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Garrett78's Journal
Garrett78's Journal
November 22, 2019

Distress, Acceptance and Taking the Long View

Republican refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing and accept facts is about greed and power, but it's also about an overarching ideology. And it's about tribalism. It's about supporting the party no matter what. And theirs is an ideology of extreme, mythical individualism and a mythical "free market." It disputes the existence of what's known as "the commons." Also embedded in their creed is an archaic racism and sexism. I don't think Republican officeholders merely foment and exploit racism and sexism for personal gain, though they certainly do, I think most Republicans in power are themselves devoutly racist and patriarchal. They almost have to be in order to push an ideology that depends, in large part, on denying the reality that injustice is systemic, not evenly distributed and that seemingly past/resolved injustices continue to influence power structures.

It can be infuriating to listen to Nunes, Jordan and others spout lies, but in their defense, they have no choice. As Cody Cain points out, lying is key to the Republican Party's survival. Their ideology is a house of cards, and to tell the truth would lead to collapse.

Just imagine the stump speech. “Vote for me and I will slash your health care! In fact, I’ll do even better — I'll fight like mad to completely eliminate your health care!”

The AG of the United States was going around the world trying to stir up conspiratorial nonsense, which is absolutely surreal, but it also follows a pattern. The Republican Party has been trying for decades, with quite a bit of success, to undermine faith in government. Run up debt so as to cut entitlements, have corporations write legislation, deregulate industry, install heads of departments whose mission it is to erode those very departments, etc. Since the likes of Putin also wish to undermine democratic institutions for the purpose of self-enrichment, Putin and Republicans make for interesting bedfellows. This is a war of ideologies: we vs. me. "It takes a village" vs. "every person for themselves" (cheating permitted...nay, encouraged). The likes of Barr, Bannon, Mulvaney, Pompeo et al. are especially dangerous--they're white nationalists and despise secularization. Bannon at the very least would prefer we return to pre-enlightenment days.

And, as has been mentioned by others, there is the distinct possibility that many Republicans in Congress are just as compromised as Trump. As I like to say, Republicans have more rubles than scruples.

The feelings many express of distress and depression are very understandable. Tempting though it may be to do otherwise, I think it's best that we all accept what we're up against. For instance, I never thought and still don't think the Ukraine story will result in a Senate conviction of Trump. I do, however, fully support impeachment and hope that it damages Trump enough that we can overcome the inevitable election fraud (in the form of foreign interference, voter suppression, dark money, gerrymandering and the utilization of an irresponsible profit-driven media to promote lies, obfuscation and false equivalencies) next November. Of course, impeachment hearings may continue. But I think what it would take to get a Senate conviction is almost unimaginable. It would have to be audio or video of something so grotesque (yes, even worse than Trump bragging about committing sexual assault, as he infamously did on the Access Hollywood tape) that Trump's approval rating, which has been unprecedentedly steady, would drop drastically almost over night (from around 40 to the mid-20s).

It's also best to resist the notion that Trump happened in a vacuum, so to speak, that the pre-Trump Republican Party was somehow reasonable and not at all responsible for the rise of Trump. It's an absurd notion, so it should be easy to resist, but there are Never Trumpers, members of the media and even some Democrats who seem to want to believe if we just get rid of Trump all will be well or "normal." As if most Republicans are decent and honorable, which is obviously not the case. As if 50+ years (going back to Nixon and his Southern Strategy) of increasingly cruel and unhinged policy and rhetoric didn't make Trump almost inevitable. As if we don't have to worry about Trump 2.0, a more politically savvy and intelligent version of the monster currently occupying the White House, coming down the pike. Trump is a symptom of the disease, not the disease itself.

We should also accept that we have a tyranny of the minority political system that will become increasingly anti-democratic. It's been reported, for instance, that by 2040 we can expect nearly 70% of the US population will be represented by just 30% of the US Senate. That's an intolerable situation. Unfortunately, this political system is incredibly difficult to change for the very reasons why major structural reform is so desperately needed. I imagine the founders would have expected the US Constitution to have been rewritten at least once by now, especially if they knew just how drastically society, the nation and the world had changed. However, a constitutional convention would be a complete disaster with states like Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma having an outsized influence.

We should accept that the Republican Party is not on its death bed. I've seen post after post after post suggesting that the Republican Party is done for, or that it will be if it doesn't remove Trump from office. That idea is comforting, but it isn't rooted in reality. Demographic change isn't sufficient given our broken system. That said, demographic change (along with social progression, increased secularism, etc.) is a big reason why Republican tactics have become increasingly extreme in recent years (intense voter suppression and gerrymandering, full-throated attacks on science and public education, persistent attacks on the "liberal media" to help shift the Overton Window, stealing a Supreme Court seat and packing the judiciary with right wing ideologues, aligning with dictators who share the goal of undermining democracy for personal enrichment, replacing the dog whistle with a bullhorn, and so on). But the demise of the Republican Party has been predicted for decades. Without major reform of our tyranny of the minority political system, without public education reform, without media reform and without putting an end to what is essentially election fraud, the GOP will live on. It's ethically bankrupt but it will continue to be a major player. The GOP, as batshit crazy as it's become, currently holds more power nationwide (state legislatures, governors, etc.) than the Democratic Party. As more and more of the population lives in a disproportionately small number of states, the problem will worsen. 2020 may go really well for us, but between all of the aforementioned issues and an incredibly ignorant public with the attention span of a gnat, the Republican Party isn't anywhere close to being laid to rest.

