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The Devolution of the Republican Party

When Joe Biden was running for President, he was described as saying that he thought that the Trump era was an aberration, and that “the fever would break” after he was defeated.

Other people, writers, pundits, had felt that as well. It was probably at least partly due to the mind’s protection from the concept that the Republican Party and its leaders could be so awful; so that it had to be because of Trump; and that once he went away, some of the awfulness would go away. But it has not, it is even getting worse.

When I first started following politics with my parents, who would likely have described themselves as FDR and Adlai Stevenson liberals, the Republicans were essentially the party of the wealthy. Not all people who voted Republican were rich, of course, but that is the group which ran it. That was the theme which ran through the various periods and threads. Republicans were a party which, at least from 1870 on, tried to enact policies which would help the rich keep their money, and get richer. There were exceptions such as “trust-busting” Theodore Roosevelt, but the people who ran the party did not intend for him to become President.

Republicans mostly fought for laissez-faire capitalism. “The business of America is business,” as Calvin Coolidge said. Their foreign policy was basically isolationism. They hated Bolsheviks, because they were at least theoretically against a monied elite. They hated Socialists, too, because they offered a more democratic and less violent alternative, but were also against the amassing of immense wealth. Republicans, particularly as embodied in the Hearst media empire, took to calling any Democrat they didn’t like, a “socialist.”

Republicans mostly did not want us to enter WWII, largely because they wanted to keep making deals with German businesses, so they argued that we should stay out of Europe’s affairs,; until Japan bombed us. After the war, Republicans developed an agenda which combined business power and wealth with hatred of Russia, and Cold War “brinkmanship.” They would contend that Democrats were “soft on communism.” Calling Democrats “soft” or “weak,” as compared to the manly and tough-minded Republicans, morphed into various aspects, over the years, and brought Republicans the electoral success that they never would have gotten through their economic policies. After the Great Depression, there were not all that many people who were going to put their faith in big business looking out for them, so they needed the distractions.

So Nixon became the master of “Red-baiting.” Joe McCarthy terrorized anyone who had ever gone to a Communist Party meeting in the ’30’s, or had written or directed a pro-labor, anti-corporate movie.

Then it moved to the era of the Vietnam War, where Republicans took for themselves the mantle of “fighting Communism everywhere,” warning about the “domino theory” where if we abandoned Vietnam, the Communists would take over Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia. They portrayed Democrats as being soft, particularly in view of the fact that there were growing protests against the undeclared war in Vietnam.

The protests gave Republicans a new route, “law and order.” Part of this went with the segregationists in the ’50’s and ’60’s, part of it was hatred of the youth culture, “hippies,” people burning replicas of flags. Nixon and Agnew talked about “the silent majority,” and most unfortunately, they were right; there were many people in the Midwest who hated the protests, who felt that people who protested the war were unpatriotic, even treasonous.

So Nixon won twice, and hen after a four-year aberration because of Watergate, Republicans used the two lines of attack of anti-Communism and law and order, to usher in their third great era (the first two were the Gilded Age, and the period of unfettered laissez-faire of 1920-1932), that of Reagan, who was a syrupy-voiced former actor and spokesman for General Electric, who, with his multimillionaire backers, mastered the art of reciting simple platitudes, buoyed by the lofty but essentially meaningless words of Peggy Noonan. The press adored Reagan’s “ability to focus on one or two simple statements of policy,” as opposed to Democrats discussing issues in complex fashion.

At that point, and with GHW Bush’s win in 1988, Republicans believed that they had a lock on the Presidency, that they had convinced the public that Democrats were a bunch of East Coast eggheads who were soft on crime, soft on Communism, soft on law and order, soft on attacking the ‘welfare state.” They also made abortion a major issue, to fire up their base.

But Bill Clinton turned that around. And they hated him for it; and his brilliant wife Hillary, too, and even their daughter Chelsea. But Republicans rallied back with another Bush, with the help of a corrupt Florida governor, his brother; and a corrupt Florida secretary of state who was told to delay the mandated vote recount, until the Supreme Court could step in. Bush’s version of naked capitalism did not work well, so even though Republicans had found a new “soft” theme, Democrats were “soft on terrorism,” they lost the 2008 election, because they had wrecked the economy again.

We got Obama, when we should have gotten Hillary; and this blog has discussed from the outset, how he was unprepared or even unwilling to fight the ever more radical, vicious and unscrupulous “New Republicans,” who simply bore no relation to the Republicans of the 1960’s, who were not good, but not thoroughly evil.

So then the Republicans, having devolved to a party which had no standards or ethics, actually got to the circle of hell where they enlisted the help of Russia, to defeat the Democrats. At that point, they had lost any flimsy pretense to scruples or ideology; they only had an a insatiable appetite to win, no matter by what means. They just look for culture issues to rile up their base. They simply want to get their people to vote against Democrats out of hatred, not because of any actual policy matters. And now, greatly fearing that it will not be enough to win, they have resorted to trying to take the vote away from people who would vote against them, to a sufficient extent so that they could rule forever.

