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It makes one wonder …

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It makes one wonder …

Dec 02, 2023 | 6:49 am ET
By David Darby
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It makes one wonder …
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DES MOINES, IOWA - AUGUST 12: Former U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledges supporters as the visits the Iowa State Fair on August 12, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls are visiting the fair, a tradition in one of the first states that will test candidates with the 2024 caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A genteel lady of the Old South, when faced with a situation that she found untoward, reprehensible, or incomprehensible, might, in the tradition of understatement, comment, “It makes one wonder.”  Her comment would say all that needed to be said, gently placing the matter in the dustbin of disapproval or condemnation.

Suppose a close family member told you she is supporting a great presidential candidate.  She acknowledges he has been convicted of business fraud, lies continuously, is a racist, threatens people with violence, disrespects the law, praises ruthless dictators, has tried to overthrow a U.S. presidential election, is facing 91 felony charges, plans to use the U.S. government to punish his enemies, and brags about grabbing women by their genitals.  You would think your family member had lost her sense of decency, ability for rational thought, or both.  

Recent polls suggest that around 70% of Republicans would support this same candidate in 2024 if he is the nominee.  

It makes one wonder.

What about the elected representatives of this candidate’s party? During his presidency they passed the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which largely benefitted wealthy Americans, had limited positive impact on the economy, and added $2 trillion to the national debt. 147 members of this same group, of course, voted to overthrow the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

They have voted over 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have denied millions of less-fortunate Americans access to health care.  Ten Republican-led states still refuse to expand Medicaid, blocking both economic development for their states and two million of their neediest citizens from health care access.   

The Republican Governor of Florida is restructuring history and education in a manner consistent with practices common in the USSR under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Hitler. Wisconsin is so gerrymandered by Republicans that a fair democratic election for its legislature is no longer possible.  

Trump’s 35-day government shutdown in 2018-19 cost at least $11 billion.  But Republicans recently threatened to: 1) Default on the national debt, which would have severely damaged the economy, and 2) Shut down the government unless it got extreme (and unworkable) budget cuts, hurting both the economy and millions of individual Americans.  

By unanimous votes, Republicans amended two recent appropriation bills to reduce the salaries of the Homeland Security Secretary and the Transportation Secretary to $1 annually, an indication of the maturity and seriousness of their caucus.

Most of their legislative proposals are extremist measures or ideological statements with no chance of becoming law, providing evidence that they are not interested in participating in actual governing, or, more recently, even capable of governing all.  Do we really want inept extremists running our government?  

German pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous quote after World War II, “First they came for them, then they came for us,” has an update from Bill Leonard, professor emeritus of Baptist studies and church history at Wake Forest University.  Referring to attacks from the MAGA right in America, and based on statistics in the growth of hate crimes, he writes, “First they came for the Black Americans, then….for the Jews, then….for the LGBTQ Americans, then….for the election poll workers, then….for the teachers, then….for the jurors, then….for the school board members.” 

This is where we are with this candidate, his colleagues, and his MAGA crowd. It is scary.

Surely no democracy in its right mind would elect a corrupt, anti-democratic, vindictive leader, along with supporters of his who have proven to be extremists, out of step with most Americans, fueled by hate and discrimination, and incapable of governing?  

It makes one wonder.

David Darby held leadership positions in several US agencies and Montana state government. He also served as U.S. senior advisor on budget policy and management to over a dozen foreign governments.  He is retired and lives in Billings.