Tweedledum and Tweedledee?

By W.D. Ehrhart

So now we find out that Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow paid the private school tuition of a boy Clarence Thomas and his wife were raising “as a son.” We can add this to Thomas selling his mother’s home to Crow, who promptly sank thousands of dollars into the house to refurbish it, and then let Thomas’s mother live there rent-free. Oh, and there are the decades of luxury vacations, luxury cruises, and luxury private jet travel, courtesy of Harlan Crow. None of this was, as required by law, reported by Thomas.

And then there’s his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a stridently vocal political activist who openly supported and participated in the “Stop the Steal” efforts after the 2020 presidential election. She’s got all sorts of connections with Crow, the Federalist Society, Steve Bannon, Leonard Leo, and other far right Republican operators (what else can one call them?), many of whom have managed to funnel $$$$$ into Ginni’s bank account.

All of this is explained away by the Thomases and their supporters with hair-splitting semantics about the boy being only their legal ward, not their actual child, and other explanations like Crow was just giving some gifts to his friends like any old pal would do, no need to report any of that.

Meanwhile, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) insists this is just partisan politics and part of a longstanding attack on Justice Thomas (Thomas? Justice? Talk about irony). This is the same senator who is about to publish a book called Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs. The same senator who raised his fist in support of the January 6th insurrectionists, but then a few hours later ran away from the people he supported as they attacked the Capitol (it was caught on tape. Google it. See for yourself. As King Arthur says to his knights in front of the French castle in The Holy Grail, “Run away! Run away!”) And he’s going to teach us about manhood and masculinity.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a very good opinion of Democrats either. I voted for Bill Clinton because I thought maybe replacing the World War II generation (not so greatest, as it turns out) with my generation might result in some significant changes. But instead, Clinton turned the Democratic Party into Republican Lite, and his pathological philandering handed the White House over to the worst president this country ever had until Dolt .45 showed up.

Then along came Barack Obama. Even if he’s actually African American, not African-American, I never thought I’d see the day. But then he proceeded to appoint some of the very Wall Street manipulators who brought on the 2008 Crash to high positions in the Fed and Treasury, fire more drone missiles than all previous presidents combined, and lockup whistleblowers and journalists at an unprecedented rate.

And now we’ve got Uncle Joe. I voted for him, too, though mostly for a single reason: he’s not Dolt .45. He did make the only good decision about Afghanistan that this country has ever made since 1979, and he’s up against Republican legislators who are hellbent on coddling the super-rich, screwing workers and the poor, and doing their best to make sure that Biden accomplishes as little as possible.

But the only viable candidate the Democrats can come up with is a guy who’s six years older than I am? I’m 74, for cryin’ in a bucket. If he gets re-elected and doesn’t croak before the end of his second term, he’ll be 86 years old. Maybe he’ll still have all his marbles. All I can say is: here’s hoping.

Still, I’m going to have to vote for him. What else can any thoughtful person do? As a party, the Democrats are about as flawed and corrupt and hypocritical and beholden to the moneyed interests as can be. Prior to the rise of Dolt .45 and the MAGA Movement, I would have said they’re not much better than the Republicans, and that would have been largely true.

Now I’m not so sure. Now that the irrational, hate-filled, homophobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic, racist, gun-toting, book-burning politics of Margery Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Josh Hawley, and so many others of their ilk from the local to the national level have entered the American political mainstream, the difference between the two parties can no longer be called a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

I began this piece by looking closely at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Let’s look at other members of the court. Republican presidents have seated Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Barrett. Democratic presidents have seated Sonya Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Jackson. And this contrast goes right on down through our federal judicial system to the appellate and district courts. Reason enough, in and of itself, to vote for Democrats.

Far more often than not, I have to hold my nose when I vote for a Democrat. But given the choices I have at every election, I’d have to cut off my nose to vote for a Republican, and we all know that cutting off your nose to spite your face is just plain stupid.


W. D. Ehrhart is a retired Master Teacher of History & English, and author of a Vietnam War memoir trilogy published by McFarland & Co.

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