Kindergarten quiz time! Want a violence-prone, tantrum-throwing, fundamentalist minority in charge – or incremental, majoritarian, reality-based, rights-driven reformers?

Top to bottom, Rethuglicans are on parade, leaving neither the vicious means nor the unholy ends to the imagination.

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Midterm Democrats must skewer the right as vigilante control freaks with a manic domination complex 

Okay, comrades and mud wrestlers, here’s an urgent, brain-twisting test, with nothing less than a nation’s mental stability at stake. Like Trump, Republicans don’t want much – just everything enmeshed by anachronistic distortions of history – spanning bedrooms to medical services, school rooms to court houses. Low taxes, deregulation, guns galore and “freedom rings” – except for suppressed voters, enlightened education, tolerance for gender choices, contraception and procreation. Watch out: “Biblical” traffic rules, hillbilly rejection of modern art, and a national censorship board loom. 

In this corner, the armed, swaggering, law-be-damned militants pushing violent disruption to serve the subjugation of the majority. They are called Republicans, Rethuglicans, or the “God, guns, crackpots and states’ rights/secessionist” party – or worse. Deplorables scorn fair elections, judicial precedents, and public health expertise all the while ridiculing the reason/logic/evidence crowd (alas, adults stuck with resolving intended and unintended consequences). Thanks to only-we-matter, racialized Trumpism, unshame-able extremists proclaim radical ends, seizing whatever means justify rampages. Compared to Reaganites, they are neither subtle nor covert. 

In the other (demonized) corner is a chickenhearted, underwhelming Democratic party that, despite a wealthy donor group, represents greater democracy, the rule of law, certified elections, rights for women and minorities, respect for precedent and peaceable dissent – however now handcuffed by don’t-rock-the-boat Bidenism. The bashers and breakers invoke faith alone (though never without lusting after power and money) while scorning secular rationalists who accept, as we need consensual social values to survive, that incremental reform is the path to sane living. Yet even marginal co-operation is sabotaged when well-heeled thugs, whose suicide pact is out to destroy what they can’t control, jettison bridges critical for workable governance. Make-believe fantasy is so much easier than growing up.

So, tough choice, eh? If enough delinquents scourge the landscape, jackhammering foundations, brace for civil strife, reminiscent of religious, tribal wars that many naively thought relics of remote, primitive times. Just when relative advances of integration and multi-cultural tolerance were feeling their oats, the irrational, bigoted backlash, notably absent divine visitation, brings Armageddon to America. What else emerges when a cult minority asserts only it “alone can fix everything”? What else happens when this latest (of many) mass hysterias gain leverage, positing that wholesale destruction will magically produce something better? Historic examples, anyone? Riotous violence against a democratically-elected government undermines what representative republics depend on – the abiding truth that “We, the people” must mean “We, the majority.” Only outlaws and autocrats dictate the tyranny of the minority. 

Failure is not an option

In November, the majority must again decide whether America is a failed experiment, ready to reverse 250 years of progress on diversity and minority rights (remarkable for a nation of immigrants), considerable individual liberty, and, until recently, the quaint hope that school children graduate without dodging a fatal barrage of bullets. Either science and knowledge and consensus will reign above unreason, radicalism, and zealotry or brace for politics as war (as in the pillage Mitch McConnell has done for years). If dark forces shred elections (and voting rights), what other vehicle fosters peaceful power transfers to determine who makes what laws – and how they are enforced? 

The “Rightwing Violence Party,” an appalling relic of better days, hides neither its objectives nor enacted agenda: 

  • violence from the insanity of unregulated gun access, whose carnage dwarfs chronic serial mass murders. Total gun deaths (many from suicide) have reached 45,000/year, highest level since 1995; 
  • violence from unchecked police brutality and abuses of minorities; 
  • violence against now subjugated women (and unwanted children) by legalizing forced births; 
  • violence against public health by mask, distancing and vaccine hysteria, plus no universal health care coverage to address contagious, communal diseases;
  • violence against clean air, soil and water by stripping the EPA of its barely adequate restraints on national and global pollution; 
  • violence against lawful, dissenting protestors by a vengeful ex-president and lackeys;
  • violence and insurrection by the unhinged party against certified elections and majority rule; 
  • violence against reason, justice and security with the Big Lie, defending murderous rioters and anti-democracy thugs seeking retribution against phantom enemies. 

