The Right Has Collapsed Into Self-Pity. Don’t Indulge Them.
Well, good news: Conservatives are calling for “Unity”, which is the closest Republicans can ever come to admitting defeat.
Their voter base may be incapable of hearing a concession speech without going on a murderous rampage, but there’s no way Republicans would ever mention “bipartisanship” if they weren’t also tacitly admitting their last 3–4 coup efforts failed, and we’ve bought ourselves a solid couple weeks before they resume trying to murder us.
Thanks, Ya’ll Qaeda.
Yes friends, after four years of FUCK YOUR FEELINGS and GO CRY ABOUT IT, SNOWFLAKE and QUIT BEING A PUSSY, IT’S JUST THE FLU, after triumphantly laughing at the gassing and beating of peaceful protesters, after deliberately sabotaging vital American infrastructure weeks before the election in an attempt to invalidate millions of mail-in ballots, after weeks of premeditated and bald-faced lies of “voter fraud,” after sixty-plus stillborn legal battles demanding judges award Trump millions of votes for absolutely no reason, after Trump was caught begging Georgian election officials to “find” 11,780 votes, and after an absurd scheme to invalidate unfavorable electoral votes resulted in a terrorist attack that left five dead and our democracy shaken, Republicans are generously informing us that there’s a lot of blame to go around on both sides, and the real victims here are all the white men wrongly associated with racists.
What a bunch of assholes.
But as easy as it is to casually dismiss this as “Republicans being Republicans,” this is far more serious than petty sniping over partisan grudges. This was a direct assault on our democracy, and it was aided and abetted not just by the high-level politicians that deliberately nurtured homegrown terrorists for personal gain, but by the individual Republican voters that are currently trying to justify, downplay, or ignore the crimes they’ve been wholly complicit in.
If they get away with it now, they will do it again. Eventually, they will succeed. People will die.
In the past, I’ve argued that the most telling sign conservatives aren’t serious about confronting racism is how they always frame the problem in terms of their own victimhood; if a truly non-racist person was constantly being “mislabeled” a racist, they would want to change their behavior, not whine about its consequences.
The same principle applies here.
If they were remotely serious about preserving our democracy, if this were about anything other than their personal gain, they would be horrified at what’s happening, drop the partisan bullshit, and join us in ripping out this corruption root and stem with zero regard to how bad it makes their team look in the short term.
But they’re not, so they won’t.
Instead, expect a nonstop pity-party where conservatives, as always, make this all about themselves. We’ll foil a steady stream of inept terrorist plots — as always, thank God they’re stupid — which will all be dismissed as a pack of highly organized and coordinated Lone Wolves, and if you think that’s in any way connected to the 70 million Republicans that enthusiastically supported this paranoid racist authoritarian sociopath that keeps repeatedly attacking our democracy, well maybe you’re the extremist, friend.
Make no mistake, in the coming weeks, this is exactly how they will gaslight America into ignoring and normalizing their unforgivable crimes.
Here’s what they’ll do — or rather, what they’re already doing:
1. Immediately Collapse Into Self-Pity And Accuse You Of Bullying Them
Here’s an ironclad rule of human nature: Bullies are fragile. Much more than you’d think. There’s a 1:1 correlation between how much of a sadistic tyrant someone is when granted power over others and how shamelessly pathetic they become when that power is stripped away.
Every time Republicans have been in power, they’ve adopted this condescending posture of maturity, stoicism, and independence, self-sufficient Providers whose implacable work ethic stuns and amazes the lazy, whiny liberals that just want free money. They’re ideological Darwinist, deeply in love with Survival Of The Fittest, a world of winners and losers, of free, unfettered markets, of Free Speech and Open Debate, and if you happen to be a loser, tough shit. It’s because you’re not good enough. Go cry somewhere else.
And when they lose, this happens.
Every time a simpering Republican sniffles about how those big mean bullies in the media are censoring their free speech, my mind instantly goes back to Lafayette Square, to the George Floyd protests, to every deranged Mussolini rant Trump gave on Twitter, when Trump and his supporters LMAO’ed at police gassing and beating peaceful protesters.
They loved the phrase “lmao”.
This is what they supported when they were in power. This is what made them lmao.
Remember that every single time they play the victim.
2. Exploit How Ludicrous Trump’s Offenses Were To Make The Charges Sound Ridiculous
It started as a joke.
