Archives for category: Republicans

The talented investigative journalist Jennifer Berkshire reports on the changing politics behind charter schools. Democratic support for charters, once led by the Obama administration, is waning. Betsy DeVos made clear that school choice is a Republican goal.

She writes:

In 2019, when West Virginia passed legislation that allowed for the creation of charter schools, it represented yet another feather in the cap of the school-choice movement. Nearly three decades after the creation of the very first publicly funded, privately managed school, in Minnesota, charters now educate more than 3.3 million K-12 students in 7,500 schools across the country, and West Virginia—where lawmakers ignored the fierce opposition of the state’s teachers’ union—became the forty-fifth state to allow them.

Yet today the charter school movement itself is perhaps more vulnerable than it has ever been. Unlikely allies in the best of times, its coalition of supporters—which has included progressives, free-market Republicans, and civil rights advocates, and which has been handsomely funded by deep-pocketed donors and Silicon Valley moguls—is unraveling.

Much of the blame rests on the hyperpolarized politics of the Trump era. Under Betsy DeVos, the lightning-rod secretary of education, Republicans rediscovered their love for private school vouchers and religious education. And with the taste for all things neoliberal on the wane within today’s Democratic Party, charter schools, long the favored policy plaything of the liberal donor class, are simply a harder sell….

The GOP’s most stunning move was to enact, without a single Democratic vote, the Hope Scholarship Program, a sweeping voucher program aimed at moving students out of what the right refers to derisively as “government schools.” Starting in 2022, West Virginia parents who withdraw their children from public schools will receive their child’s state share of public education funding—approximately $4,600 in 2021—to spend on virtually any educational cost: private school tuition, online education programs, homeschooling, tutors, even out-of-state boarding schools. Newly school-age students whose parents never intended to go the public route are also eligible for the funds, which can be banked and spent on future expenses, similar to a health savings account.

While West Virginia’s moves were the most dramatic, legislators in 18 states, including Florida, Indiana, Arizona, and New Hampshire, were close behind, creating private school–choice initiatives or expanding existing ones. Although lawmakers pointed to the pandemic’s shuttering of public schools as part of the justification, schools—both public and private—in most of these states remained open. For all of the bluster from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others about the importance of in-person schooling, the GOP’s favored school-choice programs increasingly bypass traditional classroom learning altogether. Instead, parents are encouraged to use publicly funded “education freedom accounts” to purchase an array of education “options,” much like television viewers who eschew cable packages for à la carte channels.

Charles Siler, a former lobbyist for the pro-privatization Goldwater Institute in Arizona, says that the GOP’s increasing hostility to public schools could ultimately harm charters as well. “The real target here is taxpayer-funded public education, and that’s a category that includes charters,” said Siler.

Jeanne Diestch, a former Democratic state senator in New Hampshire, recently wrote about the attention showered on the state’s new voucher program by Republican conservatives like Mike Pompeo, a likely Presidential candidate, and Betsy DeVos. Republicans took control of the New Hampshire legislature until 2020; its Governor, Chris Sununu, is a Republican, and he appointed the state’s commissioner of education, Frank Edelblut, who homeschooled his children. Republicans wasted no time in passing a sweeping voucher bill.

US Conservatives Eyeing NH Vouchers

Diestch wrote in her newsletter:


Why the GOP hates the world’s top education models

When a former Secretary of Education and a future Presidential candidate come to New Hampshire for the rollout of a new state educational policy, you know something important is afoot. The candidate, Mike Pompeo, stated at the event that US schools are falling behind because we have a “public-school monopoly”; adopting NH’s “Education Freedom Accounts” [EFAs] would allow the “free market” to correct this problem. This change is so important to conservatives that the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity is handing out supportive pamphlets door-to-door in Bedford. So let’s look at three questions:

  1. Why do conservatives want the free market to control education rather than local public-school districts?
  2. Why are so many outside the state so interested in a change inside New Hampshire?
  3. How will all this impact us, the people of the state?

