Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ll tell you at the start that I think MAGA, in the World According to Trump, should stand for Make America God Awful. Now all you folks who refuse to read or listen to any opinion contrary to his Gospel of Lies can check out. Because that’s what you’ve been doing for six years.
Early voting in Maryland begins on Thursday, Oct. 27, and I’m not optimistic that Democrats will keep MAGA Republicans from taking over one or both houses of Congress. In my humble but at least informed opinion, America has gone mad if it goes all-in-MAGA. Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to America in my lifetime. And if you don’t believe me, I’m confident that Donald II in ’24 would, God forbid, prove to all but the most insane or invested Trumpists that he’s a vile abuser of your support.
Yes, I know Donald is not running in 2022. But his suffocating influence on midterm ballots, enabled by sycophants who call themselves Republicans, may be the Democrats’ best hope of surviving what pundits predict will be a Red Wave. Remember, Donald almost single-handedly fueled, with his narcissistic final-day campaigning in Georgia after his 2020 presidential election defeat, all that Democrats needed to take both U.S. Senate seats up for election on Jan. 5 – the day before the Capitol insurrection. Now he wants Georgians to vote for a certifiable idiot, liar and serial paternity denier to hold a Senate seat over an African-American incumbent who served as pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church. Do voters have to be stupider even than Herschel Walker to elect him? Probably not. Just MAGA enough.
So here’s the issue in mostly reliable Democratic Maryland, which generally elects only moderate Republicans, notably Gov. Larry Hogan: Not even Larry supports his party’s candidate to succeed him. Dan Cox, like most MAGA maniacs, claims that the 2020 election was stolen by Joe Biden. In the primaries, Cox even predicted Donald would be reinstated as president. This is crazy and dangerous nonsense. Virtually everything MAGA Republicans accuse Democrats of is projection. Trump plotted with all disregard to the constitution and his presidential duties to steal the election he knew he’d lose long before election day. The only “evidence” that the election was rigged is Donald’s lie. Due to Donald’s dominance over a deliberately misinformed GOP electorate, such notions as voting-machine counts manipulated by Chinese-controlled thermostats or ballots contaminated by bamboo are credible solely to gullible partisans. Then there are Donald’s potentially prosecutable lies. He signed a sworn affidavit to a federal judge, citing made-up thousands of dead people voting in Georgia, which may well prove to be felony perjury. And he’s been deposed in a civil case alleging rape. (Civil because the statute of limitations has passed.) Not to mention Jan. 6 and myriad other criminal and civil investigations.
Cox supports this man he believes should be reinstalled as president, I suppose by martial law. The real insurrection, of course, was incited by Donald Trump himself, weeks in advance of his remarks on the Ellipse that led to the mob assault on the Capitol that narrowly missed assassination of members of Congress and of Vice President Pence. And then, stymied by Secret Servicemen from dropping him off at the besieged Capitol, Trump sat on his butt for four hours in the White House, cheering on rioters and doing nothing to summon local National Guard troops to reinforce the Capitol police. Trump ass-kissers blame Nancy Pelosi, who, along with Chuck Schumer, can be seen on video begging Trump’s third or fourth attorney general or anyone else with plausible clout to send help. Standing over Pelosi’s shoulder is Rep. Steve Scalise, who himself was nearly assassinated in 2017 by a Democratic-leaning fanatic during, ironically, a bipartisan practice for a baseball game. After the confirmation of Biden’s Electoral College victory, Scalise, who voted against it, lied about Pelosi doing nothing to protect the Capitol. Donald, of course, was the one who had all the authority on Jan. 6 but did nothing.
Which brings us to the congressman who represents our district. Andy Harris is another election denier, who, on the day after the 2021 insurrection, tried to carry a gun onto the floor of the House and feebly sought to pass it off to a colleague. More than that, Harris has been for six terms – breaking his promise not to seek a seventh – a useless legislator, sponsoring only one bill to pass Congress. Congratulations, Andy. You renamed a post office. He’s also essentially against all but private medical insurance, which only rich folks or people with good employee benefits can afford. Also, he opposes abortion for any reason after six weeks – before many women even know they’re pregnant.
I’ve seen “God’s abortion,” if that’s what Andy might call it – a microscopic invisible dot in a pool of blood in a toilet. A miscarriage. Should such a woman be prosecuted? You think I’m joking? Anti-abortion zealots would take away birth control, if you let them. Same-sex marriage. Pre-marital sex. Did you think they’d ever overturn Roe v. Wade? MAGA maniacs would take away your right to sex for love or pleasure. I say to them, shut up, go away and mind your own damn business. But they’re not listening to me or anyone else who has a life in the real world.
