By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
There was a time when it was impossible to believe elected Republicans would deliberately damage the country and its residents for political gain. After all, how could such a thing be considered a positive? Well, it’s come to the point that it’s really the only explanation for what they’re doing. And not doing.
In Congress and in state houses around the land, Republicans are making sure Americans will continue to get sick from the pandemic, and are planning to run for reelection on it. Ban mandates. Shut the government down to make it happen. They’re saying so, openly (Politico: tinyurl.com/shutgov4u).
As there remain millions of people refusing to be vaccinated, even as their anti-vax “influencers” make deathbed repentance and call for vaccination before dying of the virus, Republican leaders see a perfect constituency. (It’s possible followers only of right-wing media haven’t even heard of those prominent deaths.) Latest example: Having pushed to end unemployment benefits in the now-discredited belief that it would stimulate a return to employment, suddenly they’re all for extending those benefits, but only to those who quit their jobs rather than be vaccinated. “We’re here for you, anti-vax conspiracists and QAnoners. Refusers to be microchipped and magnetized. Remember us, if you’re still alive, on election day. Let’s go, Brandon.”
The logic must be that they count on their in-pocket media to make sure voters only note that, say, the pandemic is continuing, or that the economy is struggling in some areas. Memories are short and facts in short supply on the dark side. So if the pandemic rages on, or help for the economically impacted vanishes, it can only be the fault of President Biden and Democrats. The message will resonate through the airwaves, online, and be force-fed through one-channel TVs. By next election, memories of Republican blockages and refusals, if they once noticed, will vanish like Greenland’s glaciers.
That has to be it: We can do or not do anything we want, they must think, and, like those memory-wipey thingies Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones used in “Men in Black,” our voters won’t remember a thing. We can count on Trump, if for nothing else, to keep whipping the anger; and we know Tucker, Sean, Laura, et coven, will, too.
How else to explain ongoing Republican attacks on vaccine and mask mandates? Freedom? Choice? Yeah, right. Ask Chief Justice John Roberts about that. No, it can’t be about standing up to tyranny. If that were a Republican virtue, Trump would have been gone with the first impeachment. By now, as numbers of covid cases continue to rise in mainly red states while falling here, it’s clear that seeing their constituents fall ill or die doesn’t bother them. Long as they believe they can make a case come November.
In a rational world, of course, there’d be no case. But it’s also obvious that rationality has left that party like Trump left his first two wives. After all, it’s a party in which a celebrity quack like Dr. Oz thinks he can become a U.S. senator. From a state in which he doesn’t live!
Perhaps he’d get laughed out of the Keystone State. But Rep. Lauren Boebert hasn’t been laughed out of Colorado, nor Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene out of Georgia. Gaetz. Jordan. Cawthorn. People who haven’t passed, much less offered any serious legislation. People who only slur and fan hatred for colleagues on the other side. But they get elected, and that’s the thing. In their districts and states, voters love it. As long as they slander and “stick it to the libs,” they don’t care if nothing gets done on their behalf. In the case of Boebert, that’s despite the Denver Post’s outraged editorial. (Denver Post: tinyurl.com/sorry4u)
She, for those who missed it, suggested to an appreciative, cheering audience, that Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., could be a terrorist. Said she (Omar) doesn’t represent the America in which she (Boebert) is raising her children. There’s a certain irony in that, you may notice.
And Taylor Greene — who, committee-less, fills her time spewing hate and lies, and just got in a fight with fellow Republican but-not-completely-insane Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina — claims she’s not the “fringe” of the Republican Party, she’s the base. It might be the only true thing she’s ever said.
As a physician and putative scientist, I’ve never been into wishful thinking. But waving a magic wand might be the only way to stop the dying of democracy. When upwards of 40 percent of Americans, suffering cluelessness-by-media, keep electing Republican representatives not on the basis of what they do but whom they hate, absent something metaphysical, the end is near.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.