The Democrats took back the House. Thank God. The alternative is too horrifying to contemplate. One half of one branch of American government isn’t careening full speed ahead into fascism. It’s an important victory. As was the high voter participation. I want to be optimistic, but there are already signs that Democratic leaders in the House are going to fold like deck chairs.
“We have an obligation to try to find common ground.” That’s Nancy Pelosi’s take on developing a strategy for the Democrats going forward. Common ground. There is no common ground with fascism — there is only collaboration. Does Pelosi honestly not realize that fascism is what she and her colleague are wrestling with? Even now? Even after all that’s happened? Even with the camps in the desert?
As more news of egregiously bold voter suppression emerges from the Georgia gubernatorial election and a recount looms in Florida, you’d expect national Democratic leaders to be at the front of the charge to see all the votes counted and shouting about it into every microphone they could find. You’d think they’d also take a closer look at how these and other voting irregularities may have affected Congressional and Senate races Democrats lost. They should be punching as hard as they can, fighting and scratching for every advantage. But that might make it seem like they’re not “classy,” and that seems to be the most important consideration — whatever payoff they get from being seen to be on the high road.
On the high road, your opponents are acting in good faith and civilized debates lead to compromise. Good faith went out the window ages ago, though, and Pelosi and her colleagues are facing down something that cannot be negotiated with — it can only be defeated. The squeamishness around this is going to be the literal death of vulnerable people. Pelosi isn’t one of them, though. Neither is anyone she knows.
Class allegiance is the part of this mess that doesn’t get discussed as much as it should. The “high road” is the path walked by the American aristocracy and the people who aspire to join it. Some are born on properties adjacent to the high road, others claw their way onto it, usually taking the route through an elite university or two. The “obligation” Pelosi is really speaking of is preserving this exclusive space. That’s what she and others who share this point of view are hoping will turn the Republicans heads — the reminder that they’re all meant to be in the same club.
The high road is the path of a mark in America’s current political climate. Civility isn’t going to get the country out of this mess. Pelosi and her colleagues can’t wine and dine their way into a compromise with people who refer to other human beings as an “infestation.” Good-faith negotiating isn’t going to get them anywhere with government officials who circulate doctored videos to smear members of the press.
It’s not just Pelosi who’s lost the plot, though.
An anti-fascist group recently protested outside the home of Fox News anchor, Tucker Carlson, whose show is filled with Klan-baked talking points. Carlson, a professional propagandist, reported damage to his front door, making it seem like a mob was trying to break it down. The claim isn’t supported by the police report of the incident. The protestors did spray paint an anarchist symbol on the driveway. Predictably, people who should know better took everything Carlson said at face value and leapt to his defense. Host of CBS’s The Late Show, Stephen Colbert, described the protest as an act of “monstrous cowardice” and “terrorizing [Carlson’s] family.”
Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic Member of Congress from Hawaii, called the protest “terrorism” and said, “Such terrorism must be condemned no matter if it’s coming from the left or right.” Imagine saying that so soon after a massive assassination attempt by pipe bomb, a massacre at a synagogue, and the targeted murder of two Black Americans and expecting to be taken seriously. But she was. As was Colbert. As were other liberals rending their garments and gnashing their teeth in defense of Carlson. The hand-wringing opinion pieces are still being written and published.
Both sides aren’t the same, and anyone who intimates they are is helping normalize fascism. Their intent is irrelevant. There is a way to disagree with the tactic of direct action at people’s homes without diving headfirst down the rabbit hole of false equivalencies that are designed to make fascism seem more palatable — they are part of the propaganda. There is certainly no need to call this kind of direct action “terrorism” — not when bombs are being sent in the mail.
I find it fascinating that this vigorous response hasn’t been marshaled to protect Christine Blasey-Ford, who has had to move four times and can’t return to her university teaching job, because of the seriousness of the threats she’s received. She was open about her worst fear being that she would speak up, her personal and professional life would be destroyed, and it wouldn’t matter — that Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the Supreme Court anyway. Her worst fear has come to pass, and now that the spectacle has passed, she’s been left to fend for herself. Carlson, unlike Dr. Blasey-Ford, continues to be part of the ongoing three-ring circus, and that’s what makes him important enough to defend. How much of the passionate, hyperbolic defense of Carlson is really about what’s right and how much of it is about securing a place on the high road by being seen publicly defending someone who should be your enemy and re-affirming the “American value” of tolerance?
The great lie of American Exceptionalism is that the country and its people have always been inherently decent and animated by justice. The truth is that America was a brutal Apartheid state until the political uprisings of the Civil Rights Movement dragged the country into a political realm that was less obviously wicked. The roots of the evil were never attacked, though. Not really. The unwillingness of American elites of every political stripe to tell the truth about the history of the country is what is animating these recent paroxysms of fascist apologia. Hand-waving away genocide and chattel slavery requires an immensely powerful program of sustained, multi-generational propaganda. It primes people to be receptive to feel-good untruths like “I don’t see color” that mask the evil of racism. It warps people’s ability to see what’s right in front of them.
They really are fascists.
Every horror associated with that filthy ideology is on the table for America. Seeking “common ground” with it won’t do anything to stop the collapse we’re witnessing; in fact, it will accelerate it. There is no playing both sides on this. The sheep will be separated from the goats.