The Republican party has clearly become the cult of Trump. But, even before Trump, the party had also become a cult of death, consistently and willfully engaging in policies and actions that will knowingly lead to preventable and unnecessary deaths.

Earlier this year, an analysis by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that the refusal by fourteen states controlled by Republican legislatures to expand Medicaid under the ACA has resulted in thousands of deaths that could have been prevented. According to the report, the refusal to adopt Medicaid expansion “likely resulted in 15,600 additional deaths over this four year period that could have been avoided if the states had opted to expand coverage”.

In 2018, the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress as well as the Republican president supported repealing the ACA. The best estimates of the impact of repealing the ACA without any replacement, which was the Republican plan being voted on, would have resulted in anywhere between 24,000 and 44,000 preventable deaths per year. In addition, Attorneys General in a number of red states as well as the Trump Department of Justice are supporting a legal effort to rule the ACA as currently configured unconstitutional. That effort, based on absurd legal logic and upending longstanding precedent, has already resulted in a favorable ruling from a total hack of a Republican judge in the conservatives favorite federal circuit, the Fifth. If that case is ultimately successful, it would have the same effect on additional deaths that could have been prevented as repealing the ACA.

According to statistics available from 2017, over 36,000 Americans die each year as a result of gun violence. The majority of those deaths, over 60%, are suicides. 35% of those deaths, nearly 13,000, are homicides. Each day, another 100 of our fellow Americans will die from some sort of gun violence. So far this year, there have been nearly 300 mass shootings, more than one a day, with most of those going unreported in the national media. And after each one of those mass shootings that actually does get media attention, the Republican party offers their thoughts and prayers and does nothing. Mitch McConnell has spent most of the last decade opposing any gun control legislation. He is refusing to bring the background check bill, which has passed the House and is overwhelmingly supported by the American people, up for a vote in the Senate, And he has so far refused to even get behind the bipartisan effort to pass a “red flag” law, probably the most minimal gun control effort being discussed, which would at least try to do something to make it harder for the mentally ill to get guns. In the wake of the massacres in El Paso and Odessa, the Republican-controlled Texas government actually let new laws go into effect that would expand the rights and protections of gun owners.

Under Trump, 30 migrants have died in US custody, seven of whom have been children. The concentration camp-like conditions in which these immigrants are being held has resulted in malnutrition and extremely unhygienic conditions. At least three of those child deaths have been attributed to the flu, yet CBP still refuses to provide immigrant families with flu shots when they are detained. According to epidemiologists, immigrant children in US custody die of flu at a rate nine times higher than the general population. ICE is also now deporting immigrants to almost certain death, to Iraq, to Somalia, to Guatemala, and elsewhere. The Trump administration policy of forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their hearing in the US has left them vulnerable to kidnapping and violence. The administration also attempted to start deporting children and families who are receiving pioneering medical care that is not available in their home countries. For those involved, it would be an almost automatic death sentence. The administration backtracked when the media scrutiny of this new policy became too intense but it would not be surprising for the administration to wait for the issue to die down and then try again even more surreptitiously, a tactic they have continually engaged in such as with the separation of families.

In Puerto Rico, the government itself has now put the death toll at nearly 3000 people as a result of Hurricance Maria. A significant number of those deaths occurred in the six months after the hurricane as a result of a lack of electricity, clean water, and adequate healthcare. At least some of those post-hurrican deaths were unnecessary, caused by the poor and mismanaged relief effort provided by FEMA. Today, the FEMA official responsible for rebuilding the island’s electricity grid was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges. Similarly, the Trump administration’s effort to block Bahamians fleeing the effects of Hurricane Dorian from entering the US will potentially raise the death toll there unnecessarily as resources used by those capable of leaving will not be available for those who are not.

In Michigan, the GOP-controlled state government apparently sat on the information that the change of water supply to the city of Flint had apparently caused an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease. Because the state did not alert doctors in Flint to even the possibility of such an outbreak, it is possible that at least some of the extraordinary spike in deaths related to pneumonia at that time might have been prevented if they had been properly diagnosed as potential Legionnaire’s cases.

On the issue of abortion, the Republican party has been calling the Democrats “the party of death” for decades. In fact, for actual living Americans, the Republican party has for years been a cult of death, with proposals and policies that knowingly and willfully result in unnecessary deaths. Most of the targets of the GOP death cult are the poor and minorities, an approach that has only increased in intensity as the GOP morphs into the party of Trump.

Originally published at https://thesoundings.com on September 10, 2019.

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