"The single greatest threat to the United States is not joblessness, foreclosures, another recession or skyrocketing debt or health care costs. Nor is it terrorism, China or declining influence abroad. No, the single greatest threat to our country is today’s Republican Party.”
– Sandy Goodman, Huffington Post contributor and retired producer for NBC Nightly News (June 21, 2011)
Does anyone remember what it was like in 2011 … before the election of Donald Trump, before the pandemic and the lockdown, before the attack on the U.S. Congress by right-wing extremists? It seems like ages ago. However, some observers were already warning us of a disaster in-the-making.
Back in June 2011, seasoned journalist Sandy Goodman called the Republican Party the greatest threat to the country. Goodman said then that the GOP was relentlessly pursuing a policy of “the American public be damned,” so that next year Republicans could regain the national political dominance they held from 2001 to 2006.
Goodman said …
“Their (the Republicans') sole, selfish aim is to complete the transformation of the U.S. to a government of, by and for the rich and the far-right.
In her article, Goodman said Veteran reporter Robert Parry, a retired correspondent for the Associated Press and Newsweek, accurately summed up that policy this way:
“Modern Republicans have a simple approach to politics when they are not in the White House: Make America as ungovernable as possible by using any means available … Control as much as possible what the population gets to see and hear; create chaos for your opponent’s government, economically and politically; blame it for the mess; and establish in the minds of the voters that their only way out is to submit, that the pain will stop once your side is back in power...
“Republicans and the Right... are well positioned to roll the U.S. economy off the cliff and blame the catastrophe on Obama. Indeed, that may be their best hope for winning Election 2012.”
(Sandy Goodman. “Republicans: The Single Greatest Threat to America.” Huffington Post. June 21, 2011.)
And also in 2011, good old Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “I wish we had been able to obstruct more.” McConnell had succeeded brilliantly in keeping his members in line in opposing what Goodman called “every important measure that’s good for this country including presidential initiatives for health care, financial regulation, economic stimulus and a dozen executive appointments and even more judicial ones needed to keep government functioning.”
Of course, Barack Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney to win the 2012 Presidential Election. Romney hammered the poor economy but badly mishandled the immigration issue. After winning the primaries, most experts believe Romney should have embraced the sensible immigration reform bill put together by Republican Senator Marco Rubio. And, Sandy hit the Northeast and Obama took on the Olympian mantle of crisis leadership, aided immensely by hugs from the New Jersey GOP Governor.
Nothing like the good old days, huh? Still, Goodman's predictions did fully materialize … although it took a while.
Enter Donald Trump
Then, four year later, Trump emerged on the scene as the Republican candidate, and he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. The Republican Party won the majority in the House of Representatives while the Democrats kept their Senate majority.
The reason for the election win for Trump is greatly debated. Criticisms of Clinton are easier than explanations of Trump's victory. Many viewed their vote as a selection of the lesser of two evils. Trump was seen by many as a political reformer while Clinton was viewed by many as politically corrupt.
Working-class White people, particularly men and women without college education, deserted the Democratic Party in droves. Rural voters turned out in high numbers, as the Americans who felt overlooked by the establishment and left behind by the coastal elite made their voices heard.
To help achieve his victory, Trump relied upon a White wave of voters in the Midwest. There, Democrats did not find sufficient support, based in part on the lack of votes from Black and working-class voters. To his credit, Trump campaigned in states like Wisconsin and Michigan that pundits said were out of reach. And, it paid off. In the end, Clinton couldn’t rely on Obama’s natural connection to the nonwhite electorate.
Trump ran as an outsider, even against the powers in his own party. This outsider status came at a time when much of the American public reviled Washington (although not enough to keep them from re-electing most congressional incumbents running for re-election).
Then, of course, FBI director James Comey released his letter announcing that they were reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. What a timely service to Trump.
All of this led to a victory for Donald Trump. He moved into the White House and the Republican “brain” withered into unprecedented demise as it became trapped in the cult of their chosen leader.
In 2018 Charles P. Pierce wrote in Esquire …
“Not until the Republican Party as it is presently constituted has been wiped from the memory of man can a sensible, reason-based, science-friendly center-right party rise in its place. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted exists solely to launder corporate money, and its primary national imperatives are bigotry, plutocracy, and ratfcking. It doesn't believe in constitutional norms any more than it believes in climate science. The prion disease has progressed beyond all recall. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted needs to be put out of its misery before we are put out of ours …
“This is very much a national story, and it is a national story because it illustrates perfectly how fully the prion disease has destroyed the higher functions of the Republican brain. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted is the greatest threat to the American republic since Appomattox. It needs to die, fast and hard, and the ground salted so that it does not rise again.”
