When Newt Gingrich was guiding the ‘Republican Revolution’ to victory a few decades ago, he famously said, “Our job is to divide the country in half, and hope that our half is the biggest.”
When Donald Trump rode down the escalator in Trump Tower and launched his own Culture War – by focusing on immigration and race – his goal was to reactivate and animate Gingrich’s “half,” and boy did he. He won, and he won mostly by stigmatizing the “others” among us and menacing all who would dare cross him.
Some Americans have been so excited by arguably the only true accomplishment of the Trump era – the ongoing conservative reset of the Supreme Court and federal judiciary – that they’ve been willing to look the other way as Trump fuels white nationalism, breaks one norm after another, flat out lies about his political opponents and his own policies, injects poison into our discourse and attacks the mainstream media on the daily, all of which has contributed to dividing our nation in ways not seen since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
What is unquestionable, sadly, is that the culture of the moment has been corrupted and coarsened. One of the things we know is that the presidency has not changed Donald Trump; he hasn’t grown into the job. What we don’t yet know, is if Donald Trump has permanently changed the presidency.
The question now is what are we going to do about it?
Since Sen. John McCain’s death, we’ve seen very few profiles in courage among Republicans in Congress. Their inaction defeats the founders’ vision for Congress to serve as a check and balance on the executive branch. And in those rare times when someone lodges an actual complaint – Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), I’m looking at you – it’s done with half-hearted hand-wringing and mealy-mouthed words of disappointment usually followed by party-line votes.
President Trump has learned that our local Congressman, Steve Knight of Palmdale, is one vote that he can always rely upon. In fact, Knight’s record reveals that he’s been there for the president 99 percent of the time. Here are just a few of his most notable votes …
Rep. Knight voted nine times to overturn the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as it is better known. Nine times he tried to take away your right to coverage, and last year he voted in favor of Trump’s health care overhaul, despite Congressional Budget Office predictions it would knock some twenty million Americans off their medical coverage entirely while ending protections for the 54 million of us burdened with preexisting conditions.
We’ll come back to preexisting conditions in a minute …
First, we need to highlight Knight’s vote for Trump’s tax cuts, the unfunded GOP plan that (so far) has added nearly nine BILLION dollars to the national debt. I guess Knight felt that Trump and his billionaire pals deserved an extra yacht or private jet, because a year later it’s clear that the middle class hasn’t been helped.
In fact, if you live here in Awesometown, its quite likely that you’re one out of every two of us that used to deduct your state and local taxes from what you owe the IRS but now can’t, thanks to Knight’s vote. Yes Santa Clarita, your federal taxes are headed up, up and away and Rep. Knight has yet to explain why he refused to join California’s House Republican delegation in joining their Democratic to protect their constituents.
Steve Knight wasn’t thinking about us when he said “aye” – he was thinking of his billionaire donors.
Those aren’t Rep. Knight’s only positions that the majority of his constituents don’t support. For example, he’s against equal pay for equal work, wants to restrict a woman’s right to choose, and thinks social security was and is “a bad idea”. He also proudly trumpets his A rating from the NRA, and even after eleven Jews were slaughtered in Pittsburgh on Saturday by yet another angry, middle-aged white guy with an assault rifle, Knight tweeted out “prayers” for the victims but has yet to condemn the anti-Semitic rage at the heart of this heinous act.
I suspect he doesn’t want to upset his own local basket of AR-15 loving deplorables.
Knight’s gone negative because he can’t run on his record. He and his Super PAC surrogates are spending many millions to paint Democratic challenger Katie Hill as a “radical” socialist who wants to take away everyone’s guns, open the borders and raise your taxes to astronomical levels.
Folks, she’s not for any of those things.
Knight openly infers that Katie is unqualified and too young – no wait, “immature” – to serve in Congress, despite her impressive rise to lead California’s largest homeless services organization – with its fifty million dollar operating budget – by her late 20s, or how in 2016 her leadership helped pass Measure H – which generates ongoing funding to combat homelessness within Los Angeles County –with a supermajority.
Katie is one of us, a local gal raised in Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley by a Republican cop and a registered nurse. She lives in Agua Dulce with her husband Kenny, and has shown herself to be a savvy problem-solver who will take a get-it-done approach to Congress. She’s also committed to keeping a robust schedule of regular public town hall meetings, something Knight – who routinely locks out shocked constituents from his local offices – hasn’t done for many, many months.
It seems Knight prefers to frolic in Hawaii with the deep pocketed pharmaceutical lobbyists who fund his campaign and then goes back to DC and votes to take away your health care.
Which brings us back to the topic of preexisting conditions …
Like his benefactor Trump, Knight is lying to you by trumpeting (pun intended!) H.R. 6898, a bill he introduced with a wink and a nod on September 26 – just days before Congress shut down for the campaign season – that would indeed, if passed, require insurance companies to insure people with preexisting conditions. Except, Knight knows his bill will never pass. In fact, with Congress out of town, he knows it won’t even make it to committee, let alone to a floor vote. Once the midterms are over it will quietly be tabled. And if you read closely enough, he essentially says as much in his own press release: “The bill has been introduced, and may now be referred to a committee in the House of Representatives.”
May now be? Um, no, don’t believe Knight’s lie, folks. It will never pass, and he doesn’t want it to.
On Tuesday, ‘We, the People’ get our second opportunity to reject Steve Knight and send his challenger Katie Hill to Congress. If Democrats vote, Democrats win, so let’s get it done this time.
While you’re at it, send Newhall School Board trustee Christy Smith to Sacramento too, in place of Dante Acosta, the number one biggest spender – out of literally everyone! – in the California Assembly. Readers from the City of Santa Clarita, you can put three commonsense Democrats – Diane Trautman, Brett Haddock and Logan Smith – on City Council.
On Tuesday, let’s make the better half of our community the bigger half, Newt Gingrich be damned.
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer’s opinion section does not represent the official opinions of Radio Free Santa Clarita, its board and its supporters.
John Zaring has lived with his family in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2000. He describes his politics as center-left, as in “the rational center,” and while initially a college Republican, has been a Democrat since 1992. The LA County Democratic Party named him the 37th Assembly District Democrat of the Year in 2010.