The latest marked difference in worldviews is captured in their opposite reactions to indictments of the (alleged) criminals in their respective congressional caucuses. Eighty percent of his Democratic senatorial colleagues want Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign his seat and devote himself to preparing his feeble defense. Recidivist Robert (he was tried once before for influence peddling resulting in an acquittal) has been indicted this time for both more influence peddling and illegally acting as an agent of a foreign power (Egypt) in return for tons of cash, gold and a Mercedes. In executing a search warrant at his house, federal agents discovered jacket pockets overflowing with more than a half-a-million dollars in cash, and gold bars lying around. While nowhere near as appalling as someone stashing atomic secrets and Iran war plans next to his toilets, behavior excused by Republicans as no biggie, Menendez-level sleaze has left Democrats embarrassed. Republicans, of course, feel no shame regarding Donald Trump’s 91 felony counts. Any talk of moving away from cult leader Trump, might, to quote Satchel Paige, “angry up” the base and put the cult’s congressional sinecures in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who lied his way into Congress and whose resume qualifies for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (there is even some question as to his actual name!), has been indicted on 23 counts for all sorts of (alleged) appalling conduct. In contrast with Democrats, however, his party wants to keep his lying behind in the House, his vote being essential to maintaining its paper-thin majority. Who cares if he is one of Congress’s all-time premier crooks?
While both (alleged) criminals continue to serve in Congress despite their wicked ways, this is hardly the first time the legislative branch has harbored wrongdoers. The list of malefactors who have served as the people’s representatives over the years is much too long for this opinion piece. However, the voting public’s low opinion of members does not penetrate very deep. They continue to vote for even the worst scoundrels, rascals, rogues and villains.
And, as we have unfortunately witnessed, this voter behavior is not limited to Congress. Trump represents its apotheosis (in both senses of the term—i.e., (1) the best example of this, and (2) that both he and his ovine followers believe he is The Anointed One). Here again, the knee-jerk Republican resort to the double standard/hypocrisy/projection/whataboutism/bothsidesism is their go-to strategy. They conjure up false stories about a decent man in the White House, accusing him of terrible crimes they know are absurd, and that they know their own twice-impeached, four-times indicted, mentally deranged sexual predator and fraudster candidate committed. Like him, they have evolved to where they lie about virtually everything and somehow get away with it.
If this corruption, this metastasizing cancer on the body politic is not stopped, they will drag us down to depths heretofore unimaginable. Future historians will mark the decline and fall of the United States and speak of us in the same terms we use when remembering the Roman Republic and Empire, the Soviet Union, and all of the other once-powerful civilizations that self-imploded.
Given what is happening all around us, this is the harsh reality that we face today. Unlike the many powerful societies of the past that disappeared into history’s Sarlacc Pit, we the people can actually do something about this a year from now. This week’s election results in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia were a strong start. In 2024, it will be time to finish the job.
November 10, 2023