WHY DO CONSERVATIVES WANT FREE-MARKET EDUCATION?
Nations with top education scores all rely on public schools. If the US followed their examples:

  • Teachers would be highly educated, well-paid and respected. In Finland, for example, acceptance for an education degree can be more competitive than medical school.
  • Schools would have shorter vacations, but also shorter school days. In China, elementary students take 90-minute lunch breaks. In Singapore, teachers use the additional time for planning lessons and collaborating on how to improve students’ performance.
  • After the regular school day, learning would continue at home or in tutoring sessions, especially for secondary students. Parents’ role in most successful nations is to ensure children do their three hours or so of assigned homework.

All these top-scoring countries rely on
public-education systems.

(Note that China is not really first; it only submits scores from 4 wealthy provinces.)Why don’t conservatives want to follow these successful models? More school days with highly qualified educators cost more. Companies want to sell high-margin educational software, supported by low-paid trainees, rather than pay education professionals’ salaries. New Hampshire’s EFAs potentially shift millions from public-school teachers and administrators to corporations seeking shareholder profits. In addition, church-based schools are seeking their share of EFAs. Then there is the fact that more-educated people tend to vote Democratic.

WHY SO MANY EYES ARE WATCHING NH EFAS
That is why so many outside New Hampshire are focused on EFAs here. National and international commercial and religious interests will be contributing to Mr. Pompeo and other conservative candidates. Donors hope that if a highly ranked state like New Hampshire can be convinced to hand their taxpayer dollars to unsupervised scholarship funds (see inset below), the rest of the nation will follow.EFAs hide spending detail from taxpayers

EFAs move millions in taxpayer funds from local school board oversight to an independent contractor. The contractor only has to report three things to the Department of Revenue
Administration: amount spent on administration, total number of scholarships, and average scholarship size. The state has no knowledge of who receives how much.
— NH RSA 77 G:5(g)HOW EFAS WILL CHANGE NH
EFAs impact far more than students. When EFAs substitute a $4600 payment for a year of public-school education, someone has to make up the difference. A religious school might charge only $2000 more per year in tuition, but how many low-income households can afford $2000 per child? The upshot is that poor neighborhoods will still need to rely on public schools, but those schools will have fewer per-student dollars to support them. Property taxpayers will have to make up the difference or close schools. The hit will be especially severe in Coos County, where thousands of educators comprise a significant segment of employees. When those schools are forced to close, most educators will move out, worsening Coos towns already dwindling populations and decreasing property values. Our most diverse populations in Manchester and Nashua are also more likely to suffer from the shift in funding caused by EFAs because they have lower incomes. In southern New Hampshire, the census showed that population did increase due to in-state migration. But what families will want to move into a state whose public schools are foundering? The answer is, those families for whom $4600 is enough to send their children to low-tuition religious schools, those families who can already afford expensive private school but would like taxpayers to subsidize them, and those families who want taxpayer funding for parent-guided home education programs. These differ from the workers attracted over the last decade to New Hampshire for its highly rated public schools. How will this affect companies struggling to find employees? No one knows, but the answer will certainly impact our economy.
EFAs will also impact New Hampshire society. Communities forced to close their schools will become less cohesive. Children educated only alongside others with similar backgrounds will have less understanding of the world and their place in it. They will be less able to succeed in the diverse demographics that will make up our nation’s future.
Perhaps conservatives have decided not to follow successful models for improving public education because they do not want the public to be educated. They would prefer people who let corporations and the wealthy take advantage of them, who have been taught to villainize a government that protects public interests.

Republican leaders in North Carolina, who hold a majority in the General Assembly, but not the Governorship, suspect that liberal teachers are “indoctrinating” their students. Since they won control of the legislature, Republicans have passed legislation for charters and vouchers and displayed an animus for public schools and their teachers. Does it occur to them that the citizens of NC would not have elected them if they were “indoctrinated”?

The parent group Public Schools First NC summarized a recent press conference.

