More than 400,000 American souls have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic — or more accurately, to the failed leadership of the previous president during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the toll of human lives, millions are now unemployed, facing hunger and homelessness, stressed about the social and psychological toll on their children, and scared about what the future holds.
President Biden understands this. He has proposed a $1.9 trillion funding package consisting of direct payments, unemployment aid, rental assistance, an increase in food stamps, healthcare subsidies, and other assistance for states, schools, and small businesses.
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It is hard not to get lost in all the zeroes, but $1.9 trillion is a lot of money; and this is the third aid package, not the first. It is understandable for members of the opposition party to question the cost and the components of the proposal. Sens. Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski have questioned the wisdom of new legislation almost “before the ink is dry” on the $900 billion package signed last month.
It is not OK, however, to play stupid games at at time when America is reeling from the competing crises of the pandemic, a politician-driven insurrection, the second impeachment of a disgraced former president, and a K-shaped economic recovery that is leaving millions of Americans behind.
In response to the very real challenges that everyday Americans are facing, Republican members of the highest legislative body in the country resort to school yard games. They haven’t missed any paychecks. They were first in line to get the precious vaccine. They played footsie under the table with a violent, racist mob. They were emboldened by their landslide victories. They relish their minority status — Democratic majorities too slim to ignore them altogether means they have license to obstruct with little fear of consequence. They are literally playing games with people’s lives.
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During the impeachment hearing in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” He offered censure as a better solution, which was roundly rejected by the majority of the members included 10 from his own caucus.
Failing that attempt at partisan subterfuge, McCarthy returned to form this week, proclaiming that the former president bears absolutely no responsibility for the desecration of the US Capitol that caused Congressional members and staffers to flee for their lives and the death of two police officers. Even more outrageously, McCarthy announced that it was us — each and every one of the American people — who were to blame for his party’s failed attempts to overthrow a free and fair election. McCarthy’s about face can be easily linked to his caucus’ responsiveness to its base which wants the likes of Rep. Liz Cheny banished and the likes of Donald John Trump installed as leader for life.
Never one to be outrun in a race to the bottom, US Senator Lindsey Graham opted to blame, not the former president, but one of the intended victims of the mob. Graham went on Sunday Morning Futures and proudly proclaimed, “It was horrendous to see people take over the Capitol, the House and the Senate, beat officers, defile the seat of government. How in the hell did that happen? Where was Nancy Pelosi? It’s her job to provide Capitol security. We’ll get to the bottom of that.”
This is gaslighting of the highest order. How did it happen? Graham knows exactly how it happened. The former president made it happen and Graham supported him every step of the way. It is the president’s job to keep the American people safe. It is the president’s job to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution. It is the president’s job not to incite an insurrection against another branch of government and failing that, it is the president’s job to send in the military to quell such seditious behavior.
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Graham knows all this. So, why play political games at a time of national crisis? He provides the answer in an interview with another Fox News host. “I hope people in our party understand the party itself. If you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re gonna get erased. Most Republicans like his policies, a lot of Republicans like his style. A lot of people are disappointed with him personally at times but appreciate the outcomes he’s achieved for our country.”
The outcomes he’s achieved for our country. Let’s review…a pandemic that is still claiming 4,000 lives each day, economic devastation for tens of millions of Americans, nearly 30 million people who believe the insurrection was justified, and a nation where millions of Americans are held hostage to unhinged conspiracy theories that have twisted their minds and their methods of civic engagement.
If Graham is right — and this is what “Republicans like,” the country is perilously close to the brink of disaster.