An open letter to Republican voters — who may finally be figuring out the GOP has been scamming them
Dear Republican voter:
When Ted Nugent, the NRA and the GOP told you that more guns would make America a less violent society, what did you expect? Did you really think that suddenly every American would become a fast-draw marksman and vigilante justice would take us back to some happy Wild West movie fantasy?
When Trump said Covid was "just like the flu" at the same time he was telling Bob Woodward it was a killer, what did you expect? When he pushed refusing to wear a mask as if it were some sort of declaration of masculinity, and openly encouraged states and cities to remain open to produce "herd…er…thinking" did you really believe that would keep a half-million Americans from dying?
When Trump sent thousands of modern-day brownshirts to storm the US Capitol and try to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi so Trump could become the nation's strongman dictator, what did you expect? Did you believe that American democracy was outdated, and our country would run better if a billionaire oligarch and his cronies just took everything over regardless of the will of the voters?
When five Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, in 2010 in Citizens United, ruled that billionaires and big corporations secretly bribing politicians was just "First Amendment-protected Free Speech," what did you expect? Did you believe that was going to work out well for democracy in America? That it had, in any country, ever?
When Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist, along with Reagan, both Bush's and Trump warned you about the dangers of "big government" and said it should be shrunk down small enough to be "drowned in the bathtub," what did you expect? Did you really think that gutting environmental and banking protections; letting corporations dump more pollution into our air and water, poisoning our children; and restricting access to Medicaid, unemployment benefits and disability assistance was going to improve this country?
When Donald Trump (and Reagan & both Bush's) told you that if America just showered trillions in tax cuts and subsidies on our largest corporations and richest people that it would all "trickle down" to the rest of us, what did you expect? Did you really think those billionaires were going to happily pass their tax cuts along to you as a pay raise?
When Republican governors across the country told you that only private, for-profit electric companies could provide you with cheap, reliable electricity and that state or municipal utilities with no profit motive were a bad idea, what did you expect? Did you think Enron ripping people off & PG&E burning down part of California was an anomaly? That what just happened with the privatized Texas power grid when it was faced — again — with a winter storm was just a fluke?
When Ronald Reagan — and every Republican politician since him — told you that destroying labor unions would be a good thing and would help American workers, what did you expect? Did you really think that no longer having solidarity and representation against organized capital would lift up American workers and cause CEO's to keep their own pay reasonable?
When George HW Bush told you the nation needed to double down on Nixon's "War on Drugs" and put more people in prison, particularly Black people who were "selling crack cocaine in the park across the street from the White House" (a sale Bush set up), what did you expect? Did you really think that putting millions of Black people in prison for decades like Bush pitched with his "Willie Horton" ad campaign was somehow going to make America a better place to live?
When Donald Trump tried to cut off food stamps to over a million people in the middle of a pandemic, what did you expect? Did you really think it was going to "force" people to get a job in the face of a disease that could kill them? When over 10 million jobs had just vanished from the economy?
When former oil industry CEOs George W. Bush and Dick Cheney told you that Iraq's Saddam Hussein, coincidentally sitting on the world's second-largest oil reserve, was plotting to attack America, even as the United Nations and our own American weapons inspectors were saying it was a lie, what did you expect? Did you really think America could conquer a country, sell off its natural resources, and its people would just happily go along with it? How'd that work out in Vietnam?
When Wall Street Billionaire Pete Peterson and his friends in the GOP put up their "debt clock" and told you that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme that was going to go bankrupt and therefore should be handed over to the big Wall Street banks, what did you expect? Did you think the bankers and the Republicans they own were actually going to help build a stronger social safety net for average Americans?
When Reagan's Interior Secretary, James Watt, told you that it was just fine to sell off federal lands for pennies on the dollar to giant mining and drilling companies because Jesus was soon going to return and "make all things new," what did you expect? For that matter, when Trump's Interior Secretary, a coal industry lobbyist, said the same thing without the religion, did you really expect it would help our public lands? Did you think it had nothing to do with massive campaign contributions to the GOP?
When Republicans changed course in 1980 and threw in with antiabortion activists, but promised only "reasonable" restrictions, what did you expect? How about Arkansas that just passed a law last month to put a child who's impregnated by a rapist in prison if she tries to get an abortion? Or Texas, where legislators are trying to get the death penalty for young victims of incest who get an abortion?
When Donald Trump encouraged violence at his rallies, promoted racist slogans and policies, promised to pay the legal bills of people who became violent, and openly celebrated police "roughing up" the people they're supposed to protect and serve, what did you expect? Did you think it would restrain the authoritarianism and racism of his followers and police? Really?
When Trump and Fox News tried to characterize as "thugs" the millions of people in our streets protesting the murder of George Floyd and so many other unarmed Black men, what did you expect? Did you think the cops would stop racist and violent policing without any sort of public pressure or accountability? When has that ever happened?
When oil company shills were all over the media telling us that global warming is a hoax and that carbon dioxide was good for trees and so we should have more of it, and Republican politicians for 40 years echoed them (and continue to), what did you expect? Did you really believe that burning all those fossil fuels and throwing all those poisons in the air would have no consequence?
When, during the last three presidential primaries, Republican candidates like Ron Paul argued that the best way to provide healthcare for Americans was to eliminate all government programs so that people would be forced to "stand on their own two feet" and figure out their own healthcare solutions, what did you expect? Did you really buy Congressman Paul's argument that in his day doctors like him were paid with chickens and we should think of that as an inspiration for our healthcare system today?
When you voted for Republicans while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was actively gutting our public schools, promoting for-profit corporate schools, and making a joke out of any kind of solution to our student debt crisis, what did you expect? Did you actually believe that she and the GOP had any interest in building up our public schools and helping our teachers?
When your Republican state representatives told you they were passing legislation to "ensure election integrity," what did you expect? Did you really believe they were going to make sure everybody in America who is legally eligible to vote could have their vote counted? Did you assume they'd never end up blocking you from the voting rolls?
Seriously, did you expect Republicans were somehow going to do away with the 10-hour lines in neighborhoods where lots of registered Democrats live but everything would be fine for you? Did you believe them when they said voting by mail was a dangerous and insecure system, after states like Oregon and most of Western Europe have been doing it for more than 20 years without any problems whatsoever?
The simple fact is that Republicans have been lying to voters like you for better than 40 years, from Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and "War on Drugs," through Reagan's "Supply Side Economics," right up to today's Trump/GOP line that the 2020 election was filled with "voter fraud."
They're all lies, to disguise the fact that the GOP worships money and power alone, and puts those two things above the safety and security of average Americans every time.
For the past 18 years on my radio show I've been running a contest. To win, all you need to do is name a single piece of post-1980 legislation that was first written by a Republican, majority-sponsored by Republicans in Congress, passed by a majority of Republicans and signed by a Republican president — and has as its main beneficiaries average working people, instead of rich people or big corporations.
Nobody has ever won the prize, which is your choice of any of my books, with a personalized inscription.
Our country needs us all to be awake to what Republicans are up to in our federal and state capitols as they try to savage democracy and turn our country over to the oligarchs who pay their bills.
The 2020 election seems to show that Republican voters are figuring out the scam that GOP politicians have been running on them for two generations, which is why the Party is scrambling to make it harder to vote.
If you're a good-faith former Republican voter who was taken in by these lies but has now seen the light, the Democratic Party is more than happy to welcome you back to sanity. A new day is coming.
Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of American Oligarchy and more than 30 other books in print. His most recent project is a science podcast called The Science Revolution. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.
This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
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