This week, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson was joined by Sens. Deanna Ballard, Phil Berger & Michael Lee & State Supt Catherine Trait at his Tuesday press conference for the release of the “Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education Report.” These leaders claim that there is widespread indoctrination occurring in public school classrooms across the state. Many public education advocates say the report does not contain substantive or reliable evidence of such assertions. HB324 was written in response to claims of indoctrination and limits what can be taught in classrooms. The bill passed in the Senate this week. All Republicans voted yes, while all Democrats voted no. The bill was then sent to the Governor’s desk. If he vetoes the bill as expected, it will be returned to the legislators who do not appear to be enough votes to overturn the Governor’s veto. Nevertheless, the narrative around the passing of HB324 has increased the strife among educators, parents, and their legislators and is not improving the many financial needs of our schools nor the need for more educators in the classroom. Its impact has been largely negative during this first week of school when larger issues need addressed. Many fear this is another way to undermine and erode our community’s support of our public schools.

According to a statement by the Public School Forum of NC, “A growing body of research demonstrates that inclusive teaching practices that connect academic concepts to the everyday lives and experiences of their students can improve students’ academic outcomes, attendance, brain processing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills; promote feelings of safety and belonging; and can increase engagement and motivation.”

Legislation that will inhibit the teaching of important concepts including inequity and systemic oppression will not change hard history. Further, this assertion that teachers are indoctrinating their students is simply untrue. “Most educators say that CRT itself isn’t taught in K-12 public schools. Nevertheless, conservative supporters of the bill contend that CRT is at the root of efforts by some teachers to indoctrinate students with what they contend is a liberal political ideology.” See an excellent and more in depth discussion of HBO 324 here.

Teaching history from multiple viewpoints should never be a political issue. We ought to trust and respect educators and know they can hold challenging conversations in their classrooms while respecting differences of opinion. We hope you will take the time to contact your legislators and share your views on this bill.

Fred Klonsky writes here about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s recent visit to Illinois. She came to support a member of Congress who is running for re-election and shares Greene’s extremist views.

She campaigned in the most conservative part of the state, where the Ku Klux Klan was popular in the 1920s. Note the sponsors of one of their rallies, whose rally brochure is portrayed on Fred’s blog. Ford Motor Company was one prominent sponsor. There was no shame attached to being an outright racist and anti-Semite and all-around bigot at that time.

Fred described the setting as follows:

It turns out that Effingham and nearby Sangamon County – home of our state capital in Springfield – once held giant Ku Klux Klan rallies, including at Illinois the state fair grounds.

It was common for Klan rallies in the area to draw tens of thousands of locals.

I’m not picking on downstate Illinois. In the 1920s Chicago had the largest KKK membership of any metropolitan region in the United States.

According to WBEZ journalist Dan Mihalopoulos, Greene spoke for nearly an hour, and true to form, she spent most of her time mocking other members of Congress. She ridiculed another Illinois Congresswoman because she has a transgender daughter.

Greene peppered her speech with other bigoted comments about “the great Chinese pandemic” and Muslim members of Congress and their allies, who she called “the jihad squad.”

The Midwest director of the Anti-Defamation League said it’s time to end the politics of hate, but it’s unlikely that Greene has any other mode of expressing her views. That’s who she is.

This is a realistic and frightening analysis of the paralysis in Washington, D.C. on climate change. President Biden proposed an ambitious agenda to act against the pernicious causes abd effects of climate change. The Republicans refused to support Biden’s plans and they refuse to tax the rich, the billionaires whose gold will be useless on a dead planet.

Michael Grunwald of Politico writes:

CRUEL SUMMER — The heat wave that fricasseed the Pacific Northwest this week, along with the evocatively named Lava Fire in northern California, has inspired a lot of rhetoric about a “climate emergency.” But the newest inconvenient truth is that climate change isn’t the kind of emergency that inspires emergency action in Washington.

Most of President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate proposals were stripped out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that he’s urging Congress to pass. And it’s not even clear whether Congress will comply.

This is partly a human nature problem. The now-focused, more-wanting, change-averse biases of our species aren’t well-suited for an all-out war against an invisible enemy that won’t kill most of us in the short term but can’t be defeated unless we transform our civilization in the not-too-long term. This week’s 116-degree nightmare in Portland, Ore., ought to remind us that we’re gradually filling our atmosphere with the same heat-trapping gases that have rendered Venus inhospitable to human life. 

