Maybe with a few hardcore congressional Nazis like Cawthorn, Gosar and Traitor Greene as exceptions, members of Congress from both parties have widely condemned Hungary's Nazi leader Viktor Orbán, but when Trump endorsed him for reelection yesterday-- right around the time he was <>endorsing an Illinois fascist and QAnon nut, over a mainstream conservative Republican and just before he put out a notice for a MAGA to challenge a mainstream conservative Republican incumbent in Omaha-- Republicans were dead silent.
Yesterday, Steve Benen wrote "For those who may need a refresher, the right's affection for Orban's Hungarian government has unfolded slowly over the course of last year. It was this past summer when Fox News' Tucker Carlson sang Orban's praises, for example, prompting the New York Times' Jamelle Bouie to note, 'To critics, Orban's Hungary is corrupt, repressive and authoritarian, a place where democracy is little more than window dressing... To Carlson, it's a model for the United States.' Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin soon after praised Orban's tactics. Now, Trump's on board... You don't need a doctorate in political science to recognize the common thread tying together the former president's international endorsements: Trump likes authoritarians who chip away at their democracies. When Republicans tell you who they are, believe them."
This morning, my congressman, Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told me that "Donald Trump has repeatedly aligned himself with anti-democratic autocrats such as Viktor Orbán, who has delegitimatized his own office by curbing press freedoms, attacking Hungary’s independent judiciary, and rewriting the country’s election laws and Constitution to bolster his own political power. While it’s no surprise that Trump continues to cozy up with the world’s strongmen after he spent his time in the White House glorifying regimes that abuse human rights, attack press freedoms, and weaken democracy, it is deeply concerning the Republican party is blindly following the former president’s perpetual embrace of anti-democratic politicians. At a time when American democracy is facing grave challenges of its own, Republicans in Congress have shown, once again, they lack the courage to stand up for American democratic values."
Ro Khanna, a member of the House Foreign Affairs committee told me this morning that "History will judge us by whether or not we stand up for democracy. President Donald Trump worked to undermine American democracy while in office and continues to do so at home and abroad. To uphold our global reputation and strengthen pro-democracy forces around the world, we must loudly and unequivocally condemn this behavior."
This morning, Charlie Sykes wrote about the political exhaustion Americans are feeling and how that could be contributing to what he called "incipient fascism." He wrote that "This exhaustion is not to be confused with boredom, because, if anything we have been been over-stimulated for too long. On social media and cable television, the emotional level has been set somewhere between alarm and emotional meltdown for years now. We’ve experienced endless assaults on the public mind, with the ever-escalating goal of inciting, inflaming, and grifting. We’ve been saturated, pummeled, and battered by it for the last five years. Over and over and over. With apologies to George Orwell, if you want a picture of the future, imagine all of this imbecility, inanity, and dishonesty stamping on your face-- for ever."
It is frustrating arguing with morons. It is exhausting arguing with dishonest morons.
But here we are, trapped on an endless playground of idiocracy.
We find ourselves in daily “debates” with deplorables who have somehow parlayed their cretinism into a new form of political celebrity: MTG, Lauren Bobert, Paul Gosar, Madison Cawthorn.
And it is spreading.
There is the idiocracy of Texas… the idiocracy of Florida… the idiocracy of Tennessee … and of Virginia. And the Josh-Mandel/J.D. Vance cage match of pandering stupidity.
...Why bother to make coherent arguments-- marshaling facts, logic, and reason-- when you are trapped in a doom loop of bullshit with trolls?
The needle never moves. The minds of the benighted are double-sealed and impenetrable. The elites are in hiding or just hopeless.
By now it is a cliché to say that the guard rails are gone, but that seems to understate the problem, because guard rails imply a path, which has also vanished. Our political world now seems more like an Escher drawing than a roadmap that any of us would recognize.
All of this leads to the haunting sense that everything will get worse. Defeatism saps energy and debilitates political movements.
Which brings us back to this moment: There are reasons to think that last year’s annus horribilis has been renewed for several more seasons. Predictions of impending awfulness are not necessarily wrong.
But this is where we have to make a choice.
The success of anti-democratic authoritarianism depends on our exhaustion.
As I’ve mentioned several times before, optimism and hope are not at all the same things. As the late Rabbi Sacks reminded us: “Optimism is the belief that things are going to get better. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope is an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it does need courage to hope.”
In yesterday's Orange County Register there was a story by Brooke Staggs about the death of a deputy district attorney and Assembly candidate, Kelly Ernby. She was only 46, had a dog she named Nixon and died a week after contracting COVID. When she ran for the same seat in 2020, her platfoirm was all about enhancing border security, enacting "tough love" policies against homeless people, anti-environmental nonsense, opposition to all new taxes. Like all conservatives, "she called herself a 'pro-business, pro-taxpayer, political outsider' who wanted to 'bring back conservative values in California.' She also spoke publicly against government mandates requiring people to get vaccinated against COVID-19... She commented most frequently on Twitter over the past year about her opposition to mandates for COVID-19 vaccines. During a Dec. 4 rally against vaccine mandates at Irvine City Hall, Cal State Fullerton’s Daily Titan reports Ernby drew parallels between the 1960s and today, saying in both eras people faced losing freedoms to what she termed socialist ideals. 'There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,' she said."
Her husband has now confirmed that Kelly was, indeed, unvaccinated. She died free; it is unknown how many people she managed to infect during her pathetic battle against "socialism"... and public health.