It has a nice ring to it. It sounds soothing to the ear. Didn't Republicans nominate and elect Donald Trump, the first truly, if superficially, populist and economic nationalist President in my lifetime? In a sense it is true. Republicans have long relied on the votes of White working class and middle class voters, farmers and coal miners, evangelicals and Catholics. The GOP only wins when the White working class shows up to vote. It is also true that for as long as I have been voting, the Republican Party courts those same voters and then turns around and fucks them over as soon as the election is over. Look at the Trump administration. The greatest barrier to Trump's agenda in the two years after he took office was not the Left, it was the weaselly "leaders" in the Republican Part, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who refused to prioritize the Trump agenda that led to GOP control of the Congress and White House. Like so many other relationships, the pattern is the same. We give and they take.
Here is yet another example.
I ran across the rare informative article at NPR regarding the opioid epidemic: Sackler Family Empire Poised To Win Immunity From Opioid Lawsuits
The Sackler's are an über-wealthy Jewish family who came to wealth through Purdue Pharma, owned by Mortimer and Randolph Sackler. In 1995 Purdue Phrama rolled out a new "miracle" pain-killer called OxyContin. While Oxy was indeed very effective at controlling pain, it is also incredibly addictive and quickly became one of the most abused drugs in America. Oxy became a sort of gateway drug that led to abusing heroin and Fentanyl, a drug that can be manufactured cheaply and smuggled into the country from Asia. It is also very deadly.
At the center of this disaster was Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family who owned the company. Unlike other large pharmaceutical companies that are publicly owned, Purdue is owned primarily privately by the Sackler's. It is generally accepted that Purdue, with the at least tacit blessing of members of the Sackler family, was complicit in the rampant abuse of OxyContin prescriptions and indeed was encouraging shady doctors to prescribe it in ever larger numbers even though they knew it was dangerously addictive.
Many states have sued Purdue Pharma claiming that they knew their product was being abused and did nothing about it. The misery intentionally inflicted on so many Americans was quite profitable for the Sackler's. According to the Daily Mail, the Sackler's made over $4 BILLION from the sale of Oxy.
Addicted to profit? Oxycontin dynasty pushed high doses of addictive painkiller as sales earned them $4BILLION - and wanted to cash in on NARCAN while 235,000 died of overdoses, claims lawsuit
$4 billion from killing Americans. Nice work if you can get it.
Back to the NPR article. Purdue Pharma is facing a bunch of lawsuits from states who have had to absorb the cost of treating millions of addicted people thanks to Oxy. The company declared bankruptcy in 2019 and with such an enormous case and so many states involved it is going slowly. Now we are finding out that the family is going to largely escape from this fiasco intact....
According to legal documents filed as part of the case, that immunity would extend to dozens of family members, more than 160 financial trusts, and at least 170 companies, consultants and other entities associated with the Sacklers.
The Sackler's will reportedly chip in $225 million, a fraction of the wealth they gathered from infliciting misery on millions, but otherwise they would largely be shielded from financial and criminal liability. They are also doing their best to hide their wealth and obfuscate how much they profited on the aggressive marketing of OxyContin.
N.Y. AG: We found $1 billion in Sackler wire transfers, Purdue Pharma owners are 'lowballing' opioid victims
This is part of a pattern
In a recent court filing, the Oregon attorney general’s office said the Sacklers took $11 billion from the company from 2008 through 2018. The Oregon AG alleges those transfers were made to protect the family from a growing number of lawsuits and “starved” the company, leaving it with no other option but to file for bankruptcy.
Notice also that the immunity deal shields 170 companies and more than 160 financial trusts. People who are super wealthy don't have their money in personal savings accounts, the money is held by family trusts. The billions we know about are only part of their wealth, the Sackler's certainly have billions more squirreled away in accounts held by shell companies and trusts in tax haven countries like Switzerland. At the end of the day, the various Sackler descendants will still have their billions after paying a pittance to those who had their lives devastated or had family members die from abusing OxyContin. The lack of any real remorse is especially telling. They don't care that poor rural Whites got hooked on their drug and died from overdoses, all they care about is raking in the money.
As a brief aside. Addiction is a tough subject. I believe in personal responsibility and hate people excusing bad behavior by calling it an illness. The people abusing Oxy are responsible for their own actions, just like people who abused crack in the 1980s. However, many Oxy addicts started out receiving Oxy as a prescribed medication for a legitimate pain issue but the company was well aware of the addictive qualities of Oxy and actively pushed and marketed Oxy to "doctors" who prescribed it in large quantities. Nobody was prescribed crack. In my eyes there is culpability all around, for the addicts and for the "doctors" who facilitated their addiction and the owners of Purdue Pharma who pushed these pills and profited enormously.
What is especially infuriating about the settlement proposal is how the state attorneys general are responding. Most of the AGs opposing the deal, at least in part because it shield the Sackler's from liability, are Democrats. All of the AGs on record supporting the deal are Republicans with the exception of Idaho AG Lawrence Wasden.
Why would Republican Attorney Generals support a settlement that shields the people at the top who are responsible for an epidemic that mostly impacted the Republican voting base of working class White people? The answer is simple, most of the GOP is still concerned with taking care of the wealthiest and protecting big business, whether that means aiding the Sackler's in avoiding being liable for this mess or importing unlimited numbers of cheap migrants to replace White workers in order to boost corporate profits. For all of their talk about "America First" and the working class, the Republican party is still just as beholden to the elites as they ever were.
From top to bottom, with a handful of exceptions, the Republican party is useless. I take that back, it is worse than useless. At the least the Democrats are open about hating us, the Republicans hate us just as much but they pretend they don't. In our post-political society, there isn't a meaningful political representation for the people who make up the majority of Americans. We keep getting a new flavor of the month who is going to put things right, today's savior du jour being Ron DeSantis, and we keep getting the football yanked away before we can kick it.
The Republicans will continue to graciously allow us to vote for them and in return exhibit every day that they don't give a shit about us. With the percentage of actual Americans plummeting and soon to drop below 50%, that isn't going to change. What we can change is how we view the whole thing and stop giving it legitimacy.
The White working and middle class that carries the burden of keeping this country running has been systematically shut out of the political process. Maybe it is time we let the wheels come off.