September 22, 2023
The house is crumbling
Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. . .
Lincoln used the house-divided metaphor in describing the situation of the United States prior to the Civil War. It applies as well today. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the division is so great today that our society, our culture, our democratic political system are in danger of collapse. There is no consensus on basic facts, let alone policies, and the Republican philosophy (stance, attitude) is one of opposition based on fantasy. The resort to fantasy is partly of necessity, as they have few legitimate complaints about the Biden administration, but that has not prevented the move to impeach him. Having no positive program, they indulge in destructive posturing. As Speaker McCarthy said of some of his colleagues, they “just want to burn the whole place down.”
Much of the political Right is trapped in a self-imposed flight from reality. a sort of self-imposed insanity. Pretending that there is no climate change or that it has no role in current climate extremes or that the glut of guns is not a major factor in mass shootings is daffy enough. Opposing Covid vaccines in the face of evidence that they save lives is not only ignorant; it is suicidal. What sort of political philosophy leads people to refuse life-saving medical aid?
A weekly newsletter from Media Matters lists claims by media figures or politicians on the right which are so ludicrous that it seems impossible that they believe what they say. The newsletter includes, appropriately, the categories “This week in stupid”, “This week in scary” and “Excuse Me?” listing comments especially inane. A column in The Washington Post set out many examples from Republicans in the House, some offered during a “hearing” which praised January 6 rioters.
The craziness reaches one of its peaks in talk of separation and even civil war. Much of this is prattle, but it feeds feelings of resentment and oppression, and there are too many people out there who will take such talk seriously. Another peak is the tendency on the right toward authoritarianism, aided by vote suppression
The Donald, apparently proud of his mug shot, is using it as a fund-raising vehicle. He has posted it on the site mysteriously known as X. The brief text includes “ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” no doubt intended as a claim that the indictment damages his re-election campaign. Ironically, it also refers to the charges against him. Apparently he thinks that the head-lowered, scowling pose portrays strength and determination, the image of a strongman, the leader of the new authoritarian state. What it really shows is a petulant, defiant child saying “you can’t make me.”
If enough voters see that, we may not elect him. However, some of the crazies might take his defeat as the trigger for violent overthrow. We have a long way to go to rebuild that house.
37 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/sep/21/government-shutdown-latest- spending-vote-mccarthy-republicans
38 The same actually could be said of the first two as well.
39. Dana Milbank, “As Trump is arrested, Republicans honor the insurrectionists."