Sunday, March 13, 2022
Speaking of Rick Scott
Florida Senator Rick Scott is chairman of the National Republican
Senatorial Committee. A couple weeks ago he released a manifesto --
a policy agenda and an ideological justification -- defining what
Republicans want to accomplish if they can win control of the Senate
in 2022. Of perhaps I should say what they'd do if they had the power
to do it, which will take more than a mere Senate majority. You can
read about it
here. (The full plan is
here, hyperbolically titled An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America:
What Americans Must Do to Save This Country.) I'm especially struck
by the deep paranoia in the preamble:
The militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news
media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms -- but they
want more. They are redefining America and silencing their
Among the things they plan to change or destroy are: American
history, patriotism, border security, the nuclear family, gender,
traditional morality, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, opportunity,
rugged individualism, Judeo-Christian values, dissent, free speech,
color blindness, law enforcement, religious liberty, parental
involvement in public schools, and private ownership of firearms.
Let's start by returning to basics. The political terms Left
and Right came from the early days of the French Revolution. In
the assembly, supporters of the monarchy and aristocracy sat on
the right, while opponents -- the people who coined the slogan
"liberty, equality, fraternity" -- sat on the left. Those labels
stuck with us, because while titled aristocracy is pretty much a
relic of the past, the right has adapted to defend hierarchy in
whatever form (usually wealth), while the left, having liberated
us from many forms of hierarchy (aristocracy, slavery, and to a
large extent discrimination based on sex and/or race) continues
to champion greater equality.
Left and right is one of many axes that can be used to plot
political tendencies, but it is especially important in times of
great inequality, like ours. Politics is, after all, the practice
of power, and power tends to follow (and in the hands of the right
reinforce) inequities in wealth. There is some disagreement as to
what equality means to the left: most agree on equal rights and
treatment under laws that are decided in a democracy where every
person has an equal vote, but not everyone would extend democracy
to the workplace (aside from certain rights, like a minimum wage,
and a right to join unions). And while most on the left support
progressive taxation, only a few think it's possible to level
incomes and savings.
However, those differences rarely matter to those on the right,
who see any limits on wealth or the prerogatives of the rich as an
attack on all they hold dear (i.e., their perch in the hierarchy).
And when you're as far to the right as Scott is, that puts most of
America on the left. And while Scott is an outlier by historical
standards, it should be recognized that he speaks for the majority
of Senate Republicans, and as such for the majority of the Party.
Sure, Scott makes a further qualification when he charges "the
militant left," but that's an oxymoron -- in America at least,
the left is profoundly anti-violence, action limited to dissenting
speech, the occasional demonstration, and campaigning for votes --
using a term that is most often used posthumously to describe people
killed by occupying forces (e.g., in Israel/Palestine, or by the US
in Iraq and Afghanistan; I expect the Russians to follow suite in
Scott's trying to add an air of menace to "the left," but his
examples only show how far out he's perched on the right. Most
corporations are well to the right of center -- they do, after all,
control most of the nation's wealth. Sure, some marketers try to
present themselves as anti-racist, which drives far-right culture
warriors (like Scott) crazy -- cf. Vivek Ramaswamy's recent book,
Woke, Inc., or Glenn Beck's hysterical The Great Reset:
Joe Biden and the Rise of Twenty-First Century Fascism (sure,
pun intended). And news media and Hollywood are companies too,
their owners well up the wealth hierarchy. Academia is nominally
non-profit, but easily swayed by rich donors, as is a government
which reports more to donors and lobbyists than to the public.
Also note that those supposedly left-controlled institutions all
have pockets that are totally aligned with the far right, like Fox
News, the Koch Network academies and "think tanks," the Federalist
Society-selected 6-3 Supreme Court majority. But it's never enough,
because the more they get, the more extreme they become.
