Even if it wasn’t an actual “on the books” crime, what Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing to America feels criminal and that the fact that there aren’t already laws making what’s happening illegal is because it’s so monstrous, no one imagined Americans of any stripe would be capable of doing such a thing. Or thinking it. Donald Trump is the first POTUS since our founding who stood in the way of the transition of power – the most essential part of our democracy. The Republican Party is the first American political party to make destroying our democracy its mission. Let’s be crystal clear here: what the GOP’s doing isn’t a political act, it’s a criminal act being done for a political purpose. The difference isn’t semantic.
At no point has America’s diverse and diversifying majority EVER declared war of any kind – cultural or political – on the white minority. Diversity kinda makes that impossible. American exceptionalism is a very real thing but it’s not white guys and their money. It’s what James Madison was describing when he insisted that “E Pluribus Unum” be our motto and that it be prominently placed on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one” describes exactly what makes America unique among nations. While every other nation on earth is a product of a millennium at least of local tribes like Alamanni, Franks, Angles, Ostrogoths and Visigoths slowly forging into a nation as “Germans”, America (after European pathogens wiped out most of America’s natives) is a product of all the other nations of the world. We all arrived here as strangers to these shores bringing our diverse cultures, imaginations and dreams.
The Big Lie is a war upon all of that.
Just as Donald Trump is the logical extension of everything Republican taken to its corrupt extreme, the Big Lie is Newt Gingrich’s culture war on progressives taken to its extreme. “Few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise.” And Trump’s rise is driven by white culture’s terror at the idea of becoming a minority in what they insist is “their country”. Gingrich “pioneered a style of partisan combat—replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism—that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction. Gingrich’s career can perhaps be best understood as a grand exercise in devolution—an effort to strip American politics of the civilizing traits it had developed over time and return it to its most primal essence.”
That’s McKay Coppins writing in the Atlantic back in the “innocent” days of 2018.
In a June 24, 1978 speech given to a meeting of College Republicans in Atlanta, Gingrich told the next generation of Republicans that they “would have to learn to ‘raise hell,’ to stop being so ‘nice,’ to realize that politics was, above all, a cutthroat ‘war for power’ [emphasis mine]—and to start acting like it.” That war is the very same war we all feel simmering beneath our feet. It’s real. It’s being fought for keeps. If we, the majority lose it, we won’t lose forever, but the price of getting America back will rise exponentially. The war will get far more bloody, expensive and harder to build back afterward.
That, too, is a product of our diversity – the fact that America won’t roll over to authoritarianism the way Germany or Russia did. Germans fell in line because they’re Germans and that’s what Germans do. Russians have a long history of corrupt government – regardless of its form – and, so, approach all government with the cynical expectation of corruption. In America though, Black peoples’ experience is different from the Latino experience which is different from the Asian experience. Throw in the LGBT experience, the Jewish experience, the Muslim experience, the Sikh experience and the Native American experience to name but a few. Every last one of our diverse tribes has been criminally abused by the white tribe in multiple ways. The rest of America’s tribes didn’t skew the playing field to benefit the white tribe, the white tribe did that to benefit itself.
The Progressive agenda seeks to breathe as much life into “E Pluribus Unum” as possible. The conservative agenda seeks to stand in E Pluribus Unum’s way. We’re fighting the same Civil War we fought in the 1860’s – which we fought because we cut a deal with slavery at the nation’s founding. Slavery’s bottom line is stolen labor. The slave master gets the slave’s work output for nothing (minus the cost of clothing, housing and feeding the slave). The American South had three cash crops vying to make it rich: tobacco, sugar cane and king cotton. The problem was, all three were incredibly labor intensive to get them from field to factory. Had the Confederacy not had slavery available as an option – if plantation owners had been forced to pay a fair market rate for all the labor they used – there would never have been a Confederate States of America. A Confederate Worker’s Paradise maybe…
America’s white, Christian, land-owning founders made a second rookie mistake (and, when it came to founding democracies, our founders were rookies): they wrote “All men are created equal” but didn’t mean it. They certainly meant the “men” part. Women were excluded from most of the benefits of citizenship. But, by “All men”, the white, Christian, land owning men who wrote our founding documents meant only white, Christian land owning men who looked like them. That put the stupid idea into some peoples’ heads that white people and their money is what makes America exceptional.
Our democracy’s current crisis didn’t just fall from the sky fully formed. We got here via myriad drips and drabs that became a gush as the Reagan years ended and the Right Wing Money Machine saw demographic extinction rushing at them as America diversified more rapidly than anticipated. Nothing seems to have spurred white terror to action quite like having a Black president. That caused the right wing culture warriors’ heads to explode. It irked them so much that they saw hitching their wagon to Trump as acceptable – even knowing that Trump’s relationship with Putin posed a grave national security threat.
The Big Lie’s goal is to make Trump POTUS again and the Republican Party the beneficiary of permanent minority rule. Both of those stand well outside the law. The GOP, having started this war, have always fought it accordingly. We keep blaming the Democrats for not fighting back the same way, but the Democrats are a lot like the residents of Pearl Harbor as they slept peacefully in their beds on a quiet Sunday morning in December 1941. The residents of Pearl Harbor didn’t know it, but Japan was about to wage war on them (and us). The residents of Pearl Harbor hadn’t declared war on Japan but Japan had declared war (without saying so out loud) on America – and the folks at Pearl Harbor were about to take the tip spear first.
The “big lie” back then would have been “Japan is our pal – they’d never even think about doing such a thing!” Back then, we’d have said such terrible things because we were disloyal (Americans and humans). The same goes for now. To believe or propagate the Big Lie is to take up arms against America. It is a brazen act of war and needs to be treated as such.
The sooner we stop treating Republicans as legitimate politicians spewing a legitimate political opinion, the sooner we’ll arrest our plunge into authoritarian fecklessness. With two exceptions – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the entire Republican Party has thrown its lot in with corruption, treason and traitors. They must pay dearly for that in the way they understand best: losing everything. Even Cheney and Kinzinger must atone if they really want to have second acts. Their earlier support of Trump is a big part of how and why Trump got to where he is.
The Big Lie is monstrous. It’s bullshit cubed, squared, raised to a power of a quintillion and then pumped up with steroids. No one speaking it does so out of ignorance. They do so as an act of war against the rest of us. It’s time we understand them – and what they’ve done. We need to respond in kind.
We need to return fire and keep returning that fire until the fire beneath the Big Lie is permanently extinguished. Fortunately, the people we’re up against, cruel, racist, bigoted and ignorant as they are, are also incompetent. The Big Lie is an act of war and also an act of earth shaking stupidity.