The Republican Party's degenerate trajectory: from Nixon to Trump
The election of Trump is culmination of more than 40 years of Republican Party degeneracy.
The Republican Party has been on a downward trajectory of crime and morals since at least the 1970s. It has been a decline that has seen Republican presidents outdoing each other in criminal and ethical turpitude. So why is it portrayed as a party of family and Christian values?
It was the 2016 election that showed the true heart of the Republicans: one which idolises power, wealth, partisanship, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and which has no respect for truth, love and respect. It is no longer a conservative party, but an ultra-right wing one.
It was this election in which the Republican Party threw off the sheep's clothing and revealed the amoral, greedy, bigoted wolf beneath. 'Trumpers' proudly showed themselves to be wolves in sheep's clothing.
However, the destruction of the Republican Party hasn't happened overnight.
It was Nixon who really kicked off the avalanche of corruption within the Republican Party. Watergate became a term that defined American politics in the 1970s, and led to Nixon being impeached and eventually resigning. Numerous Republican politicians were sentenced to jail over it.
Instead of Nixon also being jailed, his successor, President Gerald Ford, issued a full and unconditional presidential pardon for any crimes that Nixon 'committed or may have committed'(1). The presidential pardon was met with disbelief, yet there it was. One Republican pardoning another for crimes committed in the highest office in the land. Not surprisingly, Ford was a one-term president.
Nixon's crime was that during the 1972 presidential election campaign, burglars linked to Nixon broke into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) office in the Watergate Hotel, installing wiretaps on phones and stealing sensitive information which was then used to support Nixon's re-election campaign. Nixon denied knowledge of the operation and attempted to cover it up.
Fast forward to the 2016 elections and the DNC's computer servers were allegedly hacked by Russia and sensitive information released in order to discredit Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign and strengthen Republican Donald Trump's bid. Trump denied knowledge of it, but he benefited from and exploited the information that was obtained and released through Wikileaks. Trump successfully won the presidency, however numerous intelligence agencies are now investigating the links between Trump, his campaign team and Russia(2).
Here's a tip: not only will Trump be a one-term president, but he will be impeached before his term is up.
After Ford, the next Republican president was Ronald Reagan, a B-grade Hollywood actor. Reagan continued Nixon's legacy of corruption, defining the 1980s with Irangate(Iran-Contra Affair)(3), in which Reagan's administration illegally sold weapons to Iran in exchange for assistance in securing the release of hostages being held in Lebanon. The provision of arms to Iran was illegal because of trade and weapons sanctions against it. To compound the problem, funds from the sale of the weapons were then illegally channelled to the Contras who were a militant right-wing terrorist group fighting against Nicaragua's ruling Marxist Sandanista government. The Contras committed untold human rights abuses and hundreds of terrorist attacks. The United States was happy to not only fund the Contras terrorism, but to also divert funds from their War on Drugs to support the Contras large-scale drug-smuggling operations(4). But the Republicans justified it to themselves because they couldn't possibly allow a successful socialist government in Central or South America.
Like Nixon, Reagan denied knowledge and blamed rogue intelligence agencies. However, a number of these agencies, including the CIA, claim to have advised Reagan that supplying arms to Iran was 'a bad idea'(5).
In 1989, Reagan was succeeded by President George H.W. Bush, also a Republican. Bush, like Ford, then issued presidential pardons to a number of Reagan's administration who'd been implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, raising questions about what Bush was trying to cover-up(6). Bush was vice-president under Reagan during the Iran-Contra affair and had previously denied any personal involvement in the scandal, however his own diaries tell a different story in which he wrote, 'I'm one of the few people that know fully the details ...'. Bush failed to disclose the existence of the diary to officers investigating the Iran-Contra affair in the event that it would affect his 1988 presidential campaign(7).
Just like Ford, Bush served one term. There must be something about issuing presidential pardons that doesn't bode well.
The next Republican president was George H.W. Bush's son, George W. Bush. George, George, George. Just when one might think that Republicans couldn't stoop lower than Watergate and Irangate, in comes George W. Bush.
Bush was a fuck-up from start to finish ... not to put too fine a point on it.
In mid-2001, he ignored intelligence reports that said arch-terrorist Osama Bin Laden, founder of the Al Qaeda terrorist franchise, was plotting a major attack on US soil(8). Who needs to know about potential terrorist attacks, right? Surely not the President. On 11 September 2001, Bush suddenly discovered why he perhaps should have paid more attention to that little snippet of intelligence when more than 3,000 innocent people were killed when Al Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger aircraft, flying two into the World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon and one crashing into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers managed to wrestle control from the terrorists.
As an aside, some years later, Republicans tried to blame Democrat President Obama for not stopping the terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans including the US Ambassador, and seven Libyans. So where was the Republican outrage over a President who ignored warnings of a terrorist attack on US soil that killed more than 3,000 people?
In retaliation to 9/11, Bush launched a war on Afghanistan where Bin Laden was allegedly holed up. Bin Laden evaded Bush and was eventually caught 10 years later in Pakistan during an operation directed by Democrat President Barack Obama.
