A few months ago, Jon Lovett of Pod Save America was spot on when he said that the real divide in this country falls between those who pay attention and those who don’t.
With that in mind, I received some pushback from last week’s post, in which I proposed that “continuing to identify as Republican means one is either stupid or complicit.”
I heard from several readers who found that attitude a tad harsh, and who took issue with me for bringing my open contempt for the GOP down to the personal, rank-and-file level. Their point being that they know people — as do I — who have traditionally voted Republican, some of whom are friends.
Evidently, many of these friends are disgusted with the sharp right turn their party has taken. They hate Trump. They deplore the insurrection. They were happy to get vaccinated.
All of which I applaud. But I can’t help but ask where they’ve been, these vaccinated Republicans? This sharp right turn hasn’t been that sharp — it’s been bending that way for at least thirty years.
Do they not remember? Or were they not paying attention when Newt Gingrich took a blowtorch to all the norms of responsible public discourse? Or when he taught the party that Democrats were sick, perverted radicals who hate America and want to kill your babies? Or when his buddy Rush Limbaugh declared war on “femi-nazis” and spawned an immensely profitable business model that to this day thrives on hate, racism, and endless lies.
Were they looking elsewhere when grotesquely unqualified Republicans started running for office, when the vitriol and dirty tactics become politics as usual, when the whole party fell under the spell of the metastasizing media empire that now controls the minds of tens of millions of otherwise sentient citizens?
Were they sleeping, these friends of ours, when Bill Clinton was impeached for prurient, faux-moral reasons? When George W. Bush lied us into war in Iraq and introduced waterboarding to popular culture? When John Kerry got “swift-boated” by atrocious slanders about his military service? When Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat? When that same Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act and allowed unlimited dark money into the electoral process?
These have all been major headlines over a long period of time, and it’s hardly a comprehensive list. But even if you weren’t paying much attention, they were hard to miss. They were all integral to the malicious, scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners politics that started long before Trump, and will survive long after.
So why were these friends of ours not appalled? What were they doing while all the lies — from the tiny insidious ones to the major whoppers — were being cooked up and weaponized for all those years. Were they complicit, or just ignorant?
Yes, I can see these friends being offended by the laughably transparent QAnon lies. I’ll credit them with understanding that not all Democrats are pedophiles.
But where was this critical thinking during the eleven Benghazi hearings, when the lies were equally transparent, and equally laughable, but were launched from the floor of Congress? Do they not see that the groundwork for this QAnon-ish conspiracy-mongering was laid long ago?
I bring up Benghazi for a reason. Because the steep descent of the Republican party into its current state of depravity wasn’t steep at all. It was a steady, methodical erosion of both democratic values and human decency, carried out over many decades. And it was embodied in the thirty-year character assassination of Hillary Clinton.
I still haven’t heard any Republicans — vaccinated or otherwise — publicly admit that Hillary was never the vindictive monster who plotted the killing of those diplomats in Benghazi. That she didn’t actually murder Vince Foster or run a pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor. That she was never the spawn of Satan, or anything more sinister than a smart woman in politics.
The right targeted Hillary for destruction from the minute her husband took office as president, and they’ve sponsored a constant campaign of lies about her ever since. Looking back from the outrage over her emails to the fatuous Benghazi hearings, to the slew of totally fabricated “scandals” going back to “Travelgate” in the eighties, she has always brought out the very worst in Republicans. Smart women scare the shit out of them.
I’m guessing our friends don’t want to think about Hillary. I’m guessing they’d rather think more about cherished “Republican values.” About the high-minded philosophy of “small government” and “unfettered markets.” About how regulation is destroying the country. About how lowering taxes raises tax revenue. And how the GOP is the party of “fiscal responsibility.”
These arguments are all canned, kneejerk responses that date back to before the invention of sound bites. All are demonstrably bogus. All are rooted in deeply cynical agendas. All are bought and paid for by wealthy corporate interests. And all are taken as gospel among the party faithful.
So I have to ask our vaccinated Republican friends, did you take this gospel at face value? Did you listen to opposing arguments? Were opposing arguments even available in your bubble?
