Karl Rove Explains "True Patriotism" To His Fellow Republicans-- And Rebecca Solnit Explains America
The New, Polite Word For Low IQ: "Guillible"
Republicans-- most Republicans-- are in their own walled-off Fox/Hate Talk radio world. In his analysis of the wedges in a divided nation this morning, Peter Baker wrote that "While nearly three-quarters of all Americans view the storming of the Capitol as an assault on democracy, about half of Republicans say the rioters were actually the ones 'protecting democracy' and nearly as many think the attack was not even that violent. While most Americans believe Mr. Biden was elected legitimately, seven in 10 Republicans think otherwise... America has not come together to defend its democracy; it has only split further apart. Lies and disinformation spread by the former president have so permeated the political ecosphere that nearly universal outrage has reverted to separate blue and red realities."
Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told Baker "he had ordered books about cults and deprogramming to try to understand his Republican colleagues. 'It’s amazing to me how many of these Republican leaders have just fallen into line like lemmings,' he said. 'I tell them when it’s all over, they’re only going to be fit to sell flowers and incense at Dulles Airport. They have basically surrendered their critical thinking skills.'"
Mondaire Jones (D-NY), had just been sworn into office a few days before the assault by Trumpist insurrectionists on the Capitol. This morning, he described it to his constituents in Westchester and Rockland counties very starkly: "I, along with so many others, nearly died in the violent insurrection at the Capitol. That unprecedented attack is a painful indication of the deep crisis facing our democracy, a crisis that continues to grow more dire by the day. There can be no doubt that the events of January 6th were inspired by, and designed to promote, the Big Lie of mass voter fraud, which Donald Trump and the GOP have used to justify racist voter suppression laws in states across the country. It was clear then, and is clear now, that the modern-day Republican Party is more interested in preserving the rule of its authoritarian leadership than in preserving our democracy. That’s why Democrats have spent the last year working to counter the dangerous myth of mass voter fraud and advance legislation to protect the sacred right to vote, including the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which I’m proud to have helped author. But despite the House doing our job and passing multiple pieces of democracy-saving legislation, the Jim Crow filibuster has obstructed any meaningful progress in the Senate. Unless, at the very least, an exception is made to the filibuster to advance voting rights legislation, our democracy will fall deeper into crisis. Republicans will disenfranchise their way back into power in 2022, and use that power to install their chosen candidate in the White House in 2024, regardless of what the American people say. American democracy as we know it will cease to exist. This is the reality we face if we fail to meet the urgency of this moment. But we are not powerless to stop it. The future of our nation depends on every Democratic Senator putting country before politics to do what is necessary to save our democracy. Literally nothing is more important. Having seen firsthand on that fateful day just how fragile our democracy is, I will continue to do everything in my power to save it. With so much at stake, I pray that my colleagues in the Senate will do the same."
You may be more surprised reading the words of Karl Rove on these pages than Mondaire Jones. In his Wall Street Journal column this morning Rove started off with the "both parties" bullshit but then wrote, bluntly "I’m addressing squarely those Republicans who for a year have excused the actions of the rioters who stormed the Capitol, disrupted Congress as it received the Electoral College’s results, and violently attempted to overturn the election. These apologists say those who stormed the Capitol were innocent patriots, tourists visiting the seat of the national government to petition their elected representatives peacefully. We’re told that these harmless, ordinary Americans are being persecuted as political prisoners."
[L]ast year there were several thousand protesters willing to use force to disrupt Congress in its constitutional duty to receive and certify the electoral vote. Some went to Washington with that purpose in mind. Others were swept up in the moment’s savagery, led astray by stronger wills with dangerous motives.
The leaders of this group were intent on committing violence, some having planned to do so for weeks. Many wore tactical gear. Some came armed with chemical agents, flagpoles, batons and sticks. They broke through barricades and assaulted approximately 140 police officers, in some cases with an officer’s own shield or gear. They smashed doors and windows, illegally entered the Capitol, ransacked offices and searched for leaders of Congress, and made dire threats about what would happen if they found them.
...So, on this anniversary, here’s a simple thought experiment: What if the other side had done it? What if in early January 2017, Democrats similarly attired and armed had stormed the Capitol and attempted to keep Congress from receiving the Electoral College results for the 2016 presidential election?
What if Democrats claimed that Donald Trump’s razor-thin victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin resulted from extensive voter fraud and should be rejected, despite having failed to establish in a single court that extensive fraud had actually occurred?
What if some of these Democrats breached the Capitol defenses and threatened violence against the Republican speaker, Paul Ryan, and Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell ?
What if they insisted that in his role as Senate president then-Vice President Joe Biden had sole authority to seat Hillary Clinton’s electors from any contested states and thereby hand her the presidency?
If this happened, would some of my fellow Republicans have accepted it as merely a protest? Would they have called patriots those charged with violent acts against our country, its laws and Constitution? Would they have accepted such extralegal means to change the outcome of a presidential election?
No they would not. I’m certain of that.
If Democrats had done what some Trump supporters did on that violent Jan. 6, Republicans would have criticized them mercilessly and been right to do so. Republicans would have torched any high official who encouraged violence or stood mute while it was waged and been right to do so. Republicans would have demanded an investigation to find who was responsible for the violence and been right to do so.
To move beyond Jan. 6, 2021, we must put country ahead of party. For Democrats, that means resisting their leadership’s petty habit of aggravating partisan fault lines by indiscriminately condemning all who came to Washington that day.
