Why I Don’t Trust the Republican Establishment: an exposé

Know from the get go, Republican establishment, I am cutting you no slack. I learned of your dark hearts when I was 27. You’ve had to work to gain trust from me ever since. You haven’t succeeded.

I am not speaking of rank-and-file Republicans, those Americans with hankerings for pure capitalism and fears of big government who hold a vision of our nation being settled by self-reliant individuals protecting home and property. For the most part, I respect these Republicans and I am related to some of them.

Nor am I speaking of lower income Republicans, though I don’t understand why they are Republicans since their party has not benefited them in decades.

I am speaking of Republican policy-makers, big donors, elected officials who set agendas, stir up fears, have no trouble propagating mass delusion, block programs to help people in need, and who know “trickle down” is a scam. I’m talking of people who connive.

Here’s how I first learned of them.

In 1965 I was 23 years old and hired for my first real job in DC, the city where I had arrived from Iowa two years earlier with no employment, no place to stay, one suitcase, and $500 of borrowed money. During the first year I was often unemployed and occasionally a receptionist or cocktail waitress. The second year I was an editorial assistant for a trade magazine. I was fired from that job one year to the day while typing my resignation letter. My boss was right, I never took corner pharmacists, our clients, to heart, but the real reason I wanted out was she was a tyrant who kept trying to give me shoulder massages.

Mid-January 1965 I became a writer-editor at the Office of Economic Opportunity established in 1964 under President Johnson. Led by Sargent Shriver, those of us at national headquarters and on staff throughout the U.S. were filled with fervor to help the poverty-stricken and the under-served gain what they needed to raise the quality of their lives – to give the poor a chance whether they lived in the inner-city, Appalachia, migrant camps, or on Indian reservations. Whether they were white, black, Latino, young, old, or in-between.

We started the Head Start Program, VISTA, Legal Services, the Community Action Program, and Upward Bound. We were the War on Poverty. Working directly with and organizing those in need, we worked for justice, equality, financial opportunity, and early education. We gave people a chance.

The man who hired me left a month later. He had been the in-house photographer. When a call came from Shriver’s office that they needed a photographer in two hours for photos with the civil rights leader Roy Wilkins, I unlocked the closet that held the Nikons, called our photo agency, and asked them how to use a camera. At 1:00 pm I appeared in “Sarge’s” office and introduced myself as our new photographer.

Here’s the crux of it. As the in-house photographer, in addition to being a writer, I hired free-lance photographers to document the many forms of poverty across the nation, and to document our programs that were helping people change the course of their lives.

Every day I studied incoming contact sheets (36 negative-size black-and-white photographs per sheet) of poverty and programs. I selected the photographs to be printed as 8″ x 10″ glossies for distribution and publication.

I was the person, more than anyone else in the world, who knew what our nation’s poverty looked like. The contact sheets came to me, I examined them, and chose the best. I looked at between 500 and 1000 images a week.

We had a photographic archive equal in quality and scope to that gathered during the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. We had many hundreds of photographs the quality of those taken by Dorothea Lange. The photographs were tragic, inspiring, revealing. They did what the best photographs do – reveal and convey the unique humanity of every person within the circumstances of his or her life.

This was my job for two years before I stepped back to start a marriage and a family. The process of getting photos slowed down, but continued.

In early 1969 I was 27. Two months after President Nixon took office, I received a call from one of my top free-lance photographers who was visiting the offices: “Patricia, they’re taking the photographs. They have a huge bin on wheels. I saw it going down the hallway filled with photos dumped in it. I grabbed an armful, but they stopped me. They are throwing everything out. Everything. The filing cabinets are empty. There’s nothing left.”

I called the photo lab instantly. It had been two years, but they recognized my voice immediately. Before I could ask, my guy there said: “Patricia, they just left. They took every negative.”

“Every negative?”

“They walked in and demanded them. We had no way to stop them.”

An historical archive of the American people was obliterated. A national treasure was destroyed.

Not only did the Republican administration set out to destroy the evidence of poverty in the U.S., it set out to destroy the Office of Economic Opportunity. Some programs were dismantled entirely, others siphoned off in pieces to other government departments. The War on Poverty was over.

Has anything changed?

It seems systemic to the Republican hierarchy to disempower and disenfranchise minorities and low-income people by gerrymandering voting districts, setting up discriminatory voting restrictions, exporting Latinos, putting Afro-Americans in prisons, having unequal criteria for providing loans for homes and businesses, refusing to support affordable advanced education, endorsing a tax system where it is corporations and the wealthy that get breaks, promoting Islamophobia, and fighting a respectable minimum wage while protecting the right to accept unlimited donations from extremist right-wing billionaires who promote their personal agenda.

I do not understand how people come to hold perspectives that dehumanize and denigrate the needy and under-privileged. I do not understand how people are willing to denigrate their own humanity by shutting off their empathy, understanding, and compassion.

