An open letter to my Republican friends

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That I have Republican friends shouldn’t come as a surprise. We all do and I think we can all agree with President Trump when he says this is the most important election in generations. I know my Republican friends don’t much like Trump, but I also know they are frightened by the alternatives. What is it that is so frightening?

What scares me is the imminent possibility of a Trump-sponsored corporate oligarchy supporting a proto-fascist caste system that is un-American at the very core. Most of Trump’s promises have simply evaporated. He didn’t drain the swamp. He has trampled on the First Amendment right of the people to peaceably assemble. He has encouraged bigotry and violence. His latest call is for militia groups to “stand by.” The previous administration was denied a Supreme Court appointment eight months prior to an election, but a third Trump nominee is being ramrodded through the Senate while an election has already begun. All for a president who lost the popular vote, but governs as if he had a mandate.

That’s just me. What is it that frightens my Republican friends?

Socialism. But socialists lost this particular war of ideas during the Democratic Party’s 2020 primaries. Joe Biden is a long-time middle-of-the-roader. He has not advocated dismantling private health insurance nor “defunding” the police. Leftists dislike him because of crime legislation in the 1990s. That involvement makes it disingenuous to accuse him of being soft on “law and order.” He has clearly stated that criminal actions must face criminal penalties, not forgiveness for agitators turning protests into riots. For many, Biden is too aggressive on crime. Isn’t this what my Republican friends want?

They are even more frightened of Kamala Harris, reviled by the left for her tough-on-crime record as attorney general in California. Because of ethnicity and gender, she is now subject to the racist attacks of Trump’s birther conspiracy. That’s just bullshit, not something my Republican friends believe.

For conservatives, socialism raises the diabolical specter of communism and federal programs and regulations spinning out of control. Consider, however, that business and trade is conducted within an infrastructure of regulations. Federal programs such as FEMA assist equally in red states as blue. There are a number of services well appreciated by conservatives and liberals alike: military, fire, postal service, national intelligence, commerce, public lands, Medicare and social security. Note that services are not required to generate profits. That’s why we don’t run them like businesses.

This diabolical specter presumably threatens our freedom to pursue capitalist enterprise. But capitalism has never been completely free and unfettered in America. There have always been rules. Republicans have been hawking laissez-faire economics and the trickle-down theory ever since the 1980s, but it doesn’t function as advertised. Wealth does not trickle down. It rises to the top where it is concentrated and this is why we have the largest gap between rich and poor since the Gilded Age. If Joe Biden raises taxes on individuals earning more than $400,000 a year, how is that threatening? None of my Republican friends earn that kind of money.

What about the hoary old cry of “Tax and Spend Democrats”? Republicans have used this tired cliché to demonize the opposition for the last 50 years. Both Reagan and the first Bush raised taxes after promising they would do no such thing. If Republicans are so worried about government spending, why is it that the national deficit has increased so much more on their watch than on either Clinton’s or Obama’s? It is time to retire a tired old mythology crafted before most of us were born.

How do my Republican friends feel about institutionalized racism in America? Is it true that if we, as Americans, face up to the facts of the matter, that we “hate America”? Plainly stated, the answer is no. To admit imperfection is not to hate America, but to embrace an ideal that is quintessentially American, the ideal of the equality of all persons. We need to embrace this ideal and face up to how it has or has not been practiced, both now and in the past. 

Don’t worry. Joe Biden cannot destroy America. He’s not going to take away your guns. He’s not going to make you have an abortion. He’s not going to institute Soviet-style communism. He’s not going to let criminals run rampant in the streets and he’s not going to take away your freedom. The only thing to fear is President Trump himself. 

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly. 

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