Tom Tomorrow asks how we’ve managed to undo so much so quickly.
It’s an excellent question.
But as the seeds of all those reforms were being planted, the seeds of their destruction were also being sown.
The 1968 Presidential Campaign in which Nixon edged out Humphrey saw George Wallace mount a redneck-based effort that secured him five states and nearly enough electoral votes to throw the decision into the House.
And Nixon created the EPA, but he also launched a “Silent Majority” movement that included unleashing hardhats to assault antiwar demonstrators, then inviting them to the White House.
So Tom Tomorrow is right that we made a lot of progress in those days, but, then again, it was hardly without opposition, and those who attribute the rightwing backlash to Reagan are missing a dozen years of history.
And those who think the change came with Donald Trump, or that getting Donald Trump off the scene will somehow quiet this counterrevolution, are even further off base.
Trump’s election was a symptom of a counterrevolution well underway, not just by the Republican Party but with the support of a significant portion of the electorate.
Pat Byrnes encapsulates the basic motivation behind this mob, but the phenomenon was built over decades of convincing people that they are victims.
It wasn’t just Spiro Agnew and George Wallace and Ross Perot driving the message home. We also saw a change in entertainment, in which angry rednecks became protagonists of popular sitcoms, mainstreaming discontented fury beyond the political arena.
Nor was it just “Roseanne” and “Married With Children.” As I’ve noted before, if Norman Lear were truly a champion of liberal thought, he’d have slapped cease-and-desist letters on the people selling “Archie Bunker for President” merch.
Gary Varvel (Creators) demonstrates things with a comparison, in his view, of the response to Presidential Covid, which he attributes to a straw dog drummed up by people who depict “The Media” one day as a liberal monolith but the next day brag of the high ratings Fox News achieves.
In this case, Varvel notes that reports of Trump’s infection, a serious bout that sent him to the hospital with a relative lack of transparency, were more drastic than current reports of a vaccinated Biden’s experience, in which he has isolated himself in his office and continued to work with only minor symptoms.
Varvel might have credited the difference to the development of vaccines under Trump, but vaccines are already part of several rightwing paranoid conspiracy theories, which cuts off that approach.
So it must be the liberal media, once again attempting to deceive good patriotic Americans!
Scott Stantis attempts to illuminate the disconnect between rightwing language and rightwing actions by pointing out the intrusions into private life by the party that preaches freedom while working to end it.
The hypocrisy and doublespeak should be obvious, but the selling point is that, under their gentle guidance, we will all be free to be Christian, straight and, if not strictly of Northern European origin, at least acculturated to behave as if we were.
Paul Berge points out that this grotesque, hypocritical intrusiveness is not simply ignored but celebrated, with the greatest hypocrite of all being a Supreme Court justice who has called for overturn of laws about contraception and gay marriage, but forgot to include the right established under the selfsame legal reasoning that permitted his interracial marriage.
The boilerplate phrase, “Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace” is a call for objections on legal, not personal grounds — for instance, that one party is already married, that the two are consanguineous, or, if Uncle Clarence has his way, that they are of the same sex.
So, yes, those people caught it. They’re hoping to never again have to hold their peace but to enjoy the freedom of controlling other people’s lives.
And despite John Cole’s distaste for Doug Mastriano, his home state’s Republican candidate for governor, it would be a serious mistake to assume that a Jan 6 insurrectionist actively allied with neo-nazis and other hatemongers cannot win election.
NBC reports that other Republicans are backing away from this toxic candidate, but their only play is to stay home on election day, since it’s unthinkable in these polarized days to vote for a sane, decent member of the opposite party.
Mastriano’s trailing in the polls, but certainly not at a level that should provide any comfort to supporters of non-lunatic governance.
And if that’s not enough to give you the collywobbles, Herschel Walker, who has lied about his academic background, lied about his unacknowledged children, lied about his professional experience, admitted to assaulting women and to needing psychiatric help, is within the margin of error of winning his race for the Senate.
Why on earth would anybody vote for such an obviously unqualified, untrustworthy, deranged candidate?
One reason is because he’s famous. They’ve heard of him.
The world is full of autocrats who win elections because the peasants in these backward countries think an election is a test in which you choose the person you’ve heard of, or the person you expect to win, or that you answer the question, “Which of these men is our leader?”
We’re already in danger of becoming one of those backward countries.
Another reason is that we’ve turned politics into sport in which you back your team out of loyalty.
Why would people vote for Mastriano or Walker?
Out of loyalty to the team, and a sense that loyalty is even more admirable when you’re getting nothing in return.
We’ll see if they come to the polls with bags on their heads in November, given, as Pat Bagley points out, the GOP’s insistence on interfering in their personal lives.
I note the Republicans opposed stem cell research until Reagan got Alzheimers, and that they opposed gay rights until Dick Cheney’s daughter came out, and that they have a history of trimming their sails to their own winds.
We’ll see what happens when their army of exploited suckers start getting pregnant and find they have no way out.
(But you still have to vote in November.)