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Is the Pendulum Finally Swinging Left?

Since I last posted here, it’s been a whole month of long-awaited schadenfreude. It’s okay, we deserve it. And we’re too battered and bruised to take it for granted.

But the sheer throw-weight of legal firepower now aimed squarely at Donald Trump and his band of crazies is truly heart-warming. From DOJ to New York State to Manhattan to Georgia — and to any number of investigations percolating under the surface — Trump and his minions are finally on the run, with rightwing media struggling to invent reasons, most of them cringe-worthy, for the naked criminality now being exposed in all its squalor.

Weisselberg is in handcuffs. Giuliani is a target. Graham is being forced to testify. Phones are being confiscated, homes raided, subpoenas flying in every direction. Creeps are going to prison. And Republican leaders everywhere are losing sleep over those boxes from Mar-a-Lago and those texts from Alex Jones’ phone, and how they might just want to hire a lawyer, y’know, just in case.

This is what accountability looks like, in its early stages. It’s the rule of law. It’s being done by the book. And it’s putting away bad guys.

Yet even with all these delicious narratives of legal and moral comeuppance, there is yet one story that, for me, towers above the rest:

The abortion referendum in Kansas.

It’s too early to tell, but if the pendulum of history is finally ready to swing back to the left — and there are plenty of indicators that it might be — then the Kansas referendum will surely mark an inflection point.

I’m not sure we’ve fully absorbed how monumental this victory was. Eighteen points. In an election that was considered a toss-up. In an election where the GOP went out of its way to muddy the waters — scheduling the vote during a primary, wording the amendment so that Yes meant No, and vice-versa.

It was an election specifically about abortion, in a dependably red state. And the good guys won. By eighteen points.

Can this be the groundswell of revulsion we’ve been waiting for? Revulsion at Republicans and all they stand for? At how they’ve set out to destroy a perfectly good country?

The Dobbs decision might just prove to be the last straw, the wake-up call for millions of pissed-off women who’ve just been punched in the gut. Women of all races, religions, and political persuasions. Rich and poor, young and old, rural and urban, straight and gay.

They all have plenty in common. Many have children whose educations are being sabotaged, and whose futures get more iffy by the day. They’re losing teachers who won’t work for nutjob school boards. They’re losing doctors who won’t work in a state that might put them in jail just for saving someone’s life. They’re losing their safety net, their voting rights, and their right to control their own bodies. That’s a lot of losing, most of it for no reason.

With the Dobbs decision, the GOP has, I think, shot itself in the foot. In one staggering blunder, they’ve shown themselves to be as depraved as we always thought they were. And they’ve finally overreached.

Whether they pay a price for that overreach remains to be seen. But they’ve willfully put themselves on the wrong side of so many issues, at least one was bound to trigger an unmanageable backlash.

In that sense, abortion bans are the perfect issue. They’re simple to understand. They affect every family, even if just psychologically. They’re unfair on multiple levels. They’re massively unpopular. And they’re a visceral motivator to get people to vote.

Of course, they’re not the only motivator. Republicans are throwing up new ones every day. Their cruelty is out front, their utter lack of reason and forethought is shocking. The party itself has congealed around the most vile set of values imaginable.

As it happens, we can now see those values on full display, in all their glorious vileness. In June, the Republican party of Texas held its statewide convention, and they put it all down in writing.

Thanks to Heather CoxRichardson for summarizing it all in one prodigious sentence, and I apologize for chopping up her text to make it into a list.

But seeing these ideas — if that’s what you call them — in a single bulleted list is both instructive and breathtaking. As Ms. Richardson writes:

[D]elegates to a convention of the Texas Republican Party today approved platform planks:

-      rejecting “the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and [holding] that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States”;

-      requiring students “to learn about the dignity of the preborn human,” including that life begins at fertilization;

-      treating homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice”;

-      locking the number of Supreme Court justices at 9;

-      getting rid of the constitutional power to levy income taxes;

-      abolishing the Federal Reserve;

-      rejecting the Equal Rights Amendment;

-      returning Christianity to schools and government;

-      ending all gun safety measures;

-      abolishing the Department of Education;

-      arming teachers;

-      requiring colleges to teach “free-market liberty principles”;

-      defending capital punishment;

-      dictating the ways in which the events at the Alamo are remembered;

-      protecting Confederate monuments;

-      ending gay marriage;

-      withdrawing from the United Nations and the World Health Organization; and

-      calling for a vote “for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.

Here, in one place, is the whole catalog of batshit. These are the things Trump Republicans stand for — an incomplete list, to be sure — and they don’t care who knows it.

What’s striking is how every one of these values, without exception, declares war on all social progress, on sane public policy, on human rights, on most religious constructs, on democracy, and on rational thought itself. Each value is exactly wrong, and to subscribe to any of them is the very opposite of decency.

By now, it’s abundantly clear that the people who hold these values cannot be talked to, reasoned with, or trusted anywhere near a government.

Fortunately, there aren’t that many of them. Less than a third of us, maybe a lot less. Yes, the deck is rigged in their favor. Yes, they lie, steal, and tamper with elections.

But if decent, well-meaning people turn out in November, as they did in Kansas, no amount of cheating can overcome that.

Is that a sure thing? Of course not. But the cracks in the GOP are widening into chasms. Their lunatic embrace of the dark side will hopefully prove their undoing. Even their threats of violence ring hollow and toothless these days.

They may look fierce, but they’re deeply stupid, deeply deluded, and far more vulnerable than they’d have us believe.

Every swing of history’s pendulum represents a successful movement that went awry, that carried within it the seeds of its own destruction. For Republicans, those seeds have been germinating for years. Maybe they’re finally ready to bloom.

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