How extreme is indicated by the list of things they claim the
left wants to "change or destroy" -- the implication is always
destroy, as they dogmatically insist that any change is intent
on destruction. As someone who's pretty far out on the left --
for a crude estimate of how far, I voted for Nader in 2000, so
if the left is all D+G voters, I am at least in the leftmost
4.7%; I voted for Kerry over Nader (and several other leftist
candidates) in 2004, so I'm not in the leftmost 1.0%; I explained
here -- I thought I'd go
down this laundry list and see how menacing my own views are:
American history: It is what it is, and no one can change
or destroy it -- although the right (not the left) wants to sanitize
it so Americans can feel better about themselves, and especially not
notice the disgraceful history of conservatism, especially on race.
Patriotism: Let me start by noting that the people who
opposed to aristocracy in and after 1776 (at least through the writing
of the US Constitution, which banned issuing titles) were the same
ones who called themselves patriots. They were the original American
left, and were opposed to the right, which called themselves "loyalists"
out of deference to the British crown. The left has held closer to the
nation's founding ideals than the right ever has, and the left has
demonstrated more concern for and solidarity with the majority of the
US population than the right ever has. On the other hand, the right
has appropriated the symbols and jargon of patriotism so crassly and
jingoistically, often in the celebration of militarism and the pursuit
of imperial adventures abroad, that many leftists naturally recoil
from their posturing. So, sure, let's change patriotism back to its
original ideal, extended to support equal rights for all.
Border security: As a leftist, I can imagine national
solidarity extending to international, but I also recognize that each
nation has its own laws, which are delimited by borders, which therefore
need to be secure. So there seems to be no disagreement, but for years
nativists (mostly Republicans, therefore often but not necessarily on
the right) have used "border security" as a code word for railing against
immigration, often in bad-faith negotiations which never delivered on
promised reforms. (The most important is that the US has several million
undocumented immigrants, a situation that needs to be cleared up in order
to restore due process.) I don't particularly care about immigration as
an issue, so wouldn't mind expanding or contracting legal immigration.
The points I would insist on are: that the "undocumented" problem be
cleared up, with due respect to the immigrants; that future policies
be flexible enough to minimize additional "undocumented" immigrants;
that immigrants have rights and protection to keep businesses from
taking advantage of them; and that the cruelty and lack of due process
evident in recent "border control" end. It's worth noting that some
leftists are much more pro-immigration than I am. Also, that I put a
lot more emphasis on improving standards of living elsewhere, mostly
by supporting progressive democratic governments elsewhere and not
rigging the world economic system against them, so people have less
incentive to emigrate. Also, put an end to the wars that produce so
The nuclear family: I have no problem with the nuclear
family. Unfortunately, some people have trouble, and they may need
help and understanding. However, policies cannot provide people with
a nuclear family. The best we can do is to remove or limit some of
the obstacles in the way. Doing so will only increase the strength
of nuclear families. I don't see why this is a left-right issue.
However, as with patriotism, the right has sought to anoint itself
as the protector of "family values," eventually coming to believe
its own delusions of grandeur.
Gender: Another non-issue, except when politicians
(almost always on the right) attempt to legislate discrimination.
Can they possibly believe that if we aren't cruel enough to LGBTs
all children will want to grow up that way?
Traditional morality: Is usually the right morality, and
is generally a good guide to living one's life, as it has been for
hundreds or thousands of years. Except that we live in a world where
many people have divergent views on personal morality, in which case
law should only enforce moral views where acts impinge on others'
rights. We have many cases where prohibitions were justified by a
reading of "traditional morality," and those prohibitions have
turned out to be cruel and unnecessary. Again, this is not strictly
a left-right issue, but it is most often the right that wants to
divide people up and persecute or discriminate against those they
disapprove of. Leftists tend to be more wary of power, and more
respectful of diversity.
Capitalism: Is a system that allows individuals (and
groups) to take independent initiative and produce goods and services
that ultimately benefit society. That is a laudable endeavor, one we
should broadly support. However, it is a process which is fundamentally
flawed, but the flaws are such that they can be mitigated with fairly
painless regulation and tax and public spending policies which solve
most of the attendant problems. It would take a huge book to detail
all of these, but for present purposes let's note simply that the
right chafes at any regulations or policies not strictly in favor of
business, and assumes that any limits imposed on business are aimed
at destroying all business. (Unlike right-wing ideologues, actual
businesses often lobby for regulations, especially to guarantee
minimal quality standards and eliminate unscrupulous competitors.
