August 5, 2021 (from www.rationaloptimist.wordpress.com)
During Trump’s term, I’d periodically write, “It will get worse.” It always did. And it hasn’t stopped.
Some thought Trump’s election defeat might bring Republicans to their senses. Then they rallied behind his “stolen election” lie. His biggest ever. Now we’re now learning more details about how it was Trump himself who tried to steal the election. Finally sending a violent mob to the Capitol on January 6, aiming to wreck the process and retain power.
But not even that sick, bloody, treasonous travesty brought Republicans to their senses. At a July 27 news conference their House leaders responded to the searing testimony of four Capitol Police officers about the horror they experienced on January 6. Elise Stefanik, now Number Three in the leadership, said the American people deserve to know the truth: it was Nancy Pelosi’s fault.
Suggesting that as House Speaker, she controlled the Capitol Police. Not so. And any such responsibility would have been shared with Mitch McConnell, then running the Senate. Blaming Pelosi alone — and not Trump at all! — for January 6 is either deranged lunacy or the most cynical dishonesty. Prior to that news conference shocker, I’d thought Republicans had hit a moral rock bottom. I was wrong.
This is the party that bleats “law and order,” vaunting support for police officers — especially as against violent protests. What was January 6 if not an unlawful violent protest, physically attacking the police? And where does the GOP stand? With the treasonous lawbreakers, actually belittling or even mocking the testimony of the savaged police officers. A moral rock bottom?
Then too it’s mainly Republicans refusing vaccination, masks, or social distancing. They’re the cause of Covid resurging. Republican areas most resistant to sensible health measures have (surprise) the highest illness and death rates. Some GOP governors not only refuse to push vaccination and masking, but actually try to block localities from doing so. Florida’s DeSantis the worst example. With his state consequently breaking hospitalization records, having a fifth of all U.S. Covid cases.
I was a Republican for 53 years. Today’s Republican party threatens not only our democracy but literally all our lives.
Yet dare I say, even now: it will get worse.
Columnist David Brooks offers an interesting perspective. Observing growing family estrangement in America. Mostly children distancing from parents over sometimes real but often exaggerated or imagined childhood grievances, leaving parents, who’d thought they’d given their kids everything, hurt and bewildered. Brooks suggests a cause is “a more individualistic culture” — the family, once “seen as a bond of mutual duty and obligation,” now “as a launchpad for personal fulfillment.” Making people feel freer to sever bonds deemed problematic. I would add that over-indulgent parenting may actually contribute, giving children a sense of entitlement so strong they feel justified in chucking a relationship that doesn’t fully suit them — even with those indulgent parents.
What does all this have to do with today’s Republicans? Brooks sees family estrangement as part of a broader phenomenon of fraying human ties. Remember Putnam’s Bowling Alone? Americans report diminishing close friendships, and growing feelings of aloneness. Brooks says this social fragmentation has wide repercussions, including in politics. Which “has begun to feel like an arena where many people can process and regulate their emotional turmoil indirectly.” Difficult “within the tangled intimacy of family life. But political tribalism becomes a mechanism with which people can shore themselves up, vanquish shame, fight for righteousness and find a sense of belonging.”
Republicans do imagine they fight for righteousness, with moralistic fervor. The psychology is understandable. But not the flight from rationality, the failure to distinguish reality from fantasy and virtue from evil. That is insane.