Truth, Justice, and the American Way

In the 2020 election, about 74 million people voted for the nation’s pet rock, Lord Butternuts. He and his followers insist this was a landslide victory, even though more than 81 million people voted for Joe Biden who, in the real world, was elected President of the United States. It wasn’t even close.

To this day, over a year after the election, the Republican Party claims that the election was fraudulent and that Biden was not legitimately elected. At the same time, they say that Democrats are obsessed about January 6.

They want everyone to forget what happened on that day, dismissing it as a peaceful protest. In truth, it was a day of “wild” election denial, as Butternuts himself advertised it would be. It was a day of lies and incendiary speeches that egged on the gathered devoted to engage in a kind of Charlottesville redux, breaking into and vandalizing the Capitol bent on disrupting the ceremonial counting of votes in the presidential election. Who brings bear spray and body armor to a peaceful protest?

Butternuts has normalized this lunacy. Republicans believe that he won in 2020 because he says he did. It is not the truth. No facts exist that support the claim that the Biden victory was the result of fraudulent voting. There are some Republicans (and let’s hope more than a few) who do not actually believe the party lie but say that they do out of political expediency.

Even if it is just a political posture, the Republicans’ casual disregard for and devaluing of truth is poison.

The truth does matter—or at least it used to. A fundamental respect for truth bound together the thirteen colonies that declared their statehood in 1776. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” their Declaration said. Truth mattered a lot. Certain truths were revered as “self-evident.” The new united states agreed to be guided by the truth “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Republicans want us to believe that the 2020 election was “rigged,” whether or not they actually believe it themselves.  Call it a big lie or a big lunacy, it is still hogwash, and if truth does not matter and if lies can be purchased so cheaply, we should all be concerned for the future of our country.

Let’s hope that Lord Butternuts is an historical aberration, a passing fad. He has no respect for truth, and instead he warps truth into whatever will serve his purposes. He believes that Democrats “stole” the election from him, even though there is no evidence of the theft. He won’t concede because in his strange mind he believes that he won and that he is now the real president.

“The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots,” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts is credited with saying at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Butternuts is just such a pretended patriot. A majority of Republicans seem comfortable to pretend, to reject the truth and not to question the virtue of the former president.

The motives of Republican congressmen and congresswomen are sadly transparent. Their prime directive is to get re-elected. They need the Butternuts vote. You might think that they would have greater self-respect, but when it is a choice between self-respect and re-election, something’s got to give.

It is pretty easy to be a Republican in these times. Yes, you have to sacrifice the truth and your self-respect, but you don’t have to be “for” anything other than whatever Butternuts says. You don’t have to do any real legislative work. It is enough to oppose whatever Democrats are for. Republicans in Congress have only to follow the example of Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who says, “One hundred percent of my focus is standing up to this administration.” By my math, that leaves zero percent for anything else.

Today, the Senate is evenly split—50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. In the House, there are 222 Democrats and 213 Republicans. The midterm elections next year will be a referendum on President Biden, and it is likely, considering historical averages, that the Democrats will lose House seats, maybe a lot of them. Control of the House is expected to swing to the Republicans, and a majority of those Republicans will likely be Butternuts Republicans, unless the president’s job approval improves substantially from where it is now (42% in October 2021, according to a Gallup poll). It is a safe bet that Lord Butternuts is running for president again in 2024.

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Get Things Done

Washington Post opinion writer Kathleen Parker writes: “Whoever came up with ‘Build Back Better’ needs to go back to the marketing department or wherever they came from. At least ‘Make America Great Again’ didn’t sound like a 5th grade diorama assignment.”

The critique stuck in my head, but I have to agree with her. Too often, it seems, Democrats appear tone-deaf when it comes to messaging. Fortunately, there’s a more strategic slogan, and the President has already thought of it.

After months of haggling, the House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on November 5. The Senate had already approved the landmark $1 trillion infrastructure bill in August by a bipartisan vote of 69 to 30.

In the House, the infrastructure bill has been linked to the Build Back Better Act, a large package of “social safety net” and climate change spending. Many of the proposals in the package have popular support and would be paid for by new revenue measures, but House and Senate Republicans will not vote for it because that’s the way they are.

The House haggling, though to some appearing to demonstrate disarray within the Democratic Party, is rather a necessary process to produce a bill acceptable to the party’s progressive and moderate wings and that also would have the support of every Senate Democrat.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus had insisted that the two bills—infrastructure and build back better–should be voted on together but the caucus has now accepted assurances that House moderates will support build back better, pending a determination by the Congressional Budget Office that the proposed spending would not add to the budget deficit, and that a vote will happen by mid-November.

Two days before the House passed the infrastructure bill, President Biden said “people want us to get things done.” In context, Biden was speaking to the Democratic Party and urging passage of both the infrastructure bill and the build back better bill, but “Get Things Done” would be a great political slogan.

Democrats Get Things Done. In May, they got a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill done. Now they’ve gotten the infrastructure bill done. Democrats will continue to Get Things Done by passing the build back better package.

In the next twelve months, Democrats should Get Things Done about voting rights.

Democrats should Get Things Done about climate change.

Democrats should Get Things Done about immigration reform.

Get Things Done is more than a slogan. It is a rallying cry to act.

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