It’s great that you condemn the lies, the sedition, and the violence. But do you see them for what they are: the culmination of a long and methodical sabotage of the entire American Experiment, in which you played — actively or passively — a real part?
It’s great that you got vaccinated. But isn’t it strange that you had to betray your own political party to do so? That your vaccination will be seen in some circles as a shameful act? That "real" Republicans don’t get vaccinated, but you did?
It’s great that you saw through Trump. But could you please look back honestly at the other things you might have seen through, but didn’t?
Trump didn’t come out of nowhere. A lot of people had to be fed a lot of lies over a long, long time.
How many of those lies did you buy? And how many did you sell?
Where were the rank-and-file Democrats when the vast majority of the Democratic politicians in Washington supported Twig (baby) Bush's hare-brained invasion of Iraq?ReplyDelete
Most went along like loyal sheep, since we humans are tribalists to the core.
Nice try at deflection, juddles. Most of us see right through that bullshit.Delete
Two words: Confirmation bias. Your word choices (e.g. "depravity" and "bogus") may improve your popularity as a blogger, just as the same incendiary language is used by your political opponents to emotionalize what might otherwise be a reasoned debate. If you want a reasoned debate, start by not falling into the same trap. Your ratings might go down, but you could get someone from the other side of the political divide to take notice. Probably not. That's why the divisions we face are so intractable. Everyone is so emotionally charged that the only thing they can see/hear is the argument that confirms they existing beliefs. So much for changing hearts and minds.ReplyDelete
I stand by "depravity" and "bogus" in the context they're used — they're colorful but more than accurate. I don't expect to change anyone's mind — least of all Republicans — and I'm not falling into any traps. My only aim is to remind left-leaning people of the past (which they tend to forget) and to put what they're seeing in perspective. Nor am I looking even slightly for "reasoned debate" with my opponents. When was the last time you heard a reasoned argument of any kind, on any subject, from any Republican? Reasoned debate doesn't exist any more (except sometimes between Democrats), mostly because the GOP spent 30 years killing it (see reference to Newt Gingrich above). It's easy to wring one's hands about the degradation of political discourse, and it's certainly a recurring theme in mainstream media. It's harder, especially for that same media, to place the responsibility for that degradation squarely where it belongs.Delete
This was my morning today and I thought I'd share the letter to the editor I wrote about it since it seemed appropriate to the discussion. Of course I agree Andy with everything you say here and it's just utterly stunning to see how different our world views are. These 2 old people aren't vaccinated, won't wear masks and he has 12 children. Still I feel like it's worth a try. They absolutely believe what they believe as much as we do and we are much nicer about things than they tend to be. At least these 2 were nice human beings and listened respectfully.ReplyDelete
Today I did something that I believe more of us need to do to reduce the vitriol occurring in our country. A couple weeks ago, after passing a home displaying conservative signage many times in the last 4 years and wondering about the people inside, I wrote them a letter asking for a meeting and left it on their front porch. I didn’t know them or how they would receive my invitation but I suspected that we shared a love of our country and viewed ourselves as patriots. I doubted we would share many beliefs or values but I believed we could find some common ground. Concerned about the toxic conditions we find ourselves in, I figured I would try. I had no idea if I’d hear back from them but they very kindly responded and were happy to get together and share ideas. We did so today and immediately acknowledged our differences and agreed we would not be changing any minds, but rather we’d be seeking further understanding and respect for our differences. I was relieved to know that they don’t really like Trump as a person but they do like what he does—his border wall and conservative court appointments. We agreed that we have a very different set of “facts” that we each believe. They of course find scientists who will support their view on climate change-it doesn’t exist. For them, January 6th was staged by “Antifa”. There was no convincing them otherwise. I told them I was also “Antifa”-an anti-fascist and most of us would agree we don’t want to lose our democracy. The Bible guides their view of the world. I am agnostic. The two hours went by quickly as we had the most friendly and open discussion about all of this and much more. We saw each other as well-meaning human beings. We demonstrated love. And love is what is needed right now to heal our country. It’s a long shot but we have to try.
