That Donald Trump’s campaign was based on fear, racism and sexism is a fact. This and his unlawful efforts since his inauguration have tarnished the brand of the Republican Party.
But Mr. Trump is not alone in efforts to appeal to fear. Multnomah County GOP Chair James Buchal told the Guardian (UK Newspaper) that recent street protests had prompted Portland Republicans to consider alternatives for safety, including relying on radical fringe groups.
Asked if this meant Republicans making their own security arrangements rather than relying on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”
Asked if he was considering such groups as security providers, Buchal said: “Yeah. We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.
According to the Guardian: The Oath Keepers are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today.” The Three Percenters are described by Political Research Associates as “a paramilitary group that pledges armed resistance against attempts to restrict private gun ownership”. They were in Burns, Oregon, before and during the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge by right-wing militia early last year.
It is understandable Republicans should be reacting to recent reporting documenting the racist nature of the policies their Congress is passing and the threat to basic decency and life which much of their legislative agenda poses. The left wing of the Democratic Party has for years endured similar media coverage.
But this is not a “he said, she said” comparison. While reasonable voters of either Party can debate whether a particular policy is “good” or “bad,” the evidence of the harshness and cruelty in legislation coming out of D.C. is historic.
Just look at the Republican Health Care Proposal:
- The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that in 2018 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law.
- CBO and JCT expect that: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums.
All sides complain that the media is unfair and biased. The fact remains that national mainstream media is owned by the one percenters. As the Sanders campaign demonstrated time and again, getting media coverage for an avowed “socialist” is a challenge. Whereas Mr. Trump, a billionaire (perhaps), got more free media coverage than any other presidential candidate in history.
Scarily, the world has experience down this path to power, i.e., “Blackshirts” and “Brownshirts” fanning the fires of fear. It is historically unheard of for a mainstream political party when they control all branches of the Federal government to resort to vigilante groups.
Then again, in Portland and our county and the rest of our state, vulnerability to fear is an unfortunate mainstay of political provincialism. Reinforcing this state with certain gun laws only adds to the possibility of turning a bad feeling into bad action. That way we all become exposed to the uncertainty of a positive unable to overcome a negative.