This image should genuinely scare you
We’re on the edge of a major disaster.
I’m not talking about the Covid pandemic, although that is, of course, absolutely horrible. And it is being used both directly and indirectly to cause the disaster I’m going to discuss. No, I’m talking about a genuine, existential threat to our country most people reading this will laugh off as hyperbolic and ridiculous:
The fascists are taking over.
You’re right to be skeptical, to laugh, to think I’m a wild-eyed hippie, or whatever other reaction you have that’s in the realm of “Doug is going overboard.” Absolutely. Here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it: After 4 years (and one year of campaigning) that contained overt bigotry, appeals to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, racists, and bigots of all kinds, the first Administration since the Great Depression to turn in a negative economic rating, a catastrophic reaction to a worldwide pandemic, and too many domestic and international screw-ups to list here, 74 million people still voted for Trump.
I still can’t believe these result, TBH
74 million. 35% of the adult population of the country voted for a lying, philandering, incompetent, incoherent man-baby who has said over and over he admires dictators and finds true democratic leaders weak and pathetic.
This is bad enough. It demonstrates that over a third of our country is ignorant, duped, or downright stupid enough to vote for an avowed autocrat. They have demonstrated this. I’m not making it up; it just happened in 2020. But it’s way worse.
The Republican Party used to be the party of sober, serious greedheads. They had one domestic goal: Money. For themselves and their business partners. They had one foreign policy goal: Pax Americana everywhere, even if it meant permanent war. Yes, they hid this under various BS policy statements, papers, think tanks, and media chattering heads, but that was it in a nutshell, and had been the case for over a hundred years. (Calvin Coolidge said, “The business of America is business.”) To get enough votes to win elections they would pretend to care about ordinary people, but they didn’t, really. So they faked it with things like racism, religion, and waving the bloody flag.
Republicans used to be like this guy
But at bottom there were at least some serious intellectual types—think people like William F. Buckley, Jr.—who would quote Locke and Oakeshott or Burke at you, or Sun Tzu, or von Clausewitz. They may have been contemptible Imperialist greedheads, but at least they were smart, educated, contemptible Imperialist greedheads.
That is absolutely not the case now. And that’s why we’re in so much danger.
George W. Bush was the precursor to what we have now, an Administration that flagrantly ignored “the reality-based community“. If facts were inconvenient, they simply ignored them. They went by faith. They went according to their guts, their feelz. In many ways their goals were exactly the same—i.e. they were still contemptible greedheads who wanted a Pax Americana enforced by a huge military—but now they didn’t bother trying to justify it with actual information. And their leader was an incurious, ignorant fool easy to manipulate by long-time D.C. insiders like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld. A man of enormous ego and vast insecurity who knew he would never exceed his father in anything, no matter how desperate his efforts.
But for all his failings, Bush II was “a guy you could have a beer with.” And this appealed to the blue collar folks that later would vote for Trump in their millions. The people who had felt sidelined for decades by the Civil Rights movement, who wanted to say the n-word out loud again, who wanted to sneer at the “coastal elites” publicly again. Despite being the scion of a political dynasty and a millionaire father, despite having gone to Andover and Yale, Bush II managed to portray a “just-folks”, ball-game-goin’, beer-drinkin’ persona that appealed to this group. And he just managed to squeak by twice.
All this history is just a warm up to when these folks—the nascent Trumpers, the “deplorables”, the MAGA folks—finally started to feel their oats and came out as the Tea Party in Obama’s first time. I could spend another blog post discussing the reasons behind this—hell, PhD’s are probably writing entire theses—but having their beer-drinkin’ regular guy replaced by a Harvard-educated n-word must have enraged these people no end. The coastal elites have taken over! We have to do something!
I’m not here to talk about them. I’m here to talk about their effect on the Republican Party.
Remember that Republicans—contemptible greedheads though they were—were professional, intelligent, well-educated contemptible greedheads for the most part. Richard Nixon may have been a paranoid maniac, but he served in World War II, had a law degree from Duke, and was wicked smart. The Tea Party changed that. Now, the Tea Partiers wanted to elect people like themselves. They didn’t want Eric Cantors any more; they wanted David Brats. No more professional politicians! Regular folks!
And this thing accelerated, is my point here. Until after a time, they didn’t even want David Brats; they wanted people like Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert. People who are not just not educated and intelligent, but actively and proudly ignorant and stupid, and flaunt their ignorance to their supporters. Who celebrate it. Lauren Boebert, for example, said the other day:
The Constitution is not evolving. To say that spits in the face of every single one of our founders.Lauren Boebert, Idiot of Colorado
Your family-values politician
Apparently forgetting the Founders built in an Amendment process which, among other things, gives her as a woman the right to vote.
