In a recent Washington Post opinion piece, journalist Jason Willick wrote the two events that shape today’s MAGA GOP are the war in Ukraine and COVID-19. The conflict in Ukraine, Republicans believe, is a drain on resources, while the response to the pandemic was overreaching and largely unnecessary.
In our opinion, Willick is partly right. The GOP is all wrong.
We believe the roots of MAGA Republicanism are far deeper than COVID and Ukraine. We prefer the analysis of syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., who writes, “Republicans are warring over the relative virtues of three political eras…all of them are in the past.”
Dionne believes today’s GOP is divided into those who believe in the sophistry of Donald Trump and want a rerun of his unfortunate administration; those who espouse the fractured logic of the tea party rebellion; and older members of the party whose love of their political lives was Ronald Reagan.
The throwback fantasies of today’s GOP are powerful, but they offer no solutions to the issues we face today. Trump — the accused felon and cult figure whose lies, conspiracies and self-inflicted grievances are well known — continues to hold sway. “They’re not coming after me,” he claims, neither hopefully nor truthfully. “They’re coming after you.”
Meanwhile, the tea party’s deep mistrust of government and the misplaced philosophy of Reaganism (“Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”) are outdated, simplistic and unconstructive.
Fortunately, the man currently occupying the White House is one with the times. President Joe Biden has succeeded in laying a new foundation for Democrats and Democracy. He has broken with the dogma of the past (even past Democratic administrations), reached out to voters — even those who oppose him — and forged a new government-private sector alliance. This alliance is rebuilding our country and restoring the faith of the American people in our national institutions.
He is responding to the needs of middle-class voters, many of whom supported Trump in 2016. He is reaching out to African Americans, blue-collar workers and the elderly. From smaller measures, such as lowering the cost of insulin and expanding access to the internet, to rebuilding our national infrastructure, restoring jobs in manufacturing, fighting inflation and combating climate change, the Biden Administration — largely without the help of the GOP — is meeting the challenges of today and building a better America for our children.
Meanwhile, back in Raleigh…
While Democrats in Washington are forging a brighter future for Americans, MAGA Republicans in Raleigh, like their party in Congress, are looking to the past.
Rather than expanding voting rights, the Republican-led General Assembly has approved a law overriding a veto and enacting an omnibus election proposal with Jim Crow implications that restricts equal access to the ballot box. And redistricting, another attack on voting rights, awaits.
Instead of supporting the right of every woman to privacy, MAGA Republicans approved — once again overturning Governor Cooper’s veto — restrictions on women’s right to reproductive health care.
Instead of reaching out to the disenfranchised, MAGA Republicans, recalling the notorious bathroom bill, approved proposals needlessly and cruelly limiting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
MAGA legislators continue their decade-long drive to weaken the governor’s powers and consolidate the General Assembly’s influence over state commissions and agencies, including the state and local Boards of Elections. The significance of the proposal, yet another override of a bill vetoed by the governor, was not lost on one legislator. House Minority Leader Robert Reives (D-Chatham County) said, “I struggle to believe that continuing to consolidate power in this body is best for North Carolina.”
While Republican legislators enjoy their summer holiday, a budget for the current fiscal year remains unapproved, leaving state workers and teachers without a raise and low-paid North Carolinians without adequate health insurance.
Speaking of teachers, MAGA Republican legislators are continuing their shameless attack on public education. They’re proposing to expand vouchers for private schools at the expense of public schools while refusing to comply with court decisions to increase public school funding. They’ve offered a meager $250 salary increase over two years for veteran public school teachers. While the legislature dithers, students and teachers in North Carolina public schools continue to suffer.
Time and again, Republicans, rightfully insecure about their place in the future of North Carolina and the country, continue clinging to their version of the past. Meanwhile, Democrats, led by President Biden, are comfortable solving today’s problems and eagerly reaching out to the future.