Trumpists hateful over highways

Trumpists hateful over highways

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, the U.S. Congress was expected to pass bills and make laws that served the citizens by, for example, improving health care, cleaning rivers and streams or bolstering the national defense. If Republicans and Democrats disagreed on the means or methods to accomplish those things, they hammered out a compromise as best they could. The process was called bi-partisanship.

But that was then — back when the federal government was expected to, well, govern. These days, only the Democrats are making any attempt at governing. The Republicans have different priorities: Seize power at all costs. Sabotage the machinery of government when Democrats are in control and insist that government doesn’t work. Fuel the fires of racial resentment to ensure
GOP voters remain committed partisans.

There is a soul sickness at the heart of our civic culture — a visceral meanness, a hatred tinged with violence, a malignancy fueled by tribalism. A substantial minority of white Americans are deeply resentful over the growing political and cultural influence of citizens whose skin is darker, whose accents are different, who call God by a different name. That deeply rooted sickness has spread throughout the body politic and corrupted the meaning of the common good.

Just look at the response to the passage of an infrastructure plan that will repair aging roads and bridges, rebuild the electric grid and upgrade water systems so people have safe drinking water, among other things. The package represents not only a rare victory for bipartisanship but also a genuine gain in quality of life for millions of Americans. But some conservatives are so angry that a handful of GOP representatives voted for the plan that they have made death threats against them.

Prompted by the malevolent former president, Donald Trump, who said Republican supporters of the infrastructure plan should be “ashamed of themselves,” Trumpists have savaged and threatened that small group of representatives. Some GOP lawmakers have received death threats.

Among the thousands of hateful messages to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) was an expletive-laden voicemail wishing death to him and his family, according to MSNBC. The New York Times reported that a caller hoped that Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) would slip and fall down a staircase. Rep. Adam Kinziger (R-Ill.) was instructed to slit his wrists.

The infrastructure plan does not install a black president, endorse the teaching of critical race theory or imprison Trump. It will help to clean up the water in cities and towns where lead pipes or industrial waste have polluted water supplies. It will repair some of the thousands of unsafe bridges, including a few hundred that are near collapse. It will bring affordable high-speed internet to rural communities.

But Trump said that’s bad, so his loyal cult delivers death threats to those Republicans who voted for it. And the Trumpist cult is rooted in tribalism — a visceral white resentment that the former president stoked to win the White House. Trump introduced himself on the political stage as a committed birther, spewing the racist conspiracy that the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, was not born in this country. He borrowed the rhetoric of George Wallace for his presidential campaign, insulting Mexicans and Muslims and insisting that urban black neighborhoods were crime-infested sewers. He coddled white supremacists and neo-Nazis during his presidency.

Among the Trumpists, by the way, are some of the most despicable members of Congress, people such as Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who called GOP supporters of the infrastructure bill “traitors” and Madison Cawthorne (R-N.C.), who warned his fellow GOP caucus members that any supporters of the infrastructure plan would draw his committed opposition during the next election.

Never mind that Trump himself touted infrastructure repairs as a desperately-needed improvement that he would implement. Trump was too incompetent to get it done, and he doesn’t want President Joe Biden to get credit for succeeding where he failed.

This is what we’ve come to — a nation so infected by white resentment that pothole repair provokes death threats. Heaven help us.