Chicken Little had nothing on today’s rabid right, with its ever-inventive fantasies of how the sky is falling. That extremists keep outdoing themselves is no small feat after a full media spate of Trumpian theatrics. So far, basic systems are battered but not demolished. That means, as with Joe McCarthy, the ultimate disruption looks to be the degradation of political discourse and fewer compromises. Yet, without chronic fear-mongering, how does the grievance gang justify its contempt for certified elections while inciting violent protests, racist voter suppression and authoritarian rule? As Peter Wehner explains in the Atlantic, those who revel in outrage need ever-sensationalized fixes:
To better understand . . . the GOP, think of a person with addiction who over time develops a tolerance; as a result, they need more potent and more frequent doses of the drug to get their desired high. And sometimes even that isn’t enough. They might turn to a more potent drug, which offers a more intense experience and a longer-lasting high, but at the price of considerably more danger.
For the MAGA base, elevating perversity as if a virtue, what are prospects for short-term wins, let alone long-lasting highs? That leaves open two questions: more potent drugs? More dangerous for whom? Fragmentation is already dividing the still Trumpers from the crazed junkies who’d rather die than accept vaccinations. Booed at his last speech, then called a “dumbass” by dumbass Alex Jones for tepidly talking up vaccines, the Disrupter-in-chief faces rejection by the very forces he rode into illegitimacy. Finally, Trump is vulnerable to irony as the fabricated carnage he purveyed traps him, stamping him just another party loser (a fate for this “outsider” worse than death).
Trumpism was always addicted to apocalyptic messaging – and the movement’s outrage persists because the “carnage” still looms. Yet, we saw not one significant, “carnage-related” reform in four years, and none was stamped, as with his hotels, with his name. Invented calamities thus persist as the only justification for re-installing this fix-all-strongman. For aren’t his gut instincts – and impulsive decisions – still free from error? Five years post-Trump, the MAGA world is no better and, judging by right-wing shrillness, worse as some become dumbasses. Apparently, those doomsday rants from the “I-will-break-every-rule-until-stopped” enfant terrible have utterly failed, rather like his presidency. The double-edge sword from a politics of chaos is all sides get bloodied– and that makes covering up crimes harder than ever.
Is craziness a real agenda?
Because craziness for the sake of craziness is unsustainable, I am not pessimistic about the next two elections. What great wins in 2021 strengthened the right-wing party? If President Trump didn’t expand the base, how does Republican splintering sustain national leadership? Presumably, courts will reject the worst of voter suppression ploys, and gerrymandering can only do so much. The relevant truth is that the right-wing is a stuttering, one-trick pony, and they will find new petards on which to hoist themselves.
The coming attractions are tediously predictable. Brace for non-stop impeachment hysteria against Biden for failing to “alone fix” the inherited pandemic—extended because of irrational anti-science sabotage (now ironically killing off its own deniers). Or perhaps impeach Biden for not exiting Afghanistan (on Trump’s schedule) without casualties, as if departure is as simple as “stealing” a presidential election. Speaker Pelosi will face more bizarre attacks, like revving up Hillary’s pizza-parlor “pedophile trade.” V.P. Harris will be dinged as a foreign spy, her marriage suspect, even having kidnapped step-children who adore her. Cabinet members, especially that gay guy and women, face more fire, with lies about incompetence, immorality and humorlessness. Hell hath no fury like a MAGA wacko spurned.
While pushing to start a second Civil War, the right will again militate against paying federal taxes. Sending the feds money, perennially called “theft,” only adds to Democratic wins. How many insurrectionists, after all, voted on new taxation rates or the latest budgeting that subsidizes ne’er-do-well urban minorities living like princes (when not dodging police bullets) with unAmerican payouts? And when in doubt, blame the Jews or Arabs, Chinese or Russians, ISIS or computer spies invading our privacy. Don’t forget those dastardly ex-Trump billionaires now siding with Biden’s majority.
As with any pandemonium, the politics of chaos is oblivious to its own boomerangs. Because know-nothings by definition refuse to learn from failure, the Republican hot house is per Wehner
a growing assortment of cranks and kooks—Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and Lauren Boebert, Mo Brooks and Madison Cawthorn, Ron Johnson and Marsha Blackburn, Mike Lindell and Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, Cyber Ninjas and QAnon, anti- vaxxers and insurrectionists.
Is this jaw-dropping concentration a Democratic Party wet dream of opponents or what? These deviant malcontents represent a second party hijacking (after Trump’s takeover), leaving many pundits aghast, even terrified. Not this camper. Centrist Republicans are speechless, absorbing the unholy progression from Trump (barely imaginable) to a surging political pandemic today that matches the viral one. Is there a majority anywhere to endorse more onslaughts against democratic institutions (electoral, legal, Constitutional) as the only solution to “demonic Democratic possession”? Or “reforms” by these nutcases? How do such weirdos renew a besieged national party whose star attraction is losing credibility?
And that’s why the amped up outrage to come will fail politically just as Trumpism has, with the added diversion of indictments and convictions. Within Trump’s meteoric rise were the chaotic seeds of destruction. What does Trump have to sell? And how? Trump was no more than a figurehead for Mitch McConnell’s party agenda—and even this sleazy senator couldn’t save the country from the Great Pandemic Botch—and zero economic stimulus. That explains why the only ploy for the clueless, exiled incumbent was attack the election, grandstanding for insurrection, then whitewashing the violence as a peaceful protest. That triple-whammy calls for tar and feathering, not leadership.
Lowest political bar on tap
What in this scenario doesn’t make Biden or Democrats look like redemptive champions? They already boast deliverables in the real world. Neither pandemic setbacks, nor the Afghanistan departure blunders will for me decide upcoming elections: only the economy matters. Lucky voters, with a crystal clear choice between sane, centrist, wary Democrats who acknowledge reality—against crazy folk who talk lunacy to a diminished faction. While Democrats work at marginal political solutions, the radical right heads for the rocks, crying “full steam ahead.”
Looking better than today’s
reactionary Republicans represents the lowest political bar in
times. Yes, sustained media focus was fascinated with the
sensational Trump train wreck. But now the majority must assess
enormous damage and which officials can regain America’s
here and abroad. If continued, today’s rightwing addiction to
unreality hands everyone else a gift. How can even compromised
Democrats not snatch victory from the destructive mania of
grievance? Trumpism isn’t done for, but it’s getting hard to
imagine how such confirmed losers succeed. Trumpers are
and Biden is too cautious for major blunders. If Trump is
nominated, expect a
rout; if not, then who? And will any new messiah have what set
apart: no loaded political record to defend? Not likely.