And then of course they would, as they always do, revert to their economic social darwinism, robbing from the middle class and poor, to give more wealth to the rich. That has now been combined with the worst aspects of White Supremacy, anti-abortion fervor, hatred of science, professors, the media, anyone who threatens their perverted world view.

The Republican Party has steadily devolved from a party which was able to convince non-rich people to vote against their economic interests, by distracting or misdirecting them with “cultural issues,” into one which promises to protect them from any facts or knowledge which will upset them, or permeate the relentless brainwashing which they need to keep them in line.

Even in previous times of Republican political ascendancy, there had always been some Republicans in office who held moderate views, and who were decent people. They were never the majority of them, but they acted as a counterbalance, and could at times allow for compromise proposals to become law. But those days are gone, and whatever small remnants are left of them are being systematically purged. They have lost whatever semblance of respect one might have had for a few of them in past decades. They have just about gotten to the point where they are all the same. They are not men, they are Devo.

Modi Operandi and the misleading promise of patent relief

India has always had a Covid pandemic crisis. They’ve just been successful until now at covering it up. Here’s part of the reason why:

When I heard that millions of workers were returning to their villages from the cities last year, I thought it was only going to make the pandemic worse. When you have a disease as catchy as Covid running loose, the very LAST thing you want is people moving around. Ideally, you want them to not move at all like players in a game of Spud.

We’ve known that India has been fudging its numbers from the beginning. It’s also a country of 1.3 billion people and a very underfinanced public sector. Check the video above if you want to get a reason why.

Modi’s government has exacerbated the conditions that have made the pandemic explode and is endangering the rest of the world with potentially more lethal escape variants. Modi is a Trump-esque politician who whips up nationalism and disunity between Hindus and Muslims. Take the Republican “if you’re poor and needy it must be because you didn’t do x,y, z and deserve your fate” meme and paste it on a country with a strong residual caste system and you have hundreds of millions of people whose plight is ignored while the upper classes walk around thinking they are immune.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

It’s been made worse by Modi’s Trump style rallies and the government’s encouragement of unregulated Hindu religious festivals where millions gather at the Ganges, completely ignoring social distancing rules as they go down to the river to pray.

Now, we in the US have pressured pharma to give up their patents. And given the nature of the global emergency, this is the right thing to do. It would be the equivalent of forking over the polio vaccine patent. It’s ethical and presumably, the companies have already gotten phenomenally wealthy by now from the government contracts of developing countries. If I were Biden, I’d make sure a healthy chunk of that went in to hiring more researchers but more likely, the CEOs will take the money and run. Who needs scientists, right?

And that’s part of the problem with India. India has a pharmaceutical sector of its own. It has its own brands plus it has benefitted mightily from the US offshoring a lot of research. Maybe it was not high level research but more like contractors supplying parts for drugs and other biologicals for US research companies but India *does* have the brainpower, facilities and probably the raw materials to do their own vaccine research. They shouldn’t feel obligated to just be the hired help for the wealthy.

The question is why didn’t it do it? Why didn’t Modi’s government mobilize its pharma sector? Vaccine research isn’t a new thing. There’s no reason why Indian scientists couldn’t have whipped up an adenovirus vaccine. In fact, I think they do have a home grown version.

But they didn’t plan on vaccinating hundreds of millions of people, especially poor people. So, the government didn’t throw its resources behind vaccine production. Instead, it relied on covering up Covid infections and propaganda and misdirection.

Giving Modi’s government the patents and raw materials that they didn’t seem to feel necessary to get by themselves is not going to solve their problem. In fact, there *is* no solution to the problem in India right now. It will take more time than they’ve got to vaccinate a country that size to herd immunity status because they have to overcome the logistics of ramping up production and distribution. India’s Covid crisis is going to have to burn itself out and hopefully stay within its borders.

What India has is a sociopathic government and an irresponsible electorate that has been encouraged to turn to religion in this crisis.

This could have happened to us if Donald Trump hadn’t been defeated by millions of voters in the US. We’re still not out of the woods. But India should be the focus of our news programs to show how disastrously bad it could have gone. Instead, the Fox News addict will be discouraged from getting vaccinated by misleading and sensational stories. Or they’ll be distracted and outraged over the stupid fantasy story of Biden forcing us to become vegetarians. In a way, a significant portion of the American public has been lulled into a state of false security abs complacency because once Trump was out of the way, our public sector was able to do what India didn’t.

More people should be aware of that. More pictures of rickshaw ambulances and crematoriums running out of fuel to burn bodies need to be shown. More secret footage of India’s collapsed healthcare system, overflowing hospitals, patients on makeshift beds on the floor gasping for air. More pictures of religious devotees bathing in the river. More video of political rallies. More time lapse graphics of the spread. More and more and more.

Everything else in the news is a distraction. There but for the grace of the US electoral system in 2020 go we.