“Haha, it’s kind of genius how Republicans’ legal strategy is “proudly commit so many obvious crimes the people enforcing the law look crazy.”
Then I realized that, no, this really is their strategy. And it’s working.
Trump was banned from Twitter because he was using it to mobilize terrorist attacks on our own government to remain in illegally power. That is both insane and factually accurate. Even now it’s hard for me to type it without feeling hysterical or hyperbolic.
But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.
So naturally the whole “trying to topple the government” thing gets swept under the rug in favor of blandishments about Free Speech and Censorship. Should a person lose millions of Twitter followers, maybe even their job, just because they have a difference of opinion? About dissolving our democracy?
Here’s something I’ve been seeing a lot of on White People Facebook: A long, indignant list of ways Trump and his minions have been sanctioned, censored, or otherwise punished for the many bad things they’ve done, presented as if the sheer volume of consequences is proof of some nefarious conspiracy and not, you know, because they did tons of bad things in plain sight for four consecutive years.
Racism is a pretty clear example of this. One go-to argument I’m seeing a lot of is “How dare the Radical Left lump us in with racists!” and demand “proof” that Trump’s a racist.
Here, most people will bring up Charlottesville, or calling Mexicans rapists, or the fact that he thought Obama was a Kenyan spy, and the (definitely not racist) Republican will helpfully explain that none of that is racist because they said so.
But for me, the most egregious, cut-and-dry, absolutely indefensible example was when Trump actually Retweeted a video of an old man on a golf cart with a TRUMP 2020 sign looking directly into the camera and screaming WHITE POWER.
Boom. There. No debate. No excuses. This is racist. If you don’t think that’s racist, it’s because you are a racist. Period.
Yet…the fact that it’s so utterly on-the-nose makes it feel slightly absurd. Same as with his efforts to steal the election; We’ve caught the bastard trying to cheat on tape twice, yet still his supporters flatly deny indisputable evidence. And let’s not even get into the Gordian Knot of the Russian Omniscandal.
But that’s exactly the point: Through sheer attrition, Trump and his followers are trying to grind down our standards and our stamina by committing an endless string of public offenses and shrug every one off with “So?” until we’re expecting to take the hint that this is the new normal.
It’s not. Call them out. Don’t play their game.
3. Downplay the severity of their actions by passing them off as normal.
America’s best-worst idea has always been the idea that regional armed militias should be free to violently overthrow the government under extremely vague pretenses whenever they feel like it.
It is not a very good idea.
I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining all the reasons why post-Taliban Afghanistan isn’t a shining beacon for the future of the free world, but I will emphasize that, as nakedly ridiculous as this is, it’s a core pillar of the legal and political philosophy of millions of Americans. In the fatter states.
America has been a victim of its own success — our first Revolution went off so well that generation after generation took it as a given that casual terrorism is a great problem-solver. The right to go on a shooting rampage on no grounds other than Something Something Tyranny shall not be abated.
That’s why the romantic mythos of the Confederacy, despite being nothing more than a failed rebellion by backstabbing traitors that murdered their own brothers in cold blood so they could enslave millions of Black people, is so hard to shake. That’s why uncles all over Facebook will unironically post murder fantasies about killing federal agents if they ever come to take his guns. That’s why, every time we have any form of natural or unnatural disaster, people run out to buy more guns and more ammo. That’s why, in a nation of laws, we will actually let white people illegally occupy land as long as they wave around guns and tell us how above the law they are.
Lawlessness and entitlement has been baked into the identity of mush-brained hicks that cling to the Second Amendment because they’re too stupid to use the First. Nobody told them that owning a gun is in no way an achievement or that terrorism is illegal for White people too, regardless of whether or not they say “Something Something Tyranny” before they do it.
So while virtually any person born outside that culture can pretty intuitively piece together that it’s probably illegal to lynch the Vice President, for these guys, homicide is just harmless mischief. Combine that with plain-vanilla stupidity and a whole Applebee’s worth of white privilege, and they will argue that we’re blowing this out of proportion.
4. Argue That Any Form Of Repercussions For Their Actions Are “Divisive” and “A Needless Distraction”
(Note: For maximum immersion, I strongly suggest you have the Skyrim Battle Music playing in the background and abruptly turn it on and off depending on whether or not a Republican is trying to murder you or complain about being censored.)
