On This Day in Canterbury

Today’s Republican Party is a coalition of the lame-brained, the twisted, and the bent. Its lame-brained, unable to think on their own, want to be told what to think, more precisely, to be told what to believe; and, they only want to be told what they want to hear. The Party’s twisted are themselves a coalition of fascists, racists, white supremacists, bigots, homophobes, xenophobes, and haters. Its bent are those politicians who serve powerful interests while pandering to these lame-brained and twisted in return for their vote; a vote giving the bent and their patrons office to govern us all.

Watch the faces of the Republican Party’s lame of brain at Trump’s rallies. They are enraptured by this Golden Calf as by no other idols before; not even Billy Graham knew such adulation. It doesn’t matter to them, nor to him, whether what he is saying is coherent or incoherent, true or false. Rapt, they but wait to respond to his every utterance of falsehood, racism, and bigotry. He has their narrative; and he knows it. To the lame-brained, all news is fake news except that from Fox News, Trump, and Facebook. Fox News, Trump, and Facebook tell it to them not ‘the way it is’, but ‘the way they’d like to believe it is’.

All their lives they have been taught to believe, what to believe. Roger Ailes knew that the lame brained didn’t want to think. Trump understood that it wasn’t about them not wanting to think. He understood that they had been taught to believe, not to think. That they wanted to believe and to be told what to believe. That it was about them being believers. Trump also knew that, if he told these believers that they were smarter than the experts, they would follow him anywhere (he wasn’t the first Republican Presidential candidate to do this).

Tell them anything but the truth; the truth smacks too much of thinking, of facts. It is The Big Lie that is to die for. So, so many of them died of COVID. Theirs is the stuff of cults. The (lame-brained)/(believers) are the Republican Party’s camp followers, its voters in tow. They are the avid and rabid in “Lock Her Up!”; the buyers in ‘Get Your Conspiracy Theories Here’. Easily excitable, they are the Party’s manipulables; the cannon fodder for its culture wars; its volunteer hater army. They gladly hate Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi; any and all things liberal. They, the (lame-brained)/(believers), are the Republican Party’s foot soldiers. Believing is the opiate of these foot soldiers. Thinking is to be left to, is only for, its leaders and donors.

The Party’s twisted are themselves a coalition of fascists, racists, white supremacists, bigots, homophobes, xenophobes, and haters. The fascists of these twisted are neither fascist, illiberal, nor libertarian. They are all of these in coalition; they are a syndrome (a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition). Today’s Republican Party is not in the slightest related to the Republican Party that existed before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That Party won the hand of the Dixiecrats in marriage only to lose its soul; to be completely co-opted.

Of all the Party’s twisted’s twists, fascism is the more inclusive; being itself a syndrome. A syndrome displaying some, most, or all of these symptoms:

  • 1. Prefers a far-right, autocratic form of government
  • 2. Prefers severe economic and social regimentation
  • 3. Believes in forcible suppression of the opposition
  • 4. Strongly opposes socialism, liberalism, and democracy
  • 5. Believes in extreme militarism
  • 6. Believes in a natural social hierarchy
  • 7. Advocates for the overthrow of an existing government (think District of Columbia v. Heller)
  • 8. Cult of personality
  • 9. Often rises up from personal or economic despair
  • 10. Masculinity, misogynistic
  • 11. Strongly nationalistic
  • 12. Anti-egalitarian
  • 13. Quasi-religious

Fascism was the syndrome Trump rode into power on with fascists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller each holding a rein and his train whilst he waved his arms and tooted his horn. Trump’s calling Hillary Clinton crooked in 2116 was so Il Ducian, so Putinian, so Orbánian. His projection of his own crookedness onto her was something straight out of the fascist’s handbook.

Trumpian like; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, unabashedly uses translated Orbánian straight-up when putting together legislative proposals and no one seems to even notice, let alone care. If Florida’s Republican Legislature is the slightest bothered by this appropriation, it doesn’t let on.

Governor DeSantis isn’t the only fascist in the Republican party by a long shot. Ohio’s Jim Jordan strongly opposes socialism, liberalism, and democracy. He would rather have a government that tells people what they can and can’t do; believes that it is better if the Republican Party, or someone like Donald Trump, decides the both. Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene advocated for the overthrow of our government, would rather have martial law than elections that don’t come out her way. Florida’s Matt Gaetz reconnoitered the ‘Dems’ for White Nationalist hate groups. Texas’ Louis Gohmert retweeted Alabama’s Mo Brooks’ incendiary comments in an effort to overthrow the 2020 election.

May 19-20, 2022, The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a group most representative of today’s Republican Party, convened in Budapest, Hungary; where homophobia, white nationalism, authoritarianism, and xenophobia reign. CPAC members have so much in common with Orbán, it is truly a match made in heaven. For the most part, today’s Republican Party is now the political party of white nationalist fascists. That sound that we are hearing again and still is Trump tooting his horn (blowing Tolstoy’s train whistle).

The Republican Party’s twisted are often well educated, and are clearly quite capable of thinking. Examples of this include Senators Cotton, Cruz, and Hawley, Governor Desantis, and Congressman Louis Gohmert. A manipulative lot by nature, they understand and exploit the need for some to believe; understand and exploit using cultural wars as a political tactic. Note, also, that the Party’s twisted are often unscrupulously ambitious.

When it comes to the Republican Party’s bent, where to begin? In the U.S. Congress, of course. Then, it is but a matter of deciding the order of listing. No doubt, Mitch McConnell is the most powerful bent politician in Congress. As a true son of the confederacy, Mitch is also twisted. So, Mitch gets to be at the very top of this list. Many another of the bent are both bent and twisted, but, this being the section about the bent, herein, bent outweighs twisted. All Republican Congressional Members, if not bent by, live in fear of, John Robert’s sword of ‘Citizen United’ money. Afore bent U.S. Senators Baines, Lummis, Barrasso, Cramer, Hoeven, Inhofe, Lankford, Cruz, Cornyn, Cassidy, and Kennedy are further bent by the fossil fuel interests in their state. They work for The Fossils. Likewise, so do all their states’ Republican pols. Thanks, John Roberts.

Over the years, until recently, none have held more sway over the Republican Party Party”s bent than Charles and David Koch. They did it with their money. All roads to Republican office went through Wichita. Those who bent to kiss their rings, stayed bent. As a result of this influence, their anti-democratic, libertarian view became the Party’s. Working through state houses, they sought to suppress democracy everywhere; especially in red and border states. Until Trump, no Republican politician dared cross the Kochs. Today, with so much dark money flowing into the Party, one wonders how a Republican politician knows to whom to bend, to where to make the pilgrimage? But, somehow they do.

From the 1970s and until recently, all Republican politicians paid homage to the National Rifle Association (NRA) {the NRA is, itself, a coalition of the lame brained and the twisted}; pledged their fealty and took the blood stained money. Before bent Republican politicians bent even lower when they kissed this ring.

While the Party’s McConnells, Kennedys and Cornyns are throw backs to the 1980s; its Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tom Cotton are its present. Ambitious, vain, and self-centered; they couldn’t care less about the issues facing the nation; their constituents. They will take the money, do the deed; but it is their own callous ambition, vanity, and self-centeredness that bends them most. For the Party’s bent, and especially so for this group, it is themselves first, the Party second, and the Nation be damned.

Many Republican politicians represent a bent constituency. The things Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene says and does are most acceptable to her constituents. So it is with Senator Marsha Blackburn. The 2020 presidential election wasn’t stolen in Georgia, though Trump thought that he had stolen it. In fact, it would have been quite normal for it to have been. As late as 2018, now Governor Kemp stole the governorship. Then, the Republicans didn’t complain at all.

A coalition of the lame brained (the believers), the twisted, and the bent has proven to be a winning one for today’s Republican Party; an unmitigated disaster for our Nation. How is it that these actions and tactics are successful, are tolerated in our Nation? Can our democracy, any democracy, survive such an assault?

For too long we have tolerated the Gerrymandering and filibustering, minority rule being imposed on us by the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College, …, of the ‘States Rights’ garbage that has abetted our being tyrannized by this minority coalition.

As a consequence of our toleration, we now have a ultra right-wing Supreme Court majority, itself representative of a right-wing minority due to the flaw of the U.S. Senate. A majority, each of whom believes, or would have us believe, that the Constitution is scripture, that each of them is smarter than any before who have sat on the Court, that each of them is a Moses, that only they know what is right, and that they must save us from ourselves; even if it kills us, destroys the nation. Not one of this ultra right-wing Supreme Court majority is smart enough to change their minds. We now have a less than scholarly Supreme Court majority that would do Poland, Pakistan, Russia, or Hungary proud. To their reading, the Constitution is frozen into their interpretation of what its 18th century writers meant it to mean. It is far more likely that those wise men of the 18th saw the Constitution as a blueprint, a guide to follow; not as scripture. Those 18th century wise men truly were giants. By comparison, today’s less than scholarly are midgets.