I do not understand people who do not experience other humans as real and valuable, and I pray I never learn what that is like. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to believe only people like you matter.

The loss of understanding and compassion for all members of the human family, each desiring opportunity, justice, fairness, and love, would be horrific. I think it would be even worse than the loss of irreplaceable photographs that revealed and celebrated all the members of our human family.

That is why I dislike the Republican establishment. I have been watching them closely for more than four decades. They haven’t gotten better.


11 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Trust the Republican Establishment: an exposé

  1. Wow Patricia, what a story… so sad, so terrifying, so from a dictatorship! Indeed, the world needs much more humanizers and less moneymakers.

  2. The Republican elite are an exclusive club and when you don’t get to fraternize with other people and get to know them it is easy to fear, hate, treat as the “other.” Look how they are trying to destroy the diplomatic solution with Iran because they don’t trust and they are scared, it is sad, as well you know!
    Thanks for your writing, you share your life on the public stage-and since I was born in 1946, your life resonates with the idealism shared by me in the years of Johnson’s War on Poverty. My first career job was an Aid to Dependent Children Caseworker in the City of Detroit.

  3. What a loss to all of us those photos are, Patricia!
    It’s a sad story but I loved hearing it.

    Pundits are saying the Trump sideshow will hurt the conservative brand, but I’m afraid he helps it by letting those who aren’t quite as greedy & cruel feel good about themselves by comparison. What do you think?

    • Mary,

      I am not sure if you are referring to the populace or other republican presidential hat-in-the-ring-tossers, or republications in general.

      Populace: e.g. Tea party types: I think they feel delighted now that they have am openly vocal, rich, successful and (outrageous) champion of their own.

      Republicans:On the whole I imagine prefer the circus would stop and get them out of the tent.

      Presidential pack wolves: Can’t feel better about themselves. Donald’s focus is leaving more space and opportunity for an almost daily dive into the swimming pools by one incompetent after another. After all, if Donald could be a Jackass, perhaps even I can look good? I think that may be your point.

      Still, I am not clear which group you are referring to.

    • Mary, I agree with you though it’s probably not a straight line equation. I’m rather hoping that those of “the conservative brand” will realize how idiotic their thoughts are when they come out of Trump’s mouth. Of course, I’m an eternal optimist.

  4. Patricia,

    “I am speaking of Republican policy-makers, big donors, elected officials who set agendas, stir up fears, have no trouble propagating mass delusion, block programs to help people in need, and who know “trickle down” is a scam. I’m talking of people who connive.”

    Though your tale resonates with me and even though you single out the Republican group that I agree with you about, I sense, that in your unique way, you are caught in the some worldly spiritual conundrum so many other thoughtful, sensitive and spiritual craving others also are betwixt and between. Certainly, I am.

    I too have seen precisely the corruption and cover up you so eloquently write about from “both sides now” in many cultures. I too have seen or known of horrors and inhumane acts unfathomable to many. Though it is easy to lump specific dislikes or hatred reaped upun one group or another, on a deeper level I have yet to be able to reconcile my own responses, attitudes, feelings and perhaps even unconscious prejudices with the depth of love exhibited by the some who are far more enlightened than I am.

    You wrote about the depth of light in the Dalai Lama’s eyes. (Not a precise quote). How does one keep that sense of eternal; love for all, which in ways rises above the reality of mundane greed, cruelty, insensitivity and even ability to torture that we human beings are capable of? Duplicity and self satisfaction, cover-ups and political destruction to me seem commonplace, though I do not equate that with acceptable. Though I understand your reasons for singling out one group in this particular case, I bring the questing to a broader sphere that I wrestle with. If one is to love universally as a few transcended human beings seem capable of doing, such as the Dalai Lama and others, how do I/we still hate total groups, whomever they might be?

    In this time of US political polarization and I suspect, seismic world change, how do we metaphorically and in reality fight our daily group-hate battles, while at the same time exist in awe and to some degree aspire to non-judgment and love as exemplified by those few how are able to love beyond love?

    I think of a few activist lovers of humanity, the Berrigan brothers have suddenly leapt to mind. However, I don’t really know answers, only questions. For now, I only do my best to act as well as I can and see brightness, goodness, light and love amongst the rubble.

  5. Yes, the Repugs are what we call in Texas – sorry-ass bastards. A Republican is a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. In other words: a sociopath. Karma will git ’em when they come back as piss-ants again and again and are stomped on for all eternity.

    • I just had to laugh after reading your reply, Jo, after reading the comment from Dorree Lynn, the tone was so opposite, both genuine.

    • Jo, you have given me my laugh for the day! Thank you.

      I agree with Mares, the contrast between your comments and Dorree’s is polar. Both genuinely felt.

      • Jo,

        I too laughed. I’m in one of my how the hell to make sense of ths beautiful, senseless wonderful world phases. Plus, I’m on a quasi reading about politics time-outs, with an occassional page-peak here and there. A laugh a day is good. Several are better.



Comments are closed.