Votes on the “bipartisan” infrastructure bill in the Senate in August and last Friday in the House should have been overwhelmingly in favor of its passage. The Society of Civil Engineers’ 2021 Infrastructure Report Card gives roads a D, public transport a D-, bridges a C, schools a D +, energy a C- and it all keeps on going. go from there.
It does not take a bulletin to realize the scale of the investments required to deal with the deterioration of the country’s infrastructure. The evidence is everywhere.
That hasn’t stopped former President Donald Trump from going after responsible Republicans. Majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was among 16 senators criticized by Trump. In a statement, Trump wrote: “All Republicans who voted for the longevity of Democrats should be ashamed of themselves, especially Mitch McConnell … How about all those Republican senators who voted thinking that ‘ helping Democrats is such a wonderful thing to do, so politically correct. They just don’t understand!
Putting national needs ahead of crude politics, Representative Don Young, R-AL, spoke on behalf of his 13 colleagues in the House who supported the bill last Friday: “We need infrastructure in this country. now…. to make sure those potholes are filled, that these airports are functioning properly, that the bridges are safe, and that our economy can continue to grow.
It was enough to make Trump’s sycophants run wild. “Every Republican who voted for the infrastructure bill must be eliminated from the party,” tweeted Representative Anthony Sabatini, R-FL. He was not alone.
Substance no longer counts, if it ever did, among far-right radicals, including Rep. Paul Gosar, R-AZ, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA. . Greene saw the votes as a “Communist takeover of America via so-called infrastructure.”
Mitch McConnell apparently missed Greene’s interpretation in his analysis that led to his support.
Trump and his allies continue their intimidation out of fear and outrage. It still seems to be working. Unfortunately, true conservatives who stick to the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, foreign policy alliances, and strong defense are kicked out of the party by “leaders” who value above all self-preservation in the Trump era. .
Trump might run again, but can he expand his base? He will never build a real team. Yes, he built a business empire. But he did so without being accountable to a board of directors. He is misleading lenders, lawyers and his own managers. No public company, no non-profit organization, not even a small business would seek such a framework. At some point, a Republican leader might say “enough is enough” and it will make sense. But not yet.
Consider the Gosar effect. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, a Trump loyalist, is a dentist who forgot his Hippocratic Oath. He tweeted a video on Monday with animation showing him hitting another representative at the other end of the political spectrum with a sword. Think about what would happen in a workplace if an employee posted a video of the murder of a coworker. Perhaps this helps explain why six of Gosar’s nine siblings approved of his opponent.
Compare Donald Trump to former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now famous in Tampa Bay Bucs, and Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Think about the characteristics of strong leaders. Think about how Tom Brady leads a team, celebrates success, and inspires excellence year after year. and how Charlie Baker works across the aisle to get results.
A few years ago, Robert Half, the international human resources consulting firm, came up with a list of 30 traits of “mentally strong people”. (https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/30-character-traits-of-mentally-strong-people) Four traits seem particularly relevant in today’s political environment: without drama, take responsibility, celebrate the success of others, and learn from mistakes.
Donald Trump is all about the drama. He diverts responsibility for actions and results that are easily open to criticism. He only credits himself with himself. and he doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. Brady recognizes mistakes and celebrates the success of others.
Donald Trump is not a team player. He is quick to denigrate and send those whose comments and actions he considers disloyal. He is not a fan of Charlie Baker who favors collaboration and compromise.
Imagine Donald Trump, or one of his hard-line supporters who fear his anger, saying, “We have to have the courage to put partisanship aside and embrace the best ideas and solutions, no matter which side of the aisle.” where they come from. Governor Baker said so.
The infrastructure bill deserved massive support. The country needs it. Whether the Build Back Better bill is too big, too broad, and simply excessive needs to be debated on the merits. Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and a few prominent Democratic economists push back with substantive arguments.
It is time for Republicans to do the same. Enough of Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accusing Big Bird of spreading propaganda about COVID-19 vaccinations. Enough of Senator Josh Howley, R-Missouri, declaring masculinity a campaign issue – “Your masculinity is inherently problematic.”
At some point, maybe civility and substance will replace anger and hostility and Congress can get serious about legislating.
Carl Gustin is a Gloucester resident and columnist who writes on local, regional and national issues.