it’s a risky bet in an arguably free society, particularly one that rests upon such shifting philosophical ground as America at the moment.
Unrest is in the air across so many circumstances
Black Lives Matter is far too powerful a movement to simply go away as Occupy Wall Street apparently has. #MeToo is yet to run its course, the billionaire economy is increasingly under the lens of public attention, the sports and business communities are more and more vocal on racial and representational matters, while the United States Congress approval rating holds barely above used-car salesmen.
That is not business as usual.
That’s a cumulative infestation of fleas that make political punditry a fool’s errand. Everyone has an answer, as they nervously scratch under their arm and down toward that impossible-to-reach midpoint of their back.
Adage wise, never count your chickens before they’re hatched.
Image Credit: NBC News