But most of the earth is still quite hospitable most of the time, and many of us have air conditioners for when it isn’t. We’ll freak out again this summer as wildfires rage across California, and then we’ll stop freaking out once the fires stop burning.

A thermometer sign displays a temperature of 117 degrees Fahrenheit on June 15 in Phoenix.

A thermometer sign displays a temperature of 117 degrees Fahrenheit on June 15 in Phoenix. | Caitlin O’Hara/Getty Images

The fact is, even though many of us acknowledge the climate is in crisis, few of us live with a real crisis mentality, as if we truly believed our planetary home was on fire. We’re busy. We’re not going on #ClimateStrike with Greta Thunberg. We don’t like thinking about the enormousness of the crisis, and we don’t like the screechy apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding it. We default to the blasé reaction lampooned in the classic Onion headline: “Yeah, Yeah, Nation Gets It, We Rapidly Approaching End of Critical Window to Avert Climate Collapse or Whatever.” 

But this is why we ordinary citizens outsource our crisis-response responsibilities to elected representatives, who are supposed to deal with urgent threats to our civilization whether or not most of their constituents are screeching for action. Their failure to do that is not just an existential human-nature problem. It’s also a prosaic Washington problem.

The problem is that Biden doesn’t have the votes he needs for all the climate action he wants. Most Washington Republicans either don’t want to give Biden a win in a zero-sum partisan war, reject climate science, aren’t willing to risk the wrath of climate-science-rejecting voters, or some combination of those factors. 

Five Republican senators were willing to support a stripped-down infrastructure bill that included generous funding for public transit and electric-vehicle chargers, but not massive wind and solar subsidies, tax credits for electric-vehicle buyers, and other climate provisions.

Biden has said he plans to fight for the rest of his climate agenda, including a strict clean electricity mandate, in a separate reconciliation bill that would require only Democratic support. But it’s not clear how much of that agenda the quasi-deputy-president Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will accept.

The young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement have been protesting outside the White House, calling Biden a coward, screaming “No Compromises, No Excuses.” But not having the votes in your own party’s Senate caucus to avoid a compromise is a pretty good excuse.

Washington enacted $6 trillion worth of Covid relief, proving that it’s capable of responding to an emergency that was killing thousands of Americans every day. Climate change has never been treated like that kind of emergency. Time Magazine called for a war on global warming with a green-bordered cover in 2008, but we never went to war. Bloomberg BusinessWeek ran a wake-up cover declaring “It’s Global Warming, Stupid” after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Record-shattering heat in Seattle might be another wake-up call. The last seven years were the seven hottest years in recorded history. 

One illuminating battle in the current infrastructure wars involves “pay-fors,” as Republicans push for the infrastructure bill to be paid for in part by new user fees on electric vehicle owners. They’re not just trying to impose a political tax on electric cars that they see as a Democratic form of transportation favored by rich urban progressives; they also make the legitimate substantive argument that electric-vehicle drivers are literal “free riders” who contribute to the wear and tear on U.S. highways without paying the gasoline taxes that help finance highway maintenance.

But when it comes to the greenhouse-gas-emitting activities that are making the earth a bit more like Venus every day, we’re all free riders. The big problem with America’s fossil-friendly public policies since the Industrial Revolution is that they haven’t imposed user fees on us for contributing to the wear and tear on our atmosphere — by flying, eating meat, and especially these days, running our air conditioners.

The whole point of climate policies like clean energy subsidies or Biden’s clean electricity standard or a carbon tax or Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal is to encourage us to pay a user fee for our use of the atmosphere, creating a financial incentive to reduce our impact on the environment. But it’s going to be tough to pass those kinds of policies until our politicians act like the emergency is real.

Dana Milbank is a regular columnist for the Washington Post and one of my favorites.

Read his latest column: “Even the Squad Is More Pro-Police than These Republicans”

Republican leaders have developed a new strategy for ousting Democrats from their majority in Congress: Blue Lies Matter.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) falsely tweeted Friday: “The ‘Defund the Police’ campaign — endorsed by Democrats — has decimated our law enforcement. … When Republicans are in the majority, we will FUND the police.”


Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), who with McCarthy’s help ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) as Republican Conference chair, falsely tweeted Monday: “Dems’ manta [sic] ‘Defund the Police’ was one of their top policy messaging points in 2020.… GOP has always supported increasing funding for police!”


The rank and file have followed their leaders down Mendacity Lane. Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that “Joe Biden is being held hostage in the White House by the Squad and the radicals in the Democrat [sic] Party who control their party, who have spent the last year stigmatizing one of the most honorable professions in America, in our law enforcement.”
By midday Tuesday, a dozen House Republicans had tweeted messages about Democrats defunding the police.


How, then, to explain the latest “legislative scorecard” from the National Association of Police Officers, a group claiming to represent a quarter-million officers who endorsed President Donald Trump’s reelection?


McCarthy, Stefanik and Banks all scored 57 percent, and some of the back-benchers piling on Tuesday — Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) — scored a paltry 43 percent on NAPO’s pro-police scorecard.


And the Squad? Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) all scored 86 percent. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) scored 71 percent. Where it really counts, all four members of the Squad are more pro-police than their Republican critics.


The pattern continues when looking at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California (80 percent) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland (86 percent), compared with Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana (50 percent). Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.), one of 21 House Republicans to vote against giving medals to the police heroes of Jan. 6, scored 33 percent.


Things are a bit more even in the Senate, although Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (80 percent) bests Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas (both 60 percent) and Rand Paul of Kentucky (a perfect zero).


The reason is simple. Democrats, at least at the federal level, have been the ones funding the police. The 2019-2021 scorecard is based on votes on health care, pensions, covid-19 relief, bulletproof vests, victim compensation and policing reform. There’s not yet a scorecard of votes in the new Congress, but police groups favored the American Rescue Plan covid-relief legislation, which Republicans uniformly opposed, and President Biden wants to pump $300 million more into the COPS community policing program, which Republicans have long opposed.


Few Democratic voters support defunding the police. Seventy-two percent of likely Democratic voters in New York City’s mayoral primary agreed that there should be more police officers on the street, an online poll last month by NY1 with Ipsos found. Only 20 percent disagreed.


Biden himself rejected “defund” calls during the presidential campaign. Arguing for the $350 billion in aid to states and municipalities contained in the covid relief legislation this year, he warned on at least three occasions that such funds were needed because police officers were at risk of losing their jobs.


Contrast that with McCarthy, who, well before opposing this year’s relief bill, voted against funding for the COPS program in 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011 (twice) and 2009.

Or contrast it with Banks, who was challenged on “Fox News Sunday” by host Chris Wallace: “You voted against that package, against that $350 billion, just like every other Republican in the House and Senate. So can’t you make the argument that it’s you and the Republicans who are defunding the police?” Banks tried to change the subject.


Or contrast it with Stefanik, who opposed the legislation that is now funding cops in her district. The Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times reports that the city is using funds from the American Rescue Plan to reinstate four police positions that had been cut because of a budget squeeze.


Certainly, there has been a serious spike in violent crime over the past year. Undoubtedly, the justified demands from the left for policing reform, and the popular backlash since the murder of George Floyd, have taken a toll on police morale. But for every Tlaib rashly demanding “no more policing,” there’s a Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) refusing to shake hands with the Jan. 6 police hero who was beaten unconscious and suffered a concussion and heart attack.


Democrats ought to be saying, as Biden aide Cedric Richmond did on “Fox News Sunday,” “Republicans are very good at staying on talking points of who says defund the police, but the truth is, they defunded the police.” Unlike GOP leadership, the numbers don’t lie.

New Hampshire’s Republican legislature passed a bill banning teaching about racism, and Governor Chris Sununu signed it. The bill also included funding for vouchers and cuts for public schools.

Ten of the 17 members of the governor’s Diversity Council resigned in protest, citing censorship.

“It should not be taken lightly that nearly every member of the Council that is not part of your administration is resigning today, as we collectively see no path forward with this legislation in place,” the resigning members wrote in their letter to Sununu. The group includes the executive director of the New Hampshire ACLU, educators, doctors and children’s advocates. 

Sununu established the council in 2017, with a mission to “combat discrimination and advance the ends of diversity and inclusion.” 

Last week, he signed House Bill 2, a policy-focused “trailer bill” that passed along party lines in the GOP-controlled legislature. Among other provisions, the legislation bars public schools and government employees from teaching about systemic racism and bias. It also bans abortions beyond 24 weeks gestation, with exceptions only to save the life of the mother. Doctors who perform those abortions could face up to seven years in prison. 

State Rep. Jim Maggiore (D) told HuffPost that he voted against the bill because he “could not in good conscience support language restricting the free speech of Granite Staters.” He was one of the 10 council members who quit Tuesday. 


https://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-hampshire-governor-chris-sununu-diversity-council-protest-resign_n_60db5e93e4b0b9e497df733d

Max Boot, former conservative, wrote about the partisan attack on the elections of 2022 and 2024. Republicans are setting in place the process to steal the elections.

He writes:

Republicans have spent nearly seven months making bogus charges of fraud in the 2020 election under the banner of “stop the steal.” Now they have segued into a “start the steal” offensive to ensure that they will win the 2022 and 2024 elections — even if most voters once again support the Democratic Party.


The Brennan Center for Justice reports that “between January 1 and May 14, 2021, at least 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote” and “at least 61 bills with restrictive provisions are moving through 18 state legislatures.” Those bills are designed not to avert nonexistent voter fraud but to avert another election defeat for Republicans — and they are drawing perilously close to that goal.

In Georgia, for example, a new law stipulates that mobile voting stations “shall only be used in emergencies declared by the Governor,” who is a Republican. That will put out of business two “mobile voting units” — a.k.a. buses — that collected 11,200 ballots in Atlanta’s Fulton County in November. Also, under the new law, provisional ballots will no longer be accepted from voters who go to the wrong polling place; 11,120 provisional ballots were counted in November. “Combined,” writes my Post colleague David Weigel, “the ballots cast by both methods are nearly double the margin by which [Joe] Biden won Georgia.”

A new election law in Texas, which has been temporarily blocked by a walkout of Democrats from the state House, would outlaw many of the methods used to increase minority turnout, such as drive-through voting and early voting before 1 p.m. on Sundays (crimping “souls to the polls” events after church services). But the most alarming element of the bill is that it makes it easier to overturn election results even if there is no evidence that fraud affected the outcome.

The Georgia law, for its part, includes a pernicious provision giving the Republican-controlled state legislature the right to suspend county election officials and to name the chair of the State Election Board. Previously, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had chaired the board, but he incurred Republican wrath by certifying Biden’s victory. Raffensperger is being challenged next year by a Donald Trump-endorsed opponent, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), who insists that Trump would have won in Georgia if the election had been “fair.”

Meanwhile, in Arizona — another state Trump narrowly lost — Republicans are trying to strip Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) of her power to defend election lawsuits. They want to vest that authority in the Republican attorney general. If she runs again, Hobbs, like Raffensperger, will face an election challenge from an advocate of the “big lie.” Trump die-hards are also running for the secretary of state posts in Nevada and Michigan.If the challengers win, pro-Trump conspiracy theorists will be supervising elections in key swing states.

While GOP efforts are ultimately aimed at the 2024 election, they will first make their impact felt in 2022. Off-year elections are always tough for the party in power. This one will be tougher still because of Republican-driven voter suppression, reapportionment and gerrymandering. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report writes that Republicans will have full authority to redraw 187 congressional districts, while Democrats will control just 75. He estimates that redistricting in just four states — Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina — could be enough to deliver the House to Republican control.

This brings us to a nightmare scenario: a Republican-controlled Congress overturning the 2024 presidential election results to install Trump or a Trump mini-me in the White House. In January, 139 House Republicans and eight Senate Republicans voted not to certify electoral college results in at least one state. Since then, the most prominent GOP opponent of the “big lie,” Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), has been purged from the House leadership. Willingness to lie about election fraud has become a litmus test for Republicans, with the implicit threat of mob violence if they don’t go along. Republicans are so scared of Trump and his fanatical followers that most of them just voted against a bipartisan investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Many congressional Republicans will refuse to certify a 2024 Democratic win in swing states. If Republicans control Congress, they could deny the Democrats an electoral college majority and throw the election to the House — where each state delegation, regardless of population, would cast one ballot. Given that Republicans already control a majority of state delegations, they could override the election outcome. If that happens, it would spell the end of American democracy.


I hope I am being overly alarmist. I really do. But after the storming of the Capitol — and the Republican failure to hold the instigators to account — we have crossed a Rubicon. The best way to protect our electoral system is to pass the For the People Act, which would curb partisan gerrymandering and protect voting rights. Senate Democrats have to choose between saving the filibuster and saving democracy. They can’t do both.

Republicans today rant about President Biden’s “socialist agenda,” trying to scare ignorant people into fear of a humane government. None of the Trumpers I know are willing to give up their Social Security or Medicare, both of which are forms of government socialism.

Max Boot, who was previously a conservative columnist for the Washington Post, explains in this column that President Biden is trying to catch up with the policies of other modern democracies that provide for such things as health care and education. Republicans prefer a society that is deeply inequitable, where people living in poverty are left to fend for themselves with minimal and inadequate basic human services.

Boot writes:

Republicans accuse President Biden of pursuing a radical agenda that will turn the United States into a failed socialist state. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), for example, tweeted a link to a 1974 article about day care in the Soviet Union and wrote ominously: “You know who else liked universal day care.”


It’s true that Biden is proposing a considerable amount of new spending that could reignite inflation: He wants $2.3 trillion for infrastructure and $1.8 trillion for child care, family leave and education. That’s on top of the $1.9 trillion in stimulus spending that was already passed. But those investments won’t turn us into North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela or the Soviet Union — all countries with government ownership of industry. They will simply bring us a little closer to the standard set by other wealthy industrialized democracies — our international peer group.


Many conservatives, of course, seem to think that, as an “exceptional” nation, we have nothing to learn from any other country. But that is hubris speaking. The coronavirus pandemic should have shattered illusions about U.S. omnipotence that not even our rapid vaccination campaign can undo. While other nations such as Brazil and India have much larger outbreaks today, the United States still has more verified covid-19 deaths (more than 576,000) than any other country. The United States remains a leader in some important areas, including our high-tech industry, our financial industry, our universities and our armed forces. But by most indexes we are an embarrassing international laggard.


The Commonwealth Fund notes that the United States spends nearly twice as much on health care as a percentage of gross domestic product than do other wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Yet, compared with our peers, we have lower life expectancy, higher suicide rates, higher levels of obesity, higher rates of chronic diseases and higher rates of avoidable deaths. It’s no coincidence that the United States, alone among advanced industrialized countries, does not have universal health care. The United States is also alone among OECD nations in not having universal paid family leave.


The Economic Policy Institute notes that income inequality in the United States has been worsening for years: “From 1978 to 2018, CEO compensation grew by 1,007.5%. … In contrast, wages for the typical worker grew by just 11.9%.” Our level of income inequality is now closer to that of developing countries in Africa and Latin American than to our European allies.


In other respects we are simply mediocre. The OECD reports that the minimum wage in the United States is the 15th highest in the world — well behind countries such as Germany and South Korea. The World Economic Forum rates U.S. infrastructure 13th in the world (Singapore is No. 1). The OECD found in 2018 that in an international test of 15-year-olds, the U.S. ranked 11th out of 79 countries in science and 30th in math.


We do lead in some areas. The United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate (higher than in Turkmenistan and Cuba!), the world’s highest rate of civilian gun ownership and the highest rate of violent gun deaths among other advanced industrialized democracies (more than eight times higher than Canada’s).


While we spend more on prisons than other countries, we spend less on social services. The U.S. government’s share of GDP (37.8 percent) is considerably lower than in most other OECD countries (in France it’s 55.6 percent). Yet the United States is hardly a free-market paradise: The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom ranks the United States No. 20, far behind countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark that have more robust welfare states.


Yes, it’s possible to combine a vibrant free market with generous social welfare spending. In fact, that’s the right formula for a more satisfied and stable society. In the OECD quality-of-life rankings — which include everything from housing to work-life balance — the United States ranks an unimpressive 10th. The leaders are Norway, Australia, Iceland, Canada and Denmark — again, all emphatically capitalist countries whose governments spend a higher share of GDP than we do.


Biden’s plans, even if fully implemented, won’t cause the United States to leap to the front of the pack in quality-of-life rankings. He doesn’t have the support in Congress to address our rampant gun crime with tougher licensing for handguns and a ban on assault rifles (as occurred in Australia and New Zealand). He is not even trying to institute universal medical care — something that every other wealthy country already has — because to do so would invite the same Republican protests against “socialized medicine” that greeted the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.


At most, with proposals such as federally subsidized child care, elder care, family leave and pre-K education — financed with modest tax increases on corporations and wealthy individuals — Biden is merely moving us a bit closer to the kinds of government services that other wealthy, industrialized democracies already take for granted. We will remain on the smaller-government, lower-tax end of the spectrum, but we will have a slightly stronger social safety net than we had before. That’s far from radical. It’s simply sensible.


I have been trying to understand what happened to the Republican Party.

The Republican Party seems to have abandoned its core principles during the Trump era. Once upon a time there was a vigorous “moderate” wing of the GOP. It’s gone. Once they were the party of personal responsibility, family values, multilateralism, supportive of immigration, free trade, and reflexive anti-Sovietism. They were once deficit hawks but threw out that policy to pass Trump’s massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest individuals in 2017. Republicans believed in the rule of law and revered the Constitution They abandoned these core principles under Trump’s sway. They became the cult of Trump. So enamored of him were they that the Party didn’t bother to write a platform for the 2020 election. It was simply ”whatever Trump said last time.”

What Republicans believe today:

Trump is always right.

Republicans believe that the best medicine for the economy is big tax cuts for corporations and the richest.

At the state level, the most compelling issue for Republicans is the very existence of people who are transgender. They don’t want them to serve in the military. They don’t want them to use the bathroom of their choice, although gender-neutral bathrooms are increasingly commonplace. They would legislate them out of existence if they could. The fight against transgender people is a big state issue.

The core belief of today’s Republican Party is that the 2020 election was rigged by the party out of power (who forgot to rig races for the Senate, the House, and governorships). Trump won in a landslide, they say, but the Democrats stole the election. The absence of any evidence doesn’t change their views, nor does the fact that the Trump campaign’s claims of fraud were rejected by scores of state and federal courts, by Trump-appointed judges and twice by the US Supreme Court. Any elected Republican who thinks that Biden won in a fair election, like Liz Cheney, puts their political career at risk. The party has chosen Trump’s Big Lie over the rule of law and the Constitution.

Republicans believe that Putin is our good friend, because Trump said so.

Republicans believe that immigration is bad for America because immigrants are murderers, rapists, and drug dealers. Trump said so. Immigration is bad because most immigrants are not white, and they threaten the white identity of the country.

Republican state officials are passing laws to suppress the votes of people who might vote Democratic, especially black and brown people.

If Democrats somehow win a governorship, the legislature (if controlled by Republicans) shamelessly passes laws to diminish the governor’s power.

Republicans believe they have a duty to protect schools from “critical race theory,” even if they aren’t sure what it is. They don’t want white students or their parents to feel any responsibility for racial injustice, past or present. Republicans imagine that teachers are indoctrinating students to become socialists or Communists. This is nonsense.

Republicans want charter schools, vouchers, home-schooling, and they are willing to send public dollars to anyone who opens a school, regardless of whether it operates for profit and regardless of quality.

Republicans don’t value separation of church and state. In fact, they vigorously lobby to send public money to religious schools.

Republicans believe in strict accountability for public schools, but not for charter schools or religious schools that get public money.

The party of “family values” evaporated when Trump became their president. An affair with a porn star? Who cares? Nude photos of the First Lady all over the Internet? No problem (remember how shocked they were when Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress?). Multiple claims of sexual harassment? Forget the family values thing.

Republicans today are the party of Trump.