Imagine, for a moment, that you and I are having a heated argument with a gun laying on a table beside us. At one point, in a fit of anger, I grab the gun, aim it at you, and pull the trigger multiple times, only to realize the gun was unloaded. I then, like a guard in Skyrim, jarringly switch from Combat Mode to Conversation Mode.
You are not only expected to pretend none of that just happened, but I, your would-be murderer, will actually grow indignant at the fact that you’re calling the police. Why are you being such a jerk? The gun wasn’t even loaded, Snowflake!
This is how corrupt and entitled the GOP has become. They don’t just expect to do whatever they want without consequences, they actually expect you to help them fuck you over.
When Donald Trump was impeached for abusing his power to force a foreign government to launch an investigation specifically designed to attack his greatest political threat, his best defense was “read the transcript”.
Yeah, that’s, uh, what you’re getting impeached over, buddy. Trump was so stupidly corrupt he confused his defense with the evidence against him. It was like the BTK killer telling the cops to check the return address on the threatening letters he’d been sending them.
So after waffling back and forth between about 140 increasingly feeble defenses over the course of a couple days, Senate Republicans remembered that nothing mattered because they were presiding over their own trial. McConnell didn’t even bother to pretend to care. He flat-out told us Trump’s acquittal was a foregone conclusion before the trial even began.
They commit the crime. It benefited them and hurt us. Yet not only did they had the audacity to expect us to “debate” whether or not this was okay (it was, on the legal basis of Fuck You), they were allowed to set their own punishment. (None.)
Keep in mind these are the exact same people that get visibly horny when talking about shooting a burglar for trying to steal their Limited Edition 1999 NASCAR collector’s plates. These are the same people calling for soldiers armed with bayonetes to gun down and/or disembowel protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in the name of “law and order.”
If Republicans vote to impeach Trump a second time, it will not be out of some newfound respect for the rule of law, but because A) he kinda tried to lynch them, and B) all of their job contracts were renewed at the exact moment Trump lost his.
But after impeachment, when the inevitable legal reckonings come for Trump, his family, and all his enablers, people less universally despised by the public, we’re gonna see a repeat of this same warped sense of entitlement.
Republicans will once again demand to be their own judges at their own trials. They’ll strip you of your right to vote and demand you “debate” whether or not cheating is okay, but only when they do it. (SPOILER ALERT: Yes, and also you now owe them $500 for censoring their right to commit voter fraud.)
5. Leaning Heavily On “Both Sidesing” and Whataboutism
Fact: All opinions are equal. The Universe takes great care to ensure that all humans are equipped with preset, unchangeable positions on every issue that are based on totally arbitrary criteria. Attacking or belittling another person’s opinions just because they’re terrible is just another form of prejudice.
There’s probably no single lie in American politics more dangerous than the innocuous platitude that Both Sides are wrong, neither side is right, and so now that we’ve decisively lost and all our backup coups failed, let’s suddenly rediscover the magic of compromise.
This is one of those tropes beloved by lazy people who want to appear more informed than they actually are because it superficially sounds thoughtful and even-handed, and would probably net you a solid B+ if it was your thesis in an entry-level community college media literacy class.
It’s a ham-fisted appeal to the speaker’s intellectual vanity that positions them as above the partisan fray without having to learn anything, present an argument, defend a position, risk embarrassment, or do literally anything but provide mind-blowing insights like “America is deeply polarized” and “Both Sides have strong opinions.”
Of course, if you think about it for longer than zero seconds, you start noticing all sorts of glaring problems, but this tactic isn’t aimed at critical thinkers, it’s aimed at people that don’t participate in politics but are nonetheless exhausted by it. They complain about the problem but don’t care about the solution. They just want the noise to stop. So they’ll gladly throw up their hands and say “whatever, I don’t care, I’m done with this shit.”
We’re already seeing this take root among the Right’s response to the January 6th attacks when, upon discovering their “at least Trump voters won’t riot and murder police officers with the American flag while tasing themselves in the balls if they lose” memes were aging poorly, responded by blaming everything on BLM and antifa.
Let me put on my Surprised Face.
You may recall that after the death of George Floyd, there was a period of like a week that saw some rioting and looting in a few cities. I won’t deny that it happened, but holy shit were Republicans thrilled to take that ball and run with it.
