Republicans Now Officially Live At The Intersection Of Ooga & Booga

There’s a reason we all feel like the Republican Party is careening out of control like a deranged, evil clown car packed with explosives (in addition to being packed with Republican clowns). Ironically, the news media has, for the most part, stopped using the word “strategy” to describe what Republicans are doing when it’s now most apparent that this madness IS their “strategy”. The old rubric says if you don’t have the truth, argue the process; if you don’t have process, bang your fists on the table. Republicans are flipping the table over, dismantling it and setting it (and the whole courthouse) on fire. The Hill reported this morning that, in a recent poll, fifteen percent of Republicans now believe that “…the government and other entities are controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles running a child sex trafficking ring”. That’s in addition to 53% who believe Trump is still president and that Joe Biden and the Democrats stole the election from him. That — and it’s ludicrous that it needs to be said — is rubbish. It’s bullshit that any of us has to qualify ourselves and our truth-telling bona fides against a person and a party famous for their blatant disregard for truth.

The modern GOP is what happens when lies and truth become indiscernible. When what happened in the past is a function of what those in power need it to be. It’s not a coincidence that Republican culture is grievance culture is white supremacist culture. And white supremacist culture is one hundred percent fear culture. White supremacists have convinced themselves that white people are genuinely superior (a thing totally unsupported by all evidence) and that God has chosen them to rule the planet on his behalf. Once you’ve put that idea into your own head — that a deity mighty enough to create literally everything has chosen you to speak for him because you’re “special”? You’ll pretty much always believe it. Why wouldn’t you? Having God on your side — or in your pocket even? That’s heady stuff!

Our news media can’t imagine how or why Republicans believe The Big Lie. The news media, always happy to carry water for Republicans, continue to report Republicans refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden’s legitimacy or the need for a January 6 Truth Commission as if they were legitimate, concerns by serious people. FFS – how much bullshit must a journalist endure before he or she is willing to call the stuff being spewed at them “bullshit”? If the answer is “an infinite amount” then we’re doomed. It gets worse, of course, when said journalist takes the bullshit that’s been spewed at them and holds it up as “possible”. It usually comes in the form of a “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true…?” kind of question. What if the murderer/thief/rapist was justified? What if the high crime wasn’t that big a deal? What if the end of democracy was just another thing that could happen?

On the one hand, Republicans are at the point where literally nothing except survival matters. They’ve committed treason — or been suspicious or aware that possibly treasonous acts occurred but said NOTHING. That makes them co-conspirators. That puts them in extreme legal jeopardy — a baseline fact. But then, plenty of Republicans are also deeply religious (Christian mostly of course). If they ‘re even remotely devout, that means they’ve accepted as “Gospel Truth” a lot of things that simply could not and did not happen. If one is willing to believe in all sincerity that a sky deity had sex with a female human virgin in order to impregnate her with a man-god tasked with dying for humanity’s sins (all caused by the first woman eating a piece of fruit cos a talking snake told her to), then truly one might believe almost anything.

Not all Republicans live at the intersection of Ooga & Booga, their belief system utterly fungible. Plenty live in the sewer beneath that intersection.

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.