And while no business likes to pay taxes, they do want to have a
viable government to protect property rights, enforce contracts,
and provide sound money.) One problem is that as right-wingers
have increasingly swallowed their own propaganda, they've lost grip
on reality, including any sense of their own very real flaws.
- Fiscal responsibility: I accept that government has a
responsibility to provide sound money, and that doing so imposes
fiscal restraints on government. The Keynesian maxim that government
should spend more than it takes in during recessions and run a modest
surplus during boom times seems like a fair starting point -- and
was practiced in the US between WWII and the Vietnam War. However,
starting with Reagan in 1981, Republicans have repeatedly run up
record deficits while in power, while turning into deficit scolds
when Clinton and Obama were in office -- both sacrificed programs
to reduce deficits, with Clinton turning the only surpluses since
1969. This shouldn't be a left-right issue, but Republican deficits
go to tax breaks for the rich, increasing inequality, and to build
up the military (an important profits program for their donors).
All Scott's plank proves is that Republicans expect to never get
called out for their hypocrisy.
Opportunity: Big difference here. The left supports
free public education, allowing people to develop their skills as
far as they can go. The right wants to make education rare and
expensive, a rung in their hierarchy reserved for their own kind.
America was once touted as a land of equal opportunity, but with
Republican hegemony over the last 40 years has become one of the
world's most inequal societies, and opportunities for all but the
rich have suffered. Education is not the only factor here. Unions
are also important. So is finance that all people can use, to buy
homes and start businesses. These aren't novel ideas. They were
(far from perfectly) incorporated into the GI Bill, which led to
20+ years of record economic growth. Since the Republican-driven
turn to predatory finance and "winner-take-all" oligarchy, with
virtually all productivity gains claimed by the rich, opportunity
and hope have suffered. Republicans like Scott only offer more
stagnation and decay.
- Rugged individualism: A queer, macho-infused term, meant
to celebrate the rare few who beat the odds as opportunity for most
people diminishes, while denying the fundamental truth that nearly
all significant developments are group efforts, facilitated by a
society and culture that encourages initiative. The more opportunity,
the more people will turn into self-styled "rugged individuals," so
I don't see how the left can be accused of wanting to destroy them.
Taming them, maybe. After all, what good does it do to for someone
to achieve great success only to turn into a flaming asshole?
Judeo-Christian values: Not a left-right issue, although
both sides can easily pick values they approve of. Like "traditional
morality," most such values have stood the test of time, and few are
uniquely Judeo and/or Christian. By the way, I always trip over that
phrase, knowing that it is almost always used by Christians who know
naught about Jews and care even less for Judaism, but somehow like
the ecumenical ring of it (without going overboard and acknowledging
related religions like Islam and Baha'i). I often hear people saying
that we could solve all our problems if only people would "open their
hearts" and turn to God and/or Jesus. I appreciate the sentiment, but
have no idea what they are talking about, let alone how it would work.
Turning politically to the left, on the other hand, would express the
values that matter, in a program that is sensible here and now, with
no divine intervention required).
Dissent: This one is pretty rich. Sometimes I think the
only thing the left has ever been able to do is to dissent. Sometimes
dissent triggers a conscience in people with more power, and that
leads to change -- as when civil rights were restored in the 1960s --
but that always starts with a minority expressing dissent. You know
who doesn't like dissent? The right. They're the ones passing "gag
rules" and bans, and threatening demonstrators. Sometimes -- not
often in the US recently, but famously elsewhere -- they form goon
squads to attack demonstrators. Often they let the state do their
dirty work for them. The left will never take away your right to
dissent, because we recognize that dissent is a necessary check
against abuse of power -- even, if we ever get any, our own.