Bush decided to compound his military failure by manufacturing a reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. He justified this through his puerile and completely false claim Hussein 'tried to kill my dad' - a reference to President H.W. Bush sending the troops into the First Gulf War. His daddy (President H.W. Bush) however, had the good sense to listen to intelligence reports warning that deposing Hussein would create a power vacuum. So, as it turns out, neither Hussein or Daddy Bush tried to kill each other.
The feckless George W decided to run with a campaign of fear to justify the invasion and invented stories about Hussein having Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and was allied with Al Qaeda. He then garnered support of some western allies whom he called 'The Coalition of the Willing' and warning other nations that they were 'either for us or against us'.
A Senate Intelligence Committee found that Bush exaggerated intelligence reports about Hussein's WMD and links to Al Qaeda (which were non-existent)(9). Similarly, the Chilcot Report(10) in Great Britain also found there was no immediate threat from Hussein and that non-military options had not been exhausted, that intelligence reports were flawed and not challenged.
Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, costing hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and $2 trillion(11). It also created the power vacuum that resulted in the establishment of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into the Islamic State (or ISIS) that has been so active of late in Syria and Iraq. Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, has since admitted that the Iraq War gave rise to ISIS(12). The Chilcot Report, which investigated Britain's involvement in the Iraq War, rightly concluded that the Coalition had ignored warnings of the fall-out from an invasion and failed to adequately plan for an Iraq without Hussein leading it(13).
Thirteen years later the world is still feeling the impact from this disastrous military campaign through the presence of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and its influence in terrorist activities across the globe.
Just when the world thought that the Republicans couldn't get any worse than George W. Bush, in steps reality TV star, Donald Trump. The Republicans had previously elected a B-grade Hollywood actor, so what could possibly go wrong?
Like Nixon, Trump's campaign benefited from information stolen from the DNC; this time by Russian government hackers.
The Republicans have a habit of illegally acquiring DNC information during election campaigns.
Inexplicably, Conservative Christians continued backing Trump even with his confessions of sexual assault (who can forget him boasting about grabbing women by the pussy), when he said(14):
'I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony tits and everything .... I did try and fuck her. She was married ... I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything'.
But hey, the Bible is his favourite book ... so he says.
As a businessman, Trump is a con-man, having racked up numerous bankruptcies, law suits, cheated contractors and disillusioned share-holders(15).
His campaign was riddled with populist and contradictory claims with Politifact declaring that only 4% of his claims were wholly true, compared to Hillary Clinton's 25% of claims being wholly true(16).
What does Trump stand for? Trump. He claims to put America First, but it will be Trump first, America a far second and only as it benefits him.
Most disturbingly is the apparent existence of a dossier that claims Russia has incriminating evidence against Trump(17). Then President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed by joint intelligence chiefs of the contents. The Republican Party themselves had commissioned a former MI6 operative to investigate Trump. It was this investigation that revealed that Russia may have incriminating personal and financial information regarding the man who is now the 45th President of the United States. If these claims are true, this could leave America exposed through having a President that is being black-mailed by a foreign power. Does this explain why Trump initially denied Russian involvement in the hacking of the DNC?
As Lenin stated, 'there are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel'.
The Republicans have made use of many scoundrels over the years, with a string of immorality and criminal behaviour from Nixon to Trump.
Trump's populist rhetoric has been based on fear in order to manipulate the population, creating an imaginary enemy through racism and bigotry.
Pink Floyd founder, Roger Waters, described this phenomenon as, 'This is how you control your domestic population – by making people afraid and by identifying an enemy'.
Speaking of Waters, he performed a concert in 2015 in Mexico(18), resurrecting the classic Pink Floyd song, Pigs, in honour of Trump and his ilk:
Big man, pig man
Ha, ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel
Ha, ha, charade you are
Trump has used racism to invent enemies, whether it be whipping up fear of black people, Mexicans or Muslims.
Ironically, during the Civil War, it was Republicans who fought against the racism of the Democrats who who wanted to maintain slavery and were willing to break out of the Union to keep it. While there was more to the Civil War than fighting against slavery, it was a primary reason for the Civil War in order to maintain the Union. Robert Smalls, a former slave who went on to become a Republican politician once described the Republican Party as, 'the party of Lincoln … which unshackled the necks of four million human beings'.
Back then, Republicans were fighting against racism, today they are fighting for it.
The Republican Party is decrepit. Given its history of increasingly degenerate Presidents, it would be a bold call to say that the Republicans have reached some sort of moral nadir, however, after the Trump presidency, surely the only way is up. Surely ...
The lies that Trump has told to manipulate the gullible have become known as post-truth and has become the hallmark of many right-wing politicians around the globe, including Australia's own Pauline Hanson who never lets the truth get in the way of her racist fear-mongering.
The Post-Truth Era is the new Dark Ages.
The thing about the Dark Ages was that it was the result of the ultra-religious, not unlike the Christian Right's blind backing of Trump. The Dark Ages eventually gave way to the Renaissance, which of course was led by artists and poets. It's not a coincidence that many of the people opposing Trump are in the field of the arts, whether it be actors, musicians, writers, painters or poets.