(Charles P. Pierce. “The Republican Party Is the Single Greatest Threat to the American Republic.” Esquire. December 03, 2018.)
So, the threat to America took wings in Trump's presidency. Voters disgusted with Washington politicians and with great aversion to the old establishment put an unqualified, narcissist autocrat in the highest office in the world. The results were predictably dire.
The Doomsday Clock – a globally recognized indicator of the vulnerability of our existence updated every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors (which includes 13 Nobel laureates) – moved to just 100 seconds to "midnight," closer to destruction than at any point since the clock was created in 1947.
Recent military actions, the demise of pacts freeing nations to deploy land-based missiles over ranges that leave little time for a response, and a growing number of disasters linked to global climate change resulting from the continued consumption of fossil fuel are among the major causes for this frightening step closer to the end of human existence as we know it.
Add to the mix Trump's failed pandemic response, his racist immigration policies, his standoffs with Black Lives Matter activists, and his significant encouragement of right-wing extremist groups under his watch, and Sandy Goodman's evaluation of the Republican culpability in the threat to our existence is right on.
And the majority of Republicans have remained loyal to Trump after all his bullshit – even after four years of his failed leadership and outrageous lies cements his rank as the poorest president of all time.
A Quinnipiac University poll out December 10, 2020, indicated that 77 percent of Republicans believe there was fraud in this election. And while most of the talk of fraud comes from Trump himself – he’s the spark – the fuel is all around us. And the momentum is fueled by fringe fiction, not facts.
Donald Trump has greatly exacerbated the threat of domestic terrorism. According to a CBS News poll conducted by YouGov from January 13 to January 15, 2021, more than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America's way of life comes from their fellow citizens. Why? Those saying "no" to President Biden's legitimacy are the firmest Trump supporters, and 9 in 10 say they would vote for Mr. Trump again in 2024.
And, the denial of the election result fiasco thrills dictators like Vladimir Putin, who delighted in seeing Republicans make a the mockery of democracy. As the GOP became the biggest threat to our elections, Trump's GOP operatives in the trenches – citizens and elected officials – did the dirty work to make sure it happened.
In their effort to put Trump in the White House in 2016, the Russians played on American naiveté by spreading lies on social media and hacking into Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails. They accomplished their primary goal, but they lacked the political machinery necessary to control the outcome on a state-by-state level.
Right before the vote in 2020, Dahleen Glanton of the Chicago Tribune said …
“This time around, the Republicans are doing what the Russians could never accomplish. The GOP is engaged in an outright campaign to deny Americans an opportunity to vote.
“The biggest threats to Americans are the unfair restrictions and unnecessary requirements voters in Republican-controlled states are being forced to endure in the attempt to suppress their vote.
“The Russians and the GOP have succeeded in convincing us that our electoral process is flawed. Our doubts about the sanctity of the upcoming election have escalated nearly to the point of panic.
(Dahleen Glandton. “Column: Voters have more to fear from the GOP than the Russians this year.” Chicago Tribune. September 30, 2020.)
Trump remains the golden boy of the party. The CBS poll showed Republican Trump supporters overwhelmingly oppose him being impeached for a second time. And while most Americans consider Republicans who voted to impeach as "principled," these Republicans consider them "disloyal." Three in four of them want congressional Republicans to oppose Mr. Biden as much as possible, rather than find common ground. Violence and sedition surfaced in the infamous January 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” riot – this mob remains pissed and ready to inflict further destruction in places all around the country.
In December 2019 – before the 2020 election – Renée Graham of the Boston Globe said ...
“Trump had no issue trying to get a foreign government to kneecap a political rival and skew the election in his own favor. In modern political history, when has the GOP ever cared about the sanctity of our elections? For months, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has ignored a bill designed to protect elections, the House-passed “For the People Act,” which among many sweeping proposals, seeks to expand voting rights.
“Without fair elections, America can never be a democracy in full. That’s exactly what Republicans want. This, too, is a crime in progress, as the greatest threat to the Constitution thrives not in Russia, but as malfeasance stretching from conservative groups and state officials to the White House.”
(Renee Graham. “Russia isn’t the biggest threat to our elections. It’s Republicans.” Boston Globe. December 17, 2019.)
Sandy Goodman predicted the danger of the Republicans' threat to feed the rich and starve the poor, and, above all, make the nation ungovernable. “Control what you can” and “create chaos” and “blame President Obama” – this was the Republican game plan for the creation of their Frankenstein monster Trump.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST/1500 GMT on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, to announce the 2021 time of the Doomsday Clock. There is little doubt that the movement of the hands will show a terrifying response to the disaster that was 2020. And, there is no doubt at all that Republicans have pushed the world closer to oblivion with their dangerous policies and their ultra-dangerous, autocratic president.