I’m not even talking about Donald Trump, who is certifiable. It’s important to keep an eye on him – the way you keep an eye on a toddler to make sure he doesn’t burn the house down. But it’s not a good idea to look to him for complete sentences or anything much beyond the most primitive impulses.
No, I’m talking about a political party that was once, indeed, the party of Abraham Lincoln. How has it morphed into the corrupt and mean-spirited assemblage of wealthy sociopaths; incurious and gullible Fox News ingesters; and, lest we forget, rabid white nationalists and gun-loving militia members that it is today?
Honestly, it’s the wealthy sociopaths that I find most unfathomably egregious. What are they really after? Steve Bannon wants to deconstruct the administrative state, but it’s hard for me to believe that Mitch McConnell is on board with that. And what is deconstructing the administrative state even about? Here’s an interesting article from the Harvard Law Review titled “Reconstructing the Administrative State in an Era of Economic and Democratic Crisis.” The author argues that regulatory bodies (like the EPA, for example) are crucial to realizing our “aspirations for economic, racial, and gender inclusion after the ups and downs of the twentieth century…”
But once a faction of organized interests shifts to reject the core purpose of regulation itself, then dismantling, rather than simply redirecting, administrative authority and administrative checks and balances becomes preferred as a policy agenda. Indeed, the high politics of anti-administrativism represent a real and legitimate critique of administrative authority — and one that can be debated in good faith. But on its own, these high politics of anti-administrativism are simply not politically powerful enough to explain the extremes of today’s political realities. The politics of organized economic elites and racial resentment, however, are. And these are political forces that are much more difficult to debate and overcome.Book Review by K. Sabeel Rahman
It’s the organized economic elites, exploiting racial fear and resentment, that are taking us in the direction of corrupt kleptocracy. It’s a transformation that, Franklin Foer argues in his article Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America, has been underway for many years. He paints a chilling picture of where we are. Greed is the driving force, and Russia offers a depressing blueprint. And oh-so-interestingly, it’s the real-estate market, via a loophole in The Patriot Act, that has been the conduit for vast sums of dirty money.
American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world. All of the stolen money, all of those evaded tax dollars sunk into Central Park penthouses and Nevada shell companies, might otherwise fund health care and infrastructure. (A report from the anti-poverty group One has argued that 3.6 million deaths each year can be attributed to this sort of resource siphoning.) Thievery tramples the possibilities of workable markets and credible democracy. It fuels suspicions that the whole idea of liberal capitalism is a hypocritical sham: While the world is plundered, self-righteous Americans get rich off their complicity with the crooks.
The Founders were concerned that venality would become standard procedure, and it has. Long before suspicion mounted about the loyalties of Donald Trump, large swaths of the American elite—lawyers, lobbyists, real-estate brokers, politicians in state capitals who enabled the creation of shell companies—had already proved themselves to be reliable servants of a rapacious global plutocracy. Richard Palmer was right: The looting elites of the former Soviet Union were far from rogue profiteers. They augured a kleptocratic habit that would soon become widespread. One bitter truth about the Russia scandal is that by the time Vladimir Putin attempted to influence the shape of our country, it was already bending in the direction of his.Franklin Foer
So I guess I have my answer. The articles cited — and most especially this last one from The Atlantichttps://www.theatlantic.com/ — are illuminating. Greed is at the heart of what is happening, indeed. There’s a part of me that finds it difficult to fathom greed on this scale. How much money does a body need? How much power? What drives the individual human beings who are fueling or participating in this debacle? How do they justify themselves to themselves? Do they know that they are going to die one day, just like the folks whose demises they are hastening with their greed?
So, there’s rampant greed that explains the behavior of folks like the Mercer’s and the Koch’s and the Trump’s. Then there are the people in the government who appear to simply serve those deplorable elites. People like Mitch and Lindsey and our new addition to the rogues’ gallery, Billy Barr. What drives them? And what do they actually think they are doing? What stories do they tell themselves to justify their actions? What bargains have they made? Just how deluded are they?
I return to my original question — why is the GOP so corrupt and mean-spirited?
If you can offer any answers, I’d love to hear ’em.