I must admit I enjoyed watching President Biden’s State of the Union Speech. Actually, it was one particular moment I most enjoyed, the one reported most in the media afterwards, when he went off script to respond to GOP jeers.
He had been talking about GOP plans to cut Social Security and Medicare. And I guess many GOP couldn’t stand their malignant plans being held up so publicly to their faces, so they screamed out “Liar.” It seems Biden expected such a response and had set them up so competently. When Marjorie Taylor Greene and others called him a liar, he responded by asking if their yells meant Social Security and Medicare were now off the chopping block, right? And they cheered. And Biden ad-libbed: “All right, we got unanimity!” The programs might now be safe, for this year.
Of course, the GOP did, in fact, plan to cut Social Security and Medicare, and almost all programs that protect the well-being and healthcare of most Americans. And they’ve been doing this for years. In 1935, almost all the GOP voted against the programs. The Reagan era GOP not only proposed big reductions in Social Security but eliminated thousands from the rolls who collected due to a disability, delayed and proposed cuts in COLAs.
Recently, GOP Senators John Thune and Mike Lee talked about slashing the programs. Senator Rick Scott famously proposed putting the two programs, along with Medicaid, on the chopping block every five years. Senator Ron Johnson increased it to every year. Former President DJT proposed, in every year he was in office, to cut the programs. In 2017, the GOP attempted to cut or eliminate not only protections for those with pre-existing conditions, but the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, all to pay for tax cuts that most benefit corporations and the wealthy, as in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
And in the House, the GOP have recently weighed different ways to target the programs. Back in 2015, most of the GOP now in prominent positions voted to raise the retirement age to 70. Luckily, they failed. They consistently resisted efforts to make these social programs more solvent by the fairest and easiest manner ⎼ raising the payroll tax cap so rich Americans pay taxes on their whole income. They pay taxes now on wages only up to $145,000. Wages above that are untaxed. The Republican Study Committee instead plans to cut or eliminate benefits.
The GOP is now not simply the party of DJT. They are not, for the most part, simply a new fascist party, or a party of white Christian nationalists. They are not simply a party of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Asian, anti-any gender other than male-dominance. Or the party of autocratic, oligarchic, plutocratic, kleptocracy. Or the party of narcissistic hate, greed, grievance, and ignorance. They include, simply, all of these, and continuously make use of all these forms of manipulation and profiteering from undermining others.
How else do we explain someone like George Santos, or a party that supported the actions of such a person until he became too toxic? Some Party officials knew about his lies even before the election. Many, including Speaker McCarthy, are working even now to keep him in Congress.
Santos is so lacking in a moral compass, and is under investigation for so many possible crimes, the news stories about him are almost unbelievable. He is being investigated for perpetuating fraud against his constituents and donors, fraud in Brazil in 2008, and stealing money from a GOFUNDME for the dying dog of a homeless veteran. He has been accused of sexual harassment by a volunteer in his office. Reliable reports say he lied about his mother being killed in the twin towers on 9/11, lied about his own name, education, ancestry, and history.
Or Marjorie Taylor Greene, who heckled President Biden during the state of the Union. According to Salon, she did this under orders of DJT. She already, according to USA Today and her own tweets, had “liked” calls for violence against Democrats, called school shootings fake, staged events, repeated theories that space lasers caused California wildfires, and of course the big lie, that DJT had won the election in 2020, which he didn’t; and that he didn’t initiate deadly events on Jan 6, 2021 to set himself up as a dictator, which he clearly did.
Or GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert who followed Biden’s speech the next day by praying for his death; this was not the first time she had done this. Or the sex trafficking and corruption of Matt Gaetz. So many examples.
The GOP are not capable of governing. They do want power, prestige, but don’t seem to care about getting the details right or solving the problems we face, or whether they might hurt anyone. They lie instead of studying the reality. They scream and threaten others as if they have a direct line to God and no need to cooperate with anyone who doesn’t agree totally with them. This is an unbelievably dangerous way to think and act.
And I am saying all this not because the efforts by many GOP are new; most Americans, I believe, already know what the GOP have done. We’ve been living with these GOP for years. And I am writing not just out of the sheer joy I felt seeing President Biden so dexterously deal with the sneers and jeers.
I write about this, so it doesn’t become old and normalized.
I write about this because the actions and way of thinking of many GOP constitute a threat beyond anything I ever wanted to let into my mind; a threat so unbelievable, I and others have trouble believing it’s true. But I can’t let myself be frightened into feeling helpless, or so angry I feel we’ve failed if we don’t better the situation immediately. Or give up hope. Or stop caring. Listening to Biden, remembering the last two election wins and the Jan. 6 Committee Hearings, I feel hope.
In a democracy of millions, holding the powerful responsible takes time. Seeing the results of our action takes time. We all constantly affect each other in ways subtle and profound. Just imagine the difference being in a room with someone filled with greed, hate, and lies compared to being with someone who acts kindly, compassionately, knowledgeably. So, supporting each other, in what we do, how we think and act, matters. Change creeps, until it erupts.
*This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.