Like my sister, I too have had civil and even constructive conversations with Republicans. Until citizens like us on both sides of the divide demand that our representatives work together (or lose our vote), they will keep doing what works, by talking like you about "the enemy." But, my dear jabber, the enemy is not the voters, it's the politicians who reinforce the divide.ReplyDelete
You're both better people than I am. For me, it's a little late for Kumbaya. Anyone who insists that Trump won the election is indeed an enemy, no matter how nice they are. They are living in a tight box of lies, from which no truth can seep out, and they'll stand and applaud when the next election is cancelled or its results thrown out. And while those lies might kill them, my bigger concern is whether they'll kill me. I know my neighborhood is filled with unseen guns, and my town has a long history of anti-semitism that, while currently dormant, could erupt again at any time. Meanwhile, they're just spreading lies and droplets. Personally I don't know how to talk to someone who has no use for objective reality, so I will continue to think of them as life-threatening until they convince me otherwise.ReplyDelete
My neighborhood has a bully. He blares his right wing radio station while he works on his pick-up truck. His bullying technique is to call code enforcement when he doesn't like something. I don't think it is a partisan thing in this case because he's even done it to "friends," although he loses friends that way, so, not sure why he does it. He also violates code all the time, but no one calls about him. He doesn't like me, but he's always been respectful because I have accomplished a lot when it comes to trouble in the neighborhood. My commissioner knows me and is very helpful when I ask for it. Tony, has no idea how I work my magic, but I know he's grateful for it because he leaves me alone.ReplyDelete
Until a few weeks ago when he muttered something to me as I walked by his house.
I wasn't sure what it was but I thought I knew, so, a few days later I was prepared with a personal story to offer up to try to have a conversation. So, I asked him what he said and he accused ME of killing the 13 soldiers who died in the airport bombing in Afghanistan.
My personal story about my Dad, was supposed to get at the heart of Trump thinking dead soldiers are losers. Dad suffered horribly from survivor's remorse.
Tony wouldn't grant me 3 words. I just asked if he would listen. In an escalating tone he said NO! Everything went south at that point and we both stormed off saying you F#!King Asshole!
If he ever tries to speak to me again I will have my fingers in my ears.
Leftjabber would say there's no hope for Tony and maybe he's right. I wonder how Tony got this way. I suspect is, as our fearless blogger has noted, from the rhetoric that is blared from Tony's radio every day. While Tony may be a goner, if we keep trying to rescue the save-able as you tried to do with Tony, maybe we can eventually turn enough people that the folks blaring from Tony's radio are forced to adapt to an every-shrinking audience. Then, even Tony will have to listen. One can dare to dream anyway.Delete
Unfortunately, the Tonys are getting bolder and more belligerent, and they have more license to act out. Which is why I'm less concerned with understanding them than I am with preventing them from trashing my country. This is an emergency, and any rescuing of the brainwashed is just not a priority. Containing them is.Delete
Well, that sort of thinking only leads one place...civil war. Too bad your side doesn't have the guns.Delete
That is far from true. Restoring free and fair elections would go a long way toward containing them. So would unobstructed social programs. Neither require guns, and both are on the table right now. But I'm confused — are you saying your side does have the guns?Delete
Problem 1) I have no idea how to get notified if someone replies to my comment. I have tried to figure it out.Delete
Problem 2), this is the second time I've written a long comment only to have it go away when it is published with a "Something Went Wrong" message from Blogger. I'm not going to rewrite it. The fix, supposedly, is to clear the Cookie Cache. It did work the last time (it wasn't the long Tony story, thankfully).
For now, I will copy and paste in case I have to try again. Instead of my long commentary on the good and the bad about the Social Media Site Nextdoor(.com – don't want to share the link), I'll just cut to the end where I noted that Wayne LaPierre may have finally shot himself in the foot.
Your thoughts on the fact that Hillary Clinton scares the shit out of Republicans resonates. Joni Mitchell's song fragment comes to mind in re the rabid, irrational hatred of her "....And you don't like strong women 'cause they're hip to your tricks". Trickery and deceit indeed, is perpetrated by the far right and the GOP. Their overblown and panicky rhetoric is just smoke and mirrors to delude their followers.ReplyDelete