Help God Help You

An old adage goes, “God helps those who help themselves.” Decades ago I learned the adage, “The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that it exists. I question the existence of God but the Republican Party claims to. (I’ll expand on that below.) The latter is simply logic. What does this have to do with 21st century American politics? Read on and you will see.

Today’s subject is the Republican Party. It has a plethora of problem and the poster boy for them is Donald Trump. Recently, they have been presented with several opportunities to rid themselves of him and have failed to take advantage of any. In fact they are doubling down on him.

Trump was far from a political Messiah; he was quite the opposite. The other day life expectancy numbers came out and in the U.S. under him our life expectancy dropped by a year. For some groups it was significantly more. I won’t get into the statistical and methodological weeds, but it is actually worse than that. There were several factors – like bad habits “caused” by stress and uncertainty – but the main one was COVID-19. America has a bit less than 5% of the global population but about 20% of its infections. In just one month of the Biden administration it is even more glaringly apparent that this was due to mismanagement.

Trump is far from a winning machine. There is a joke about the 2016 election that Trump and Hillary Clinton ran against the only opponents they could beat. Trump lost the popular vote decidedly but won an electoral college victory that was tied for tenth place among post-Alaska and Hawaii statehood elections. The vote was tainted by foreign interference which Trump’s campaign appears to have been complicit in. Trump termed 2016 a landslide win – arithmetic and history judge it much differently.

Despite the significant advantages of incumbency, in 2020 Trump lost the popular vote by an even wider margin and the electoral college outcome was the same except that he was on the short end of it. Trump claimed that the election was rigged and that he really won, again in a landslide. Over 60 courts vehemently disagreed with him; several of them presided over by judges he appointed.

Trump perpetuated this big lie to the point of inciting a violent attack on the Capital Building as Congress was certifying the election. Even the vast majority of the 43 Senators (all Republicans) who voted “Not Guilty” in his second impeachment trial justified their votes on a technicality (which their leader Mitch McConnell made possible and has no legal basis, in fact the contrary is true) not Trump’s innocence.

In addition to losing the White House it appears Trump lost the Senate for the Republicans. I contend a major factor in the big Democratic turnout in November of 2020 was the hatred of Trump. Americans are much more likely to vote against a candidate than for one. It appeared to have carried over into the runoff elections in Georgia in January of 2021 when the Democrats pulled off a twin surprise and with it control of the Senate. Trump helped turnout on both sides but he inspired more additional Democratic voters than additional Republican voters.

Remember this is that Party that holds itself out as the political party of God in America. They can hardly utter a phrase without invoking their Christianity. Of course, they have their own approved list of denominations within Christianity and all other religions are illegitimate in their view. One of the interesting things in Republican watching is to see how certain denominations – particularly Mormons and Catholics – move on and off of their approved list depending on the circumstances.

Just in the last few days new evidence has emerged of Trump allies Roger Stone and Alex Jones being complicit in the storming of the Capital. In addition, the United Nations reported that Eric Prince (Betsy DeVos’ brother) was involved in an arms sale that violated international sanctions. (Perhaps Ronald Reagan’s ghost lived in the Trump White House).

CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Committee) is holding their annual meeting this weekend and has scheduled Trump as their wrap up speaker. CPAC is a major player in contemporary Republican politics. (If someone told me they thought the acronym stood for Crazy Political Action Committee I’d have a difficult time faulting their logic.) They should be rejecting not embracing Trump if they are interested in the long-term future of the GOP. In other words, if they recognized their problem and wanted to solve it with or without God’s assistance.

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