- Free speech: See "dissent," which I read as extending to
the right to assembly and petition, but really starts here. I will
add one thing: the right to free speech has been extended by the
right-wing-dominated Supreme Court to apply to corporations, and
that money they expend on political campaigns is protected as free
speech. This in effect legalizes bribery, making it an assault on
the integrity of democracy. Money has many pernicious effects on
speech. It amplifies some speech at the loss to other, giving
more power to influence to those willing to spend the most (you
can see why the right likes the idea). Advertising is perhaps
the least free speech of all. It would be in the public interest
to curtail it as much as possible: not to prevent the flow of
the ideas expressed, but to limit the distortions introduced by
While most efforts to ban free speech come from the right, the
left is often charged with one of its own, against "hate speech."
It seems to me that one should be able to oppose something without
passing laws against it and prosecuting offenders -- an instinct
that strikes me as much more prevalent on the right. Analogously,
one shouldn't assume that legalizing something (drugs is a major
example) implies endorsement.
- Color blindness: This is a recent complaint from the
right, a weird one given their long support for racial (and many
other forms of) discrimination. The logic is fair, and in the long
run the point is well taken: if we don't officially recognize race,
it should cease to matter, and the scourge of racism will have left
us. However, there are several problems with this, starting with
the bad faith of the people on the right pushing this line. On the
one hand, they seem to want to sweep all evidence of the legacy of
racial discrimination, which was mandated by law over 350 years
and in many cases continued less formally over the last 50 years.
On the other, the complaint about tracking people by race often
comes from people who are complaining about discrimination against
white people, something they wish to prohibit. This is just one of
many categories where the right's capacity to imagine themselves
as victims of discrimination and injustice they regularly practice
on others is simply galling.
Law enforcement: We all agree that we need just and
reasonable laws, and we need them enforced, simply and fairly. But
we have difficulty doing this: some laws are bad (especially against
drugs), and enforcement is often arbitrary and capricious, with some
people largely exempt from scrutiny, while others are singled out
for attention, sometimes to the point of harassment. The task is
greatly complicated by the millions of guns in civilian hands, and
that increases the likelihood of police using their own guns: one
result of this is that over 1,000 Americans are killed by police
each year. The criminal justice system has problems beyond police:
the courts are slow and often prejudiced; the quality of legal
defense is ridiculously variable; the prisons are badly run, and
there is little effort made to equip convicts for their return
to society. And all this takes place in a broader context that
often includes poverty, miseducation, lack of housing and public
health, and much more. The right has this psychology that insists
that crime can be fixed by passing harsher laws, hiring more police,
and allowing them to act more impulsively, especially because they
are unwilling to consider any of the other aspects of the problem
(especially inequality, lack of social services, and guns). Given
their repeated failures, some people on the left suggested that
instead we might redirect some of the money going to police to
other social services that might be more effective. They came up
with a slogan ("defund the police"), and Republicans seized on
that as a threat to terrify their base. It's highly unlikely that
anyone is going to cut police funding anytime soon. Indeed, it's
likely that the reforms needed to improve policing will take more
money, not less. But the real problem is much more systemic, and
that's where we need to turn left for answers. What the right's
been doing just doesn't work.
Religious liberty: Another quaint turn of phrase, one that
sounds like something no one objects to -- freedom of religion, which
for many of us means freedom from religion -- yet means something very
different. Republicans have lately been pushing a line that if someone
can claim that their objections to a law are rooted in their religion,
they shouldn't have to follow the law. Moreover, if one owns a business,
one's religious exemption can be used to set policy that governs employee
benefits (e.g., a Catholic business owner opposed to birth control can
deny employees health insurance which pays for birth control, even though
the federal government requires that all insurance policies provide that
benefit). In practice, so far at least, this "religious liberty" doctrine
has mostly been used to permit certain people to act as bigots, which is
a big part of why Republicans are so enthusiastic about this novel form
of legal reasoning.
