The new ‘Know Nothings

Trump’s Republican Party has emerged as heir to the far-right nativist “Know Nothing” party of the 1850s.

Originally conceived as an anti-immigrant vehicle for xenophobia in mid-19th century American politics, it was short lived, dissolving over the slavery question, and many of its members later joined the Republican Party due to abolitionist sentiment in the north. It’s hard for some to remember that during the Civil War, Republicans were the party of Lincoln and anti-slavery.

The new “Know Nothings” are the remnants of what used to be the Republican Party, whose members “know nothing” other than what Trump tells them.

I listened recently to a radio interview with a Montrose Republican Party spokesman. In that interview, he uttered two egregiously false and inane statements that illustrate my thesis. He said: “You’re looking at a virus that is less lethal than your average flu.”

This statement defies all scientific evidence and is demonstrably false, given the current pandemic that is ravaging our country and the larger world. In Montrose County alone, the 14 day average of new cases from July 13 to July 26 rose from 2.7 to 9.4 cases per hundred thousand. Nationwide, we have seen 147,650 COVID deaths through July 24, compared to an estimated 24,000 to 62,000 deaths annually from the flu. If anyone believes this virus is anything like the flu, they are deluding themselves and are part of Trump’s new “Know Nothings.”

The spokesman said, still talking about the pandemic and the mask requirement, “It’s not the government’s place to tell me what I can and can’t do.”

Seriously? Most folks learn early on that we live in a society of laws. Is it necessary to point out the myriad ways in which the government tells us daily what to do and not do? From traffic laws to license plates and driver licenses, from voter registration laws to paying income taxes, the government, through our elected representatives, “tells” us what to do and not do all the time. Whether through naïve rhetoric or willful ignorance, this Republican party representative again illustrates the situation in the new “Know Nothing” world of Trumpism.

I am an independent voter, neither Democrat or Republican, but in the forthcoming presidential election, I will not vote for the leader of the new “Know Nothings” and his continued assault on truth and the rule of law.

George Bacon


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