Schwab: Choice for GOP voters: Mr. Retribution or Mr. Unwoke

Pick a party leader: The return of vengeance or the comfort of a world without having to care.

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

The gods of stupefaction have gifted us again with the spectacle of speciousness known as CPAC. Poorly attended, it featured, except for Nikki Haley, only MAGA Republicans and Trump, whose lie-filled conflagration of a speech is encapsulated in this loathsome utterance: “I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution” (CNN:

Say it out loud. Play this (YouTube: in the background. It’s sinister; antithetical to our Constitution, repulsive to any democracy-loving American; projections of a disturbed man, his pathologically bloated view of himself, his malicious manipulation of those who cheered. Consider whether the words belong to a “leader” of a democracy, Deuteronomy 32:35, or Batman (YouTube:

But it perfectly exemplifies MAGA Republicanism: creating and flogging self-pitying resentment. Promising vengeance for manufactured grievance, and, echoing the 1930s, societal purification. Speaking about transgender people, whose status is scientifically confirmed, treatment for which is medically supported, and who represent about one-half of 1 percent of Americans but 75 percent of rightwing mongering, Michael Knowles, of The Daily Wire, tip-toed around the edge of genocide: “The problem with transgenderism is that it isn’t true. … If [transgenderism] is false, then for the good of society … transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” Probably figuring it’s a couple of years too soon, Trumpofoxification as yet incomplete, he stopped short of death camps. Like Trump’s, his malign screed was cheered enthusiastically.

If anyone spoke about economic policy, climate change, inflation, or — other than demagoguing it — immigration, we missed it. But we heard plenty about “woke.” If undefined, we learned it’s worse than floods, famine, drought and pandemics. In fact, according to Haley, seen by some as a “normal” conservative alternative to Trump, wokeness is “a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.” Normal? Well, yes: shedding principle for votes is the new “conservative” normal. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., referred to “deeply weird, nauseously woke people who hate George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Seuss, and Mr. Potato Head.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, absent from CPAC, previously declared Florida is where “woke” goes to die. He’ll be giving it CPR throughout his campaign.

“Woke” is the beast on whose single back Republicans fancy themselves riding into 2024 as winners, freed from the need for substance. As a rallying cry to the Foxified, it works best by remaining undefined. Nevertheless, a few TrumPAC goers gave it a shot. “It’s anything for me that’s anti-American, anti-common sense, anti-really in the sense of education, what education was meant to do,” said one. “Woke is more of the sense of like, if you feel a certain way, then you must be true. … Woke communism, where they’re trying to take over based on people’s feelings rather than actual factual evidence,” offered another. One more: “It covers so many things. It incorporated all the stupidity that is going on with the country.” In other words, to them, it’s stuff they don’t like, stuff they find threatening, stuff they accuse “them” of doing while they’re the ones doing it (Daily KOS:

Here’s a better definition: “[T]he belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” Who said it? Ron DeSantis’ chief counsel, in a trial, asked by the judge to define woke. What it means, then, is: Being historically accurate. Concerned for the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the slandered. Caring about America beyond only self-interest. Empathy. Christlike, if meaning Biblical Jesus rather than the one claimed by multimillionaire, megachurch preachers and fake Christians in Congress and, last term, in the White House.

Who’s hurt by corporate decisions for M&Ms and Legos? Has any child in a restroom been harmed by a transgender student? Do civil rights extend to all? Should minority citizens have equal access to voting? Careful: your answers could mean you’re woke.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” (Ironically, it applies to repeatedly attributing the quotation to him, but that’s not important right now: The point is that it’s insane to expect respect for democracy, protection of voting rights, or anything but top-heavy tax cuts and dangerous deregulation from another Republican president. Trump or DeSantis, both sides of the same authoritarian coin. Heads, we lose.

The party of limited government will select a monumental liar whose poisonous rhetoric mirrors history’s fascist dictators, or one who glories in dictating morality, education, speech, pronouns, clothes, reading material for citizens, schools and corporations. Who punishes those who object. And whose legislature is abetting his every autocratic outrage (Progress Report:

And now, some late-breaking news: Tucker Carlson has released footage of Mount St. Helens in 1979, not exploding, completely demolishing eruption lies. Congressional Republicans are demanding the release of Harry Truman from where he’s buried.

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