You might be forgiven for thinking the big Conservative Union CPAC conference that took place over the weekend was actually an art installation that was mean to be satire rather than an actual political convention where actual ideas were discussed. Mostly because it featured a bunch of hyper conservative politicians go on schizophrenic and delusional rants that discuss, mostly how crazy the democrats have become. Ted Cruz actually used the term “bat crap crazy”, meanwhile Donald Trump is busy groping the stars and stripes and talking about how all the stuff he’s getting done but not really. It was weird. If this convention was supposed to mobilize Republican donors and really engage confidence for 2020, I don’t know how successful it was. Because while most the people there might be ideologically misguided, I don’t think most of them are deaf and blind to how the perception of the Republican party has shifted, especially since the midterms.
I’m kind of tired of being told how naïve and dangerous a moderate left ideology is compared to extreme right ideology. If I vote anything other than Trump Republican, I’m often accused by holier than thou conservatives that I’m voting for crime and weakness. There is this idea on the right that if I’m not for an expensive border wall and the elimination of birthright citizenship and asylum seeking, that I’m totally in favor of being invaded by another country. That’s not to say that the left doesn’t have their own problem with imposing straw man arguments on Republicans. No side is without their own respective bogeymen, but it’s the Republican Bogeymen that actually seem to be the ones running things on their side. I just feel like I’m not necessarily the one that needs to take a step back and actually listening to what the people I’m voting for are actually saying. Take Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). He supports dismantling federal programs for education and interstate highways, and things unless those are removed, the Left will start a Civil War. This isn’t me reading into vague comments or twisting context. He actually said those things at a Lawyer’s convention. You can watch the speech. And yet I’m the one who’s unreasonable because I want background checks on guns and thinks we should help desperate people from other countries?
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.
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.
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?
Donald Trump, Jr. is a true to life comedy movie villain. Very specifically, he’s the douchey guy with slick backed hair, who thinks he’s clever, suave and charming (usually without actually being any of those things), and he’s always pushing around the little guy with a doofy grin on his face. You get the feeling he’s pushed around a lot of employees at ski resorts. So when Don Jr. attempts to wax intellectual on basically anything, there is usually a little bit of humor to be found. Don Jr. isn’t exactly a Rhodes Scholar, and frequently says ludicrously unfounded things based on other equally unfounded things he’s read on the internet. This week, while at a movie premiere (a movie made by recent Trump pardonee, Dinesh D’Souza) Don Jr. claimed that based on history (history, he added, as only truly informed people such as himself are aware), it’s really the Democrats who are more Nazi like, not his father and his administration! Now, any reasonable person looking into political similarities between modern day politics and the Nazi regime will be able to find the answer to that question, because as it turns out, while an often contested and argued academic field, it’s not a terribly secretive one. And if you want to find out exactly what the Nazis stood for, you can find the Program of the German Workers Party, written by Adolf Hitler in 1920, in all it’s glorious text. I encourage you to take a look at it sometime and see whose views are more closely mirrored by a German despot.
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.