There’s Always Another Cynical Battle in Our Stupid Culture War

Col. Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally at the Gospel Tabernacle in Fort Wayne, IN; Oct 3, 1941 (Photo: AP)

The Republican Party is a fascist death cult. This is not hyperbole but rather a simple statement of fact, borne out by the GOP platform adopted by the 2020 Republican National Convention and submitted for the public record:

“RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda….”

The Trump White House never had a coherent policy for dealing with covid-19, if it even had any interest at all in developing one, leaning instead on an inane but deadly promise of herd immunity (with conservative projections under such a policy adding up to at least 1,385,800 American dead) and punting the national response to a global pandemic to the ill-equipped states.

Thus, the succeeding Biden administration inherited a steaming pile of states’ rights slathered with an accelerant of disinformation and conspiracy theories from the federal level. Republican lawmakers just fought in lockstep against the Democratic legislative majority’s American Rescue Plan, even as a Morning Consult/Politico poll concluded that 76% of American voters like the bill, including 60% of Republicans.

Republicans love to regurgitate that old Rahm Emanuel quote about never letting a disaster go to waste because every accusation is a confession. So, when a blast of arctic air hit Texas while a heavy storm front collapsed the state’s independent and unregulated power grid, of course Texas conservatives found a use for their disaster to charge into the Green New Deal and just another stupid battle in their cynical culture war.

It’s a neat trick. It’s slight of hand. Look over here (Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head), not over there (at the senate Republicans obstructing voting rights and pandemic relief bills)! Nobody does cancel culture better than Republicans and other conservatives.

They always do this. They don’t even treat it like a policy difference. Instead, any Democratic policy priority is “cultural Marxism” and an assault on basic freedoms and liberty. It’s always the same. It is always an “assault on religious liberty” and “baby-killing” and never about the right of a woman to make a decision about her own body and terminate a pregnancy that is not even considered human life in the Bible.

So, what is this culture that our culture warriors need to prevail? We read and hear an awful lot of Republican lip service to the Constitution with only the narrowest interpretations of any of the specific cultural principles enumerated in the document’s preamble, like establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

The twin Republican public policy priorities remain the privatization of public services while deregulating private industry for the benefit of moneyed interests and at the expense of the general welfare. Republicans talk a good game about free markets but the all-too-common results of their policy priorities are privatizing profits and socializing costs; and the moral of the story always comes down to measuring virtue by wealth. Prosperity gospel is about control over the many by the few. That is not supposed to be how it works here.

It never seems to take long for people to forget that they’ve been conned (it’s never a pleasant thing to dwell on). I’m ancient enough to remember Pat Buchanan’s “culture war for the soul of America” speech at the Republican Convention back in the 90s and they’ve been laying the hyperbole on thick ever since. We all should have remembered that line of bullshit when the Bush-Cheney regime took the torch. By now, too many of us have even forgotten stuff like Bush and Cheney’s “ownership society” act and let themselves believe that Obama caused the housing industry’s financial crisis.

We must remain engaged. That must be our culture and that has always been the hard part.

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