We’ve reached that point in the city where the snow that’s left is exhaust-colored, and the sidewalks are covered in a salty, sooty grit. We’re covered in filth, tracking it into our homes, grinding it into carpeting. The grime is pervasive, caked upon everything, can’t be avoided. Which, naturally, has me thinking about the Republican party.
Remember that time before the presidential election, when the phrase basket of deplorables elicited a full-throated outcry? Recall all the pearl-clutching and tsk tsking? Oh, to be young again. Back then, our boots weren’t covered in the muck of today.
Of course, since that oh-so-horrible phrase was uttered, this Republican administration has defended neo-Nazis, supported an accused molester for Senate, and continued to back a president who’s boasted on tape about sexual assault. A president who routinely wields cruelty and ignorance to “play to his base,” as the phrasing goes. Never mind that stoking prejudices, inflaming racial disharmony, and pedaling outright lies is no way to be a person, much less a leader.
And then, yesterday came.
I don’t need to give you the context. By now, you’re familiar with the entire squalid whole of it. It was an outrageous, racist utterance, but one that was hardly surprising, given Trump’s xenophobic and racist screeches. The Republican standard-bearer has given voice to the lowest common denominator of intellect and compassion in this country, he’s elevated racism to the Oval Office, and he’s done so with the support of his party, the party of Lincoln.
This is how low and dirty we’ve become as a country. Because Republicans continue to prop up this Potemkin presidency, the championing of ignorance, the entreating of peoples’ ugliest tendencies, and the unending parroting of lies and racism continue apace. Consider what’s had to be reaffirmed in this country of late. The press is not the enemy of a democracy. Mexicans are not rapists. People should not be reduced to hateful stereotypes. Science matters. Our thoughtful and sober engagement with the world is important. Last, but certainly not least: Countries where immigrants of color hail from are not shitholes.
This gutter toxicity infecting the White House has debased us as a nation, yet it’s a travesty Republicans wholeheartedly support. So eager are they to line their donors’ pockets with a tax cut, to allow industry to operate unfettered by regulations that would protect our planet and everyone who inhabits it, to strip away necessary benefits to those among us who need them the most, Republicans have shown they’ll support anything, and anyone. They’ll abide by their party’s leader kowtowing to neo-Nazis, they’ll abide by his pussy-grabbing boasts, they’ll look the other way when he spews nonsensical word clouds, they’ll say not a word when he calls countries shitholes.
Day by day, what makes America exceptional—our ideals, our intellect, our compassion—it’s all being sullied. It’s been disheartening to witness, and not only because, as a Democrat, I’m unhappy the other party is in charge. If only my and others’ discontent could be so easily explained away. But it can’t be. This isn’t a party thing—it’s a humanity thing, which should make it an American thing. Again, another simple concept that gets no traction in this administration.
Republican complicity has dragged the entire country to a filthy, fetid place. A place where the world questions America’s leadership. A place where the Republican president stokes division. A place where some leaders in the UK—our steadfast ally—discussed in November banning Trump from their country. A place where Joe Arpaio, a man disgraced for his racist actions, a man criminally convicted for such actions, is not only pardoned by this Republican president, he feels emboldened to run for Senate.
As a country, it doesn’t matter what party you support, we’ve all been dirtied with this pungent sludge that Republicans and their racist standard-bearer keep shoveling our way. Their actions have transcended deplorable; they’ve become heartbreaking. What’s worse, it’s only January. We’ve been forced to trudge through so much mess…so much shit. These stains upon our country, our collective consciousness, they’re getting worse.
And because of Republican complicity, they won’t come out easily.