Why this latest resurgence of fascism on our soil? For sure, it didn’t happen yesterday. For sometime now we’ve had those in our elected government and in our courts who didn’t have much use for democracy; who have even said that democracy wasn’t our entitle. Often, they were, and are, put there by rich and powerful people with little or no use for democracy. In Congress, we have had the Tea Party movement followed by the House Freedom Caucus. Democracy was not their cup of tea. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has little if any use for democracy. Neither does Chief Justice John Roberts. They may not identify as fascist, but they do exhibit the syndrome.

The January 6th insurrectionists were a group of manipulables led by those of the fascists syndrome attempting to overturn a democratic election. To their minds, Trump as dictator was the natural order. Per the duplicitous fascists’ handbook, they were opposing tyranny. To their minds, anything but white nationalism was tyranny. Democracy represented everything they detested.

There should be no discounting of the role that the political ascendance of Old Testament Christianity (Evangelicalism) following the 1964 Civil Rights Act has played in fascism’s resurgence in America. The two ‘handbooks’ are not that different. Fascism was around from the days of Abraham and before. Christianity didn’t change it that much. By any name, Fascism is hard to eradicate; just ask the last few ‘His Holinesses’. Then, there is the doubling down by the Orthodox sects of eastern Europe. Today, rather progressing, we have a convergence of retrogrades, the white Christian Evangelicals and the Eastern Orthodoxy. Neither, at best, but an economic downturn away from producing another Hitler or Mussolini.

Unfortunately for the world, fascism comes in flavors and colors to suit; to suit religious sects, governments, autocrats, organizations, think tanks, political organizations, and political parties. Putin, a fascist of a certain color/flavor, is of a feather with his best bud Metropolitan Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ku Klux Klan chose white as a symbol of purity. Fascism comes prêt à porter.

In all its flavors, fascism tend toward the autocratic, far-right, ultranationalistic. And, it seems, there is always an army of willing manipulables standing by.

The outlawing of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the prohibition of unequal voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and public accommodations, employment discrimination, … ; many, many good things flowed from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its passage was one of our finest hours. Heretofore, note was made of the subsequent co-opting of the Republican Party, and the political ascent of the Evangelicals. Several other unintended, also not so good, things flowed from its passage.

The District of Columbia v. Heller decision would have never been handed down but for the support of the southern white conservatives who, following the Acts’ passage, had become Republicans; who had taken charge of this new coalition that was the new Republican Party. To their minds, conservatism meant holding on to the past, pushing back against the changes wrought by the Act; guns were a way of maintaining white supremacy; retaining control. These are the same southern white conservatives who allied with the NRA in its co-option of the Republican Party. (Were they haunted by their past?)

The Jerry Falwell Show would have never gotten out of Lynchburg without the Acts’ passage. But for the Act, few would recognize Pat Robertson’s name. Abortion would have never became the cultural issue it has but for Nixon’s need of the mostly southern white Evangelical vote (yet another instance of the twisted manipulating the manipulable).

It is unlikely that Paige Patterson and Paul Presser would have taken over the Southern Baptists and set about ridding the denomination of liberals, purging those who believed in abortion rights, women’s rights, and gay rights; but for the passage of the Act.

Ronald Reagan would have never been President but for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Be it gun rights, voting rights, or women’s rights; none of the current lame brained/believers, twisted, and bent majority on the Supreme Court would be there without one or more of these not so good things that flowed from the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They may not know that they don’t know; but history will tell.

Finally, beaucoup kudos to Coach Steve Kerr of The Golden State Warriors who spoke truth to power before their 5/24/2022 playoff game with The Dallas Mavericks. The very opposite of major media’s failure to hold Mitch McConnell, the whole of the Republican Party, to account. This isn’t a game; isn’t entertainment. Probably shouldn’t even be a business. It is deadly serious. Media, the lot of you, if you can not do real journalism, get the hell out of the game.

And: Thanks, Dr. Heather Cox Richardson for all the great work. (Eat your hearts out NYT &W.P.)

May 23, 2022, Heather Cox Richardson‘s Substack

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