Monday, May 30, 2022

"My Hope Has Had Its Ass Kicked"

The stakes couldn't be any higher.

  • The former Republican president attempted a coup to overturn the last election and continues to claim that it was rigged.
  • Followers of that president stormed the Capitol in an attempt to violently disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
  • The racist great replacement theory has become a GOP talking point.
  • Conservatives are openly patterning themselves after the fascism implemented by Viktor Orban in Hungary.
  • Republican-appointed  Supreme Court justices are about to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Twenty-six red states are certain or likely to institute abortion bans once Roe is overturned.
  • Republicans are openly talking about overturning Supreme Court rulings on access to contraception and marriage equality.
  • Red states continue to pass laws to suppress the vote, while Republicans in Congress refuse to fix the Voting Rights Act.
  • Even as guns have become the number one cause of death for children, Republicans continue to reject any kind of common sense gun safety reform. 
  • Republicans have no plan to address climate change, with many of them calling the science a hoax.
That is what the Republican Party stands for as we head into the midterm elections this November. Frankly, I am shocked that the projected outcome is even close. Regardless of what you think about Democratic proposals, at least they're not in the business of trying to destroy our democracy.

I've read (and written) articles that attempt to explain what is happening. But to be honest, I don't think that any of us have really grappled with what is going on with voters these days. No matter how radical the Republican Party gets, their supporters don't just remain loyal, but seem to be salivating for even more extremism. 

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about the idea of collective insanity. Back in 2017, renowned psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton told Bill Moyers that Donald Trump was spreading a kind of "malignant normality."
What we put forward as self-evident and normal may be deeply dangerous and destructive...For example, Donald Trump lies repeatedly. We may come to see a president as liar as normal. He also makes bombastic statements about nuclear weapons, for instance, which can then be seen as somehow normal. In other words, his behavior as president, with all those who defend his behavior in the administration, becomes a norm. We have to contest it, because it is malignant normality.

That interview took place years before the bulleted events above. Do you want to see how much worse malignancy normality has become? Here's a sitting member of Congress who is all but guaranteed to win re-election in November. 

Or how about the guy who has been endorsed for the Georgia Senate seat by both the establishment and insurgent wings of the Republican Party?

That's what passes for "normal" in Republican politics these days. And yet, according to the generic ballot polling aggregate at FiveThirtyEight, Republicans lead Democrats by almost two points. 

Something is seriously wrong with our country right now. Unlike malignant cancer, this disease doesn't seem to be spreading, which is what counts for good news. But it has a grip on a large portion of the electorate and is burrowing deeper as it gets even more deadly. Forgive me if I sound cynical, but as Cory Booker said recently, "My hope has had its ass kicked." 


  1. Totally right on everything, and it feels like we must be in awful trouble if even you are losing hope. Feels like they get to lie about whatever they like, assault democracy, accept death, and demand freedom, but only for those wanting to wield absurdly deadly weapons far beyond anything those who wrote the second amendment would have imagined (or for that matter, recreational gun owners until recently) and those who want to act on their Christian biases at the expense of other people's freedom and safety. Certainly not for women. And they're getting away with it, obviously flawed, dishonest, and inconsistent as the excuses for it may be.

    Speaking of which, I don't worry so much about the replacement theory. Sure, it can be traced back a long way, but anything can be traced back to age-old biases. But it's more reflective of another right-wing strategy: the excuse of the day. You shoot it down, and no matter, since they can always shift to another. The bop a mole continues.

  2. I don't agree that the disease isn't spreading. In any really normal times the Republican Party would be an extremist party that diminished in popularity as views became more and more extreme. That is not happening. The reverse is. There is no relationship now between the old and current Republicans. They should change their name. Reactionary is one possibility because all they seem to want is to return to olden times. But there is something else that accompanies the current increasing extremism. Cruelty. Care for fellow Americans in difficulty is hard to come by with this bunch. Abortion is one example. Most of the new state laws limit exceptions to abortion even though the victims have experienced rape or incest or sexual trafficking. Even when the mother's life is in danger in some states. This is downright cruel and a new feature never included before in this country.

    1. "There is no relationship now between the old and current Republicans." Sadly, you lost me there.

  3. I got hacked a couple of times this week. Someone took control of our Netflix account and it took a long call with the help desk to get it back again. Then someone hacked into my (dormant) Facebook account, and because my regular email address was associated with the hack, FB will only send me codes to unlock my account using an email address that I don't have access to anymore, so it looks like I may never get to use my account again.

    The same thing has happened with our democracy. We've been hacked.

    The rules of our democracy have never been perfect, and it's easy to document some of the notable failures. Still, they've worked well enough for any fair viewer to see enormous progress over the decades and centuries of our history. We should take pride in those moments when the country has risen up, sometimes at great cost, to do the decent thing.

    We have a shortage of decency today. Living in a decent country is in ways like living in a decent neighborhood. You go on vacation you don't expect the neighbors to use your pool uninvited. Or raid your liquor cabinet. Or crack your safe. Or steal the passwords to your 401(k) and empty your account.

    If any of those things happened, you would expect others to understand that they are an affront to decency and unequivocally wrong.

    You'd be rightly shocked if the neighbors shrugged off your complaints and claimed they had every right to use your pool -- it was a hot day and you weren't using it anyway. They were thirsty and needed a drink. Your safe was never safe, so quit whining. The money you wanted to invest for the next thirty years is not nearly as important the boat they decided to buy this week.

    Imagine if you called the police and the cop said: I can't arrest your neighbors -- they are pillars of the community, and some are my friends. Or if the TV cameras come and the reporter puts the spotlight on you: Maybe the neighbors have a point? Maybe you should have built a higher fence? Maybe you should have been nicer to them in the first place?

    That Bizarro world is what's it's like living in this country right now. The pool is the least of our problems. The "neighbors" are destroying generations of progress that most of us recognize as the foundation for a decent and livable society. When in our history have we seen so many hard-won rights rolled back so quickly? And now they are casing the joint for biggest heist in history: the end of free and fair elections in the United States of America.

    I feel like Sisyphus seeing the boulder roll down from high up the mountain. We can't begin to push it up again until we first get it to stop rolling down. That's where we are right now.

    1. Beautifully put. It angers me, too, that there is a center of sorts that only abets the crime. There will be the voters sick and tired of everything, whether gun deaths or Covid restrictions, both necessitated by Republican lies and enforced inaction. Why, they demand, won't Biden and the Democratic majority in . . . well, whatever, do something? And then they turn on our only hope.

      And then there is the reliably cliched media, like the NY Times. I'm reading now an article, in news rather than opinion, glorifying a refusal to take sides by saying how "we" no longer care. "We" no longer register mass murder. "We" endorse a refusal to act. Maybe "we" could get a job with the Times.

  4. If this same attitude among the electorate remains unchanged by the evidence to be broadcast live by the House Select Committee investigating the attempted and ongoing coup, we will lose more than our collective asses.


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