Trump Influence Very Much Alive
BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“Unhappy the land that needs heroes.”
Bertholt Brecht, “The Life of Galileo”
The ancient Greeks, Romans and other pagans worshipped fake gods. So do radical conservative Republicans, who bow at the altar of Donald Trump.
And so it came to pass that the Republican leaders of the House and Senate slavishly followed Trump’s exhortation and expressed their disapproval of bipartisan legislation to create a commission to probe the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection because it ostensibly would make the former president look bad. He was impeached for instigating it.
“Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter and stop being used by the radical left,” Trump appealed to Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, The Washington Post reported.
Typically hypocritical, McConnell justified his opposition to the commission by saying it’s a “slanted and unbalanced proposal” by Democrats. He lied.
The proposal was negotiated and offered by the Democratic chair and ranking Republican of the House Homeland Security Committee, Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and John Katko of New York, respectively. So how could it have been “slanted and unbalanced” if both sides agreed to it?
And it came to pass that the Republicans spurned the White House offer to cut its infrastructure-jobs proposal from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion to make it more palatable to Trump’s party. The GOP has its own skinny $568 billion bill to fix roads and bridges. Forget expanding broadband, even though we’re in the 21st century.
And on the school front, Republican legislators in Texas are taking a leaf from Trump’s scorned and discarded “patriotic education” proposal by his 1776 Commission to create textbooks that essentially would lie like Trump and gloss over slavery and discrimination against Mexicans. Texas was a slave state. Some fighters at the famed Alamo battle of 1836 had been slave owners and slave traders.
A real president, Joe Biden, quickly nixed the commission’s proposed sweetening of Texas history. Revisionism is a hallmark of autocracies.
Despite the silencing of Trump’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (bless the quiet), his divisive legacy, which certainly includes Republican-led states toughening voting laws nationwide, created such a repressive atmosphere that a pending case about abortion before the conservative Supreme Court immediately spawned fears Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
With Republican-controlled legislatures in 30 states, the country is rowing backwards. It’s following tracks Trump laid down when he reversed progressive environmental laws, virtually ignored a pandemic, denied climate change and redirected America’s enlightening outlook toward everything from race to sexual orientation to a more inward, restrictive, insensitive and malicious environment. Then he went the ultimate route by trying to overturn a legitimate presidential election. His mendacity was overwhelming, his stewing anger and skewed view of America difficult to stomach.
We live with all of it still and I shiver over what might come in the 2022 and 2024 elections. Maybe that’s why Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall questioned Sunday why Trump still is “a free man.” “Lock him up!” he wrote.
“It’s truly strange that in a land of laws, Trump still walks free, strutting around his fancy-pants golf course, holding $250,000 a head fundraisers, evading justice, encouraging sedition, and daily blogging divisive bile about a stolen election. The Big Kahuna peddles the Big Lie. What other self-respecting country would allow it?” Tisdall wrote.
Don’t bet on Biden getting Congress to enact much of his ambitious agenda intact. Unlike Biden, President Franklin Roosevelt had a Congress that worked with him in 1933 to get his New Deal in his first 100 days.
Trumpism is evident among Republicans nationwide in that Texas isn’t alone in trying to rewrite its history to satisfy the conservative view.
Idaho’s Republican governor, Brad Little, recently signed a bill restricting critical race theory from being taught not only in schools but in universities. The theory, developed in the 1970s, says societal racism, or white supremacy, exists and that the law is responsible for keeping it in power.
Revising what kids learn about their country’s racist history also has spread to Republican legislatures recently in Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and West Virginia, according to the April 15 edition of EducationWeek.
Their legislation “may make it harder for teachers to talk about racism, sexism and bias in the classroom,” it said. They use language similar to a Trump executive order “put in place to ban diversity trainings for federal workers.”
There’s some justice, at least in the private sector. CNN fired Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, a conservative, as a political commentator over remarks that deleted Native Americans from the country’s history.
“We birthed a nation from nothing — I mean there was nothing here,” he told a Young America’s Foundation gathering in April. “I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture as American culture.”
He should visit American history museums.
This is the kind of white supremacist thinking that inspires radical conservative revisions to American history and limiting voting by minorities. No wonder there were pagan gods, complete with mythological drama. If you can’t face life, make up your own version.
Richard C. Gross, a correspondent, bureau chief and foreign editor of United Press International, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.