There are two ways to view the "carnage" occurring in America right now. The first requires a stunning amount of willful blindness to the cause of this carnage. The second requires an almost effortless amount of will to say it out loud: Conservatives are destroying America.
The American right is cheering everything from Trump's attempted Muslim ban that violates the Constitution they claim to revere to the ongoing repeal of Obamacare that will strip healthcare from millions of those same cheering conservatives. They're giggling like demented schoolchildren that Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement and that a journalist was physically assaulted because it's making libtards hopping mad. Yet, we're still told to believe that everyone is to blame.
For an example of this willful blindness, here's how Robert P. Jones of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute explains the problem in The New York Times (emphasis mine):
For its part, the Democratic Party is contending with the difficulties of organizing its more diverse coalition while facing its own tribal temptations to embrace an identity politics that has room to celebrate every group except whites who strongly identify as Christian. If this realignment continues, left out of this opposition will be a significant number of whites who are both wary of white Christian nationalism and weary of feeling discounted in the context of identity politics.
This end is not inevitable, but if we are to continue to make one out of many, leaders of both parties will have to step back from the reactivity of the present and take up the more arduous task of weaving a new national narrative in which all Americans can see themselves.
While Jones correctly identifies the reason conservatives are going insane as "the inevitable surrender of table ownership in exchange for an equal seat," he still manages to spread the blame around. The Democratic Party does, in fact, have plenty of room in its tent for whites who strongly identify as Christians. What it does not have room for are whites who strongly identify as Christian and demand everyone around them adhere to their beliefs while catering to their every whim without exception. To this group, anything less than total capitulation is "persecution" and they will not stand for it. But despite these prima donna white Christians being the loudest faction, they are not actually the majority of white Christians. They are, however, at the very least a plurality if not the actual majority of conservative white Christians.
And therein lies the real problem that Jones refuses to acknowledge. By insisting that everything can be solved if both sides make accommodations for the other, he ignores the very clear reality that conservatives will not compromise in any way whatsoever. Their entire political movement is predicated on the premise that compromise is weakness and destruction in the pursuit of power is preferable. This is not a new development, either. Republican extremist (for his time) Barry Goldwater recognized the rigidity of conservative Christians half a century ago:
“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”
It took some time to reach its current level of insanity but we saw this reckless philosophy fully in action during the Clinton years as Republicans launched a right wing media machine to spread propaganda. Led by Newt Gingrich, they also launched endless investigations into the Clintons and impeached then-President Bill Clinton over a blow job in the Oval Office. The politics of scorched earth were only getting started.
Over the next decade, we saw an election brazenly stolen from Al Gore, John Kerry get "swift-boated" by a shameless campaign of lies boosted by the newly formed Fox News and John McCain be dragged through the mud by his own party to make way for the more easily controlled George W. Bush. Post-9/11, conservatives used the death of almost three thousand Americans to viciously attack anyone that spoke out against Republican policies and we all know the depths of depravity the right sunk to during the Obama years.
After 8 years of the Tea Party screaming out loud that they will never compromise with the enemy and that liberals were literally in league with Satan, I wonder what, exactly, Jones thinks we on the left could do to placate conservatives outside of committing mass suicide?
A more appropriate response to the behavior of conservatives comes from, of all people, neo-conservative Michael Gerson, a former speech writer for George W. Bush. Penning a column titled "The conservative mind has become diseased," Gerson lays out a scathing rebuke of the American right wing and how unhinged it's become:
The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased. The movement has been seized by a kind of discrediting madness, in which conspiracy delusions figure prominently. Institutions and individuals that once served an important ideological role, providing a balance to media bias, are discrediting themselves in crucial ways. With the blessings of a president, they have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion. They have allowed political polarization to reach their hearts, and harden them. They have allowed polarization to dominate their minds, and empty them.
As part of the machine that inculcated and spread that mental disease, Gerson is no innocent. And the fact that he tries to lay the blame for this "sudden" burst of conservative madness solely on Trump reeks of damage control and spin. Yet the basic premise, if not the sourcing, is absolutely correct: The conservative mind has become infected with rage fueled delusions. Paranoid claims of racial and religious persecution and apocalyptic economic collapse and crime are the foundation of the right's understanding of the world around them. None of it is true anymore than the Moon is made of green cheese but they base their votes, their anger and their fear on the lies anyway. Gerson calling them out on their intellectual and moral rot despite being a neo-con puts him well to the left of the Chuck Todds and Chris Cillizzas who refuse to do the same in the name of not seeming "biased."
This willingness to accurately diagnose the sickness stands in stark contrast to Jones' false equivalence. Even though liberals are not opposed to meeting conservatives halfway, there's no longer any compromise to be had. In less than a decade, we've gone back more than 70 years to when open white nationalism was acceptable (America had a thriving Nazi Party before WWII). We're becoming inured to political violence, a crucial step on the road to true fascism. Greg Gianforte was applauded for beating up a journalist and showered with donations by "patriotic" Americans that loved the idea of physically assaulting the Lügenpresse. The reporters crime? He asked about the Republican health care bill. Think about that for a second. Asking a legitimate question about health care is now enough to earn a beating in America and, worse, have that beating celebrated. Every step taken is legitimizing the fascism we once scoffed at as being impossible to take root in America.
And just to be clear, only the right is taking these steps. A Democratic candidate assaulting a reporter would be the immediate end of their career. A Democratic president with so many overt ties to a hostile foreign power would have been impeached within a week. Millions of liberals were outraged over Hillary Clinton's nonexistent corruption but 63 million conservatives could care less that Trump and his family are bilking the public for hundreds of millions of dollars and openly soliciting bribes. They do, however, like the fact that Trump keeps threatening to censor the press and rule like a king.
The right derides the "nanny state" and instead openly long to implement the "drunken daddy state" where daddy comes home and repeatedly beats you to within an inch of your life for your own good. And after he eventually kills you, he sets the house on fire and forces the police to shoot him dead. The new American Dream is a nightmare of rage and violence and it's really got the right excited to see how much worse they can make things before they have to give up control.
The first step is to admit their is a problem. The second is to identify it with open eyes and we're not even close to taking that step. Many haven't even taken the first and refuse to do so. "Both sides" is killing us and it has to stop. Conservatives are destroying America and until enough of them break free of their addiction to hate and nihilism, they will continue to burn everything down to the ground. We can either indulge them at our peril or rise up and take away their power until they can wield it responsibly again. Just because conservatives have gone insane doesn't mean we have to be their victims.
There are 521 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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