Readers: The entries in this blog are built around the assumption there will be a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.
Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #400 was the most recent “sense check.”
Some of the entries are part of a series. Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download. See list at end of this entry.
START ENTRY: An occasional error message on the computer reads, “Error #404. Not Found.” This being Entry #404, a “404 Error Message” theme seems appropriate.
But like the error message, who has not been found? Inside the Beltway, one can find error messages on both sides of the aisle. Lately, however, Republicans seem to be racing far ahead in making errors of significant consequence for the country.
During the past week or so, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to strip committee assignments from a member who supported rioters breaking into the Capitol, who stated that someone should put a bullet in the head of Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, and who continued to spread lies about a host of other issues affecting democracy. The vote in the House wasn’t to expel or even to censure Representative Greene (R-GA). The vote was merely to strip committee assignments. For Republicans in the House, anyone who supported Trump should not be punished, no matter how egregious the behavior.
What about the fate of Republicans who didn’t support Trump’s attempted takeover of the government? Different story. Some of the same members who supported Greene’s behavior forced a vote among Republicans to remove Liz Cheney from the #3 ranking Republican in the House. Why? Because Cheney had voted for the impeachment of Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection. The temerity of Cheney to uphold the Constitution and vote against Trump.
Somehow Cheney survived. Could it have been because the vote re Cheney was secret and “Only the Shadow Knows” how members voted? The vote for Representative Greene was on the record. Apparently, when Republicans must stand up and have their votes counted in public, they act like scared dogs. Who or what are the Republicans in the House – and Senate – afraid of?
At the beginning of Trump’s second impeachment trial, 44 Republican Senators voted that the trial was unconstitutional. Why was the trial unconstitutional? Because Trump was out of office. Forget precedent from a series of impeachment trials. Forget that the House impeached Trump while he was still in office. Forget that the Senate refused to take up the trial while Trump was in office. Forget all those facts and pretend that once someone leaves, all is forgiven.
What 44 Republican Senators are supporting is that future presidents can be as corrupt as they want with no essentially consequences. For example, the morning of the inauguration of a new president, an outgoing president can accept as much cash as he or she wants from someone, whatever the quid pro quo. By noon that day, when the new president is sworn in, if the House doesn’t impeach the outgoing president and the Senate doesn’t convict, then there is no consequence. And, oh, yes, using the logic of the 44 Senators, the outgoing president can pardon himself and avoid prosecution for any federal crimes. Error 404: Credible Republicans Missing.
The infighting within the Republican Party is a problem for the US. The US needs two functioning parties and now one political party is being taken over by fascists, who are more than willing to throw out the US Constitution and manage by fiat.
While some people point to Trump as the cause of the infighting and the deterioration of the Party, the Republican Party started a downward slide under Ronald Reagan. Reagan did three things that began to erode the credibility of the Republican Party as a true conservative party and erode the democracy.
#1 was the campaign mantra, “Government is the problem, not the solution.“ Reagan repeated the mantra during his campaign and even repeated it during his eight years in office. When he was president, if he wasn’t the government, then who was?
If “government” was really the problem and not the solution, then how did the US put a man on the moon in less than a decade? How did the US change the course of World War II in Europe and the Far East? How did the government help the US economy recover from the Great Depression? Reagan lived through all those events, yet still claimed government was the problem, not the solution.
#2, Reagan was anything but a fiscal conservative. Reagan as a fiscal conservative is a myth. Reagan was a spendthrift. During the Reagan administration, debt as a percent of GDP increased about the same proportion as under FDR’s New Deal Programs prior to World War II. But was Reagan trying to turn around the economy from the Great Depression? No, the economy wasn’t in great shape when Reagan took office but nothing as bad as the early 1930’s.
So what was all the deficit spending for? Was spending for infrastructure expansion and improvement like under Eisenhower? No. Was spending for technology advancement like under Kennedy/Johnson with the space program? No.
Reagan spent money on the military. Why? Unlike under Trump when the president kowtowed to Russia, Reagan actually believed, or seemed to believe Russia was a threat. Therefore, the US must outspend the Russians.
The military spending did stimulate the economy. Republicans, starting with Reagan adopted an unusual economic theory to justify excessive military spending and implement tax cuts. The unusual theory was a combination of Keynesian economics and trickle-down economics. Keynesian economic theory, which states that deficit government spending will help stimulate the economy, was redefined under Reagan to apply only to military spending and not to any other government spending.