The decentralized nature of the rioting and the logistical hurdles in accurately assessing the damage or ascribing blame gave them carte blanche to go hog-wild with every single racial stereotype about Black criminality they’d been dying to indulge.
Over the coming months, the right-wing media bubble transformed a handful of isolated riots perpetuated by opportunistic bad actors that clearly had zero interest in the BLM movement into an unstoppable horde of rampaging Black criminals, mindlessly torching entire cities to the ground for months on end like Genghis Khan for absolutely no reason.
Okay, I’m being unfair. They had a reason. On the very rare occasion someone would ask nitpicky libtard questions like “Why are they doing this?”, the answer would usually be “because Blacks are too stupid to govern themselves, so the Democrats, along with the Jews, invented the myth of racism to trick them into doing their bidding.”
So there’s that.
I’m saying all this because to these people, BLM, along with antifa, don’t exist as multifaceted political organizations run by complex human beings working towards coherent, comprehensible goals, most of which are very reasonable. To the Right, they’re omnipotent boogeymen you can conveniently blame for everything, glorified algebraic variables to be popped in to respond to any criticism whatsoever regardless of context.
Which is why, as the horror the January 6th coup unfolded, the GOP’s first instinct wasn’t to protect their country, but to reflexively martyr themselves over the Leftist Hypocrisy of treating a goddamn military junta as a more pressing issue than claiming screengrabs from Die Hard were footage from today’s BLM riot.
Except the BLM riots, such as they were, had virtually nothing in common with the January 6th attack. The differences are so obvious and so stark that, once again, I feel like I’m insulting your intelligence by spelling it out, but since it’s 2021 and can’t take anything for granted, here we are:
The BLM protests were sprawling, decentralized, and leaderless, emerging organically in dozens of cities across the country in response to a horrific murder captured on film that resonated with millions of Black Americans. They were peaceful, they were coherent, and they involved many more people. There was no mastermind behind them, nobody to flip the “Riot/Don’t Riot” lightswitch on or off. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know exactly where some of the rioting began or ended, or even whether or not it was provoked by the police.
One was an armed, coordinated, premeditated terrorist coup lead by the President with the intent of overthrowing the government by murdering opposition leaders that left five dead. The “peaceful” protesters were calling to overturn an election they lost for absolutely no reason. We know exactly who was involved, what their roles were, how they stood to benefit.
They are not two sides of the same coin. BLM and right-wing seditionists are not two coequal extremes capable of finding common ground. One side is trying to assert the basic rights they, as both American citizens and as human beings, are entitled to. Their “demands” are simple and reasonable. The other side is god damned hillbilly terrorist death cult lead by a washed-up game show host.
By now, you’ve no doubt noticed a pattern here: Projection. The underlying assumption that our priorities, our values, are as selfish, petty, and negotiable as their own. That our sense of right and wrong is more preoccupied with scoring imaginary points in a game everyone hates than the human impact of our policies. That deep down, we’re just as ugly as them.
To that I can only say: Grow the fuck up. We have real work to do.
This is the single biggest waste of time and resources imaginable. By the time Biden takes the Oath Of Office, nearly a half-million Americans will be dead from COVID. Our image abroad has been irreparably tarnished. Nothing has been done about police brutality. Unemployment and mass evictions are about to crater the economy and damn tens of millions to a lifetime of poverty and struggle through no fault of their own.
These are real problems. They would present astronomical challenges even to a “normal” Presidency run by actual experts. America does not fly on autopilot while you waste time dicking around with conspiracy theories, flame wars, and armed treason. Nobody promised us we’d be on top forever.
This can’t continue. We can’t keep pretending this is normal. Something has to give, and it has to give soon.
And the truth is that, even as I talk about “consequences” for Republican voters, I have no idea what those would entail beyond moral chastisement. Censoring them is a good start, but it’s not enough.
We need to completely delegitimize this ideological Eraserhead Baby called “American conservatism.” We need to completely deconstruct our entire political spectrum. We need to stop treating childish bullshit as a valid worldview. We need to stop tolerating anti-intellectualism and vulgar populism. We need a more assertive message, a more muscular liberalism that strengthens our country with the moral clarity and confidence of vision this moment demands.
We need to kill Left and Right so that Right and Wrong may live.