Tear gassing refugees at the U.S. border.
"Will we tolerate the insatiable greed and cruelty of the billionaire class, whose control over our political system lets them take food out of the mouths of hungry school kids? Or do we build a humane, equitable society that ends poverty, hunger, and homelessness – and allows everyone to live with dignity?" —Sen. Bernie Sanders & Rep. Rashida TlaibMaking it harder for the disabled to access Social Security benefits.
For these—and other reasons too many to count—President Donald Trump and his Republican Party are being denounced this holiday season in the United States as not just greedy and self-serving in the traditional sense of the GOP, but in fact "much worse" than Charles Dickens' famous Christmas-time villain Ebenezer Scrooge for being "actively cruel" in a way that goes beyond historical norms.
As columnist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times on Tuesday:
For while Dickens portrays Scrooge as a miser, he's notably lacking in malice. True, he's heartless until he's visited by various ghosts. But his heartlessness consists merely of unwillingness to help those in need. He's never shown taking pleasure in others' suffering, or spending money to make the lives of the poor worse.
These are things you can't say about the modern American right. In fact, many conservative politicians only pretend to be Scrooges, when they're actually much worse — not mere misers, but actively cruel. This was true long before Donald Trump moved into the White House. What's new about the Trump era is that the cruelty is more open, not just on Trump's part, but throughout his party.
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In an op-ed posted Tuesday at Common Dreams, former labor secretary Robert Reich warned that Trump has openly betrayed the working people of the country that he continues to claim he is serving by consistently putting the interests of corporations and the wealthy ahead of the needs of low-income and struggling families. "The consequences of Trump's and the Republicans' excessive corporate giveaways and their failure to improve the lives of ordinary working Americans are becoming clearer by the day," wrote Reich.
"What's new about the Trump era is that the cruelty is more open, not just on Trump's part, but throughout his party." —Paul Krugman
Meanwhile, 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to pen a Guardian op-ed published Tuesday denouncing Trump and his fellow Republicans for attacking anti-poverty programs with one hand while showering corporations and the wealthy with tax breaks and other giveaways with the other. According to Sanders and Tlaib:
This is what oligarchy looks like: Trump's appetite to shower the ultra-wealthy with corporate welfare is endless – and so is his administration's willingness to assault our nation's most vulnerable and hungriest families.
Republicans defend this by saying that keeping people hungry will make them work harder. But we know this is just about cruelty. We know that withholding food from needy people who are underemployed only deepens the crisis of poverty in America.
Instead of what the GOP is now offering under Trump, Sanders and Tlaib say that Americans must now ask serious questions about the nation's future: "will we tolerate the insatiable greed and cruelty of the billionaire class, whose control over our political system lets them take food out of the mouths of hungry school kids? Or do we build a humane, equitable society that ends poverty, hunger, and homelessness – and allows everyone to live with dignity?"
Citing the president's abusive border policies, historian Juan Cole wondered in his Christmas Eve column whether or not—given the chance—if Trump would lock up Mary and Joseph while tearing the newborn baby Jesus from his mother's arms. Cole was far from alone in making this connection.
Earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, a congregation in California made headlines after it displayed a Nativity scene that depicted Joseph and Mary as refugees in cages on either side of baby Jesus, also in a cage.
Krugman, in his column, pointed out that it's nothing new for Republicans to be vindictive against the poor or cruel towards humanity in general, but argued "what Trump has brought to his party is a new willingness to be openly vicious."
This year and going forward, Krugman concluded, "I'm going to stop calling today's Republicans Scrooges. We'd be in much better shape if Trump and company were merely heartless misers. What they really are is much, much worse."