A survey from earlier this year indicated that around 30 million US adults have never heard of Mike Pence. Never. Heard. Of. Him. Let that sink in for a moment. Meanwhile, there are those who support the Affordable Care Act but despise Obamacare. So, one can only imagine how many people aren't even aware of the various facts being established in the impeachment hearings, if they're even aware that the hearings are taking place. It's also not hard to imagine there being millions of people who don't even know there's a presidential election next year. We must address this epidemic of ignorance.

Oh yeah, there's also that whole existential threat known as climate change.

I've probably not done anything to dissuade those feelings of distress. But acceptance must precede action. I think it can be helpful to take the long view, to focus on planting seeds in the public consciousness. Literally planting seeds in a community garden and starting local cooperatives would be a couple of examples. Write. Get involved in local organizations that are focused on combating racism and sexism. Consume less. The Democratic Party placing greater emphasis on education reform and media reform seems necessary. Make civics a bigger part of a child's education. Make media literacy (such as identifying and verifying sources, and recognizing tactics such as 'projection' and the Gish gallop) mandatory curriculum from elementary school through college. Make college much more accessible. Raise hell over the media's tendency to give equal time to lies and obfuscation out of some twisted sense of what constitutes fairness, or simply because it's good for ratings. Raise hell over media consolidation. You may not see the kind of change you want to see in your lifetime, and that can be a difficult reality to face, but take the long view for the good of humanity.
November 17, 2019

Gerrymandering: funny-shaped districts aren't the problem

Much is made of the odd shapes that gerrymandered districts take. And "nice-looking maps" have been drawn up by computers that ensure all districts are compact and that there isn't as much disparity in terms of population size. The latter is important, but there are some major problems with making districts 'compact'.

But it's important to note that because of their simplicity, these maps don't take several factors into account — factors many people think are quite important in ensuring good representation.

For instance, they don't try to keep historical neighborhoods or regions intact. They don't try to ensure representation of racial minorities. And they don't pay any attention to striking a balance between political parties, or ensuring that districts are competitive. "Pretty little districts," John Sides wrote at the Monkey Cage, "could actually be pretty terrible."

So, let's focus less on the odd shapes. Because that's really not the problem.
November 13, 2019

Centrists entering race out of fear a centrist won't get nominated???

I can't be the only one confused by that strategy. How does the addition of centrists make a Warren nomination *less* likely? The only thing that occurs to me is that they'll attack Warren so Biden can remain above the fray, so to speak.

November 8, 2019

"I've sat and listened in uncomfortable silence..." -Anonymous

And that's the problem. You sat in silence. After going to work for someone you already knew was an ignoramous, narcissist, racist, sexist, xenophobe, rapist, fraud, tax cheat, habitual liar and then some.

You, Anonymous, are most all of those things, too. That is the only conclusion one can reach.

November 3, 2019

If the bottom line were the bottom line, every state would be blue.

Dear nation,

Stop already with this nonsense about how Trump or Republicans more generally win because of pocketbook or kitchen table issues. Stop already with this nonsense about how Clinton's message wasn't focused on economics. It was, heavily so.

It's the racism, stupid.

If economics were truly every person's bottom line, so to speak, the Republican Party wouldn't survive. It would cease to be a viable party absent racism and sexism.


P.S. Kiss my ass, Brokaw.

November 2, 2019

Messages to drill into the public consciousness:

Republicans aren't acting in good faith, and you can't compromise with those not acting in good faith.

The Republican Party knows it can't win fairly and has no interest in election integrity. The Republican Party relies heavily on foreign interference, voter suppression and gerrymandering.

The Republican Party relies heavily on fomenting and exploiting racism, sexism and xenophobia.

The Republican Party relies heavily on projecting onto Democrats what they themselves are doing.

The Republican Party relies heavily on obfuscation and lies, which they pathetically refer to as "alternative facts."

Republicans support legislation that is so horrifyingly inhumane and destructive that writers of horror and satire can't compete.

These messages must be repeated over and over and over again. We must be blunt about that with which we're dealing.

Smash-mouth politics and taking the high road don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Be blunt about right wing ideology, about how the mission is to undermine faith in government and all democratic institutions. Be blunt about how promoting white nationalism and patriarchy is key to that mission.

Be blunt about the tactics that are employed when Republicans spout nonsense, which they do every time they go on the air. If you debate the *what*, you give it credence. Talk openly about the *why*. With enough repetition about tactics such as projection and the Gish gallop, eventually those tactics will be recognized by the public and the *what* will be dismissed as the nonsense that it is. Go on the air and say something like, "Kellyanne is doing what she does best, the Gish gallop. For those who don't know, the Gish gallop is when someone tries to overwhelm the opponent with baseless arguments. In other words, Kellyanne is just throwing as much crap at the wall as she can in hopes that some will stick. When she's ready to leave her alternate reality and debate honestly, we can chat. In the meantime, I'm not going to dignify her pathetic strategy."

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Drill these messages into the public consciousness.

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