Can Americans be shocked now by the staggering bipartisan poll findings that 45% of “strong” Republicans think it may “soon be necessary to take up arms” in a violent insurgency? Equally dire but not meriting a headline: a glut of gun-owners (37%) agree, and two-thirds of sore loser Republicans reject the government (and elections) as “corrupt and rigged.” Equally telling,from “strong” Democrats – far less than half of that ominous 45% (21%) buys the violence-may-be-necessary derangement – and 63% of Democrats strongly disagree (74% overall).

Really, “soon,” “necessary” to “take up arms”? Against a fraud-free, elected government? Against vast police and military prowess, with tanks? What nerve to dismiss the vagaries of historic violence, from early insurgencies to the Civil War, the brutal suppression by Robber Barons of unions, through the upheaval of 1930’s or the 1960’s? As the most gun-infested, violent western country, American exceptionalism reigns supreme when scoring domestic brutality or the desperate crackpots who equate re-election with inciting, then condoning incivility disguised as protests. 

No question, this poll proves what we cannot dismiss: that knee-jerk violence, a coping device of the truly unevolved citizen, is overwhelmingly a rightwing, Republican, gun owner threat. The Trump rightwing, in rhetoric, street riots, and judicial oppression, is now the fist-smash-first, ask-questions-later-gang – and too many entrenched Democrats minimize the bloodletting underway or greater menace in the wings. Red lights are flashing “Emergency,” and sluggish, nervous nellies like Merrick Garland can’t yet identify crushing evil-doers of yesteryear. 

Simon Rosenberg, Democratic strategist, argues that midterm Democratic success must dramatize the full, nightmarish horror of Trump-era vengeance: “We need to remind the anti-MAGA majority . . . the radicalization has gotten worse.” Must there be more blood on the pavement before Dems react effectively? Without non-violent elections, how can the better angels of our nature begin to constrain lower appetites, driven by stupidity, self-interest or fictions of divine approval? That why Trump’s unstoppable Big Lie is his worst horror, even beyond ruining the Supreme Court. Only confidence in voting allows civilizedrealms to sustain civilization without coercion, even keep autocrats at bay.

The violent among us

Expanding the horizon, what unifies this list: the imperious Putin (invading Ukraine, arming Syria), ballistic terrorists, serial mass murderers, rightwing (“Hang Mike Pence”) insurrectionists, gun-wielding militants, Trumpers who defend violent attacks on innocents, and the worst of American foreign policy? Answer: that force and violence solve real-world problems – ignorant to the reality that in-depth conflicts reflect imperialism, inequality, excessive religious/tribal belligerence, or how irreplaceable natural resources are divvied up, fairness-be-damned. 

On point, for serving on the Jan. 6 Committee, Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) has disclosed threats to kill him, his wife and his infantchild. “There’s violence in the future,” he said on ABC’s This Week. “And until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can’t expect any differently.”  In an ad released Monday, Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate, fueled the rage: “I’m Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL, and today we’re going RINO hunting,” featuring armed, camouflage-clad men tossing stun grenades against insufficiently Trumpist Republicans. “Join the MAGA crew,” Greitens intones, “Get a RINO-hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Rightwing podcaster Joe Oltmann voices a comparable dark and violent future, “Pretty soon we’ll have gallows being built all over the country. We can take care of all these traitors to our nation,” he spewed out late last year. “Stretch that rope,” he lateradded, suggesting that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) be hanged, then hypocritically lied he was only joking. Colorado’s secretary of state, Jena Griswold, isn’t laughing, “The idea that political violence is being normalized is incredibly dangerous for the future of our country.” 

Though Oltmann lies with Trumpian fluency, the truth will out:“Somebody asked me, ‘Joe, are you advocating for violence?’ – ‘No. But if you want to take our country, it will have to be with violence.” Ditto, Oltmann’s literal March 2021 words, peronline video by the Colorado Times Recorder: “If you’re going to take our way of life away from us, you’re not going to do it without blood spilled.” He may well go to church, to conspire with other ersatz holy-rollers.

Gosh, such inciting of violence sounds exactly like a criminal, irreligious scammer urging his armed troops to confront the DC Capitol. Talk about singing from the same propaganda verses. Top to bottom, Rethuglicans are on parade, leaving neither the vicious means nor the unholy ends to the imagination. The “enemy” is within, seething, scheming and ready to strike – and one wonders whether even an unexpectedly humane mid-term result will impede those for whom violence has become the be-all and end-all. 

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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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