It was a big joke in conservative circles. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – Republicans both – rounded up illegal immigrants and bused or flew them to destinations in Democratic states.
Now, if some regular guy – or irregular, for that matter – were to pick up an undocumented immigrant and head north, he could find himself arrested and facing federal prison time as a human trafficker. Yes, the rich and powerful have a different set of laws than the rest of us.
We have learned that these migrants were lied to about their destinations – even to the point of being promised employment – a vile tactic among all human traffickers.
We have also learned that Abbott’s stunt cost Texans $18 million.
What a joker.
President Joe Biden condemned the governors’ tactics, which are inhumane by the fact that the migrants are being treated as objects – political pawns – and not as human beings.
The de rigueur racism infecting today’s Republicans plays into these actions. People of color just do not rate the same consideration as white people to the GOPQ.
The best – and definitely worst – example of this bigotry occurred when the Trump administration ripped small children away from their parents and housed them in cages on concrete floors. In the name of our country, Republicans made hundreds of children de facto orphans.
But, brown children matter even less to the GOPQ than brown men – since the latter can be hired later to work for less pay than citizens might demand under the threat that any complaint could lead to deportation.
Still, working class Republicans who might share their leaders’ bigotry need to take heed. You are valued only for your vote at election time. You are valued only for your vote. Your politicians will give you some false flag to catch you emotionally while hoping that you never realize that you are disposable pawns.
Just last week, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed a bill that would have provided $6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to nine emergency operations centers scattered strategically across the state. He did not see the “long-term, strategic value” in protecting rural Oklahomans during emergencies.
Besides, rural Oklahomans vote predominantly Republican anyway. Why waste any federal funding or possible good will on them?
And, the governor who went skiing during the worst ice storm in recent history also vetoed another $8.19 million that the Legislature had earmarked for upgrades to the emergency alert system for the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. He said the money should be spent on “long-term strategic investments that will change the trajectory of our state.”
No, no money for short-term strategic actions that might save lives prior to a natural disaster or mitigate the damage afterward. And, again, this funding was due to be spread across ruby red rural Oklahoma. He considers those votes a birthright.
He probably just saw no way to divert part of that funding to outside administrators, a hallmark of Stitt’s neoliberal, corporate socialist economic vision.
When state voters demanded increased Medicaid coverage, he found private administrators. This increased administrative costs from five percent if the state ran the program to 14 percent for those profiteers.
Maybe the blind loyalty of non-wealthy Republicans (most Oklahomans) would be tested if it ever sinks in that the GOP has a goal of eliminating Medicare and Social Security. Yes, many people who depend upon both for health care and sustenance continually support those who would impoverish them.
In a country where health care costs often spur crowd-funding campaigns, Republican politicians denounce safety nets as socialism, but embrace corporate welfare, with its corollary of political donations.
Will Republican voters ever abandon those who treat them so poorly?
Well, their last president (and local toadies such as our own governor) encouraged inaction, non-vaccination, no masks and business as usual during the advent of the COVID pandemic. It has been estimated that about 30 percent of American deaths could have been prevented with proper precautions.
I can assure you that people of my political persuasion were not gargling bleach or shining flashlights in our nether regions.
At the end of March, Arielle Mitropoulos confirmed on Good Morning America that, “An ABC News analysis of federal data found that on average, the death rates in states that voted for Trump were more than 38 percent higher than in states that voted for Biden, post widespread vaccine availability.”
It is safe to say that most of the 300,000 avoidable American COVID deaths came from Trump loyalists, whom he used as pawns – non-human objects with whom he could make a political point.
His point; his followers’ deaths.
Yep, that callousness exemplifies the Republican way – toward their own as well as others.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)