The popular narrative in recent times that the far right is doing their level best at perpetuating is that the Democrats and the left are a bunch of intolerant, violent, hooligans who love crime and violence. You see, the GOP and Trump can’t pretend that the nation isn’t radically divided. Trump can certainly lie about a lot of things and do it right to people’s faces, but even he can’t tell his base that massive protests over his behavior and GOP politics aren’t happening. But they can tell people that it’s because the Left is angry and violent. And it’s an easy lie to buy into, because the left is indeed angry. We’re angry at how good people are being treated. We’re angry on behalf of the people that politicians are hurting, even if those people aren’t angry themselves. The GOP sell this idea of the liberals and left being the great dividers of that nation, while at the very same time calling democrats criminals who can’t be trusted, calling the media the enemy of the people. And as of last week, it’s pretty clear which side is quick to jump to violence. How many bombs have to be sent or innocent people killed in synagogues before it becomes clear where the problem lies? Even now, conservative media is selling the story that even despite all the violent lunatics who are working on behalf of GOP ideology, it’s the liberals who are really the violent monsters, while encouraging people to deal with liberals violently. Something’s gotta give, and I’m scared of what it looks like when it does.
So, Wednesday was a pretty scary example of what can happen when partisanship overwhelms discourse. So what we know is that philanthropist (and provably NOT Nazi sympathizer) George Soros had a bomb delivered to him on Monday. The Secret Service intercepted and reported bombs also being sent to the Clintons and the Obamas on Wednesday. On the same day, CNN offices were evacuated because they received a bomb package and an envelope with “white powder.” Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris and Andrew Cuomo may have also been targeted, but at this point not confirmed. Now, there is so much we don’t know. We don’t know who the senders were, what their connection to one another is, assuming there is one. What I feel we can assume at this point was that this was a concerted effort to silence, terrorize or harm people who are democrats or seen as democrat sympathizers (CNN is after all the media that Trump has branded “the Enemy of the people”). And because this has been seen as an attack on the left, the presumption by many is that this was perpetrated by Republican or Trump supporters. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but it’s noteworthy that members of the GOP are being quick to call for civility and reasonable discourse in the wake of this event. The is that they can distance themselves from this idea that they helped create an atmosphere where their supporters may have felt comfortable doing this kind of thing. The easy and obvious example of this is Ted Cruz, who last night, was rabble rousing his rally crowd by suggesting he’d lock up Hillary Clinton and Beto O’Rourke together. Hours later, he is telling people that we all need to get along, and that he respects people across the isle even though he may disagree with them. Which…I mean that’s crap. And while Ted Cruz is one of the easier people to mock in this regard, he’s by no means the only Republican who are now walking back troubling rhetoric that demonizes the left so blatantly. Partisanship has run amok in the worst way, and I’m afraid this might only be the start of something more malevolent.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers are out, and the national deficit is ballooning. Of course, most of us knew that would happen because literally anyone who knew anything about economics predicted it would. Even the Congressional Budget Office flat out said that this was on the table. We knew it would happen because of the ludicrously obscene Republican Tax Bill/blatant corporate and wealthy handout. Republicans in support of the bill really tried to sell it as the opposite. That the bill would pay for itself. But the fact was that it was never really going to happen that way. Even conservative economists really red flagged this bill as a potential disaster for our overall economic health. So of course when the inevitable happen, Republicans are doing what politicians always do when they screw up: pass the buck. But the really despicable thing is where they’re passing it. The discussion people like Mitch McConnell want to have is how many poor and elderly people do they have to screw to balance out the problem. Important, necessary programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are now one the block for gutting, sacrifices at the alter of the 1%. But listen carefully. Because it’s not hard to hear the hypocrisy and cruelty in the self righteous handwringing of rich old men looking to screw over the little guy. It just takes a little effort.
I feel like I need to start off by saying that not too long ago, the normal etiquette among opposing political factions, at least in the open, was respectful disagreement. At worst, you had some personal mudslinging while calling the opposing party misguided or stupid. But partisan opposition has taken a really terrible, really unfortunate left turn. Now you have the President of the United States calling his political opponents criminals. At a rally in West Virginia, he actually branded the Democrats “the Party of Crime.” It’s an alarming precedent. It’s an alarming precedent, and an ironic one. I mean, how can Trump, with a straight face, call the Democrats the “party of crime”, when all the arrests being made seem to be Republicans and their employees, including people who worked DIRECTLY under him. Let’s not forget that he himself is currently being investigated for obstructing justice and collusion with a hostile foreign power to undermine an election…I’m pretty sure those are all crimes. I suppose it could be argued that he’s trying to shift the conversation, but it’s a little too easy to make the point that calling Democrats the criminals doesn’t fit with the ACTUAL facts.