We Republicans have a heavier burden. I’ve been a Republican my entire life, and believe in what the Republican Party, at its best, has represented for decades. There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Love of country demands nothing less. That’s true patriotism.
The chances of Republicans taking Rove's warning to heart are about... zero. Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, last night that "Today, the Republican Party is very much still Trump’s, transforming his lies about a stolen 2020 election into an article of faith, and even a litmus test that he is seeking to impose on the 2022 primaries with the candidates he backs. He is the party’s most coveted endorser, its top fund-raiser and the polling front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination. Trump is also deeply divisive, unpopular among the broader electorate and under investigation for his business practices and his interference with election officials in Fulton County, Ga. He remains the same politician whose White House oversaw four years of devastating Republican losses, including of the House and Senate. And while a scattered few Republicans publicly warn about yoking the party to him, more fret in private about the consequences. Yet his unrivaled power inside the GOP, one year after inciting the sacking of the Capitol to forcibly forestall the certification of the election, is a testament to his unrelenting hold on the loyalty of the party base."
Rebecca Solnit, author of River of Shadows, Orwell’s Roses and 15 other books, also wrote an essay for The Times last night: Why Republicans Keep Falling for Trump’s Lies that looks at what has turned those who define themselves by their identity as a Republican into a mindless river of enraged lemmings. "When called upon to believe that Barack Obama was really born in Kenya," she began, "millions got in line. When encouraged to believe that the 2012 Sandy Hook murder of twenty children and six adults was a hoax, too many stepped up. When urged to believe that Hillary Clinton was trafficking children in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor with no basement, they bought it, and one of them showed up in the pizza place with a rifle to protect the kids. The fictions fed the frenzies, and the frenzies shaped the crises of 2020 and 2021. The delusions are legion: Secret Democratic cabals of child abusers, millions of undocumented voters, falsehoods about the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine. While much has been said about the moral and political stance of people who support right-wing conspiracy theories, their gullibility is itself alarming. Gullibility means malleability and manipulability. We don’t know if the people who believed the prevailing 2012 conspiracy theories believed the 2016 or 2020 versions, but we do know that a swath of the conservative population is available for the next delusion and the one after that. And on Jan. 6, 2021, we saw that a lot of them were willing to act on those beliefs... Hannah Arendt used the word gullible repeatedly in The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951. 'A mixture of gullibility and cynicism is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements, and the higher the rank the more cynicism weighs down gullibility,' she wrote. That is, among those gulling the public, cynicism is a stronger force; among those being gulled, gullibility is, but the two are not so separate as they might seem."
Distinctions between believable and unbelievable, true and false, are not relevant for people who have found that taking up outrageous and disprovable ideas is instead an admission ticket to a community or an identity. Without the yoke of truthfulness around their necks, they can choose beliefs that flatter their worldview or justify their aggression. I sometimes think of this straying into fiction as a kind of libertarianism run amok-- we used to say “you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” Too many Americans now feel entitled to their own facts. In this too-free marketplace of ideas, they can select or reject ideas, facts or histories to match their goals, because meaning has become transactional.
But gullibility means you believe something because someone else wants you to. You’re buying what they’re selling. It’s often said that the joiners of cults and subscribers to delusions are driven by their hatred of elites. But in the present situation, the snake oil salesmen are not just Alex Jones, QAnon’s master manipulators and evangelical hucksters. They are senators, powerful white Christian men, prominent media figures, billionaires and their foundations, even a president. (Maybe the belief that these figures are not an elite is itself a noteworthy delusion.)
It’s true that these leading lights of the right often portray themselves as embattled outsiders. But they’re not; they’re the status quo gone rogue. They are still powerful, still insiders, but something even more potent is changing-- you could call it the zeitgeist or the arc of justice or historical momentum or just demographic reality. The world is moving on; those who’d rather it stand still are eager to push narratives depicting these shifts as degeneration and white Christian heterosexual America as profoundly imperiled.
A lot of conspiracy theories are organic or at least emerge from true believers on the margins when it comes to topics like extraterrestrials, but those at the top of conservative America have preached falsehoods that further the interest of elites, and those at the bottom have embraced them devoutly. Though when we talk about cults and conspiracies we usually look to more outlandish beliefs, climate denial and gun obsessions both fit this template.
...While Republicans assault voting rights and the integrity of our elections, what fuels their advances is the rise of a gullible sector of the public ready to follow their leaders wherever they go. What’s often described as a weakness of the Democratic Party-- the existence of a variety of views and positions, freely debated or even fought over, and a restless, questioning electorate-- is a strength of democracy. The Republicans remain committed to punishing and casting out dissenters-- such as Representative Liz Cheney who has been ostracized since she accurately recognized the criminality of Jan. 6-- only further inhibiting open debate and, these days, inconvenient facts.
Authoritarians don’t just want to control the government, the economy and the military. They want to control the truth. Truth has its own authority, an authority a strongman must defeat at least in the minds of his followers, convincing them to abandon fact, the standards of verification, critical thinking and all the rest. Such people become a standing army awaiting their next command.
Liz Cheney was on Today today and told Savannah Guthrie that "Trump continues to make the same claims that he knows caused violence on Jan. 6. And it's very important, if you look at what's happening today in my party, the Republican party, rather than reject what happened on (January) 6th, reject the lies about the election and make clear that a president who engaged in those activities can never be president again, unfortunately too many in my own party are embracing that former president, are looking the other way, are minimizing the danger. That's how democracies die, and we simply cannot let that happen." Ever hear Biden say anything worth listening to? He did today. Listen to this: