A nother religious, white, male, corporate-whore, racist, or one of their despicable collaborators-of-color said or did something awful. Memes and retweets of the latest outrage from the bottomless pit of Republican bad faith fill the feeds of liberals. Angry emojis and righteous indignation fly off keyboards. “Racist!” “Sexist!” “Mansplainer!” “Fascist!” “Traitor!” “Child-molesting pedophile scum!” All true. “Lock him up!” Yeah. “Enjoy prison, bitch!” Sure.
But what’s the point, here? Who’s in need of convincing about this? How is this any different for liberals, than ritual self-flagellation?
Sharing right-wing messages increases both their exposure and public engagement. Every share moves the Overton Window to the right, by making the previously unthinkable into a controversy—an acceptable subject for public discussion. Posting a right-wing meme to criticize it, is like cutting the head off a Hydra, which quickly grows two more in its place. People remember the original meme or tweet, not your critique.
Please, I implore you. Stop. Starve them of oxygen. Stonewall them into irrelevance. Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be defeated.
This goes double for reposting their dumb provocations about everything from the Lil Nas X video, to their fake outrage about Dr. Seuss, or Jill Biden’s tights. Cut it out! Don’t give fuel to their despicable fire.
Criticize their unrepentant sociopathy. But do it on your own terms. Blog about it. Post your good ideas that expose them. But do not, under any circumstances repost or share links to their original content! Do not get emotionally roped into dignifying their bad arguments, as worthy of discussion.
This is counterdisinfo best-practice 101.
Republicans abandoned their principles
The old conservative moral hierarchy was defined by George Lakoff in his 1996 book Moral Politics. It’s described more colorfully by a meme with text that reads something like this: “Conservative morality is based on complete submission to a patriarchal lord of the universe who demands absolute obedience under threat of burning in eternal Hell. The fuck did you think their politics would be?”
Exactly. The fuck did you think their politics would be?
The Republican party has fallen from semi-coherent advocacy of small-government, wealth, state’s rights, private property, and corporate personhood, to single-minded defense of hierarchy and white-Christian-male grievance. David Frum wrote an article in The Atlantic, April 1, 2021, confirming this devolution. Titled “The Strange New Doctrine of the Republican Party,” Frum laments that the GOP now seems to have become solely a party of defending the conservative moral hierarchy. He uses the euphemism “cultural folkways,” to avoid openly acknowledging what the epic white-Christian-male tantrum is really about—dominance without the possibility of resistance. That is to say, permanent authoritarian rule. But he knows damn well what he’s saying.
During the Trump administration, republicans abandoned their doctrine of “state’s rights,” repeatedly suing California and other states resisting federal policies. Now that Biden is president, Republicans are all about “state’s rights” again, lining up against H.R. 1, a federal voting rights bill. Republicans have demonstrated an equally hostile stance toward democratically controlled cities within republican states, when it comes to things like voting rights, mask mandates, and minimum wages. It turns out that whatever side of the bread Republican dominance is on, is how the policy bread lands for them.
Republicans used to be the party of private property rights. When I was a Republican during the Reagan era, I remember constant fulminations about the “taking” of private property rights through eminent domain. In those days, Republicans considered a “taking” to be not just government condemnation of private land for a highway or public utility. They also considered any limitation on land use, such as zoning regulations or development restrictions to be a “taking.” Frum cites several examples of how modern republicans have done an about-face, and embraced takings: In Oklahoma, the legislature passed a law making it illegal for a private company to inquire whether its employees were keeping weapons in their vehicles in a company parking lot. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order making it illegal for private businesses to ask about the vaccination status of their customers. In many states during the Covid-19 pandemic, Republicans have made it illegal for private businesses to enforce mask mandates. All three of those examples prevent private businesses that serve the public from protecting themselves or their customers from deadly threats. If those aren’t examples of the taking of private property rights, what would be?
As if this weren’t enough, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently announced his desire to regulate social media like a public utility, eliminating the rights of private corporations under Section 230 of the Communications Act to moderate speech on their platforms.
And this is without even discussing the open rebellion among Republicans against democracy itself. Opposing the results of the 2020 Presidential election which was both free and fair, by falsely declaring them to be fraudulent in “The Big Lie.” Or their downplaying of the January 6, 2021 US Capitol insurrection. Or their votes on January 6, 2021 against certifying the results of the Electoral College. Or their near-lockstep refusal to hold former President Trump accountable for his crimes committed while in office.
As corporations have also begun to announce their opposition to Republican voting-rights restrictions, the GOP has now also abandoned its support for corporate speech. After Delta Airlines announced its opposition to Georgia’s 2021 Voting Law, the Georgia legislature, controlled by Republicans, revoked a jet-fuel tax-exemption in direct retaliation.
Party of business? Not so much anymore.
Mitch McConnell quickly weighed in, as expected, against the American mega-corporations he used to carry water for. He’s now accusing them of engaging in “economic blackmail to spread disinformation.” Republicans have moved so far to right that they no longer support American institutions like the NFL, Major League Baseball, the military, voting, Delta, Coke, Nike, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Hollywood, and countless other private individuals and companies who’ve taken a stand for justice.
What’s left for republicans? Whiteness. Maleness. The “traditional” heterosexual patriarchal family. Christianity. Guns (totems of dominance). That’s it. The party has become the conservative moral hierarchy—personified.
During the Covid pandemic, countless Republican politicians and religious leaders openly called for the deaths of Americans in the hundreds of thousands, by opposing public health restrictions and lockdowns.
On March 10, 2021, the Oklahoma house passed a bill that would grant immunity to motorists who run down pedestrians during a political protest. This just might be the nadir of lawlessness for this formerly great American party.
These are the concerted actions of thugs. Do you need further convincing? What would it take for you to understand that the opinions, memes, and arguments from this party and its supporters are beneath contempt?? As I’ve repeatedly established, in this article and many in the past, we’re dealing with a death cult. Do not engage them in argument. Do not spread their lies or memes—even in opposition. Work to defeat them on every level. Support democratic politicians at the local, state and federal level. Dig deep and donate. Buy from corporations who stand against the GOP.
When you’re fighting an information war with an enemy who doesn’t care about facts or decorum, that war can’t be won on the facts, and it certainly won’t be won by pointing out their repeated and flagrant violations of decorum. When “grab ‘em by the pussy” turned into a slogan that got Donald Trump more votes, not fewer, that’s when we should have modified our tactics. When open espousal of QAnon got Marjorie Taylor Green a House seat, that’s when we should have realized that the war of ideas was over, dead, and buried. When gunslinging Congresswoman Lauren Boebert could fundraise on bypassing a metal detector to enter the House chamber with a loaded weapon, it became long past time to cut the crap on social media—and stop pretending that exposing the terrible ethics of the enemy would do anything other than embolden them.
Matt Gaetz stands credibly accused of child sex-trafficking, paying for sex with campaign funds, taking a schedule 1 controlled substance (MDMA), offering fake-IDs for sale, and he’s still in Congress. He’s doubling down and lashing out against the “liberal media” as expected, claiming the accusations are an “extortion scheme.” To defeat such people, stronger measures than social media outrage are required. Hopefully criminal charges will be forthcoming that can take this scoundrel down for good.
To shame your enemy, that enemy must possess the capacity for shame. Liberals need to understand that this is bare-knuckle power politics. How many ways can I say it? Republicans no longer have any respect for decency, fairness, principle, or rule of law. They are not embarrassed about who they are. They intend to keep doubling down until they destroy every vestige of democracy and fair play. They intend to fully remake American society according to the conservative moral hierarchy. And it’s time for liberals to adjust their tactics accordingly, to full-bore bare-knuckle anti-fascism.
How the GOP turned fascist
To understand where the GOP is, we need to understand where it came from.
Following is an excerpt from the 1956 Republican Party platform, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for his second term in office. It reads like the modern Democratic platform. Remember, this was a time when the top Federal Tax Rate was 91%, and the IRS didn’t mess around when it came to collecting those taxes. It was the last Republican administration before the passage of the Civil Rights Act. As we’ll see, that’s no coincidence:
“Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers; Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers; Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system; Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits; Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex; Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards on Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts; Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable; Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex; Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment; Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public.”— 1956 US Republican Party Platform
Before it was forced by the Civil Rights Act, to include black Americans in the social contract, the Republican party had been perfectly happy to forego the “conservative moral hierarchy,” and adopt an egalitarian style of governance. Bipartisanship was common. With a battle-hardened Five-Star General as commander-in-chief, presidential loyalty to the United States of America wasn’t in question.
In spite of his unmatched military career, President Eisenhower gave the iconic pacifist “Cross of Iron” speech, and used his farewell address to warn of militarism, naming and calling out the “military-industrial complex” for the first time. He was the last republican liberal. I would argue that he presided over the height of American power, and that our nation has been in decline ever since.
It took another 60 years for Republicans to hit rock bottom, by nominating and electing a white nationalist carnival-barker to the presidency in 2016. The 1964 Civil Rights Act marked the turning point. As he signed the Civil Rights Act, President Johnson famously remarked, “We’ve lost the South for a generation.” That turned out to be the understatement of the century. The Civil Rights Act launched a complete political party realignment. To understand it, we need to trace the party alignment from the Civil War, to 1968, when the upheaval began in earnest. This is an old and complex story. But it bears a brief recapitulation here.
Inaugurated in 1861, Republican Lincoln had freed the slaves and presided over a Civil War, trying to bring the South to heel, and paid for that impertinence against the Southern racial hierarchy with his life. Democrat Andrew Johnson, who took over for Lincoln in 1865, sabotaged Reconstruction before it could even get underway. A mere decade later, the contested presidential election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden was settled in a deal that ended the stillborn Reconstruction project, and withdrew federal troops from the South for good. This paved the way for a century of Jim Crow and voter suppression that only ended when Democrat Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, completed the party realignment. Democrat Andrew Johnson had supported racism, white supremacy, and the conservative moral hierarchy in 1865. A century later, in 1965 Democrat Lyndon Johnson struck a near-fatal blow against it.
This led to Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and sent the racist Southern Democrats into the arms of the Republican party in droves—and the rest is history. Sad history.
In the minds of conservatives, any policy that protects legal equality and voting rights for former slaves is tantamount to “original sin.” They’ve never forgotten Lincoln’s offense against their hierarchy. And they’ve buried Lincoln’s party. The final nail in the coffin, was the Roberts Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
What we’re seeing in Georgia today, and in larger context, is the Republican party still fighting the Civil War. They have become America’s mortal enemy. Including now the enemy of private businesses who stand in their way. Their spokesmen and surrogates on social media need to start being treated like enemy combatants. Because that’s exactly what they are. And they might win this time.
So stop fighting their battles for them—by sharing their filth. This is do or die.