I’m glad Nancy Reagan is dead. It’s not that I wish her or her family ill will, nor do I harbor (much) resentment over her role propagating the ineffective and massively disenfranchising War on Drugs. In spite of her misguided, well-intentioned “Just say no” campaign, by all accounts Nancy Reagan was a great lady, a charming, caring and honorable woman befitting the position of First Lady of the United States.
I’m still glad she’s dead.
I do not rejoice in her death, but I’m glad for it because in death this great lady will not continue to bear witness to the humiliating descent of the Republican Party, as evidenced by Republican frontrunner and likely presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump (Drumpf to those who prefer the original recipe hilariously exposed on a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver).
I’ll spare you from the many arguments against Trump serving as the leader of our country save one: He’s not fit for the office of President of the United States. Period.
And yet he persists, gathering minions of enthusiastic supporters at every campaign stop, crushing the competition with crude vernacular and coarse comebacks that leave them howling and running for the safety of Mitt Romney’s loving, endorsing arms. Romney, who, like Mr. and Mrs. Reagan, is at minimum capable of representing this country with dignity, respect and common sense, is, like most thinking persons, horrified by the rise of the tangerine-tinted enfant terrible, so horrified he says he would endorse Ted Cruz — a man so notoriously unlikable that not even George W. Bush would hire him (and he chose Dick Cheney as a running mate!) — before he’d endorse The Drumpf.
By now there have been so many think pieces written about Donald J. Drumpf that those who oppose him need scarcely type the ‘u’ in his legal name before a slate of thoughtful, eloquent and intriguing suggestions come a’howling, Ginsberg-style, into the browser window. But none of these hundreds of brilliant writers and thinkers has done much to assuage rabid support for the Drumpf blitzkrieg.
I’m not the first to point out that the tidal wave of Drumpf is basically the result of eight, nay, twelve, nay, fourteen years of the Republican establishment capitalizing on fear and hatred, cleverly cloaked with patriotism, to drum up voter turnout. It’s been a winning strategy. And if all you care about is winning, it’s brilliant. Look at the Republican majority in both Congress and the Senate if you don’t believe me.
And it all began with a plane; well, four planes. The morning of September 11, 2001 was bright and sunny on the Eastern Seaboard; we were less than a year into the presidency of George W. Bush, a candidate who squeaked out a victory on either his daddy’s coattails, a conservatively biased Supreme Court or voter indifference, depending on whom you poll, when terrorists shattered the peaceful, post-Cold War lull and killed nearly 3,000 innocent civilians.
Americans weren’t indifferent after the World Trade Centers collapsed.
The aftermath of 9/11 saw George W., a mediocre president at best (yet at least twice as capable as that ignorant insult to intellectuals everywhere), catapult to a 90 percent approval rating; nearly every American stand idly by as the Patriot Act suspended the sacred writ of habeas corpus along with numerous other constitutional protections; and our nation begin not one, but two foreign wars that we continue paying for in both currency and the blood of our soldiers.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 also gave rise to the hyper-militant, anti-immigration, all-American-asshole brand of Republican. Take Toby Keith for example: Pre-9/11, Keith was just a puffy country crooner; post-9/11, he became so fervently pro-war that he wrote a song that included the lyrics, “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way,” and so anti-dissent that he started a feud with the Dixie Chicks for daring to voice opposition to the president. That Keith later admitted that he’d embarrassed himself was of little consequence; the damage was done. Now no biography of him can ever be written without that embarrassing chapter.
That’s what Donald J. Drumpf is to the Republican Party that spent a century spearheading efforts to establish equal rights only to squander those efforts by backtracking over the course of several decades until the only borderline sane person who could cast a vote for its likely presidential nominee will most certainly have to be white and male. Drumpf is their post-9/11 Toby Keith. And they should be embarrassed. But at least Nancy Reagan, may she rest in peace, doesn’t have to live to see what’s become of her — and her husband’s — party.