By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
Projection: Attributing to others what one is, in fact, doing oneself.
Everything, in other words, that Trump and his defenders accuse Democrats, especially President Biden, of doing. Prime example: Trump’s relentlessly repeated phrase in reference to those pointing out and prosecuting his crimes and lies: “Fascist thugs.” This, from the guy who promises weaponized retribution, were he to become “president” again. And campaigns on it. Also the guy who bragged about threatening electoral retribution to Texas state senators if they voted to remove Texas’ laughably corrupt attorney general, Ken Paxton. It was jury-tampering, by definition. By a fascist thug. Who bragged.
In a dead heat with Florida to become the apotheosis of Republican authoritarian leadership, Texas outdid itself in that impeachment trial. Presided over by their Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who gives Gov. Greg Abbott a run for his money in the race to the bottom of cruelty, the outcome was predetermined. Prior to the trial, Patrick accepted $3 million from a Paxton-associated politcal action committee, subsequent to which every ruling he made favored the impeachee. Paxton’s corruption had been so obvious that Texas House Republicans voted (I know, right?) overwhelmingly to impeach. The Texas Senate, one of whose members is Paxton’s un-recused wife, succumbed to Patrick’s pressure and Trump’s threats, letting him off as shamelessly as Republican U.S. senators did in Trump’s impeachment trial. Several of them voted against Trump, however; whereas in Texas the corruption left none untouched.
In terms of nationwide importance, though, other than reconfirming the Republican Party’s love and defense of lawbreakers, domestic and foreign, Alabama beat Texas in the destruction derby by demonstrating that our constitutional democracy depends on buy-in by all of us; especially lawmakers, state and federal. Ordered by the Supreme Court (no fan of its current composition, I) to undo its egregious gerrymandering and create two predominately Black districts, Alabama’s legislators simply refused to do it. “What’s SCOTUS gonna do,” we presume they concluded. “Send Sonia Sotomayor down here to beat us up?”
It’s true, of course. The Supreme Court has no enforcement arm of its own. Its rulings are made real by citizens who believe in our system of laws and governance, and who voluntarily defer to them, in order to preserve civil society; the thin ice on which we skate as a nation. The Republican Party’s decision to follow the spirit and letter of the law only when it suits them is another form of climate change, nearly as deadly; the one which melts it all down.
Moreso their caving to and defense of Trump, by simple observation the greatest threat to democracy ever to occupy the White House, even though he came in through the back door. His round-the-clock flurry of lies and threats are nearly universally unchecked by members of his party, too afraid of being primaried, too lacking in integrity to speak up. Did he destroy documents? By continuing to claim, falsely, that the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee destroyed all it had, we know the answer is yes. Projection.
So while Republicans and whatever is the appropriate term for Trump’s claim that it’s Democrats who want to destroy America, it’s they who are, in fact, actively doing it; because they understand that constitutional democracy is not their friend. Allowing fair elections with equal access to voting for all; following judicial orders and Congressional subpoenas: politically counterproductive. The same goes for proper education. Projecting “cancel culture” on liberalism, today’s Republicans are banning books all over the country, in far greater numbers than the occasional objection to Dr. Seuss: the former is aimed at preventing children from learning and thinking about science and America’s true history; whereas the latter, et similar, if misguided, is about acknowledging stereotypes.
This week we witnessed — those who could stand it — the conspiracy-promoting, fact-free, get-me-on-Fox attacks on Attorney General Merrick Garland, who sat, more patiently than humanly possible, before Gym Jordan’s committee investigating … stuff. More projection; more weaponizing government against those with whom they disagree. While the country faces insolvency due to a handful of intransigent, far-right, not-right members, while House Republicans are unable even to fund our military (the party of strong defense!), they continue their pursuit of the world’s greatest criminal mastermind, private citizen Hunter Biden, whose devious scheme to launder money, they say, was done in the open, through commercial banks. Nefarious. Garland got himself a grillin’ on that, too.
That Hunter B was just indicted by a Trump-appointed investigator, carried over and not interfered with by President Biden, somehow wasn’t considered important by Mr. Garland’s inquisitors. Conspirators gotta conspire, after all, facts be darned. President Biden, both senile yet a brilliant deceiver, must surely be impeached, evidence of involvement, or not. Trump just claimed he beat Barack Obama in his election, and that he, Trump, prevented World War Two. And Biden is senile? Watch the video included in the link. It’s Trump’s most definitional projection of all (Guardian: tinyurl.com/losingit4u).
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.