By now you’ve heard the news; the presumptive Republican nominee is one of the most hated men in the country. Did you know you two have something in common? Both of you, according to recent polling, have the highest disapproval ratings in the nation. You come in at 52%, while your party’s new standard-bearer comes in at 63%. Did you also know Congress’s approval rating is hovering just over single digits? It’s now at 11%; a year ago it was 9%.
I’d imagine you are asking yourself what went wrong? How did Kentucky’s longest serving senator, elected in 1984, come to this, and how did a bloviating, race-baiting, orange thin-skinned businessman come to represent the GOP? You only have yourself to blame. Your downfall and Trump’s rise lies squarely at your feet. All of the anger, rancor and racism we see at every Trump rally today can be traced back to your reaction to the 2008 election of President Obama. For eight years you have doubled down on this reaction and led the Republican Congress as if it were a day-care center for toddlers; toddlers whose only words is “No”.
From the very beginning you made your views clear on what you felt the Republican platform should be with a Democrat in the White House. You said, “ Our top priority should be to deny Obama a second term”. Even though 2008 saw the collapse of the economy and massive job loss, you made it known that these issues would take a backseat to your personal agenda. No wonder the people lost confidence in you; they were collateral damage in your war to regain power.
originally you were against the bank bailout, saying, “The mere existence of this fund will ensure that it gets used. And once it’s used up, taxpayers will be asked to cover the balance. This is precisely the wrong approach”. But instead of offering a different solution, you ended up voting for the bailout. While economists will continue to argue over the merits and outcome, the Republican voters offered their own opinion; they hated it and thanks to your rhetoric, they hated it for the wrong reasons. Fueled by words like socialism and cronyism, they believed that Obama would make them personally pay for the bailout and immediately hated him for it. This would have been good news to the Republican politicians who used Obama as a economic scapegoat had the Republican base been okay with their leaders’ lack of courage to come up with a better plan. But they didn’t. What they saw was a “powerless” Republican party at a time when they wanted to see action. Some felt the Republicans sold out to Wall Street just as much as the Democrats. This bailout may have saved us from total economic collapse, yet to many voters it felt as if nothing had changed. They may have blamed Obama and his ties to Wall Street, but they also blamed your party for not doing anything to help ease their personal burdens.
You forget Mitch, that the party of hawks should never look weak in the eyes of their base. If there is one thing the Republican base hates more than a socialist from Kenya, is perceived weakness from their leaders. When those who look for strength from their leaders find only weakness, they turn to new leadership.
Did you know that before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, millions of working class families went bankrupt due to medical costs, and that once diagnosed with a chronic disease, it was all but impossible to change insurance plans? Did you know parents with children in college couldn’t provide insurance for them? Did you care? You were very vocal in your opposition to the ACA, but silent when it came to offering a better alternative. Right after the 2008 election the Republican leadership called for some “soul searching” in an effort to examine what went wrong. This would have been the perfect time to step up and take notice of the Americans suffering at the hands of the insurance industry. Your party could have been the one to offer a better approach to health care, yet it didn’t. Instead it vilified the Democratic led plan, and after it passed, spent millions of dollars and countless hours trying to repeal it, even as the act began to save the lives of many Americans. So much for soul searching.
You sold your opposition as a crusade against the President, adding more fuel to the growing anger felt by your base, but for all the talk and filibustering, no repeal came to fruition. Nor did the dreaded death panels or other mythical outcomes to the ACA. All you managed to accomplish was to spread fear among your base. When people become fearful, they also become angry and dangerous. You are seeing this play out across the country now.
You said you were for immigration reform. In fact you proudly stated, “As you know, I’m the proud husband of an immigrant. A young girl came here at age eight, not speaking a word of English. In fact, her parents didn’t have enough money for a plane ticket. They came over on a freighter with the freight. And my wife, Elaine Chao, became secretary of labor, and was in President Bush’s cabinet. Look, I’m a big fan of what legal immigration has done for our country. The Senate bill, in my view, is deficient on the issue of border security.” But despite these words, you found a way to say “No” to immigration reform and blamed it on the President, “I think when the president took the action he did, after the 2014 election, he pretty much made it impossible for us to go forward with immigration reform this Congress”.”
By taking a step back and allowing the President to take blame for Congress’s unwillingness to take action, you probably thought you dodged a political bullet; in that you were wrong. As one of most widely misunderstood issues that America faces, you allowed the myth of the “other” to continue. You think you successfully straddled the fence both for and against immigration reform, but you didn’t. You could have brought immigrants out of the shadows and into the party tent, but you didn’t. You could have been truthful with your base as to why the myth of the other is wrong, and how our country is economically bound by low wages but you didn’t. You allowed the anger over border security and personal economic insecurity to fester and manifest into a large boil on America’s ass and gave it a name; Donald Trump.
You didn’t manage to make Obama a one-term president, but you did mange to alienate the average Republican voter; the people you largely ignored expect to offer up time and time again, reasons for them to feel angry and letdown. You may have thought all this anger would spill out in the 2016 general election, and in that you were right. But yet it is not playing out like you had hoped, and you only have yourself to blame; so much for your pledge of doing “No harm”.
What we have now are millions of voters who are tired of the do-nothing Congress. They are tired and angry, and have turned from you because you have done nothing to relieve there pent-up frustration. Where you once saw a need for some vague “border security” they now see a huge wall. Where you once saw your strength in saying “No” to everything, they now see a man who will do whatever he wants. Where you once said you would not work with the President on any issue, they see a man who claims to be a great negotiator and will make deals for the American people. Where you once saw yourself safely secure in your unwillingness to do anything about immigration reform, they see a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep America safe from the mythical “others”.
Those of us who see through Trump and his 4th grade approach to politics can only look on in stunned horror as millions of our fellow citizens cling to his every word and use them as agents of violence. These same people you so willingly moved to anger and fear now look to a rambling mad man for salvation.
Donald Trump and all he stands for is not the candidate America deserves, but he is the candidate you deserve.