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Ignoring History: To the GOP's Peril

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Are Donald Trump and the Republicans stealing a page from Richard Nixon's playbook?

The old saying goes, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." That would appear to be the mantra of those who call themselves Republicans. History and Republicans seem to be at odds, and they have been for many years.

Listen to the article:

Had Donald Trump succeeded in overturning the results of the 2020 election, he would have become the latest in the Republican Party to subvert the electoral process in the past 50 years.

Trump’s first impeachment resulted from his attempt to engage a foreign power in influencing an election. What if this foreign power was actually at war with America?

His second impeachment involved an attempt to take members of the American government hostage to force a desired result in the 2020 presidential election. What if these hostages were used as a bargaining chip, and then later used to show a president’s strength to win re-election?

And then there is the blatant attempt to ignore history in an attempt to wrest power from the opposition party the way Republicans are doing by arguing against teaching Critical Race Theory or adopting the 1619 Project as part of their curriculum in public schools.

Let's review:

Vietnam and the 1968 Presidential Election

The Vietnam War is easily the most unpopular in American history. With claims of racial genocide, where poor Americans were sent off to fight and die while the affluent could obtain deferments with mysterious maladies such as bone spurs, and a vague strategy for victory, the protests against this conflict ultimately doomed one presidential aspiration while elevating another. Yet, it was the effort to prolong the conflict that ultimately led to Richard Nixon’s election in 1968. In recently declassified documents, it has become apparent that Nixon deliberately sabotaged talks to end the conflict prior to the 1968 presidential election.

In what became known as the Chennault Affair, named for Nixon fundraiser Anna Chennault, then-candidate Richard Nixon approved of a plan to scuttle an effort to end the Vietnam conflict. If the war had ended, credit would have undoubtedly been given to Nixon’s opponent, then Vice President Hubert Humphrey. That would have made Nixon’s campaign promise to end the war in Vietnam meaningless, and likely would have put Humphrey in the White House.

Nixon was successful in using a foreign power to influence an American election. Perhaps it was this success that prompted Donald Trump to attempt to coerce the Ukrainian President to tip the results in 2020? Like Nixon, Trump wanted to use another country to win his own re-election.

Iranian Hostages and the Reagan Mystique

The Iranian Hostage Crisis was pivotal in the 1980 presidential election. By failing to resolve the situation, President Jimmy Carter’s chances at re-election were doomed. Even to this day, Republicans credit Ronald Reagan with freeing the hostages, thus creating the Reagan mystique that he was somehow so feared by our adversaries that they would willingly submit to America’s will.

The thing is, it is all a lie. Reagan had nothing to do with the release of the American hostages. It was through the Carter administration that their freedom was negotiated. One of the negotiating tactics was the freezing of Iranian assets in America. While the assets were unfrozen, it took years of legal wrangling to release them. When they were finally released, under the Obama administration, it led to the Republican lie that the Iranian nuclear deal was somehow linked to a cash payout by the Obama administration, when it actually was the final piece of the hostage crisis negotiations.

This didn’t stop Trump and his cronies from spreading this fabrication the same as it didn’t stop Republicans from crediting Ronald Reagan with the hostages' release. The Iranian’s waited to release them once Reagan was inaugurated only as a final dig to the outgoing Carter administration, presumably as punishment for allowing the Shah of Iran, the once dictatorial ruler of the country, into America to be treated for cancer. This had zero to do with Reagan or his alleged ability to intimidate our foes, but the Reagan mystique was born.

The January 6 Insurrection

Hostages were also at the forefront of those involved in the January 6th insurrection. However, instead of foreign adversaries taking Americans hostage, it was American citizens who wanted to detain members of Congress in an effort to force them to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

They were armed with zip ties to bind Congressional members, along with bear spray and assorted metal pipes, many attached to flags. They hoped to use sheer numbers to overwhelm those guarding the Capitol, capture those voting to certify the election results and intimidate them into declaring that Donald Trump had won.

Like those who captured the American embassy in Iran, it was the number of protestors who overpowered those guarding these facilities. Unlike in Iran, the insurrectionists were not successful.

Cancel Culture, Critical Race Theory and Replacement Theory

If there is one thing the GOP excels at, it’s shouting “Cancel Culture” to distract from the latest kerfuffle to plague their party.

Marjorie Taylor Green makes a comment comparing COVID restrictions to Nazis; Liberals want to cancel Christmas! Matt Gaetz under investigation for sexual abuse; Democrats want to steal your hamberders! It’s all about distraction. It’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors and the party faithful fall for it EVERY TIME!

Cancel Culture is the latest boogeyman in the GOP’s bag of tricks aimed at diverting attention from pretty much anything that goes against the twisted grain of Republican “values”. Yet, if it’s anyone who regularly practices cancel culture, it’s Republicans. They will censure members of their own party, reframe the events of January 6th, and even defend maintaining monuments to Confederate figures (which is strangely in line with their refusal to hold Trump accountable for the insurrection).

The latest effort at Cancel Culture comes in the attacks on Critical Race Theory. In yet another attempt to deny history and fly in the face of reason, Republican state legislatures are banning school districts from teaching about the treatment of minorities throughout our nation’s history. Instead, they are trying to claim that Democrats are trying to replace White Americans with people of color, making the White race the minority.

Replacement Theory is yet another scare tactic. And by pitting it against Critical Race Theory, Republicans have their latest foil. By painting Critical Race Theory as a means to “hate America” by threatening Anglo-Saxon traditions, Republicans are creating a controversy where none existed, the same as they did when they changed the “taking a knee” in professional sports to protest police brutality to mean disrespect for the American flag.

The reason Republicans are fighting so hard to gain control is that history is written by the victors. They believe that by taking the reins of power away from Democrats, they can re-write the events of January 6th. This is the only way they can hope to redeem their deplorable party.

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1 Comment

Mark M. Bello
Mark M. Bello
Jul 12, 2021

C J: Terrific, eye-opening post. I fashion myself as being rather well-informed and I was aware of HALF this stuff! The sad part of the story is that no matter how much you, I, or others write about these dastardly deeds, they continue to go unpunished (except, perhaps, in Nixon's case) and "the people" continue to vote for these guys, last year, for instance, in record numbers. How do we turn this around? How do we change a large portion of our population's critical thinking on these issues? Regards, Mark

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