“Know Nothing” Republicans Must Be Held Responsible for the Death and Suffering They’ve Caused
Two weeks ago Jerry Schneiderman, my best friend for 50 years, didn’t answer my call when I phoned his home to say hi. Instead, his stepson told me he’d been taken by ambulance to the hospital with Covid pneumonia.
When I finally got through to him at the hospital ER, he told me between gasps for breath that the doctors “aren’t optimistic,” that he missed his beloved wife, and his final words to me that day were, “I don’t want to die here all alone.”
It’s hard to describe the pain and fear you feel when your best friend, a person you’ve shared most of your life with, tells you he may be dead within a day or two. Louise and I were shell-shocked. Jerry survived, at least so far, but many more have not.
A half-million Americans are dead from Covid.
No other country in the world has seen this kind of death. None.
America has lost more people in the last year than we lost in all the wars of the 20th century combined. More than those who died in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam war, the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq, combined.
With 4 percent of the world’s population, we have more than a fifth of all the Covid deaths on the planet. And, given how most GOP-run states refuse to compile and report clean statistics, it’s probably worse than that.
None of this was necessary.
Countries whose leaders cared about the lives of their people and listened to scientists have a fraction of our deaths, both per-capita or as total numbers.
Only America has this kind of horror, because only America had a monster as president who surrounded himself with other monsters. In the developed world, only America has a major political party that embraces lies as its primary way of conducting politics.
America is 4% of the world’s population yet we have 1/5 of all the world’s Covid deaths.
There’s a joke circulating on the Internet: “Why is it that America can land a helicopter on Mars, but can’t keep power on in Texas?” Answer: “The Mars project was run by scientists, but Texas is run by Republicans.”
Ever since Ronald Reagan refused to even mention the word AIDS for the eight years of his presidency as a shout-out to his “Christian” base, the Republican Party has embraced know-nothingism.
There was a similar movement toward the end of the 19th century when a similarly idiotic party rose up and took over Massachusetts: they were known as the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, and their slogan was “I know nothing.”
Their singular focus was nativistic racism. Famous newspaper editor Horace Greeley called them “The Know Nothings” and without a trace of irony they called themselves The American Party.
The Republicans have inherited their mantel.
They don’t want to know anything about science, be it the science of public health or the science of economics.
They don’t want to know anything about the science of human reproduction or the reality that all human beings of all skin colors are simply human beings, but instead cling to their anti-abortion misogyny and vicious racism.
They put wealth and power above decency and humanity: as a result, a half million of us died in less than a year.
They lied to us that Covid was “just like the flu” and “like magic, will soon disappear.”
They lied to us about “voter fraud” to hang onto their political white power.
They lied to us about “trickle down economics” to hang onto their vast wealth.
Trump lied to us that he won the 2020 election, and he and his Republican co-conspirators against democracy continue to echo his lie, which led directly to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th.
They lied to us that student debt “builds character” when in fact it has wiped out an entire generation of young people, preventing them from buying homes and starting small businesses or families.
They lied to us saying that America has the best healthcare system in the world, when in reality tens of thousands of people every year die in this country for lack of healthcare and we have the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the developed world.
They lied to us that guns keep us safe, when in reality they’ve produced an epidemic of school shootings and suicides.
They lied to us that tax cuts for billionaires and big corporations help out the little guy.
They lied to us that unions hurt working people.
They lied to us about global warming, saying it’s caused by natural phenomena as their friends made trillions of dollars in profits pumping carbon poison into our atmosphere.
They lied to us that massive military spending, greater than the next 10 nations combined, provides “security” for our people, but a national healthcare system, free college education and decent wages for workers don’t.
They lied to us that a robust minimum wage hurts business, when all around the world countries with much higher minimum wages have vibrant economies. Our own economy, in fact, was at its most vibrant when, in the 1960s, our minimum wage was over the equivalent of $15 an hour in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Republican lies have brought us amplified racism and misogyny, an impoverished working class, a dirtier environment, and an entire generation of young people paralyzed by debt.
Now, on top of that, these Republican lies have killed half a million of our fellow citizens and our economy is once again in utter shambles, much like it was when Republicans ran things in 1929.
It’s time to end the lies and consign today’s Republican Party to the dustbin of history.