Trump’s conspiracy theories and lies are poisoning America and there is no quick cure. While it is easy to point the big finger at Trump, he’s not the only culprit. He had incredible assistance from the Republicans. To prove the point, look at what the GOP did in the last nine years.
When President Obama took office, our economy was a wreck. We faced not only recession, but the real possibility of a global depression far deeper than the Great Depression of the 1930s. We were stuck in two wars in the Middle East, and our treasury had been depleted by three tax cuts that helped pad the pockets of the wealthy, including business man, Donald Trump. None of this was a secret to the leadership in Congress. Despite the grave situation of the country, the GOP decided to do anything and everything to stop the President’s agenda from becoming law.
“No” became their main line of attack. But they also engaged in a “wink-and-nod” to radical right-wingers who constructed a sinister portrait of the new, popular president. The “birther” movement, favorite of conspiracy-loving right-wingers everywhere, claimed that Obama was not born in the United States and thus was not a citizen, much less a legitimate president.
In 2011, Donald Trump vaulted into the headlines when he became Birther-in-Chief. Here’s a short synopsis of Trump’s deep dive into this crackpot conspiracy.
- March 30, 2011: Trump on The O’Reilly Factor, “If you are going to be president of the United States you have to be born in this country. And there is a doubt as to whether or not he was. … He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that. Or he may not have one. But I will tell you this. If he wasn’t born in this country, it’s one of the great scams of all time.”
- April 7, 2011: Trump claimed on NBC that he sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to study the matter. “I have people that have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” he said. “You are not allowed to be a president if you’re not born in this country. Right now I have real doubts.
- April 25, 2011: Trump told Anderson Cooper, “I’ve been told very recently, Anderson, that the birth certificate is missing. I’ve been told that it’s not there or it doesn’t exist. And if that’s the case, it’s a big problem.”
- April 27, 2011: President Obama released his original long form birth certificate, attempting to at put the matter to rest. Trump responded by changing the subject to Obama’s college records. “The word is, according to what I’ve read, that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental. He then gets to Columbia; he then gets to Harvard,” Trump said. “Maybe that’s right, or maybe it’s wrong. But I don’t know why he doesn’t release his records.”
Trump continued to fan the flames of this stuff for several more years. He tweeted that Obama’s birth certificate was a fraud. He hinted that his birth announcement was planted in the Hawaii newspapers. On and on the Trump lies went. Radicals and racists embraced Trump. They made him into a hero for his hatred of President Obama. The GOP establishment was quiet except for the occasional giggle from the leaders. Trump will be Trump they said.
The GOP didn’t go full-birther. But they never put a stop to the controversy about President Obama’s legitimacy to be president. They stood by while over 50% of their party accepted that Obama was not a Christian. They were silent when their base said President Obama was from Kenya. They said nothing when he was called a Muslim, un-American, terrorist-supporting, tax and spending, liberal-socialist-traitor. Their silence gave power to the fever-swamp of Obama hate. Donald Trump took up residence in that swamp.
Republicans thwarted President Obama at every turn. Then, they raced around the country claiming that our government was broken. They forgot to mention that they were the ones who broke it. Using this strategy, they grabbed control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. The new members of the House and Senate were as far right as any group ever elected. Many of the challenged we face today came because of right-wing wins at the Supreme Court. The Congress accelerated the swing to the right by promoting policies that cut the government even in the midst of the recession.
Here are just a few of the right-wing victories in the last few years.
- At the Supreme Court, Citizens United (2010) opened the floodgates for unlimited money pouring into our elections by equating money to speech.
- The Hobby Lobby case (2014) allowed employers to refuse contraceptive coverage for their employees because of the “religious freedom” of for-profit corporations.
- The Court determined that black Americans no longer faced any discrimination so the protections of the Voting Rights Act were unnecessary (2013).
