Republican political consultant Stuart Stevens writes in The Washington Post today that his party has lied to the American people and has become "dangerous" to the nation. Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that America is no longer "the country we were promised."
Stevens, whose book about the GOP, "It Was All A Lie," will be published next month, says this:
"Don’t just blame President Trump. Blame me — and all the other Republicans who aided and abetted and, yes, benefited from protecting a political party that has become dangerous to America. Some of us knew better.
"But we built this moment. And then we looked the other way."
He says that the government's failed response to the coronavirus crisis "can be traced directly to some of the toxic fantasies now dear to the Republican Party," such as:
Government is bad.
Establishment experts are overrated or just plain wrong.
Science is suspect.
We can go it alone, the world be damned.
"Long before Trump," Stevens writes, "the Republican Party adopted as a key article of faith that more government was bad. Now, he says, "...somewhere along the way, it became, “all government is bad.” Now we are in a crisis that can be solved only by massive government intervention. That’s awkward."
Stevens goes on to say that "We began to distrust the experts and put faith in, well, quackery. It was 2013 when former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said the Republican Party “must stop being the stupid party.” By 2016, the party had embraced as its nominee a reality-TV host who later suggested that perhaps the noise from windmills causes cancer."
The GOP, he writes, came to view higher education as a "left-wing conspiracy," and conservatives have spent years trying to cut funds for basic science and research. But, Stevens adds, "it’s not some fiery, anti-Washington populist with an XM radio gig who is going to save folks’ lives; it is more likely to be someone who has been studying this stuff for decades, almost certainly at some point with federal help or outright patronage."
And, regarding his point about going it along? Stevens points out that "a Swiss company is helping to jump-start us in testing; and it is a German company that American officials reportedly tried to lure to the United States recently to help develop a vaccine for the virus. We talk about how we need to be independent even as we do all kinds of things that prove we aren’t."
And so, today America is led by someone who apparently views his job as the ultimate reality show gig that supports his massive ego in a time that demands calm, wise, unselfish leadership with foresight, firmness and compassion.
Writes Rodericks, "Long ago, before cynicism got into our bones, there was the promise of America, and it bristled with possibilities. I don’t have a date for that, but it was within my lifetime. The overarching promise was understood to be a national commitment to progress. Inertia was not acceptable. Failure was not an option. The country would learn from its mistakes as it grew up, grew wiser and became exceptional in all things, with peace and prosperity the side benefits."
America, he writes, "was never a perfect country," noting that "Its greatness was always exaggerated, or certainly limited by the color of someone’s skin, gender or social status. And yet there was always the promise that this rich and powerful nation could also be a smart, welcoming and humane one.
"But what happened?
"We missed countless opportunities to learn from mistakes, to fix problems, to expand equality and prosperity, to foster a belief in shared destiny.
"We have had 40 years of steady ridicule of government and an incessant push for austerity. The constant harangues foment distrust and undercut the government’s essential role in upholding laws and executing policies designed to make life better and safer for its citizens.
"We continue a ridiculous decades-long fight over whether all Americans should have access to affordable health care, something our allies in World War II settled long ago.
"We give tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and corporations, returning again and again to the myth of trickle-down prosperity.
"We have watched income inequality widen for four decades, leaving millions of Americans incredibly vulnerable in a situation like the one we face now, in the midst of a pandemic.
"Thirty years after the Cold War ended, we continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on national defense, virtually without question. And the Trump administration adds billions more while trying to cut student loan assistance, affordable housing programs, food stamps and Medicaid.
"This is not the country we were promised."
We have a president, adds Roderick, who walks away from international efforts to combat climate change, who "sneers at science and expertise," whose administration closed a global health security office established by Obama and when warned about the possibility of a disease outbreak, made no effort to prepare.
For me, these columns combined put our situation today into stark perspective. And so,
faced with all of this, America must cope. Somehow, when this catastrophe passes, we must find the resolve to return to the promise of America. That will take new leadership, wise and compassionate leadership that weighs every action on the scale of what is best for America, not oneself.
The election is just eight months away. Let's hope we survive until then.