So the new look in Conservative Patriotism is memorabilia with a slogan that says “I’d Rather Be A Russian than Democrat”. You’ll see these t-shirts floating around Trump rallies and GOP conventions. You see, it’s the next great message in making America great again. It shows how far Conservatism has come. You see, 2 years ago, the GOP considered Russia a hostile foreign power. They bashed liberals over the head with even the whiff of a notion of being soft on Russia and Vladimir Putin. But then suddenly, the winds changed, Putin was a wonderful leader, and Russia should be reached out to. Russia stopped being the enemy, and people with opposing political values took their place. “I’d Rather Be A Russian than Democrat” is the slogan of our country’s political divide, perfectly encapsulating this near civil war mentality between ideologies. And yet for all of that, I can’t find where these pieces of memorabilia first originated. Several vendors are putting them out, but for all the research that I’ve done, I don’t know who came up with it. But I can imagine Donald Trump might be kind of tickled by this. It shows how effective his sales pitch has been.
Donald Trump weirdly, and proudly bragged about destroying peoples careers this weekend. It was odd, not that he said it but how he approached the subject. During a rally in Ohio, when talking about fellow Republicans, he suggested that he’s totally happy and capable of destroying members of Republicans who oppose him, but this isn’t cruel. No sir! They deserved it by virtue of disagreeing with him! Those monsters! As far as Trump is concerned, anyone who doesn’t agree with him 100% of the time about 100% of his opinions is the enemy. And as the enemy, they don’t deserve mercy! That’s reasonable, right? Right?
Jason Spencer is a Georgia State Representative in the Georgia House of Representatives. A highly conservative Republican, he has a bit of a history in saying some provocative things. No doubt knowing that Spencer had some pretty deplorable views, Sacha Baron Cohen, the man responsible for getting famous celebrities and political figures to expose their most base views as characters like Borat, Ali G, and Bruno, brought him onto his newest show to hopefully provoke an intense reaction out of Spencer. In the bit, thinking he was involved in a training video by an Israeli soldier, Spencer gleefully exposed his rump while shouting racial and homophobic epithets. Now, Spencer is claiming he was stricken by fear due to a previous exposure to terrorism and felt uncomfortable shouting those words…but if you watch the segment, that look of unadulterated joy at saying disgusting and bigoted phrases in a space he thought was going to be an echo chamber is hard to miss. Now, obviously he wasn’t the only person taken in by Cohen and his act. And indeed, many of the more conservative people Cohen has featured while in character, have loudly proclaimed that he tricked them into saying such unsavory and terrible things.
But the fact is that if your gut reaction to someone encouraging you to say something racist or homophobic is anything other than something along the lines of “No, I would not feel comfortable with that,” than you kind of lose your right to complain about someone showing the world your willingness to do such things.
The GOP seems to have a Nazi problem. Seriously. At least 3 congressional GOP candidates have openly admitted to being white supremacists with Nazi and neo-Nazi sympathies. There was a period of time when finding that kind of information out would have been something to end a political career. It feels like several giant leaps backward that it’s being used to kickstart them. To their credit, the mainstream Republican party does see this as an inconvenience. They’ve been doing their level best to keep their image away from that ideology, and disavowing these upstarts openly, but it’s still unfortunate to note that these candidates seem to be gaining momentum rather than stalling out. But what happens when these outliers become less abnormal?
Here’s the thing, I feel like even the most ardent supporters of Presidents past weren’t afraid to admit their guy made questionable judgments. Bush diehards were pretty angry to find out that the whole WMD in Iraq thing was a crock. Sure they didn’t yell for impeachment, and stood by their guy, but they could admit he was being shady. Obama supporters, more often than not were willing to admit that some shady dealings seemed to go on behind the scenes. But Trump’s cult of personality seems to have eclipsed rational discourse at this point. Among his supporters and party members, everyone else is at fault. His dissenters are all traitors and the media is all fake news and liars, except Fox News, which is basically an organization of true blue patriots. I just don’t know that there is a point where enough is enough any more. Which is a scary thought indeed.
Another Senate race has been getting a lot of attention recently. The race out of West Virginia has been quite contentious because of a GOP candidate named Don Blankenship, a coal baron with a sketchy past. Even if his past as arguably one of sleaziest employers in American history wasn’t enough, his adverts and statements have been courting a fair amount of controversy, which is putting a delicate spin on it. Even Donald Trump is, unequivocally denouncing Blankenship, and Trump couldn’t even bring himself to do that for Roy Moore, and that guy was accused of sexually assaulting a number of teenage girls. Despite Trump’s attacks on him, Blankenship is surging ahead in the Republican primaries, ironically, using a number of Trump-like tactics, like embracing conspiracy theories and engaging in mudslinging with colorful nicknames of people he doesn’t like. And considering his ties to the coal industry, an industry that Trump is fighting tooth and nail to save, something about this guy is bad enough for even Trump to want to pull out the rug from under him.