Power Without Pretending
I do not own the copyright/license to any of the visual content below. I am using them here as part of an educational demonstration and not for the sole purpose of personal gain.
Donald J. Trump has done something wonderful for America: we no longer have to listen to Republicans pretend that they are the party of morals, watch them shake hands with evangelical preachers, and act as if they actually care about “family values.”
Having lived through the Clinton years, I am grateful for Donald Trump in a sense. Donald Trump’s unusual presidency has provided us with much-needed relief from the pretentious nature of the GOP. Because of who Donald Trump is, what he does, and what his party refuses to say on record, we NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER have to listen to the Republican Party and its race-laced, sexist message of “family values” again in the history of American politics. No, not when they have put in office a man with three baby mommas, six children, a known affair with a Playboy Bunny, and a tape that says, “Just grab ’em by the p*ssies.” As a wonderful bonus, Black women never again have to wonder about the insincerity of white feminists. When given the choice, they voted their race. White feminism is about sharing power with white men. Period. Why ask women of color to support power-grabbing and power-sharing of destructive white masculinity? Look at the two white women voted to the Senate: they are Confederate Barbies.
What a sigh of relief this has been! What a blessing! The election of Donald Trump and the sanctioning of his actions by staunch Republican silence has given the whole country a dose of what we Mississippians have known all along: the Republican Party is interested in power. Plain and simple. Remember when O’Brien said that in Orwell’s 1984? Well, we are here. Beneath the veneer of “family values,” white evangelical fervor, and the calling on the name of Jesus, the motivation of post-Goldwater Republicans has always been authoritarian. Okay, remember when Clinton was being impeached and Gingrich was the ring leader calling for impeachment? We learned during the presidential election that Newt Gingrich was cheating on his cancerous ex-wife with his current wife.
Why am I writing this post? Not to anger anyone. I am writing this post because Mississippi has not had a balanced budget, a significant increase in wages, or any investment in its educational systems for most of the 21st century! In fact, Mississippi is currently experiencing a brain drain, with all of the institutions of higher learning experiencing decreased enrollment except for Mississippi State University. On the other hand, there has been an increase of the number of people of the welfare roles in our state, cuts to education, and an increase in spending on our prison system. While the media brushes our state off as “the poorest state in the nation,” and acts as if it is tangential to Republican Party politics, it should look more closely at the Magnolia State. Since the arrival of this century, we have had three Republican governors and one Democrat. Amazingly, it was the Democrat who reduced the welfare roles and at least made an attempt to balance our state budget. With Democrat Musgrove, Mississippians (at least Black Mississippians) learned this one thing: for all of the talk that Republicans talk, our state is a product of what they do when they are in office.
Again, why am I writing this post? My students have had a hard time understanding what being a Conservative means. I mean, there are political Conservatives and cultural conservatives. Imagine their confusion when I tell them that nobody is more conservative than black and brown grandmothers! They look at me with wide-eyed astonishment. I explain to them, without having them read Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, that there is a staunch difference between a Liberal, a liberal, a Conservative, and a conservative. The GOP has expertly muddied the two meanings of conservative and Conservative, and hid the fact that economically, they are liberal.
My students are equally shocked to hear me, a Black woman from Mississippi, say that I actually agree with and like some of the ideals of Conservatives and Republicans, that it is possible to be a Conservative without being a Republican, and that I feel that Conservative principles aspire to everything that is good and noble about mankind! They believe in paying the bills, balancing the checkbooks, small government interference, the ultimate respect for the rights of the individual, free enterprise and competition, individual responsibility, a strong defense for the country, and a moral order that every man or woman uses to guide his/her own decisions. Doesn’t that sound nice? I liked Bob Dole, because he referred to himself in the third person and was a relic of a by-gone era when being a Republican and a Conservative were one and same, and they at least believed in paying the bills. While they were relatively cool on racial relations, at least they tried to govern by their principles. I respect that. And I respect Conservative beliefs. I mean, if we lived in a world free of racism, sexism, classism, narcissism, nepotism, and ageism, and greed this could totally work. If we lived in a world where every man or woman was judged strictly by his/her character and ability without other factors involved, we could all be Conservatives.
When I ask my students who was the last Republican president to balance the budget, they instinctively yell, “Ronald Reagan.” They are so shocked to learn that the last time a Republican president balanced the budget, computers filled an entire room! That president was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he was elected when my parents were toddlers, more than 60 years ago.
Bill Clinton, the much-maligned “liberal,” also balanced the budget and left a surplus. Ronald Reagan, with trickle down economics, cut taxes and exploded the deficit. This has been the GOP playbook for the economy for the past 40 years. It did not work then and it is not working now. Wait, it worked for the Wall Street class and it is definitely working for them now. The deficit is exploding as I type (seriously, I do not even want to look at it, and I am wondering if there will be another government shutdown when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling).
Ultimately, I am a large, brown woman from the bottom of Mississippi. My students do not see a person who went to school for more than a decade of her life and who is a self-avowed British literature nerd. Their parents have taught them, in the buckle of the Bible Belt, to see a “liberal who hates America.” It is so sad when one of them ultimately challenges me in class and learns that he/she knows less American history than a fifth grader.
Students are also enraged when they learn logical fallacies and how expertly politicians use them. Bill Clinton was subject to ad hominem attacks every day. Have we forgotten that Fox News was invented to cast aspersion on his character? This game had deadly consequences, though. While the news cycle focused on his sex life, Al Qaeda was growing out of control. The World Trade Center was bombed horrifically in 1993, but the media focused all of our collective attention on a soiled dress.
I distinctly remember being a teenager and feeling so bad for Chelsea Clinton. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MY PARENTS’ SEX LIFE, and she had to endure her father’s side dealings on the news every day. I also remember Bill Clinton wanting to bomb the Middle East more than what he did and dropping the ball on the genocide in Rwanda, because his opponents said it would be a Wag the Dog 1997 kind of strategy (as in the movie when the idiotic president started a war in order to distract from his sexual dealings. The movie’s lead character was obviously a thinly-veiled caricature of Clinton at the time). Once the media picked up this hilarious rhetoric, the results became tragic. Ultimately, the September 11, 2001 attack that was a culmination of plans that Clinton tried to warn America about prior to his leaving office.
When Obama took office, the Tea Party was formed. They screamed fiscal responsibility and opposed his legislative agenda at every turn. Where are they now? We have gone through the evangelicals, the Tea Party, and…crickets. I do not know about anybody else, but I am relieved. I never have to listen to Republicans or their pundits throw around vague terms as “family values” or “fiscal responsibility” again. I never have to see them go on any rounds of the Sunday morning news shows and talk about the “exploding deficit,” “big government spending,” or “the government being in the doctors’ office with patients.” It is obvious from some VERY REPUBLICAN states, that it is okay for the government to be in the gynecologist offices of every woman in America. Oh, its just so wonderful that I never have to look at evangelical leaders head to the White House with a false religiosity and pray with the President. Isn’t that marvelous? Never, ever do we have to hear any GOP Senators/Representatives talk of the Constitution as a sacred document that no President can violate. Never. Never again do I have to hear another GOP lawmaker talk about the shady nature of the Clintons when this president has yet to release his tax returns. Never, ever again do I have to see and hear a politician lie for power and use the name of the Lord, our God, in vain. Amen.
This is from my diary as a human being who hears young people’s outrage at hypocrisy. It is compounded by the fact that many of them do not know American history from as previous as the 1990s. And I, the large brown woman from South Mississippi, am sometimes seen as the bad “liberal professor who is teaching our children to hate America.” I did not know that simply presenting historical facts was considered hate speech.