Not In Good Faith

I’m slowly getting back to myself after the Snowpocalypse and Concomitant Freezing. Everyone in the house is fighting off another flulike bug, probably spread from the Princess’s workplace or the Prince’s school and grown virulent in confinement. So far I’ve been able to stave it off with sleep and exercise, but who knows how long that will last? The news adds its own layer of depression, too, except for the marches and resistance. I can, when I have enough energy, feel some hope that decent people outnumber der Turmper and his brownshirts.

The trouble is, my energy is at not quite an all-time low, but close. I just…there is so much wrong. The list of lies der Turmper has inflicted on the public is seemingly endless, and he’s already signing executive orders that will kill people. Make no mistake, that’s what they’ll do–defunding Planned Parenthood and Medicare kills people. The right wing has installed a reality TV Muppet in our highest office, one they think will hand them and their corporate masters everything they want as long as they figure out how to stroke his ego. And as long as der Turmper’s narcissism is being fed, he doesn’t care that he’s being used. It’s a perfect marriage, really, except, like I said, it will kill people.

If you don’t care to hear what I have to say about this, stop reading now. That’s all the warning I’m going to give.

I grew up with conservative bigots, and I can tell you that plenty of them now are thinking that only people who disagree with them will die. It doesn’t work like that, of course, but they won’t admit as much. I used to think conservatives and bigots were just misled, but now, with a much wider experience of human beings, I don’t. Their innocence is a fiction I can no longer afford to believe. Conservative bigots do not argue in good faith; they know they are wrong, they know they are bigots. If they didn’t, facts would make an impression on their hatreds.

The right-wing authoritarian mindset is an exceedingly fragile one, requiring much violence and propping-up on a daily basis. Don’t believe me? Listen to a few hours of right-wing talk radio, and listen to the lies peddled and the fearmongering. The ego of an authoritarian is large but easily punctured, a paper balloon. (It’s no secret that a bully’s ego is just the same.) It requires constant applications of fear, faux righteousness, and adulation in order to stay upright.

If you’re interested, a good rundown of how this is often applied in evangelical circles is here. Really, the same playbook is used by gaslighting abusers, racist organizations, and right-wing authoritarians. It’s used because it works, and because so many people want to believe they are heroes without doing any damn work.

Is my analysis harsh? Yes. Do I think I’m being overly judgmental? No.

No, I do not.

I remember the ass-end of the Reagan years. I remember when conservative talk radio underwent its huge flowering, back when Rush Limbaugh was a hot rising star and fax machines lit up with his devoted followers’ circulars. I remember 9/11 and the march to war afterward, and how people knew the WMDs were a lie but wouldn’t hold Bush Jr and his cabal accountable. I remember every fucking conspiracy theory about the Clintons, I remember the daily–daily!–attempts to rob Obama of legitimacy. Time and again I have seen how the Republicans work.

Not only that, but I grew up with this. I know their dogwhistles. They beat me when I didn’t live up to some arbitrary rule for the day, or when my facial expression wasn’t the “right” one (at eight years old) or when they had a bad day somewhere and had to take it out on someone weaker because just fucking dealing with it like an adult was not their cuppa tea. I listened to them at family gatherings, I heard all the “jokes” designed to grind women, minorities, or a different religion into the mud. I was even once beaten with a Bible for daring to say war was bad, after having a list of casualties from Vietnam and Korea rubbed on my face so hard the skin broke and bled and I had to lie at school the next day about falling down.

Yes, I know these people. I know them intimately. I do not believe them innocent. Those who are not consciously evil are still dangerous, and I do not believe them innocent at all. I can feel empathy for a rattlesnake’s fear, but I don’t have to let it bite me.

The thing is, we are in a mass of these rattlesnakes, they have wormed their way into power as a culmination of decades of using the Abuser’s & Bully’s Playbook, and fighting them off is exhausting.

If there is one thing I want you, the reader, to take away from this (rather long) ramble, it is this: Stop thinking that der Turmper and the Republicans are arguing in good faith. They are not. They are after power and money, and will kill whoever is in their way because they have convinced themselves they are heroes of a 50s kitsch America-that-never-was. If there is a way out of this, it lies not on the path of trying to meet them in the middle. Rational people have been trying to “meet them in the middle” for DECADES, and I have never seen it work. What I’ve seen instead is the right wing screaming, sulking, and gaslighting until they get their way, then turning even more viciously on anyone who didn’t immediately cave in to their demands. Over and over and over again I’ve seen it. To paraphrase S. Jason Black, when I put my key in the ignition for the hundredth time and the car starts the hundredth time, it’s ridiculous to even think the two aren’t connected.

Just because rational people with a normal dose of empathy can be met halfway does not mean that right-wing authoritarians or conservative bigots can. There is no middle ground for them, only their boot stamping endlessly on a human face and their pockets full of useless gold while they crouch slavering and grinning on a mound of corpses, listening to a recorded crowd’s adulation.

I am not resigned to having my face stomped in. But I am so, so tired today.

Over and out.