Monday, October 08, 2018

Too Extreme And Too Dangerous To Govern

 The blood in my veins ran ice-cold when I read about the campaign rally our sitting (yes, sitting!) president gave the other night.  He is always campaigning, sigh.

And that is NOT what presidents are supposed to do.  Still, he cannot survive without adulation or worshipers, and that's what those campaign rallies are.  Organized ass-licking in both senses of the word.

But they are also rallies in hate speech.  It's not too strong a term to use when the president of this country no longer even pretends to be the president of all Americans, but just a war-leader or cheerleader for the Republican Party and, in particular, its Alt Right segment.

David Neiwert makes the point which troubles me greatly.  I recommend his whole Twitter thread, but especially these two tweets:


It's not normal to have a president who is incompetent, ignorant, rude and outright sadistic.  It's not normal to have a president who spends a quarter of his time in office on golf courses and much of the rest of it either doing campaign rallies  (rah, rah!  Lock her up*!)  or scribbling vicious tweets to all and sundry, including to fairly ordinary and powerless people who happen to have angered him.  It's not normal to have a president who  takes advice from Fox News.  It's not normal to have a president who lies All.The.Time.

And it's not normal for the media to judge some Trump event a success if he didn't drop his pants to moon the audience.

I shouted the above two lines about what is not normal and what must not be normalized, because I am frustrated by our (and my own) inability not to start accepting the current state of affairs as the new-normal, where normal means that all conventions have been turned upside down, where normal means that a stubborn and selfish  (mental) child president just decides which rules and laws he will follow and which he will ignore,  and nobody can do anything about it, and where normal also means that behind the curtain the Republicans are rapidly dismantling the welfare state, democracy and most of the government (with the exception of the military). 

This should be particularly abnormal and acceptable, given that the current administration didn't win most of the votes, but acts as if it has complete justification to do what the fuck it wants.  And often it wants to stick it to the majority that didn't vote for Trump.  Indeed, the Trump acolytes love that sadism and appear to want to see Democrats suffer, even if they themselves end up suffering more.

That is not healthy for the country.  It's an illness which incubated in the right-wing political radio shows and then showed its first symptoms when Fox News was created.  It's now a raging fever made hotter and hotter by and other Alt Right organizations, and among its major symptoms is the belief that Democrats and the left are the true enemy of America, a far bigger and more dangerous enemy than any outside threat.  Note how this (and Trump's statement above) means that around half of the citizens of this country are not regarded as true Americans.

There is no cure in immediate sight.  If anything, the same illness, causing the objectification and hatred of "the other side" is showing symptoms on the left, too**.

But there are things we can do.  The most obvious one is to vote in November, and the next most obvious one is to be politically engaged in other useful ways. If you feel up to it, it might include trying to reach out to those conservatives who are not motivated by pure hatred and, perhaps, trying to find some common ground with them outside politics.***  


*  It's unclear if the acolytes still want to see Hillary Clinton (and probably all uppity women) in prison or if the latest round of yelling was about Christine Blasey Ford.

**  By saying that I am not engaging in some both-sides-do-it argument, common in the mainstream media.  No, the American right started the process, and when the nonstop conservative hate speech worked in both radio and television, the average Republicans' views began to creep rightward.  Indeed, the National Review, a very conservative political journal is now seen by many Republicans as not sufficiently conservative!

But after a few decades of the hateful propaganda, the responses from our side of the political aisle began taking similar shapes.  It's hard to see what other form those responses can now take, true, given that no compromises are acceptable to the kinds of Republicans the hate propaganda has created.

Still, the situation is truly lamentable, like an unhappily married couple kicking, punching, clawing, biting and hating each other while chained together somewhere where divorce does not exist.

As an aside, this is one of the reasons for the convention of comity in politics.  Yes, it can be idiotic pretense politeness, but its real intention was to force politicians to remember that when they interact with their political opponents they are dealing with human beings whom they disagree with and who might seem to them to be very flawed, but they are not dealing with vicious monsters from the deepest hell.

***  As one silly example, I noticed that several avid Trump acolytes on Facebook also spend time rescuing dogs and cats and so on.  So we might share some values.

And yes, I know that this suggestion will not get a lot of positive feedback.  I don't expect anyone to try to befriend the Stephen Millers of this world or the fascists, racists or sexists among the conservatives, just some more ordinary conservatives.

The alternatives to finding some common ground are not palatable in the longer run (secession?  political violence?).   But I admit that the chances of success in trying to find the humanity in each other across the aisle could be slim, and the thanks for that go to Alex Jones,, Rush Limbaugh and other insistent purveyors of objectifying hate speech.