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The Republicans’ Pathetic and Toxic Patriot Games

The Republican party has long postured as the party of patriotism and has smeared the loyalty of its opponents. The Republicans have to play these toxic and divisive patriot games to deflect from their unpopular and regressive agenda. The last thing the D.C. Republicans want this election to be about is the Trump/Ricketts lawsuit aimed at throwing 20 million Americans off insurance during the most deadly pandemic since 1918.

The Republican patriot games began during the Reconstruction era when Republican candidates went after the patriotism of former Confederates. It was called “waving the bloody shirt” during this period that immediately followed the Civil War. The most infamous example can be found in the remarks of then prominent GOP activist Robert Ingersoll in 1876: “Every ordinance of secession … was drawn [up] by a Democrat. Every man that endeavored to tear the old flag from the heaven that it enriches was a Democrat. … Every enemy this great republic has had for 20 years has been a Democrat. Every man that shot Union soldiers was a Democrat.”

The GOP’s efforts to portray themselves as some kind of super patriots reached its apogee during George W. Bush’s failed Iraq war. Bush himself said the following on November 1, 2016 about the prospect of a Democratic victory during that year’s mid-term elections: “The terrorists win and America loses. That’s what’s at stake in this election.” In 2004, when Nancy Pelosi correctly described Bush an “incompetent leader,” House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) said Pelosi “apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk.” It was clearly an effort to intimidate Bush’s critics and stifle dissent. The reality was that the D.C. Republicans were desperate and trying to deflect from Bush’s failed policies.

We are now seeing a return to these pathetic GOP patriot games during the current international corona virus pandemic. Rush Limbaugh and other right entertainers have falsely alleged that the Democrats are happy about the pandemic. Moreover, several nasty right wingers made similar charges against me on my Facebook page. (This is extremely hypocritical since Limbaugh said in 2009 that he wanted President Obama to fail and hoped that the Recovery Act would prolong the recession.) I say let’s take a look at the record. GOP propaganda depends upon voter amnesia. We can’t count on the “liberal” mainstream media to refresh voter memories.

After the economy collapsed in September 2008, the Democratic majority in Congress worked on a bi-partisan basis with the Bush Administration and the GOP Congressional leadership to pass the TARP bill and other economic relief measures during a heated presidential campaign. These vital bills wouldn’t have passed but for the leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

The economy continued to crater after President Obama took office in 2009 and more action was required. Once they were in the opposition, the Republicans took an entirely different position. Mitch McConnell and the D.C. Republicans settled on a strategy of all out obstruction in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Then Vice President Joe Biden reported that during the transition, several GOP Senators privately told him that GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had given them orders that there was to be no cooperation with the incoming administration — because McConnell had decided that “we can’t let you succeed.” Moreover, a group of House GOP leaders met at an upscale D.C. restaurant on the night of the inauguration and determined there was to be no Republican support for any legislation introduced by President Obama.

Fortunately for the U.S. and the world, the Democrats controlled Congress in 2009–2010 and saved the world economy. Once the Republicans gained control of the House in 2010, they tried to sabotage the fragile economic recovery with a default threat, numerous government shutdown threats and an actual government shutdown in 2013. In the absence of that sabotage, the economy would have bounced back more quickly.

Currently, as we well know, the world is facing a dangerous pandemic and economic crisis. Once again, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have acted swiftly and responsibly. On March 13, the House passed an economic stimulus package by an overwhelming bi-partisan margin of 363–40. This legislation would expand access to free testing, unemployment benefits, provide $1 billion in food assistance and provide sick leave benefits to millions of Americans. Shortly after this crucial bill passed, Mitch McConnell declared a recess and the Senate will be on vacation until Tuesday, March 17.

History proves that the Democrats have acted responsibly and patriotically in the face of our last two national emergencies even when it was in their crass political interest to obstruct. I believe that most voters are smart enough to understand that. After all, the Democrats won big in 2008 and I expect them to win big in 2020. Now let’s get it done! Let’s leave it all out on the field! We can do it!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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