The Republican Party Is What Happens When Bad Ideas And Thinking Metastasize

The reason Republicans have to rely on gerrymandering, voter suppression and terrible legislation to win elections is because nobody except them will vote for their ideas. To be clear, the only problem Republicans see looming in America’s future is diversity and the loss of political power that diversity will cost them. They see a loss of political power as a “cost” rather than as what must happen if America is ever going to live up to its full E Pluribus Unum potential as the greatest experiment ever in human self government. The fact is, conservative America doesn’t want America to live up to that potential. They want “All men are created equal” to mean what it meant to the country’s white, Christian, land-owning founders — just them and only them. That is originalism. A very bad idea (because it’s bullshit). Originalism isn’t the idea itself, originalism is the bad idea’s manifestation out here in reality. The idea is a toxic cocktail of racism, bigotry, misogyny, magical thinking and outright bullying. Want to know what happens to someone who swallows this idea?

Look around. You can practically smell the cancer.

This awful idea — that America is some white peoples’ homeland (aside from the Native American population white peoples’ pathogens obliterated) — flies in the face of reality. Europe is white, Christian America’s homeland. And, while the organizing principles that knitted themselves into our Constitution flowed from the French Enlightenment, some of those principles also flowed from pure, unadulterated greed. The entire southern economy was built on stolen labor — slavery. That is what slavery is ultimately, stolen labor. A slaver wants a slave to work for zero pay. Sure, the slaver will have to feed, clothe and house the slave, but (the fact that slavery thrived in America proves the point), those costs must have been negligible compared to the profit one could make off the actual slaves themselves.

To this day, people will argue — thinking it’s a good argument — that, without slavery, the south could never have had an economy and thus neither could Early America. First, that means America can only happen with slavery in the picture. Bullshit. Most of Europe got rid of slavery and built their economies just fine without it. They may have enslaved the lower classes indirectly and in a thousand other ways, but, at least they quit buying and selling humans in public. Republicans don’t want Americans learning Critical Race Theory because, being conservatives, they want America to live in the past but they don’t want America to examine the past (because then they wouldn’t want to live in it). If conservatives really believed that getting all Americans to live in the past was a good thing, they’d package it that way.

Conservatives are very good at packaging things. Being cynical, they understand how to direct message. The world is black and (especially) white to them. Whatever they feel matters more than any fact ever could. Therefore, the Truth is whatever they say It is. If, they say “Mission Accomplished” then whatever the mission is, as far as the Republicans are concerned, that mission is as “accomplished” as it’s ever going to be. Of course, the mission wasn’t accomplished. We should never have invaded Iraq — another awful idea. We should never have changed our objectives on the fly in Afghanistan.

Bad ideas flow from Republicans like pus from a wound. Trickle down economics? Bad idea. Tax cuts for the wealthy? Bad idea. Refusal to admit climate change is real and it’s being sped up by human activity? Bad idea. Making church and state the same thing? Bad idea. Poll taxes? Bad idea. Separate But Equal? Bad idea. Slavery itself? Horrible idea! Segregation? Bad idea. Refusing women the vote? Bad idea. Citizens Unlimited? Bad idea. Making Donald Trump their 2016 nominee despite knowing Russia owned him (as GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy himself put it: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”) Bad idea. Obstructing justice on Trump’s behalf? Bad idea. Taking part in the January 6 insurrection? Bad idea.

I could go on… and on… and on.

As the Reagan years waned, the Right Wing Money saw diversity’s handwriting on the wall of America’s future. That terrified them because it meant that after 200 years of bamboozling the rest of America into believing that “All men are created equal” referred only to them, the rest of America was done with being bamboozled. America has always been a great idea poorly executed because white people selfishly held America back. Fortunately, that bad idea has run its course.

The only real idea conservatives and Republicans have in their heads is permanent minority rule. That would be originalism’s natural, organic conclusion: the “originals” get to run America forever just because they say so. Talk about a crap idea! That is what has been metastasizing all along in real time. Unable to get the Constitution itself to go along with their bullying, Republicans in Texas devised a way for ordinary citizens to do the hard work of keeping women in their place. Republicans in the rest of America have already seized on this cancerous idea and begun to metastasize it even further. They want to make this cancer even more cancerous still.