Parental involvement in public schools: Another piece of
weasel wording, inoffensive on its surface but designed to allow a few
politically-active right-wing parents to harangue school boards and
educators over policies like masks and banning books and other matter
that for whatever reason offends them. Such people have always been
around, but they've become even more of a plague recently, as Trump
and Fox have riled up the would-be culture warriors to an ever higher
sense of righteousness and persecution, while the right's estimation
of education has shifted from suspicious to downright bothered. In
theory, politically-active left-wing parents could do the same thing,
but they generally have too much respect for education and knowledge
and understanding to stoop so low. (I use "they" instead of "we"
because I've never been a parent. Besides, I still bear scars from
my own horrifying experience of school, which I understand is the
exception rather than the rule for people on the left.)
Private ownership of firearms: Not an issue I care
much about: I think guns are dangerous, wasteful, and stupid, and
I think they cause more problems than they solve, but I'm not keen
on prohibiting things that people crave (e.g., drugs). That said,
the right's obsession with guns is unhealthy, bordering on insanity.
Their paranoia about regulation ensures that many guns will wind up
in the hands of criminals, incompetents, and the mentally ill. Their
"stand your ground" laws turn a reasonable argument for self-defense
into a license to kill. Their embrace of assault weapons makes mass
shootings much more likely. The flood of guns threatens police, and
makes them more likely to shoot unnecessarily. It's only a matter
of time before their rhetoric inspires right-wing militias and "lone
wolves" to attack their imagined enemies. (Oh yeah, that's already
happened, but could get much worse.) And they've made it hard to
do any sort of research on the actual impact of guns in America,
so it's hard to rationally debate even modest reforms.
It bears repeating that Scott's list consists of a bunch of buzz
phrases that have been tuned to elicit emotional responses from their
followers, and possibly befuddlement from anyone not in on their jargon.
Most are so anodyne you might think we have more common ground than is
commonly supposed. On the other hand, Scott omits a long list of things
we do want to change (or even, rarely, destroy -- one I can think of is
the patent system, but most Democrats haven't figured that out yet, as
they look for band-aid solutions to exorbitant drug prices). I wouldn't
trust him to list them anyway, as he clearly has no grasp of who we
are or what we believe.
The introduction is followed by a page of bullet points meant to
illustrate the dire threats facing America. They're short enough I
can quote them (in bold, followed by my notes -- if missing,
just assume I'm laughing, or aghast):
Our government has created the highest debt in human
Americans are afraid to speak their minds for fear of being
silenced and canceled by the woke elitists -- which is why folks
on the right are so timid and circumspect.
Our children are being poisoned by a false political agenda
in their schools
Inflation is a tax placed on us by politicians who waste our
money -- this shows zero understanding of inflation, or of tax.
Our inept withdrawal from Afghanistan dishonored the sacrifices
of thousands of Americans and encouraged our enemies -- so we should
sacrifice more, to deny our folly further?
Our porous southern border is a national crisis
Our cities are overrun by theft, violence, and a 30% increase
Our government is making us less energy independent and killing
jobs -- and that's why we blocked the Green New Deal?
American war fighters are being indoctrinated with left-wing
woke foolishness and kicked out of the military because of the 'Big
Brother' vax mandate
Our government is eroding our work ethic by paying people
not to work
We are allowing biological males to destroy women's
Our kids are taught to hate America and divide each other
by skin color
The FBI is spying on concerned parents who speak out at
school board meetings
Washington's economy is growing, America's economy is
Lethal drugs are pouring into our country from China and
our southern border
Remember, this is a list of what Republicans regard as the worst
problems facing America: nothing about inequality, climate disasters,
a globe-straddling military that constantly sucks us into wars and
other conflicts, environmental degradation, predatory and monopolistic
businesses, loss of labor rights, loss of privacy (including the right
to make reproductive decisions), mass incarceration, racism (except
as affects white people), inadequate health care, rising personal debt
(mostly due to shortchanging education and health care), the growing
assault on public health laws and workers, declining life expectancy.
But if it sounds like all Scott is doing is complaining, read on
to the "11 Points": Republicans have bad ideas too (some staggeringly
so). In the following, the bold is quoted from the top-line
summary, followed by brief comments, usually referring to the following
Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag,
learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best
Public schools will be required to indoctrinate students
in the core pieties of Republicans. Teachers can be fired if they fail
to tow the line. Given this degree of thought control, one wonders why
they'll continue to tout private schools, but they help divert resources
and political support from public schools, and further their stock line
that government is bad and business is good.
Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose
their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms.
Two lines later they have the chutzpah to quote MLK (you know which
quote), but don't dare attribute it (lest you credit an authority who
had less pleasant things to say about America and race). I suppose
it's a measure of progress that they're ducking the issue, but you
still know what they mean.
The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will
end. We will re-fund and respect the police because they, not the
criminals, are the good guys.
They want to rub salt into the wounds caused by police abuse of
power, giving police more immunity, encouraging police to clamp
down on "mostly peaceful protests," and directing prosecutors to
prosecute more cases (except "based on political ideology," which
almost certainly means their supporters can't be charged. They're
not yet running on pardons for Jan. 6 insurrectionists, but that's
where they're heading.
We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and
name it after President Donald Trump.
This is their anti-immigration plank. Enforcement will be more
draconian than ever, including using the military. Reform will
never happen. Dissent will be quelled by "strip[ping] all federal
funding from 'sanctuary cities' and prosecut[ing] any elected
officials who flour our immigration laws."
We will grow America's economy, starve Washington's economy,
and stop Socialism.
Their plan to "stop Socialism" is to simply outlaw it. ("Socialism
will be treated as a foreign combatant which aims to destroy our
prosperity and freedom.") The Washington/America dichotomy is pure
fantasy, but serves their purposes: slash government, push functions
down to the states, or (better still) privatize them). This is also
the place where they promise to force everyone to pay at least some
income tax, regardless of how little income they make, so they will
"have some skin in the game" -- a tax increase on the poor that I've
seen estimated up to $1 trillion over 10 years. They also want a
prohibition on debt ceiling increases ("absent a declaration of
war"), to force balanced budgets on pain of destroying the federal
credit -- something which has never been in doubt despite the record
deficits Republicans have routinely run up.
We will eliminate all federal programs that can be done
locally, and enact term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress.
This expands on their desire to inhibit and eviscerate federal
government. They present a number of bizarre planks. The worst
is probably their extension of the 12-year term limits nostrum
to government civil service employees, making it more difficult
to hire and retain knowledgeable workers. (They make an exception
"for national security reasons," possibly a sign that they realize
the CIA and the military doesn't do anything useful.) Or maybe
the most bizarre is "sell off all non-essential government assets,
buildings, and land, and use the proceeds to pay down our national
debt." There's also an only slightly veiled threat against Social
Security and Medicare, which they assume will go bankrupt. And
these are people who are asking voters to entrust the everyday
workings of the federal government?
We will protect the integrity of American Democracy and
stop left-wing efforts to rig elections.
After all, rigging elections is their job. Still, they're kind of
cagey on how they do it.
We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family
at all costs.
This includes most of their planks on abortion ("a tragedy") but
they talk much more about adoption, including promises that the
crop of unwanted babies will be trafficked through "faith-based
groups." They're also against porn and "deadbeat dads," and want
effective federal laws against obscenity.
Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies.
They continue, "to say otherwise is to deny science," although this
seems to be the only place where they claim science supports their
Americans will be free to welcome God into all aspects of
our lives, and we will stop all government efforts to deny our religious
freedom and freedom of speech.
The operative word here is "our"; yours may be treated differently.
A clue on how to tell the difference is "No tax dollars will be
used to pay for any diversity training or other woke indoctrination
that is hostile to faith." You see here how what they like about
religion isn't the "golden rule" or commandments on forgiveness and
charity, but how convenient it is as a justification for bigotry
and cruelty. They throw in a few planks on social media, like "all
social media platforms that censor speech and cancel people will
be treated like publishers and subject to legal action." Unclear
how they square this with federal laws against obscenity and their
plan to treat socialists as "enemy combatants."
We are Americans, not globalists.