We may see a renaissance of philosophical thought based on a renewed search for now abandoned truth ... eventually.
During the election campaign, Trump felt led to defend the size of his hands and his ... er ... tackle. Following his inauguration on 20 January 2017, the braggadocious Trump was again boasting of his size; this time the size of the crowds who attended the inauguration. Not surprisingly the claims were exposed very quickly as lies. On NBC's Meet The Press, host Chuck Todd put the suggestion to Trump's senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, that the claims made by Trump's publicist, Sean Spicer, were lies. Conway wasn't going to give any quarter. These weren't lies ... they were 'alternative facts'. There you have it. Day 1 and Trump has to lie about his size. Post-truth indeed.
'Alternative Facts' is the new Trump-speak, or doublespeak, for lies(19).
Sadly though, we have now entered a new Dark Ages where politics (and even religion) is governed by feelings rather than fact, by manipulating people's behaviours through fear, greed and desire in which facts are fluid and just another commodity to trade and twist for populist politics and power over others.
The Far-Right wing ignores history at its peril. Even a cursory glance at Republican history over the last 45 years should serve as a warning of where this is going to end; war, impeachment, crimes. A look further back at history and we see the danger of demonising others and how that played out in Nazi Germany. Surely it is a concern when neo-Nazis are embracing the policies of the Republicans and welcoming Trump with open arms.
In the meantime, it is only the Republican Party who can arrest their degeneracy. Trump will lead a government in which Republicans control both the House of Representatives and the Senate. If America goes to hell in a hand-bag, then the Republicans have only themselves to blame.
|A short summary of the downward spiral from Nixon to Trump|
1. History.com, Watergate Scandal, http://www.history.com/topics/watergate. Accessed 22 January 2017.
2. The Guardian, Guardian staff, 'US intelligence investingating Russian links of leading Trump associates - report', 20 January 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/20/us-intelligence-investigating-russian-links-of-leading-trump-associates-report. Accessed 22 January 2017.
3. The National Security Archive, 'Iran Contra at 25: Reagan and Bush 'Criminal Liability' evaluations', http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB365/. Accessed 22 January 2017.
4. The National Security Archive, 'The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations', http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/index.html. Accessed 22 February 2017.
5. The New York Times, James David Barber, 'How Irangate differs from Watergate', 9 August 1987, http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/09/opinion/how-irangate-differs-from-watergate.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.
6. Brown University, 'Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs, The 1992 Pardons', https://www.brown.edu/Research/Understanding_the_Iran_Contra_Affair/thepardons.php. Accessed 22 January 2017.
7. The National Security Archive, 'The Iran-Contra Affair 20 years on - Documents Spotlight Role of Reagan, Top Aides', 24 November 2006, http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm. Accessed 22 January 2017.
8. Daily Mail, Evan Bleier, 'Bush administration ignored CIA warnings in the months before 9/11 that 'spectacular' terrorist attack on the U.S. was imminent and 'just didn't get that we were going to be struck', former top agency officials reveal', 15 November 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3318493/Cofer-Black-George-Tenet-say-Bush-administration-ignored-CIA-terrorist-warnings-two-months-9-11.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.
9. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, 'Senate Panel Accuses Bush of Iraq Exaggerations', 5 June 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/05/washington/05cnd-intel.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.
10. BBC News, 'Chilcot Report: Findings at-a-glance', 6 July 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36721645. Accessed 22 January 2017.
11. Reuters, Daniel Trotta, 'Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion:study', 14 March 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314. Accessed 22 January 2017.
12. The Guardian, Martin Chulov, 'Tony Blair is right: without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State', 26 October 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/25/tony-blair-is-right-without-the-iraq-war-there-would-be-no-isis. Accessed 22 January 2017.
13. The Iraq Inquiry, 'Sir John Chilcot's public statement, 6 July 2016', http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-inquiry/sir-john-chilcots-public-statement/. Accessed 22 January 2017.
14. Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, 'Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005', 8 October 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html. Accessed 22 January 2017.
15. Financial Times, Barney Jopson, 'Bloomberg assails Trump's business record', 28 July 2016, https://www.ft.com/content/71f18200-5465-11e6-befd-2fc0c26b3c60. Accessed 22 January 2017.
16. Politifact, 'Comparing Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump on the Truth-O-Meter', http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/lists/people/comparing-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-truth-o-met/. Accessed 22 January 2017.
17. CNN Politics, Evan Perez, Jim Sclutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein, 'Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him', 12 January 2017, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report-russia/. Accessed 22 January 2017.
18. Roger Waters, Zócalo Square, Mexico City, 1 October 2016, Pigs - Three Different Ones, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWLBtMz5OuY. Accessed 22 January 2017.
19. The Guardian, Jill Abramson, 'Sorry, Kellyanne Conway. 'Alternative facts' are just lies', 23 January 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/23/kellyanne-conway-alternative-facts-lies. Accessed 23 January 2017.
Updated 23 January 2017.