What makes this idea even worse — from the conservative perspective — is that the short term gains (putting women in their place) will be superseded by electoral oblivion when those same women show up en masse to vote out every Republican they can. It is a very bad idea to take away anyone’s rights; they’re not going to take it well — or take it PERIOD. The Republicans probably expect to slowly squeeze the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness out of America but they’re going to be shocked by what America does.

In all the places where authoritarianism and fascism succeeded, it did so in homogenous environments like Germany where everyone (fascists and non fascists) were German. Their families were German (or proto-German) for a millennium at least. Their whole culture was homogenous. Same goes for any place where authoritarian power ruthlessly asserted itself: it’s always done so in a relatively homogenous culture. That’s not the case in America. For the first time ever in human history, a nation has been slowly building itself using other nations to supply the people. That’s the whole point of America and the American dream: anyone from anywhere can come here and — provided they’re willing to put in the sweat equity — reinvent themselves and their futures. In America, the past is NOT prologue.

The world has flocked to America — bringing its great ideas with it. America is what happens when great ideas flourish. But, our present is what happens when a bad idea — permanent minority rule — tries to bully a good one: diversity. The best way to deal with a cancer is to either radiate it out of existence or excise it outright as soon as possible. That is exactly what America must do.

Because it’s a really good idea.

Republicans Are The Spoiled Children Of American Politics

Here in America, our family motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up on one. The majority of the family has figured out that the family really and truly does best when more of the family prospers versus when, say, only a few members of the family prosper. As anyone born into a multi-child family will tell you, birth order matters in strange ways. It creates odd expectations and artificial friction depending on where in the birth order one was birthed and how the family one was birthed into itself thinks about the importance of birth order.

Republicans like to think that because Northern European, Christian, white men synthesized, articulated and memorialized various ideals plucked from the French Enlightenment into our founding documents (while failing to live up to those very same ideals) that THEY and only THEY should forever be the “keepers” of that “founding flame”. That IS what “originalism” is all about. It’s a first-born male child thinking he personally did something to make himself that first-born male child. It’s George W. Bush being born on third base and thinking he’d hit a triple. “Here’s how it was when WE wrote it up the way WE wanted it to be; how it was then is how it must forever be — because we say so”.

Imagine writing “All men are created equal” while actually meaning only “white, Protestant, Christian, land-owning men with Northern European roots”. That bit of ignorant, cultural hegemony happened in spite of the new, expansive thinking inspired by the French Enlightenment. But then, ideals never drove the quest to settle North America, making a lot of money did. Once Europe realized that North America was a thing and not just a passageway to the Far East, their mandate was to exploit it for the benefit of their royal and commercial sponsors. And, exploit it they did. By the time these Europeans began agreeing that “All men are created equal”, they’d already been living on and claiming title to property that wasn’t theirs for well over a hundred years. Not too, too long thereafter, they’d articulate that bit of bullshit as “Manifest Destiny”.

The thing though about growing families? They’re dynamic by nature. They change. They evolve. Though they start as one thing, they become something else over time via intermarriage with other families from other cultures. Our individual genomes are good at matching up dominant gene traits so as to perpetuate them in the collective genome. While a degree of specialization can be a good thing in a family’s genetic makeup, that can be a trap, too. We’re really not meant to inter-breed with family. Unless we think turning into the Spanish aristocracy’s a good thing.

What makes America exceptional — American Exceptionalism is a very real thing — is our E Pluribus Unum diversity. It’s the whole rest of the family that both arrived here in time but who also were born here same as the arrogant white men who assume that they’re being born here matters more. Think of how much better the American family would be if one of its family members didn’t keep threatening to blow up station wagon with all of us inside it.

I don’t know about you, but the image I keep getting in my head every time I hear a Republican lie or dissemble about their stone cold intention to destroy our democracy is of a spoiled little boy, his arms folded arrogantly across his chest, his lip thrust forward defiantly. He’s saying something like “You’re not the boss of me” or “I like beer” or “Stop the steal”.

Why Change Is Anathema To Conservatives

I take conservatives at their word. They call themselves “conservatives” because their mission can best be summed up with that word: conservatives want to CONSERVE. Nothing is more important to a conservative than “what is” except for “what was“. What “was” really is the target — the past is what any conservative wants to conserve or as much of the past that still remains in the present. If they could suspend time and capture this moment in amber — and then force the rest of the world to live inside that frozen amber — that would make them supremely happy. White supremely happy. That’s the part of our human past conservatives point to with pride — when the descendants of white Northern Europeans ran America with zero interference from Black or brown people and also women. The Confederacy remains a high water mark in white culture TO white culture. In fact, I bet that if there was some way to put a “Bring Back Slavery” referendum on the ballot in some crazy Republican-run state, some Republican would do it, knowing that every other Republican now thought he was a god.

By its very nature, conservatism resists change at all costs. Whatever change it agrees to, it agrees to gradually and unwillingly. Conservatives know that change doesn’t just happen. It begins, often, with curiosity in the face of a problem: “Why are things the way they are (broken) — and what can we do to fix them or make them work better?” Conservatism will organically assert that the old way still works (“If it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it”) when, in fact, the old way NEVER worked for a significant portion of the population — the part that wasn’t rich, white and Christian. What conservatives mean is “If it ain’t broke for US, we have zero intention of letting YOU ‘fix it’.” All change, conservatives understand, begins with “new information”. Add “new information” to any environment and the environment instantly changes. Immediately, the old environment is gone — transformed into something, well, “new” because of that new information.

That terror has always been behind the conservative refusal to ever go along with sex education for kids. Right off the bat, the conservative assumption was that a young person armed with information about sex and their own sexuality would do the obvious: use it to start having informed sex. Or, worse, a young person armed with good information about human sexuality might go to the worst possible extreme. They’ll come out of the closet or confess to masturbating or, worst of all, find a modicum of happiness and contentment within their own skins. That’s the hold moral authority (usually in the form of a religious institution) has over many of us: they get to tell US what happiness is rather than each of us seeking the happiness that best suits us.

The last thing conservativism wants from those under its thumb is any sort of independent thinking. That’s ironic considering how married conservatives are to their notion that THEY are the “independent thinkers”. But, independent thinking and conservatism are mutually exclusive propositions. The commercial interests that started the American experiment — before the French Enlightenment had a chance to temper some of that exploitative thinking into at least the notion that “All men are created equal” — were conservative in their thinking. They didn’t see this continent as a place where everyone might be free, they saw it as a place where THEY might be free — at everyone else’s expense. Good thing the rest of the world grasped the magnificence of America’s founding concepts — the Black people the white people enslaved especially. Even better that they tolerated white people expropriating this magnificent idea for themselves as long as they did without surrendering. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

What’s changing — what’s making conservatives rise up in full grievance kabuki makeup — is that at long last America is beginning to realize the greatness of its ideals. That will not require a single white person losing what they have. In fact, it will make what they have even better. As more people — across the full spectrum of e pluiribus unum — benefit and prosper, the more fully EVERYONE will. Oh, the richest of the rich might not make quite as much as they used to — but then again, they might — because there will be exponentially more customers out there with money in their pockets.

When I think of what it is conservatives want to conserve, I almost feel sorry for them. They’re a sad, old spider protecting a wretched, old web, unaware that the future will eat them regardless. They might go kicking and screaming into that good night, but they’re going.

That’s the weirdest part: it doesn’t have to be. But change is so impossible for conservatives to accept that they’ll even blow a massive hole in their own foot to try and resist it. Then, still unsatisfied, they’ll turn that same weapon on themselves.

How To Beat Tribalism? Be Even MORE “Tribal”

Humans are tribal by nature; it’s a survival instinct. Since reproduction is one of our key “primal directives”, our genome has built into it behaviors that give our personal DNA every chance to create a next version of “us”. After our own precious ass, our family’s ass comes next in the pecking order. Then our extended family. Or, for some people, their friend circle. The block they live on. Their neighborhood. The school district they live in. The PTAs at their kids’ schools. The social issues that matter to them. Their city. The football or basketball or soccer or baseball team they love — and every other fan of that team. If you think about it, we form tribes with anything and everything we can — because we’re social creatures and this is what social creatures do.

White supremacists are no more tribal than anyone else. They just seem that way because they put all their emphasis on being in a limited number of tribes rather than as many as possible. “Jews will not replace us” — the rallying cry and tribal grievance of the Charlottesville Fascists Club — represents a particularly odd bit of tribalism. The whole “replacement culture” thing is bizarre because it assumes that those with the grievance are “replaceable” to begin with. Replaceable how exactly? In their jobs? In their marriages? In their lives? Being replaceable by “others” to whom you are supposedly “superior” is a strange way to think of yourself and your tribe. If your tribe excelled at something then that fact would make your tribe irreplaceable. Why don’t these “white supremacists” excel at anything other than having grievances? Why do THEY think THEY are replaceable?

In a competitive job market — in a competitive, capitalistic system — one MUST compete in order to stay in the game. Every group arriving here (aside from white people) have accepted that fact and worked their asses off to achieve some degree of success (and they’ve had to do that in the face of relentless white resistance). In that sense, EVERYONE is “replaceable” if they don’t continue to contribute to the group’s effort or hold up their end of the social bargain. Ah, but that’s where white privilege asserts itself. White people have gotten it into their heads that, since white men got together and wrote the Constitution – and framed it entirely to their advantage (as the “men” who were created equal”) – that this is set in concrete. That’s the whole point of “originalism” — to falsely assert that the flawed thinking of a group of (French) enlightened racists and misogynists is America’s bottom line. The country can only be exactly how the framers framed it.

Bullshit. The men who imagined this democratic republic made it changeable. They understood that this bold idea would need plenty of room around it to expand. They seemed to grasp, on some level, the incompleteness of their ideation — that “all men” was a bigger tribe than just white men. Congress approved of “E pluribus unum” as America’s motto (they put it on our Great Seal) in 1782. Out of many, one.

Out of many tribes, ONE TRIBE.

White supremacists can’t abide that. They think their TRIBE is replaceable. That, right there, is the problem.

I’m not sure there is a solution to white supremacy. Centuries of thinking one way about themselves versus everyone else has convinced white Europeans that their whiteness makes them superior. No, white people, it does not. White people are a minority of people on earth. If not for the greater lethality of the pathogens that evolved inside white Europeans over a thousand or so years (versus the pathogens evolving inside other human groups scattered across the globe), perhaps even their guns and steel would have faltered when they went exploring. A big piece of white people even thinking they’re “superior” comes from the relative ease with which white Europeans seized the Americas. The European colonizers told themselves their Christian faith — their god Yahweh — made them superior. Again, NO! Smallpox, measles and influenza — introduced into the Americas by European explorers — wiped out 90% OF NATIVE AMERICANS. If not for fleas — which carried the bubonic plague from China to Europe, bubonic plague might not have wiped out half of Europe in the fourteenth century. If not for Europeans and THEIR bugs, Europeans would have faced far more resistance when they landed on these shores.

How do we defeat tribalism? We don’t deny it; we can’t. It’s just too hard-wired into us. Why do you think there are soccer riots? Instead, we go at it, full bore. We make everyone “hyper-tribal” but not in that they see their exclusivity as a tribe. Rather, like two people who love the same song, they forget all their other potential differences and begin with that thing they have in common. Building from there (something as simple as a song), I bet those two people will surprise themselves with all their commonalities. Yes — there are differences. But, now there’s context for the differences.

Those two people might come to blows all the same; they just don’t like each other. But once you start talking together about how and why a song touches you, you will unlock pieces of your soul (such as it is) to that other person.

It’s a lot harder to feel tribally defensive toward someone whose soul you understand.

If I Were “Benevolent Dictator”, Here’s How It Would Be…

No one sees it coming, least of all me. Just like that — political leaders across the world & spectrum get the fates they deserve. The World’s eyes (getting REALLY desperate) turn to me of all people.

“Dude,” the World says, “We’re totally screwed. The ball’s yours if you want. Got anything?”

“Okay,” I say after a long, thoughtful beat. Here’s the deal I want:

  1. My job title: “Benevolent Dictator”. It’s not up for discussion. Now here’s the thing — no one has to call me this. In fact, I’d rather they didn’t. It’s a little OTT. I just need the World to understand that, until my work is finished, that’s who & what I am.
  2. My pay — zero. It ain’t about the money. If I do MY job correctly, money will land in my pocket through a thousand different streams (all of them 100% legit).
  3. What I Want — The End of CRONY CAPITALISM. That’s another non-negotiable point. We need to rethink almost everything about our culture. More exactly, we need to start SEEING our culture for what it is, for what it must be and for what it can never be again. Money is not our problem, GREED is. Greed undermines capitalism more than an army of communists and socialists. Take THAT to the bank.
  4. What I Want (continued) — A return to HUMAN DECENCY as the basis for how we view one another — and more importantly how we treat one another. For starters, we bury the ludicrous notion that America is “a Christian country”. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are larded with Humanist thought born of the French Enlightenment. There’s far more Jean-Jacques Rousseau in our foundational docs than there is Jeremiah. To that end, we recognize religious texts as literature, not history and definitely not a basis for morality. We have science to cover the “nuts & bolts” of how we got here and CRITICAL THINKING to cover the rest.
  5. What I Want (Continued) — We put every fact we have about Donald Trump & the Republican Party on the table. We admit to ourselves what the Republican Party tried to do to us — install permanent minority rule; even though they hated Donald Trump, they cynically hitched their shit-wagon to him despite knowing he was bought & paid for by Russia — because THEY, too, were bought & paid for by Russia. And Saudi Arabia & the UAE & Israel (and who the hell knows who else).
  6. What I Want (Continued One Last Time) — We retrain our news media as far away from Both Sides Do It journalism as possible. We make selling False Equivalences career suicide. We return critical thinking & especially PERSPECTIVE to all journalism school curriculum.
  7. What I REALLY Want — As quickly as I can, I will remove as many men as possible from positions of power. Those that remain will have to demonstrate that they really do know how to play well with others. That means no unilateral “I alone can fix it” toxic male thinking. Deal breaker. I insist that we hand as much governmental power as they want over to women (African American women especially — if not for them, this Democratic Republic would have been toast years ago). I’m not saying women are perfect — though, as Benevolent Dictator I could — I’m just saying they cannot possibly do worse than men. And to make sure men don’t ruin what women try to do with their unhelpful suggestions — I want to give women the purest shot we can. Once women are ready to rock ‘n roll? I’m handing over the reins of power.

That’s my deal. I’m ready to sign — and get to work — whenever YOU are, World…

How About If, Today, We Declare Independence From BULLSHIT!

It seems a natural thing to want to be INDEPENDENT from — BULLSHIT.

Yet, look around you and ‘witness’ all those who are SLAVES to BULLSHIT — especially their own.

Turns out we all carry around our own bullshit like it was a box of LPs from College that we know we should get rid of but don’t.  Fer Pete’s sake — we don’t even own a record player any more!

Our Nation is deep in the throes of a Bullshit Addiction.  It came upon us so suddenly we didn’t even realize we’d become addicted.  Hell — we didn’t even know the stuff we were eating WAS Bullshit — and that it was so addictive.  I bet that was because it was our Bullshit.

But it’s not ‘The Nation” as a whole that has this problem — it’s a segment — the one that’s White, Christian and Male.  They’re the ones who’ve become so intent on shoving THEIR Bullshit down the rest of the country’s throat. They believe that their culture — White, Christian & Male — is such a superior culture that it transcends even REALITY.  They believe that their extreme, Jesus-hating brand of Christianity — IS Christianity.  And they believe it is their purpose to impose that abomination on a country (ironically) founded on principles that specifically opposed what these Christians are doing.

America — conceptually — is a product of The French Enlightenment — of a period of explosive intellectual thought, all of it reveling in the idea that Man is, in fact, not bound by some Man Creature In The Sky.  The Founders of our country saw the promise (and peril) in giving the citizens of this new nation previously unimaginable freedoms — just for being ‘who’ they are:  Americans.

Part of the process of becoming a Great Nation is ‘mythologizing’ your origins and your original players to the point where they become abstractions that shorthand who you are as a nation.  George Washington is equal parts real human and abstraction.  The abstraction has become our Foundation Myth.

While White, Christian, Males of English Descent held the reins of power at the Nation’s founding, they did not represent the makeup of the population.  The idea that America is ‘A White, Christian Male Nation’ run by White Christian Males was never the Truth. It started as bullshit and caused us to undermine the Greatness of our own Concept:  We instilled SLAVERY in our Constitution.  One of the greatest human documents ever produced was compromised by a BULLSHIT belief that some humans are, in fact, NOT equal.

That, of course, is BULLSHIT.

Time has come to call it what it is — to call ALL OF OUR BULLSHIT out for ‘being’ BULLSHIT — and vow, as a Nation — to do everything in our power to see it for what it is.

On this Independence Day — I hope you’ll all join me (the Americans anyway) to vow to remove BULLSHIT from our diet.  To refuse to allow it at our tables.  To ‘conveniently forget’ to invite them to pool parties.

Let’s put a moratorium on Bullshit and promise each other to refuse, going forward, to get suckered in by ANYTHING that comes flying in from that homicidal, hopped up on hatred folks who call themselves ‘Right’ Wing.

Never has a word been more painfully ironic…