If my father were alive today, just the mention of the current Republican Party and Donald Trump would leave him utterly disgusted. A truck driver and union man (with a charitable soul), he was a progressive for more than 50 years before that term became fashionable. He believed that the purpose of government was to make life for its citizens better, not harder; and that the power of government should be used to foster advancements in science and technology, economic development, and social organization.
Social Security, pensions, healthcare, collective bargaining, and a living wage—that’s what Pop believed in and went on strike for on numerous occasions. He was a liberal whose ideas were shaped by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and framed in the New Deal. And millions of hard-working men and women like him, growing up during, or soon after, the Great Depression, benefitted from FDR’s populism (“beating the drum for economic fairness”) and were able to live middle-class lives with the government at their back.
Well, Donald Trump is no FDR! According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, President Trump’s standing with the American people continues to deteriorate, shaken by a significant decline in U.S. leadership abroad; a negativist agenda at home that’s mired in the muck; a widely unpopular Republican healthcare bill; and a presidential administration in constant disarray—preoccupied with serving the rich while attempting to avoid prosecution for colluding with the Russians.
As Trump completes seven months in office, his overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent and his disapproval rating has risen to 58 percent. Overall, 48 percent of Americans say they “disapprove strongly” of Trump’s performance in office.
Almost half of all Americans see this country as weaker since Trump took office. Although Trump campaigned as a superstar negotiator who is highly skilled at making deals that would benefit the country, a majority of Americans no longer trust his ability to negotiate, either domestically or with foreign leaders.
Only one-third of Americans now say they trust the president “a great deal” or “a good amount.” Two-thirds say they do not trust the president “much,” of which half say they do not trust the president “at all.”
Trump’s strongest asset continues to be the healthy economy left to him by Barack Obama. (It’s regrettable that, to date, the Democratic Party has not been able to present a forceful message in opposition.)
Trump’s problems, however, do not excuse the overall ethical decay of the Republican Party. Responsible for practically the entire federal government, including a vast majority of statehouses and governorships, the Republican Party justifies its own abysmal political judgments and dreadful rhetoric by grossly exaggerating the ills of any and all of those in opposition.
For decades now, the life force behind much of the Republican right has been their denunciation and condemnation of Democrats, the media, feminists, immigrants, LGBT community, the working poor, and gun control advocates. Bent on continuously distorting the truth, Republicans across the board seriously inhibit policy debate by deliberately using false information to attack what they see as a liberal media bias.
This country has always had, as part of its political culture, its share of narcissists, ideologues and con artists. But until today, we’ve never had someone like Trump—a self-obsessed egotist, lacking even the slightest hint of moral character—living in the White House. And, to my knowledge, we’ve also never had, at the same time, a Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and a Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who, for the sake of their own power, tolerate and expand on Trump’s total disregard for truth and fair-mindedness.
The 21st-century Republican Party has elected a leader (and condones his behavior) who has no qualms about making racist attacks; has demonstrated repeatedly a visceral contempt for women; has unashamedly lied about almost everything over the last three years, including his participation in the birther movement; is a virulent Islamophobe; and who has not only refused to relinquish his private interests, but continues to profit from them. The 21st-century Republican Party has elected a leader (and continues to condone his behavior) who fired an FBI director in the process of investigating the leader’s “willingness to enlist a foreign power to defeat his opponent.” And the 21st-century Republican Party will sit on its hands as its elected leader, probably by the time this column is published, deceitfully fires his attorney general for recusing himself from this criminal investigation.
As time passes, we are coming to see that Trump and the Republican Party are one and the same—constantly playing the part of victim; showing disdain for intellectuals; disparaging science and economics; and being dismissive of the poor and no champion of the middle class.
Trump and the Republican Party inhabit a political world that defines itself by lying and being oppositional. They deny climate change; treat immigrants as criminals; condemn the poor as lazy; placate the rich; promise middle-class jobs in industries that are dead or dying; promote unrestricted access to guns of any type, no matter the consequence; and scheme with foreign agents.
The Republican Party is unfit to govern and Donald Trump is unfit to occupy the White House.