Why the narrow and bizarre definition? Because Republican voters like the idea of a strong military. Therefore, government spending for the military was OK but deficit spending for non-military spending. Only spending for the military would stimulate the economy. As a result, all non-military government spending should be based not on Keynesian economics but on trickle-down economics.
The short version for trickle-down economics starts with the assumption there is an ideal maximum marginal tax rate that will generate the most tax revenue for the government. The idea was proposed by Arthur Laffer and known as the Laffer Curve. A marginal rate above the ideal would result in lower government revenue. What the Laffer Curve also indicates, but Republicans refuse to acknowledge, is a maximum marginal rate less than the ideal rate would lower tax revenue.
Since Reagan, Republicans have insisted that cutting maximum marginal income tax rates will stimulate the economy. And because the economy then will grow faster, overall tax revenue will more than make up the amount lost by the lower rate. Why does trickle-down economics work? According to Republican logic, those who have the most wealth already will use the extra money from the tax cut to invest in new plant and equipment. The new plants will then hire new workers and everyone will be better off since income will trickle down to all economic levels.
If you’re a bit confused by this claim, you’re thinking clearly. The rationale for trickle-down economics is so absurd that an eight-year old can see the flaws. Who is going to buy all the additional production from these new plants if regular consumers don’t have more money?
Trickle-down economics is more like “Field of Dreams,“ build it and they will come. Trickle-down was described by George HW Bush as “voodoo economics.“ And he’s been proven correct repeatedly. There is no empirical evidence from any economy that trickle-down economics works. None, nada, zero. Yet to this day, Republican tout voodoo economics as the solution – the 2017 Trump tax cut, the most recent example. What happened after the 2017 tax cut? Huge amounts of money were transferred to the wealthy, and oh, yes, the deficit ballooned to record levels rather than shrinking.
#3, Republicans trashing rather than conserving the environment. Republicans need to look up the definition of “conserve,” the root of “conservative.” I’ll save them the trouble, “protect (something, especially an environmentally or culturally important place or thing) from harm or destruction.”
Republicans appeal to the religious right. I guess fundamentalist Christians have forgotten what it says in the Bible about conservation. There are innumerable references to conservation, beginning in Genesis, about leaving the earth a better place.
Who signed legislation forming the EPA? A Republican. Yet Trump and Republicans have made every effort to dismantle the EPA. According to Republicans, “Why make any effort to clean the air and water when we have mining dollars supporting our campaigns? Mining means jobs. You environmental socialists, go back and hug your trees!”
Under Trump, and to extent all Republican presidents back to Reagan, if members of Congress or some of the states wouldn’t support reducing air-quality and water-quality standards, then the president would try to limit any enforcement by EPA. While Trump was the most extreme in trashing EPA, his behavior fit a pattern of Republicans beginning with Reagan.
What’s happening to the Republican Party now? The Party is splitting in two. One faction wants to ratchet up the 40 years of anti-government actions started by Reagan and magnified by Trump. The other faction wants to regroup and begin to act like grown-up, principled conservatives.
What does the current bi-furcation of the Republican Party mean for the 5th US Revolution, the Revenge Revolution? For one, the Trump crazies feel emboldened after the January 6 attack on the Capitol and other than a few participants too stupid to think social media posts couldn’t be viewed by the FBI and other agencies, have suffered no consequences. And, many Republicans in Congress have aligned with the crazies.
As noted earlier in earlier entries, increased enforcement of laws by Justice under Biden may encourage the crazies to form small cells. The small cells could operate a guerrilla war against high-profile Democrats, judges and Republicans who appear to counter Trump’s wishes.
The part of the Republican Party trying to return to some conservative principles also faces a risk. To the Trump crazies, the principled Republicans are more like Democrats, which the crazies now view as synonymous with socialists.
The threat of the crazies is not going away. While Trump already has faded and may end up in prison, the crazies will rally around a new leader. It may take some time for the leader to emerge. However, the US must take strong action now to eliminate as many cells of crazies as possible.
The principled Republicans need to form another political party, call it the Lincoln Party. And Democrats need to work with the “Lincoln Party” to thwart actions by scared-dog, Error-404 Republicans in Congress.
If there is not a new party for principled Republicans that can work with Democrats, what the US faces is not only a cultural revolution but one where democracy is eroded and replaced by the fascist right. The clock is ticking and not much time is left.
Booklets you might find interesting: