I’M SORRY MR. BIDEN, BUT THEIR MOTIVES MATTER TO ME*
Those Who Were Complicit In The Most Corrupt, Disastrously Incompetent Administration In History Must Be Held To Account
Roadkill (originally titled Waiting to Exit), Oil on Panel, 35.5" x 46.5", 1990 (the roadkill and birds were added later), Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
In recent town halls, Mr. Biden explained his plan to decrease political tension and division in government. In an effort to find common ground to solve problems and move the country forward, he will do so, he says, by focusing on what they do while keeping quiet about why they do it. In order to create an atmosphere where elected officials from different parties are able to work together, Mr. Biden says we shouldn’t comment or focus on their motives. That appears to be Mr. Biden’s nature, a quality to be admired.
While Mr. Biden was not among my top choices during the primary, I proudly cast my vote for him and Senator Harris and delivered my ballot to an official depository, as both a vote against Trump and for competency, integrity, decency and, hopefully, to begin fulfilling our moral imperative to right as many of the wrongs committed by Trump and the GOP as possible.
I ordinarily might agree with Mr. Biden. These are not ordinary times. If the election ends in the Blue mandate prognosticators forecast, GOP Senate and House members who survive in office will search deep inside what’s left of their souls for the courage to utter words mildly critical of the despot they willingly enabled. Some who recognize the shift in political winds are attempting to unhitch from Trump’s runaway train that’s headed off a cliff. For them I hope an informed electorate recognizes what’s motivating their deathbed epiphany. It has zero to do with principle or conscience and everything to do with survival.
Moving Silhouettes, Oil on Panel, 24" x 32", Richard J Van Wagoner, 1988, Courtesy Helen Bero-Van Wagoner and Richard A. Van Wagoner**
For my 200th blog post, I recommend the following:
With control of the levers of government as they, yet again, begin the long process of cleaning up the mess left by the prior administration, righting the Trump administration’s many wrongs and strengthening and reinforcing weakened democratic principles and institutions, Democrats should go it alone until the GOP reinvents itself, adopts a principled platform, cleans house and shows more than a feigned interest in governing.
We all recall Mr. McConnell’s proud declaration that Republicans would do everything in their power to make Mr. Obama a one-term president. Their only interest was to obstruct, not govern.
Trump’s hatred and jealously of Mr. Obama were the motivations behind Trump’s relentless efforts to dismantle Mr. Obama’s achievements.
The GOP’s loss of any pretense of moral authority and interest in governing is the culmination of Newt Gingrich’s paradigm shift toward class warfare and terminating civilized discourse in American politics. That’s how we ended up with a Trump. One author explained:
“[F]ew figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise. During his two decades in Congress, he pioneered a style of partisan combat — replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism — that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction. Gingrich’s career can perhaps be best understood as a grand exercise in devolution — an effort to strip American politics of the civilizing traits it had developed over time and return it to its most primal essence.”
The Man Who Broke Politics: Newt Gingrich Turned Partisan Politics Into Bloodsport, Wrecked Congress, and Paved the Way for Trump’s Rise. . . . McKay Coppins.
For a thorough and detailed discussion of the devolution of the Republican Party, please read Steve Benen’s brilliant book, The Imposters: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics. Benen “exposes the Republican Party as a gang of imposters who have abandoned their duty to govern, gravely endangering America.”
As late as 2016, the GOP actually claimed to support principles and institutions that undergird liberal democracy. I’ve read the Republican Platform 2016, carefully. I’ve written about it, extensively. I did not read it, however, until after the inauguration when the conduct and agenda of Trump and his party rendered the entirety of the GOP platform a masterpiece in parody and hypocrisy.
The party of Trump and Trump himself — a vacuous, incompetent, self-centered, uncivilized despot who is incapable of governing — are now indistinguishable. By 2020, after shredding even a pretense of moral authority and conservative philosophy, they altogether abandoned a platform. In a screaming tweet, Trump recently summarized the long and short of what became of the 60+ page Platform: “VOTE FOR TRUMP: WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?!!!”
Fortunately, as I have written, we now have a rear-view mirror, a list of some answers to Trump’s question since he first posed it to Black voters in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The list includes Trump’s sustained criminal enterprise, abdication of facts and truth, science denial, massive incompetence and dereliction causing hundreds of thousands of American deaths and a deep recession, family separations, caged children, human and civil rights violations, religious discrimination, crimes against humanity, damaged and destroyed alliances including NATO, war crimes against allies, placated tyrants and despots, cover for murder, self-dealing, obstruction of justice and congress, bribery and extortion of foreign governments for personal gain, invitations and acceptance of foreign interference in US elections, wittingly serving the Kremlin as an asset, attacks on the media, use of the DOJ to target personal and political enemies and help friends, environmental devastation, racism, support for and continual crowdsourcing white supremacy, hate crimes and domestic terror, and the near destruction of liberal democracy in the US.
If the Democrats control the Whitehouse, Senate and House and remain unified, they likely can ignore Republican input for a time while they begin the long process of cleaning up the mess. They should do so until the party of Trump reinvents itself, develops a principled platform, shows an interest in governing and cleans house.
Underpass with Cars, Oil on Panel, 36" x 48", Richard J Van Wagoner, Circa 1988, Courtesy of Helen Bero-Van Wagoner and Richard A. Van Wagoner**
Democrats should never let voters forget Republicans’ complicity in the Trump Administration’s betrayals and near destruction of liberal democracy. Granted, substantial pockets of voters will remain throughout the country who are steadfast in their support for Trump and what he symbolizes. For those running for reelection while running from their own betrayals, however, we should never allow them to avoid or evade full responsibility.
They will try to re-cast in much softer, albeit false, light their open and notorious betrayal of their oaths. The same motives that drove the enablers’ deafening silence and active support for this massive criminal enterprise — self-preservation and power — inform their dishonesty and cowardice and will move them to reimagine and rewrite their personal histories.
We cannot let that happen.
The electorate should regain confidence in the rule of law and its equal application. Completely independent of the White House, the newly appointed attorney general and state attorneys general should move forward to investigate and prosecute those for whom substantial cause exists. We should, however, anticipate blanket federal pardons for family and friends involved in this widespread criminal enterprise. State governors may choose to issue their own pardons or commutations. History will adjudicate them accordingly.
Hopefully, the White House and Congress will appoint non- or bi-partisan commissions to investigate and make recommendations to correct the flaws and strengthen the weaknesses in government institutions the Trump administration’s bad faith exposed and exploited.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com. Rob’s next novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming and Norway, will be published by Signature Books this fall. This novel, The Contortionists, the story of a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community, is a psychological page-turner.
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in a number of traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father’s work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father’s art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers.