Dangerous Extreme Republicans
BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“When politics is no longer a mission but a profession, politicians become more self-serving than public servants.”
Emmanuel Macron, French president, May, 2018 . . .
To Republican right-wingers, their toys are us, the “woke.”
Their play with the rest of us is not of the good-natured kind, like a game of pickup basketball or softball. No. They’re downright serious, like close encounters of the first kind — a contact sport like football or ice hockey.
They mean it, regardless of the impact their actions have on the majority of folks. Frankly, they don’t give a damn. It’s all about power. Theirs.
Those actions surface in myriad ways.
In the latest bitter iteration, it showed in the 6–3 vote of Supreme Court conservatives in overturning a near half-century-old law that permitted women to get a legal abortion. It is a fundamental constitutional and human right that had been taken for granted, the way our democracy is taken for granted. That’s a cruel, hard-learned lesson right there.
If that isn’t a signal of worse to come, then what is?
It’s like a flashing red light warning of a speeding runaway train headed for a vehicle stuck on the tracks ahead, the people in it desperately trying to escape. Those people are like those of us outside the extremist circles — scared.
How far can they go? The “they” are the extreme conservatives, the evangelicals who back them in hopes of creating a country that pays more strict allegiance to the teachings of the church and some of the mega-wealthy and corporations praying for more tax cuts.
And they hold an advantage since the unsavory, disruptive, chaotic and totally unexpected rise of Trump and his ruthless, unyielding “semi-fascism” brand of politics that has opened the door to a brutal, unprecedented and uncompromising belligerence that has been turning our democracy upside down.
It shows in the 299 Republican nominees for congressional and key statewide offices who have denied or questioned the 2020 presidential election, according to an analysis published Oct. 6 by The Washington Post. “Most of the election deniers are likely to win,” it reported.
Strict controls need to be put in place to prevent election fraud by those folks.
It shows in a potentially frightening North Carolina case before the Supreme Court, Moore v. Harper, involving a fringe Independent State Legislature theory that would give those state bodies the power to set the rules for federal elections without interference by the courts.
If this had been the law during the 2020 election, wrote human rights activist lawyer Steven Donziger in The Guardian, Republican-led state legislatures could have sent “slates of fake Trump electors from states like Arizona, Georgia and Michigan where Trump actually lost the popular vote.”
Those fakes could have made Trump the victor of a second term.
“If the Supreme Court buys the theory in the Moore case,” Donziger wrote, “this could easily happen in 2024 and beyond. . . . That’s not democracy.”
The extremism shows in some Republican states in the banning of books in schools and libraries and the teaching of some obscure graduate study course called critical race theory. It’s become a catchall that bars the teaching of the history of racial discrimination that’s said to be embedded in American laws and institutions.
Barring a course that’s not even taught in the public schools is the result of fears of making white kids feel guilty about being white. What a lot of hooey as an excuse for blatant racism.
The American Library Association reported last month that there were 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources and 1,651 “unique titles were targeted” between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 this year.”
In the past, ALA said, “the vast majority of challenges to library resources only sought to remove or restrict a single book.”
“Efforts to censor entire categories of books reflecting certain voices and views shows that the moral panic isn’t about kids: it’s about politics,” ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada wrote. “Organizations with a political agenda are spreading lists of books they don’t like.”
These “certain voices,” of course, are non-white.
A recent study from the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access “concluded that nearly 18 million students in public school, which is more than one-third of all K-12 students in the nation, have been affected by these classroom censorship efforts,” the latest ACLU Magazine said. “The harm is incalculable.”
This is the potholed path down which extreme conservatism and its religious supporters are dragging us, hurting our kids and our country for some wild ideological notions that have little or no backing by teachers, school administrators or the vast majority of Americans. To what end? Votes?
And then there’s Trump copycat and competitor Ron DeSantis, the governor of a Florida wallowing under the weight of rising seas wrought by a warming climate that he denies exists. Higher water is coming.
We’ve already seen how DeSantis treats people: The 48 Venezuelans who were put on a chartered plane to ferry them from San Antonio, Texas, to tony Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast. It wasn’t for altruism.
He stole and deceived those folks to make the point that too many migrants are flooding the country and are being dispatched to poorer areas. Now those migrants have filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis on grounds he violated their civil rights, in part because they were used for a political stunt. They since have been sent to Cape Cod.
How rapidly they have assimilated to “truth, justice and the American way.”
To treat folks as pawns marked yet another Republican low point. DeSantis illustrated just how juvenile, disgusting, deplorable, despicable, distorted and depraved some right-wingers with political power can be. President Joe Biden should compensate those migrants by accepting asylum for them immediately.
And then there’s Trump, the Great Pretender behind the deterioration of America, its institutions, its relations with its allies, his willy-nilly use of the courts as his playground and an unequivocal, unprecedented embarrassment to tens of millions of Americans.
The lying blowhard skirted the use of the n-word at a rally in North Carolina two weeks ago, catching the attention of Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, who is Black. “I refuse to let Trump slide on this one,” he wrote Saturday.
He picked up on it a week ago from a tweet from Brennan Murphy, a senior digital producer of Recount Media.
“Surrounded by his adoring flock,” Capehart wrote, “Trump bellowed, ‘You know Putin mentioned the n-word. Do you know what the n-word is?’”
“Plenty of people shouted the answer they thought Trump was looking for — because there is only one answer,” Capehart wrote. “Trump jumped in and said, ‘No, no, no, it’s the “nuclear” word. Clever.” He meant tongue-in-cheek Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons on Ukraine.
But nobody, not even those who deal with nuclear weapons, refers to them as the “n-word.” It was a dog whistle, of course.
“That Trump stunt . . . is just one recent incident of how he weaponizes his personal grievances to undermine our democracy,” Capehart wrote.
“Cry, the Beloved Country.”
Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East, the Pentagon and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.