A set of insane foreign policy planks, starting with "A world without
American leadership would be a very dark world," illustrated by the
complete abdication of American leadership that follows: withdrawal
from the UN, extortion against allies that "don't pay their fair share
for their own defense," a "New Monroe Doctrine" which lays claim to
all of the Western Hemisphere, threats against Russia and China, a
promise of punishing wars followed by no help rebuilding, a vow to
"end all imports from Communist China until a new regime honors basic
human rights and freedoms," a return to autarky, and total supplication
to Israel (ironically, the one "ally" that doesn't begin to "pay its
fair share"). Also a plank about taking "climate change seriously, but
not hysterically," adding "we will not adopt nutty policies that harm
our economy or our jobs."
The preamble to the U.S. Constitution starts with a number of good
reasons why the Founders felt that we needed a strong and honest federal
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect
Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the
common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings
of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish
this Constitution for the United States of America.
Given the vagaries of politics, that promise hasn't always been
realized, but we have never before seen as systematic an assault on
the founding principles of this nation as we see in Scott's 11
Steps. They're seeking to impose a thought control regime, from
pre-school on, including the explicit banning of anything socialist
or "woke." This will be enforced by police, who will not be held to
account for any abuses of power or even lapses of judgment. They
will undermine the ability of the government to regulate business
and markets, destabilizing an economy that will shrink substantially
as they eviscerate government, which will be hampered by shrinking
trade, and which will likely collapse completely when the government
is forced to default on its debts. The foreign policy planks are
likely to plunge the US into further wars abroad, and while having
a nation of morons armed to the gills may deter anyone else from
invading here, it's likely to deteriorate into an even more gruesome
civil war. And in all this "doom and gloom" I'm sure I'm skipping
over other calamities (e.g., natural and manmade disasters caused
by neglect to critical infrastructure and the hubristic ignorance
over climate change). And somehow Scott thinks his plan is what it
takes to "rescue America." More like finish it off.
I used to joke that Newt Gingrich's famous 1994 publicist stunt
should have been called "The Contract on America." But what Gingrich
aimed for was pretty placid compared to the wrath and fury Scott seeks
to unleash. And it's not that the Republican Party is all that much
crazier now than it was back then. It's sobering to read how deranged
its leading "thinkers" were in 1994, or even in 1980 when Reagan ran,
or even in 1964 when Goldwater was nominated. What's changed isn't so
much the Republicans as the ability of the nation to keep chugging
along as they did their worst. That's harder to do now because the
wounds and scars are mounting up. Yet somehow, Republicans seem to
be able to escape scrutiny, let alone blame, for their many mistakes
over the last 40+ years, and having gotten away with their act so
far, they see no reason to change. They claim to have exclusive
claim to patriotism and religion, even though there is no lack of
Democrats with equal claims. They claim to represent business, even
though business invariably grows more under Democrats. They claim
to represent aggrieved workers, even though most of the problems
workers have were brought on by Republicans. They talk about things
like deficits and energy independence, even though the numbers are
strictly opposed. They claim to be "color blind," but where's the
evidence for that? They lie, they cheat, and they steal, yet the
monied media never holds them accountable. So what's to stop them
from doubling down and doing even worse? At least back when GW Bush
was president (and Karl Rove was his "brain"), they tried to disguise
their sinister plots (remember Healthy Forests?).
Yet during the 40-year era from Reagan to Trump, they managed to
change America a lot, in ways almost always for the worse, but in
ways they wanted. Inequality is greater now than ever before. In the
world, America is more loathed but also more feared than ever before.
And even when they crashed the economy, it bounced back more profitable
than ever for the very rich. And even when they blew trillions on wars
that accomplished nothing, they kept building back their arsenal. So
why are soldiers like Scott so miserable? Why do they sound so desperate?
Won't they ever be satisfied? It seems: no. They're in it for the fight,
so they're going to keep kicking no matter how badly they got you down.
Like the scorpion, it's their nature. Reminds me of an old Mort Sahl
joke. He explained that Charlton Heston once said he hopes that his
children will some day live in a fascist America. Sahl added: "if he
were more perceptive, he'd be a happy man."
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