There really is a struggle for the paradigm we're going to carry into the future going on in this generation. It's not just in this country––you can see it going on in Europe and Asia and all over the world. Here where I struggle, I truly lament that it falls so predictably on partisan lines.
Because I know the thing that affects whether someone skews liberal or conservative is MOSTLY geography. There are other factors like race that are nearly as important [and always more important in some cases] and socio-economic status. Also about 1 in 20 is going to go completely against all other factors--there's lots of nuance. But geography is the main factor.
That means that the culture war of our generation (whether we are going to be insular and exclusionary or inclusive and listen to voices unlike our own) often comes down to states and even counties––at least here in the United States. You could probably get a gerrymandering map and track it by neighborhoods.
That is a dispiriting thought and one that sometimes troubles me when I'm calling out a whole political wing––that so much of our modern socio-political animus is shaped by where we were born, were raised, and where we are now. Being born in the deep south instead of Berkeley doesn't make someone a worse person.
As a writer and an artist and a human who seems to have some empathy, I like nuance. I like messy. I don't like those neat boxes that no one ever quite fits into. I like hearing people's stories. In a larger sense, I hate partisan lines. I really do know good Republicans. Obviously I have my own slant, but I've never been particularly comfortable castigating an entire political wing as somehow fundamentally more....well ANYTHING but certainly not more "evil" or some shit. That doesn't make me very popular in most groups, but I can't help it.
Yet, when I pivot and see who is being hurt (and so many who HAVE been hurt) by these ideologies and the side of the political spectrum in which such harmful philosophies have found such fecund soil, there isn't any question that this has to keep being centered as the crux of modern issues. Maybe it's complicated and not your Republican Uncle's fault, but it has become unavoidable.
Dancing around the fact that Nazis, white nationalists, white supremacists, fascist ideologies, the kinds of people who send death threats to assault reporters, and a tidal wave of naked racism, misogyny, transantagonism, and homophobia continue to be uplifted, supported, and yoked by one side of the political spectrum is patently absurd. Just as the stomping-footed, red-faced insistence that we are still having a conversation about little more than a 3% tax cut on the rich, the size of the federal government, and a few minor philosophical quibbles is disingenuous to the point of mendacity.
As I write these words, in another window, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is testifying, and bringing back up the disjointed yet crystal memories of my own rapes, and the causal way in which those aligning themselves with the right wing have dismissed, and even mocked, the efforts to have more pointed and precise conversations about consent. It is more and more clear that the leader of the Republican party (a serial sexual assaulter who even bragged about being so on tape) will stand behind the nomination of a credibly accused serial sexual assaulter to the highest court of the U.S. and put him in a position to rule over the body autonomy of people with uteruses. It was one side of the political aisle that refused the FBI investigation and instead went after Dr. Ford hoping to destroy her credibility so they could slam a pro-life judge through SCOTUS. It was side that kept repeating (with the kind of rage she would have been called "hysterical" had she displayed) that her enduring the total upending of her life and death threats and moving twice and legal fees she's not even sure she'll be able to pay and total humiliation because women just randomly do this to powerful men was the worst travesty ever witnessed......for the accused.
Image description: Simple text macro that says "Since women
apparently just make this stuff up to harm powerful men, I wonder why Obamawas never accused of sexual assault?"
Maybe he wasn't hated enough.
Yeah, that's probably not it.
The news today has yet another bathroom bill floated by Republicans who claim it is to protect the children, yet they are dismissive of actual claims of sexual abuse and even have open pedophiles running in their party.
Human rights groups, civil rights groups, environmental studies (not the policies but just the actual STUDIES), desire to keep some level of comprehensive health care, bringing up the disaster that would be a policy of "Don't Tax, but Spend Anyway," objecting to inhumane anti-immigration policies...... all these things are reacted to like they are bringing unconscionably left-wing ideas to the table, while Nazis and white supremacists are made into posters for free speech, tolerance, and a painstakingly delicate form of nuance where even getting angry is verboten unless it's white men getting angry (and then it's "impassioned") that they aren't getting what they feel entitled to.
