My Turn: Now, at least, we know what needs fixing

For the Monitor
Published: 2/26/2021 6:00:14 AM

The acquittal of the ex-president by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 13 exposed as never before the consequences of the demented blind allegiance to party “uber alles,” German for “above all.”

This is a frightening situation for anyone who cherishes the concept of democracy. Blind allegiance to party has its historical precedence, and the outcome thrust the world into war. It also leads to excuse making: “Well, he did some good things.” So did Mussolini. He made the trains run on time, a huge issue for the Italian middle and working class, allowing fascism to ride right in.

In this instance, 74 million people voted for the Republican Party in the last election (this same affliction can affect Democrats, too). Some of them, like a friend of mine, simply voted Republican because “my family always votes Republican.” My friend is a compassionate and delightful person. She’s not a Proud Boy or adherent to QAnon. It’s just a knee-jerk response with little thinking of the consequences of her action. And she is not alone.

The most terrifying result of this behavior (I was going to say “thinking” but that’s the point, isn’t it. There is no thinking!) happened on Feb. 13 in the U.S. Senate. And it happened in the U.S. House earlier when the vote to impeach for the second time was held. In spite of being attacked with people yelling “Hang them!” and reportedly looking to find and kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, 147 House Republicans and 43 Senate Republicans stuck to the party line and voted against their sworn duty “to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” They absurdly argued no jurisdiction even in the face of constitutional scholars of all political persuasions saying otherwise.

What they were really saying is that they were elected by Republicans and were worried they would lose their jobs if they went against the party line. Worried that racists and delusional loudmouths would target them and their families when they went home, they let fear rule the day. Violent threats of repercussion is a page out of Hitler’s and every other dictator’s playbook. Stick with the party or else suffer the consequences. Alas, that fear was and remains real, used, sanctioned, and encouraged by the ex-president.

When being sworn in and at the start of every congressional session, the Pledge of Allegiance is said. The words we say at town meeting, however, are not the words thought of when Congress meets. It’s rather: “I pledge allegiance to the party, to which I am economically beholden. And to the party, right or wrong, united in discipline, one voice, always to the party, with obedience and loyalty forever.”

We have known for a long time that our country is in trouble. At the nation’s inception, rich white men created a system that ensured their place in power. They rather blew it with the Declaration of Independence, however, never thinking it would be used to enfranchise poor whites, women, people of color, and others outside their elitist club. And they have been fighting to correct that error ever since. The myriad of laws denying citizen access to voting (a.k.a. voter suppression) being the most long-lived and persistent strategy.

Enormous progress has been made and, as many have said, more progress is yet to be made to fulfill the promise of America. I am grateful for the ex-president and his cyborg offspring for pulling back the curtain more thoroughly so we can see what needs fixing.

As any medical practitioner or organizational leader can attest, you can’t cut out the cancer or the dysfunction until you can see it. He showed it all. There are some, like Cruz, Hawley, Rubio, Boebert, Greene, Paul, who have drunk the cool-aid and will spread venom wherever they can, delusional as they are. However, for the others in the 74 million, who like my friend simply vote party because that is what they have always done, I still have hope.

As the old commercial used to say, the brain is a terrible thing to waste. Party allegiance destroys our humanity and poisons our democracy. Be a refusenik, think for yourself, listen to your heart, determine what is right for you, find your moral compass and act on it. It is the only way that can keep us moving toward a concept destroyed by Reagan in the 1980s and desperately needed now – the existence of and the beneficence toward the common good.

(Sue McKevitt lives in Bradford.)

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