The last stand of many people I know seems to be “B-b-b-b-but Democrats ...” This idea that “both sides do it” is eventually used to justify and support some new proposed corrupt Republican proposal.
Except one side—and one side only—is the tip of the spear.
Here are 33 things Republicans have done to blaze new ground in corruption and irresponsibility.
1. Won an election with the help of Russia. Seventeen intelligence agencies have confirmed that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails and disclosed these to sites like DCLeaks.com and Wikileaks. These efforts were targeted to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
2. Put the oil and gas industry in charge of the EPA. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt worked with oil industry and electric utilities to combat environmental regulations.
3. Sold the Department of Education to an Amway heiress who not only wants to privatize public schools but also owns a student debt collection agency. If you don’t know what Amway is, Amway is a pyramid scheme.
4. Demanded loyalty oaths from intelligence officials.
5. Held onto major business conflict of interest holdings after winning the presidency. Jimmy Carter had to sell his peanut farm. Ethics experts urged Trump to liquidate his business holdings, but all Trump would do was place them in a trust controlled by his children where he still holds a long-term interest.
6. Conducted eight congressional inquiries on Benghazi to smear political opponents in order to win elections, with nothing ever found. Estimates for the last investigation alone are between $7 to $20 million.
7. Held the debt ceiling hostage causing Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating for the first time ever.
8. Won an election after an assault charge. Republican Greg Gianforte won the Montana seat to the House of Representatives after assaulting a reporter the night before the election. Perhaps what’s even more disgusting is the $50,000 resolution of the issue, suggesting that we already have two justice systems in our country: one for the wealthy where you can pay your way out—and one for everyone else.
9. Redistricted eight states to win a 235 to 201 advantage in the House of Representatives in 2012 despite Barack Obama being elected president by nearly 3.5 million more votes. This was a result of a corporate special interest project called the Redistricting Majority Project. By pumping $30 million into state races to win the legislatures, Republicans redrew state maps in states such as Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Florida, and Ohio to place all of the Democrats into just a few districts. While gerrymandering has been done before by Democrats, it has never been done this badly and on this scale. I have a standing $100 bet that I can pick all 27 of the Ohio and North Carolina races in advance (permanently rigged 21 to 6 in favor of Republicans). No one has taken the money bet yet but I have won a few beers in both 2014 and 2016 from people who didn’t think it could possibly be this rigged. It is.
10. Stripped power from a newly elected Democratic governor (because he was a “Democrat”). Only this year, much of this legislative power grab has been ruled unconstitutional by the North Carolina Supreme Court.
11. Lied us into the Iraq War at a cost of $2 trillion. The oil industry behind the lies? They’re now in charge of the state department.
12. Created a system so corporate special interests could bypass state legislatures. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate organization that drafts laws and then passes them on to Republican legislators to implement. Need legislation drafted? No need to go through a lobbyist to reach state legislatures any more. Just contact ALEC.
13. Shut down the government because the Democratic Party wouldn’t defund the Affordable Care Act.
14. Received an endorsement from Alex Jones, America’s leading conspiracy theorist.
15. Used the Un-American Activities Committee in the House to make accusations of treason and disloyalty with insufficient evidence (Joseph McCarthy).
16. Pushed the birther conspiracy. Before the election, more than two-thirds of registered Republicans had doubts about whether or not the President was born in the United States.
17. Chose party over politics and declared they would refuse to do anything for eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency for partisan reasons. Basically, Republicans became the party of no governance.
18. Prevented a Supreme Court Justice appointee from coming up for a vote for an entire year.
19. Removed a rate decrease that would have helped first-time and low-income homeowners.
20. Increased taxes for 99 percent of Americans by letting Barack Obama’s payroll tax cut expire. This increased taxes by $1,000/year for a person earning $50,000/year. Whenever you hear the phrase “tax cuts,” remember that they are only for the 1 percent. To offset the lost revenue, they will raise your taxes. What’s really going on is tax shifting—Republicans shift the burden off those at the top and onto everyone else.
21. Refused to release tax returns. Donald Trump is the first person to run for president in 50 years who didn’t release his tax returns. Every candidate since the days of Richard Nixon including Nixon released his tax returns.
22. Bugged Democratic headquarters and tried to cover it up.
At least he never profited from his political machinations in the Watergate scandal.
23. Fired the FBI chief who was investigating Russian involvement in their presidential campaign. Remember when conservatives lost their shit because Bill Clinton met Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac? Imagine if Hillary Clinton had taken Lynch out to dinner, asked for a loyalty vow, and suggested she end the email investigation—then, when she refused, fired her. Because, just to be clear, this is what happened with Trump and James Comey.
24. Banned use of the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in Florida. This unwritten policy went into effect at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after Republican Governor Rick Scott was elected in 2011. Freedom?
25. Put “climate change” on a list of terms that the Energy Department shouldn’t use. Seeing as how successful threatening people’s jobs proved in Florida, the new Trump Energy Department under Rick Perry, a guy who once argued that the Energy Department should be shut down, also told their staff not to use “climate change.” This is really nothing though compared to the EPA funding cuts, other various edicts such as telling scientists not to use the social costs of carbon in economic analyses, and proposals to block the EPA from using science to set pollution limits.
26. Banned federal funding for research on gun violence at the urging of the corporate special interest National Rifle Association (NRA). After the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released research demonstrating that having firearms in the home sharply increased the risk of homicide, Congress passed legislation forbidding the CDC from spending any money “to advocate or promote gun control.” Let’s get this straight: advocating or promoting gun ownership is fine, but any research that might indicate it causes social problems such as homicides or increased gun violence is forbidden? And this is called “freedom”?
27. Outed a CIA agent as political retribution. While still a covert agent, officials in the Bush administration leaked Valerie Plame’s name to journalist Robert Novak after her husband criticized the Bush Administration. President George Bush later commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence.
28. Sold arms to the Iranians in exchange for the release of hostages, despite campaign promises to never negotiate with terrorists. This would become know as the Iran-Contra affair when it was discovered that government officials had diverted $18 million secretly to insurgents in Nicaragua known as the Contras.
29. Were described as “a real opportunity for people like white nationalists” by the leader of the American Nazi Party.
30. Cited a bible verse calling for President Obama to be killed, his wife widowed, and his children orphaned. Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal forwarded the following bible verse in an email referring to Barack Obama:
Let his days be few; and let another take his office
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
O’Neal added his own message: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
31. Attempted to gut the House Ethics Committee. One of the first actions of the Republican Congress under President Trump was trying to gut the House Ethics Committee. There was no advance notice or debate. The move received so much public backlash that they backed down two days later.
32. Blew a hole so big in the budget deficit that a subsequent Republican president approved tax increases. Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts failed to increase revenue and added to the deficit. In 1990, two years into his term, President George H.W. Bush faced a $200 billion budget deficit. In response, he worked with a Democratic Congress on a budget that raised taxes to reduce the deficit.
33. Racially gerrymandered a state (North Carolina) for political gain. When your racist voter suppression law is even too racist for a Republican Supreme Court, you know it’s racist.
I could go on, but you get the idea: Republicans are the tip of the spear when it comes to corruption.
The next time you hear someone say “B-b-b-b-but Democrats ...” don’t let them get away with this idea that somehow both parties are the same. Share with them how Republicans lead on corruption.
David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (now available as an ebook).