New seven deadly sins: Chronic lying + contempt for law + ruthlessness + defiance of losing + mugging voters + conspiracies + ‘hoaxes’
Only a sustained contagion of elected, authoritarian gangsters threatens America as a workable, livable, at times inspiring fusion of peoples. Only a co-ordinated, racialized insurgency can make America less democratic, reducing access to education and opportunity for the non-rich. One wonders how proto-fascist Trumpers honestly celebrate last week’s July Fourth, trumpeting for everyone “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” How does a racist minority, defining “real Americans” by skin color, pledge allegiance to “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? One nation—justice for all?
Nothing like high-minded, “conservative” ideals to define precisely what malicious insurgents stand for, whether it’s political contamination or violence against a sitting Congress. No wonder this collective yawl comes from the center and left, “we’re all screwed.” Perhaps not quite yet.
While any one of the seven deadly political transgressions jeopardizes good governance, en masse they foment what Princeton University’s Eddie Glaude aptly deems our “political Chernobyl.” Shoring up oligarchic control with infantile culture wars, the right’s agenda relies on a steady diet of smoke and mirrors, the cruder the better for rightwing primitivism. Especially revealing is that even today’s most off the wall extremism carries no penalty, no matter how discrepant with once modestly consensual Yankee values.
No accountability, no punishment
On point is an Alternet title, “Here’s how extremism not only goes unpunished in today’s GOP—it is encouraged,” supported by the Daily Beast’s Molly Jong-Fast: “Since no one in Trumpworld has been punished for anything, Republicans have learned that you do anything at all and no one will ever hold you accountable.” What a contrast with the few (punished) conservatives who reject the Big Election Lie—or for that matter suckered, belligerent, now jailed insurrectionists. Trumpist operatives so far are immune, though politics without penalty is like handing a drunk a loaded gun with a hair trigger.
Even without controlling Congress or the White House, right-wing contagion persists. The greatest hostage is our highest court, plus extremist judges far and wide—the result of disdainful GOP Senators knowing how to manipulate appointments. Yet, despite “strict constructionists” galore, Trump yahoos amazingly still have the gall to scoff at certified election results legitimized by judges and courts of every stripe. Thus does bad faith poison reliable election/voting/certification models.
If defying certified results is not treason against democracy, what is? If endless lying about non-existent voter fraud is not sedition, what is? Worse still, that any badly-informed voters imagine a doubly-impeached, certified loser may be “re-instated”—what, by magic dust?—speaks to the penetration of lying, hoaxes, conspiracies and propaganda. If elections are not sacrosanct – nor the most irredeemable bad losers tarred and feathered, then perhaps we are all screwed.
Second, though Biden has rescinded most Trump deregulation and treaty blunders, enough inhumane rules and backward officials hold sway. Craven lobbyists block protecting soil quality (allowing ag poisons, especially against pollinators), all the while denying the right to clean drinking water (without lead), healthy working conditions, and safe consumer products. Without a defiant veto by right-wing crazies, who doubts we’d not by now have required vaccinations for all? Just as Eisenhower did with polio and officials much earlier mandated smallpox protection. Germ theory presents an unforgiving master.
Still unclear is whether a well-run national postage service, tainted by the right, will survive intact. Without the obstructive GOP contagion, would not massive reconstruction of dangerous infrastructure be underway in earnest? Imagine a major bridge or tunnel or overpass disaster during rush hours, with fatalities to dwarf the colossal Florida apartment collapse. As with pandemic denials, where does willful irresponsibility end and negligent criminality begin when prematurely killing your own citizens?
Added to judicial, health and regulatory malpractice, the assault against election integrity is directly related to how many Republicans flee the party, as cheating becomes its only survival ploy. However, boomerang looming, fewer GOP voters and divisive Trumpism (favoring unelectable candidates) could guarantee a Democratic Senate (see “How Senate Republican candidates’ embrace of Trump’s election conspiracy is dimming GOP takeover hopes”). If Trump remains the deranged head of the party of Confederate heroes, Dems could retain the House, too. Enough appalling bad faith inspires a strong, less complacent mid-term turnout.
2022: The exile of Trumpism?
A solid rejection of Trumpist dishonesty will renew confidence in elections, banishing those who want to banish fair elections accurately tabulated. After all, nothing less than what America stands for is on the line, and Republicanism, equated with violent insurrections, offers opponents a special gift. Democrats need only ask—do we still honor majority rule and the sovereignty of the people? Is majority rule still a functional value? Everything else then becomes noise. If voters understand the unbreakable link between the vanity tantrums behind Trumpism—geared to the self-declared supremacy of a monumentally-flawed ignoramus—enough voters could put the “lying/propaganda/hoax/conspiracy/voter suppression” coalition out of its and our misery.
The good news is that the unwavering (if forced) constancy of the lunatic fringe is logically and morally indefensible – how can elections without fraud count only when your side wins? Say what? Further, the party-wide identification with white supremacy is damning, even for the racially intolerant. The great Trump “positive” is unintentional exposure: he can’t avoid revealing that he speaks for the worst of America. Thus, Trumpers, come what may, have to defend a serial criminal who keeps piling crime upon crime. And until there’s a stake in his political heart, there will be more outrages.
So here’s the 2022 pitch: either the certified election winners are installed, without rancor, or our politics remains poisoned by lying, propaganda and delusion. If elections are mere ploys for disruption, there goes voting and there goes our compromised version of democracy. When do ever-cautious Democrats begin to make this unanswerable pitch: all certified election losers who refuse to concede disqualify themselves from ever deserving office. An enforced moral standard matches a good legal one any day. Let us pinpoint the crime of defying confirmed results as sedition against the state and the sanctity of the electorate. What could be easier?
The dark, rightwing avalanche still thunders down the mountain side, trying to crush whatever stands in its hyper-partisan way. Whether this torrent gains force or destroys itself, and status as a national party bereft of principles, is not yet determined. As long as its leaders or fixated minority are not penalized for committing a series of seven deadly political sins, Trumpist gangsters will find oxygen.
Rarely is a species alone responsible for its extinction, but Americanus democratus has a do-or-die destiny—and either today’s ludicrous cancer against legitimate elections is overcome—or another generation faces the whack a mole rightwing contagion. If unchecked, this wave of stupidity and greed can shipwreck the fragility of popular sovereignty. Longterm democratic states are, by any known measure, the great exceptions, not the historic rule. Let’s hope our relatively young country survives a tad longer—and sends today’s existential threats to perdition, at least until the next contagion.