There are Republicans on the local ballot I could vote for. And ordinarily I would. But as long as the Republican Party kisses Donald’s – I’ll be polite here – kisses his ring, I cannot vote for any Republican because GOP majorities on any level support Make America God Awful. I was always insulted by “Make America Great Again.” America is great, though not always or in all ways. Yet even slavery, in its inhuman degradation, made America a diverse nation in a manner the Old World never was. African-Americans made our nation greater and ultimately more tolerant than we would have been without them. So again, MAGA Republicans are wrong for all the wrong reasons. Immigrants and their diversity are exactly what made this country the greatest democracy ever on this planet. And with all the jobs native Americans won’t take these days, it’s foolish and downright dumb to close our borders to refugees of color for mere political expediency. It’s also racist. Donald devotees would, for instance, welcome blond Norwegians.
But aside from voting against a person or a party, there are ample reasons to vote for Democrats. The bipartisan infrastructure law, decades on the agendas of several administrations, passed under Joe Biden, who also achieved another long-time goal of Democrats – enabling Medicare to negotiate prices with Big Pharma, among many other cost-saving provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. (Unfortunately, in terms of election timing, most of those benefits don’t take effect until 2023.) And regardless of what Republicans say about the soaring cost of gas, drilling for oil and natural gas in the first year of Biden’s presidency exceeded that of Trump’s first year by 34 percent. Prices at the pump would be much higher, as in Europe, but for the fact that the U.S. is essentially oil-and-gas independent.
Meanwhile, the GOP has no legislative agenda unless you count Speaker-of-the-House wannabe Kevin McCarthy’s plan to end Medicare and Social Security in five years. Republicans have always denounced these overwhelmingly popular government programs as socialist. Now they say they are “communist” schemes and that Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are “pro China” and “anti-religious.” That’s rich coming from supporters of Donald who used the Bible as a photo-op prop after ordering troops to chase protesters from Lafayette Square while he hid in the White House basement. Both Biden and Pelosi are church-attending Catholics who nevertheless support a woman’s dominion over her womb. And as for the pro-China canard, tell that to would-be Chinese President-for-Life Xi Jinping who was enraged by Nancy’s show of support for and visit to Taiwan.
The return of Trump – along with election or re-election of Q-Anon lunatics to Congress – would put all our constitutional and moral values at risk. Just think, besides separating babies from immigrant mothers without bothering to keep records, had Trump won in 2020 or managed to steal Biden’s election by violent insurrection, who would stand up against his buddy, “Vlad the Terrible” Putin? The U.S. would’ve pulled out of NATO, Ukraine might’ve fallen in weeks and the world stage would be reset to a fascist future in which national borders and civilization as we know it can be violated with little repercussion against mass-murder pogroms.
America is so divided today because we don’t listen to each other. Why is that? My theory: We’re not getting our information from similar sources – too many of them unreliable. I’ve been a newspaperman all my adult life. Even adolescent life. Each newspaper I’ve ever read is different and espouses various political philosophies. All have published untruths. But they don’t stick to their errors. They admit mistakes. But we don’t read newspapers much anymore. (I’m lucky to have completed a half-century career in my chosen profession.) Also, not many of us watch the same network TV news anymore. Walter Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley, Peter Jennings. Today, you can get information on so-called social media to suit whatever it is you are predisposed to believe. Facebook and other truth offenders encourage readers by their inclinations to go further down, via algorithms, whatever conspiracy-theory “news” rabbit hole that nourishes their political prejudices. If you think that’s fake news, then I guess you believe anything posted on Trump’s Truth Social network, more accurately described as Lies Anti-Social.
I read and watch mostly mainstream news media. The usual suspects: New York Times, MSNBC, et al. But I make a point of finding where other people are coming from. I occasionally watch Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity or “Fox & Friends” and check out Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post or Wall Street Journal editorial page. I disagree with most of it. But I try to figure out what they’re saying and why they’re saying it. It’s called listening. The advantage of just listening is you’re not talking back – though sometimes I do shout at the TV screen. But I’m learning that arguing face to face will not change any person’s mind. What might change that dynamic? I don’t know. But there is a difference between free speech and freedom to spread certifiable lies. Trump lost 62 lawsuits on his voter-fraud allegations and won on a single count of a technical infraction that had zero effect on the Pennsylvania result. I see why people might fall for Trump’s lies the first time. Shame on him. Wake up and pay attention or be fooled again by anything or anyone Trump endorses. In which case, shame on you.
Steve Parks is a retired newspaper journalist now living in Easton.