By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
Peter Wehner, formerly of Hanford High and U-Dub, who worked for Reagan and both Bushes and a couple of conservative think-tanks as well as Christian foundations, shared his thoughts in a recent Atlantic piece titled “The GOP is a Grave Threat to American Democracy.”
“Having alienated college-educated suburban voters,” he wrote, “many consequential Republicans decided their best bet is to keep their contracting coalition in a state of constant agitation and fear, combatants in a never-ending culture war. … And that, in turn, requires them to feed the base even greater falsehoods” (Atlantic: tinyurl.com/digAgrave).
Post-truth; post-democracy; post-community. Anyone who thought Republicans might turn toward sanity after the anti-constitutional, violent exit of Trump has been shown a fool. They have, in fact, gotten worse, bottom to top.
Scraping the bottom of the bottom, the lower Tucker Carlson goes, the higher he rises in the estimation of Trumpists. Masks, he has discovered, turn us into drones. Also, making kids wear them is child abuse, so call the cops when you see it. It’s immaterial whether he believes his offal or spews it for ratings and income no matter the damage to his viewers’ health (probably the latter). Unlike hydroxychloroquine or drinking bleach, it works great on Trump-drones, perfectly exemplifying what Wehner said (Twitter: tinyurl.com/tucknuts).
Meanwhile, Sean “I need ratings, too” Hannity questioned the science behind vaccines, but refused to say whether he got them. Care to guess? If he didn’t, he’d have said so, bravely. Like Tucker, he knows his listeners are unquestioning and dupable. They count on it.
Another example: House minority leader Kevin McCarthy is working hard to whitewash Trump and Trumpists out of any involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection, and to sabotage serious inquiry into what happened before, on, and after that day. Why? It’s not mysterious: complicity (Washington Post: tinyurl.com/notruthforKev).
More: Wafting through rightwing media like smoke from a backyard barbeque is the lie that Biden’s climate plan bans burgers. Debunked repeatedly, it lives on, even in the mouths of Republican governors and Congress-dwellers. As does the one about Kamala Harris’ book being given to migrant children. (The reporter who produced that malarkey resigned from the New York Post, saying she’d been forced to write it.) They don’t care: Once told, their falsehoods, like N. fowleri, burrow into the brains of their softened targets. Retracted or not, they propagate like weeds in manure. Metaphors are for mixing.
Further evidence of unshakably embedded insanity is a private, Trump-mega-donor, anti-vaxxer-funded Florida school firing vaccinated teachers. Because, doncha know, “reports have surfaced” of the unvaccinated being harmed by contact with the vaccinated. A zombie thing, possibly. Upping the Floridante, spreading red-ily from there, a “Citizen’s Alliance” says teaching children about climate change is “indoctrination” and wants it to stop. Those kids don’t have a chance to become science-literate. Which, one assumes, is the point. It’s all yours, China.
It gets worse: The so-called audit of Arizona presidential ballots is a funded, promoted, and populated QAnon playground. A shady rightwing company name of “Cyber Ninjas,” the outfit doing it refused a court order to reveal its methods, saying it’s not obligated to follow federal rules. To “restore trust,” is why Arizona Republicans hired them (Daily Beast: tinyurl.com/Q2count4u).
There’s more. Consider the disingenuous, tiny infrastructure proposal Republicans made in response to President Biden’s plan: Even more parsimonious than it appears, it counts money already allocated, unlike Biden’s numbers, which are for new spending. But it allows R’s to pretend they’re the ones bipartisanshipping. Offering $500 on a house selling for half a mill, convincing their voters it was a good-faith negotiation.
Then there’s SCOTUS-packer Amy Coney Barrett’s refusal to recuse from a case involving the rightwing firm that helped underwrite the campaign promoting her nomination. “Bottom to top.” Even including that of the previous “president,” corruption gets no higher than that.
Finally, because it needs saying and James Carville just did, let’s acknowledge how some liberals facilitate Trumpists’ cynical propaganda. Like “defund the police,” competing for who’s the most “woke” is perfect fodder for rightwing disinformation. President Biden has approval ratings Trump could only lie about. Unlike Republican “policies,” for lack of a word, Joe’s proposals enjoy broad, bipartisan enthusiasm outside D.C. All Republican leaders have in response is distraction. So stop handing it to them.
It’s really OK to have schools named after Honest Abe and Dianne Feinstein, and for colleges to host unwelcome speakers. We really need police; just not bad ones. Let’s concentrate on the doughnut, not the hole. Focus. After four years without it, people are seeing what good government looks like. When not blinded by Republican diversions, they like it. And there’s the message (Vox: tinyurl.com/listen2jc).
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.