Right now, the conservative movement in America is so far beyond salvaging that the only solution is to put it into a box away from the rest of us and let it self-destruct. After the survivors rebuild and show that they can act like responsible adults, they can come back and share power again.
Let’s get this out of the way: Conservatism is not inherently bad. Slowing down progress has its place, and denying this is ignoring history. We, as a society, were not ready for “free love” and widespread drug use in the 60s. That doesn’t mean casual sex and recreational drug use are in any way bad, we just weren’t mature enough to handle it. Because we were so stupid, we let a plethora of STDs, chief among them HIV, spread like wildfire and the drug cartels have been having a great time profiting from our misery. It’s true that much of damage came from the extreme overreaction of the conservative movement but that’s part of our collective immaturity and we can’t wish that away.
We’ve grown a lot in the last 40 years and we’re much better prepared to deal with it now (even Republicans are coming around on legalizing Marijuana and ending the abuses of the drug war), but the growth was far more painful than it needed to be. If we’d slow-walked the cultural revolution a bit, we might be in the same place but without the high price tag attached.
That being said, American “conservatism” no longer has anything to do with slowing progress down but rather destroying everything to make a small group of angry and deranged white people happy. They’ve gone from being a moderating influence to enacting an agenda of pure nihilism in service to rage and hatred based on absolute lies. And the worst part is that they cannot be saved as long as they consume only right wing media.
Vox did a study of how the last couple of weeks of Trump’s escalating scandals were covered by normal media outlets versus right wing outlets. The results are not even slightly surprising:
Let’s be clear about what’s happening here: Right-wing media is creating coherent alternate storylines with different characters and different context — but a narrative that competes with contextual facts that support a more accurate story. Even amid some of the most troubling presidential news in decades, a huge portion of this country is having a very different experience of these events, and repeating it over and over. Our collective memories — and, in turn, our shared culture — are being splintered.
In other words, American conservatives are entirely immersed in The Matrix. Republicans, understanding clearly that reality really does have a liberal bias, set out decades ago to create an alternate universe that completely envelops their voting base. This alternate universe is ugly, violent, terrifying and filled with dark-skinned enemies that seek to destroy the noble and pure America filled with virtuous white patriots that does not exist and has never existed.
This is why when you hear politicians talking about how we need to reach out and understand Trump’s voters, you are listening to a person that does not truly understand what has happened to American conservatives. You cannot reach out to someone who considers you to be a literal threat to their life, not their way of life (although that, too), their actual life and the lives of their loved ones. Fox News, AM Hate Radio and sites like Breitbart have created a kind of artificial schizophrenia in which the American right suffers from delusions of persecution (White Genocide!), an inability to tell fact from obvious fiction (Fake News!), and a cognitive dissonance (I’m not racist! I just think blacks are inferior!).
When viewed with this understanding, the conclusion is inescapable: American conservatives are an immediate existential danger to the country. Nothing matters more than stripping them of the unearned power they’ve stolen through extreme gerrymandering and massive voter suppression and banishing them from politics for at least a generation, if not substantially more.
They can no longer be compromised with because they are no longer capable of compromising. They have been trained to view normal governing through consensus as capitulating to the dark forces trying to destroy America.
They can no longer be reasoned with because they are no longer capable of reasoning. They have been trained to reject objective and verifiable facts that run counter to their beliefs.
They can longer empathize with anyone outside of their tribe because they are no longer capable of empathy. They have been trained to not just ignore the pain and suffering of The Other, but to actively derive pleasure from it.
We have in the American conservative movement a mob of dangerously unbalanced people living in a state of constant terror. The only reason they’re not blowing up federal buildings right this second is because they won the election. When Trump and the Republicans inevitably lose control of Washington again, that fear will overwhelm what little control they have left and the violence will come. When it does, we have to be careful not to push the government to treat all conservatives like terrorists but at the same time, we can’t let conservatives pretend that their violent rhetoric and apocalyptic worldview isn’t the direct cause of the coming bloodshed.
I know it seems too early for this kind of talk but if we’d been better prepared to push back against the giant scam that was the Tea Party, things might not have spiraled out of control like they have. The American far right is going to continue to devolve into an evermore virulent ball of mindless rage while the ones who enabled their descent into madness will feign horror. The Joe Scarboroughs, the Chris Cillizzas, the Sean Hannitys, the David Brooks, the Chuck Todds and the rest of their ilk are directly responsible for the rise of Donald Trump and the violence his downfall will bring. Some will be guilty of egging the crazies on and others for normalizing them in service to a false “both sides” narrative. We have to be ready for them to immediately try to erase the past and get back to “business as usual” just like they did after allowing Bush and the GOP to run rampant. Otherwise, we’re just setting ourselves up to be played again and I’m not sure how much more conservative “patriotism” the country can survive.
There are 533 days left to the 2018 elections.
– This article kills fascists
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I’m a stay at home dad, father to a special needs son and a special daughter, a donor baby daddy, a militantly pragmatic liberal, the president of the PTA, a hardcore geek and nerd and I’m going to change the world. Or at least my corner of it.