Trumpers—74 million strong—are now voting in actively ignorant and stupid legislators. People who literally don’t know what they’re talking about. These people are in charge of the government.
In 2020 Trump was defeated. It really wasn’t close; he lost by 7 million votes. Only in our ridiculous, non-democratic electoral college process (which ironically was created in part to keep a maniac like Trump out of office) was it remotely close. And yet Trump, in conjunction with a majority of Republican legislators in the House of Representatives, actually tried to overturn that result! I want you to stop and think about that for a moment, because it’s really very import: The sitting President of the U.S. colluded with over 100 members of the House of Representatives to overturn an election. That’s nuts, kids.
And when that didn’t work, he threw a riot on January 6th, egging his followers on in attacking the Capitol, trying to capture lawmakers. And this is where it gets truly frightening:
Cheney and Kinzinger chose to join Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.Ronna McDaniel, GOP Chair
This is the chairwoman of the Republican Party, rewriting history before our eyes. This is the textbook definition of Orwellian. This is “newspeak“. This is the Republicans trying to control the past.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.George Orwell, Nineteen eighty-four
What makes this even worse is an entire media ecosystem has been created, since the obliteration of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, that pipes unadulterated right-wing nonsense out into the world. And the people who create and disseminate this garbage are just as ignorant and stupid as the worst of the Tea Party and the politicians they have elected. The current top media figure on Fox News is Tucker Carlson, a scion of the Swansen frozen food empire who went into journalism because “they’ll take anyone”. Who was publicly humiliated by Jon Stewart on his own program, and has never held a real job in his life. But he is hardly alone in this.
When you look into the backgrounds of almost all of these right-wing media people, you’ll find a consistent story: They are nothing more than professional trolls. Matt Walsh, who has nearly 800,000 followers on Twitter and is a writer for the right-wing site The Daily Wire has no education beyond high school, no post secondary-school training, and has held no jobs other than ones exactly like that he currently has. Charlie Kirk, who gave a speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, was plucked straight out of college and given a sinecure by a millionaire backer who created the organization Turning Point USA for him. Again, he has no other training or background, and has held nothing resembling a real job.
(Heck, Fox News now employs a man name Peter Doocy, who is the son of another Fox News “personality” name Steve Doocy, who is absolutely one of the most ignorant, foolish people I have ever seen on TV. Peter Doocy has become well-known for being regularly humiliated by Presidential Press Secretary Jen Psaki. We are now in 2nd generation stupidity on Fox News.)
Jen Psaki makes Doocy look like a fool a lot
When you go through the list of these media personalities, it is all the same: They are poorly educated, ignorant, and have no experience other than being professional trolls. Their sole experience and purpose in life is to “own the libs”. And their audience laps this up. This is beyond epistemic closure; this is a vicious cycle of ignorance leading to Idiocracy.
Republicans like to talk about “what the Founders intended”. Here’s the thing: Our particular Republic was not designed as a warm-body, everyone-votes democracy. It was created by blue-sky racist misogynist oligarchs who believed that only white landholding men should have the vote, with the naive idea that these men would have the time and inclination to study the issues and vote with wisdom and forethought. It was both bigoted and marvelous at the same time, but that’s the system we have. They never planned it to include everyone.
You can see this in the institutions they created, where so many of the things our government does is based on traditions and expected behaviors rather than laws. And it is in this kind of situation where it’s so easy for bad actors to take over and wreak havoc.
I began this (rather lengthy) post by invoking the looming wave of fascism, and showing you the ways in which both the Republican Party and substantial minority of the American voting public have devolved in the last two decades. I want you to put this all together:
- A Party that has devolved completely into one that is shot through with ignorant fools and poltroons
- A media ecosystem that doesn’t just support but actually reinforces the party and its message
- A large minority of the public that has shown its willingness to vote for these people, no matter what they do once in office
- A system set up with no structural checks on those who want to destroy or modify it to their own purposes
- Party leaders openly using Orwellian language
And the party has totally aligned itself with Donald Trump, a man who openly admires dictators, tried to take over our country through illegal means, and has repeatedly stated openly he wants to be an autocrat. And even if Trump dies—he is an obese septuagenarian Covid survivor with various co-morbidities—there are multiple other Republicans with exactly the same inclinations who have made it abundantly clear they would be more than happy to take up his mantle. Ron DeSantis of Florida is only the most obvious.
So yes, I am absolutely terrified we are moving headlong to fascism. And you should be, too.