- Slashing Medicare and Social Security and shredding all safety net programs was promoted as a move toward more freedom for Americans. (Ryan budget plans 2010-2015)
- Healthcare reform, allowing previously uninsured Americans to buy health insurance from for-profit corporations, was demonized as “socialized medicine.” (Obamacare passed 2010)
- Food stamps (2014) were cut because they cost too much money and made needy Americans lazy and dependent.
- New voting rules were passed making it harder to vote in order to stop imaginary voter fraud.
- Women’s access to reproductive healthcare and contraceptives was severely limited by GOP legislatures across the country.
- Jobs legislation could never be considered because Republicans, who are government employees, say government can’t create jobs.
- Unemployment compensation was cut (December 2013) but tax credits and tax benefits for the wealthy were not.
- Republicans opposed raising the debt limit and ignored the pleas of economists to step back from the cliff. They refused and shut the government down. (October 2013)
- Even after the horrors of Sandy Hook (December 2013) and a long list of other gun massacres, the GOP blocked every effort to pass gun safety legislation supported by the majority of Americans.
The Republican Party used NO as their gospel for both of Obama’s terms. Any positive improvement in the economy was ignored while all programs that would build infrastructure and employ millions of workers were rejected. Republicans pushed the country to the edge of default, refused to pass budgets or fund the government, and shut the government down. Then, big money right-wingers invented and funded the Tea Party and manufactured a populist uprising against healthcare reform.
These tactics worked. The GOP base has been in a rage for years. The creature empowered by that rage is now sitting in the White House.
Since being elected, Trump has doubled down on old conspiracies and ginned up a few dandies of his own. On March 4, 2017, in a series of early morning tweets, he accused former president Obama of ordering “wiretaps” in Trump Tower. In his latest version of that lie, he’s dragged the British intelligence service into the fray by saying that Obama enlisted the GCHQ to accomplish the Trump Tower surveillance. Trump has “proven” his claims about the British-Obama conspiracy by quoting Andrew Napolitano, a FOX news analyst and well-know 9/11 truther.
Turn on the news and you’ll hear Donald Trump and his gang of sickos continue to put down America at every turn. From the intelligence service to the State Department, the Trump administration attacks every structure in our government. To hear the President and his cabinet, the United States has been run by fools who know nothing. Our nation is, in their view, falling apart.
They tell us:
- The economy has been a disaster
- The military is crumbling
- Obamacare is a disaster
- Nothing in the government works
- Terrorists are pouring in
- Immigrants are taking our jobs
- Muslims are the enemy
- Undocumented immigrants must be deported
- Our leaders are losers and morons, except, of course, the great Donald Trump and his cabinet
- We’re one supreme court justice away from gun confiscation
- It’s almost the end of the nation that was once known as the United States of America.
Every day these talking points are repeated by Trump’s surrogates. Republicans parrot the same dribble and repeat it to their constituents.
As a child of the radical right, I heard the identical talking points from my father and his John Birch Society allies. It’s hard to say, but it’s true; my father preached the ideas that are poisoning American politics today. These radical right-wing ideas have polarized Americans and threaten our democracy.
Please don’t dismiss Trump and his GOP pals as “politics as usual.” Don’t laugh at his crazy tweets and pretend that somehow, someday he’ll start acting presidential. Don’t assume that a president like Donald Trump will be stopped by the same radical GOP that elected him.
The radical right has a radical plan for America. That plan is fueled by the paranoia, hate, and fear that fuels Donald Trump and the GOP. Their sickness threatens all of us. If we fail to stop these people, we’ll find ourselves in a country controlled by Donald Trump, his big-money friends, no-government libertarians, radical Christians, and old John Birchers.
I am happy to report that concerned Americans are awake. All around the country, even in traditionally red states, people are opposing the policies of this administration. Motivated citizens are calling their Congressmen and Senators ever day. Candidates, who’ve never run for office, are jumping into races long considered GOP safe. Newspapers and magazines who fight against Trump have millions of new subscribers.
This energy has the power to slow and then stop the Trump disaster. It’s a long, rough road, and I’m glad to walk it with strong, smart, determined friends. When I’m tired, I remember this Tshi (Ghana) proverb: “If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired.”