All these have become partisan issues and guess which side is fucking ALWAYS which?
The ideologies and even open written platforms that have been adopted by the right-wing since the Southern Strategy are so consistently hurtful to me and the people I love that I can't tiptoe around the fact that a few good Republicans don't like being lumped in. The faux innocence with which pearls are clutched and the mere suggestion that a CONCENTRATION CAMP FOR CHILDREN, none of whom are white, might not be strictly about immigration and may possibly even be the slightest bit racist has stretched credulity to the point that folks are shocked that even old white men can keep saying it with a straight face. If folks don't want to be lumped in with these political movements that are absolutely enjoying their votes, campaign contributions, canvassing and being done in their names, they need to get their fucking house in order. Otherwise make peace being seen as the party of bigots.
(And they probably want to stop letting cishet white men arbitrate on what bigotry "counts" if they want to convince anyone other than other cishet white men that the results they keep achieving on issue after issue just HAPPEN to have huge statistically racial skewing, but that it's totally this other issue and not a pretense at all....pinkie swear.)
I'm not sure that those carrying the banner of the emerging soul of the Republican party exactly understand how unnecessary this bridge they demand really is. Liberals are younger, poorer, and often a loose confederation of folks who have less institutional, social, and particularly economic power than the white folks who overwhelmingly make up the Republican party (statistically also more likely to be straight, less educated, and men). We're all QUITE capable of imagining economic anxiety and relating strongly to that as an impetus. It's not like half of us are driving for Uber or Lyft because we're saving up for gold filigree dining sets. So when conservatives say that their economic anxiety was more important than the open, outrageous racism, the sexual assault bragging, the wanton misogyny on display in their party's leadership, we pretty much agree with them.
Yep. It was more important. Gotcha. Roger that. 10-4, good buddy. We comprehend.
That's what we've been saying too! Those Republicans who weren't half-way agreeing (and, let's face it, Grand Old Party, very clearly a lot of you were more than half-way agreeing) with the every bigoted thing that was uttered and the literal Nazis on their flank and the white nationalists and the white supremacists, and the pedophiles and the sexual assaulters and and and.....they sure don't seem to be objecting. They've enjoyed these groups not just on their flank but bolstering their political capital, acting as their attack dogs, filling their war chests, radicalizing young white men, and carrying the banner of the Republican party into high office elections.
The concern that this was who conservatives were getting into in bed with wasn't half as meaningful as the promise that specific kinds of good jobs would be returning just for them. (Not the economy boosting "liberal commie" measures like better education, infrastructure improvements, or minimum wage increases, because that's like socialism or something, but that the government would step in and revitalize industries that even the vaunted invisible hand couldn't keep going...just so THEIR economic anxieties would be assuaged.) NOTHING mattered as much as your perception of where the economy might go and the return of a "great" time that was of course about racism and misogyny (because it surely wasn't about the 90% tax bracket and really strong unions).
They were more than willing to look the other way on that "identity politics shit" as long as the bottom line was looking good.
We got the message loud and clear. No bridge needed.
One "side" of this issue has made its guiding star "owning the libs," "fucking snowflakes' feelings," and a brand of "I got mine" smug cruelty so refined that it genuinely seems to take OFFENSE at the suggestion of human empathy.
It isn't that the whole system isn't built on oppressive power structures (it is) or that liberals have their own unexamined forms of bigotry (we do) or even that bigots might have a "D" after their name (boy howdy). It isn't that the left wing is less ridiculous with partisan bullshittery when they are in power.
It's that the right has basically embraced this white supremacist, isolationist, anarcho-capitalist, religious gender essentialism that just seethes hatred to anything they perceive as social justice. They didn't engage in a massive internal struggle with infighting for the soul of the party. They just shrugged and said "Yeah, okay, whatever." Even their vaunted "old guard" leadership all kissed the ring.
- One side has openly and candidly endorsed white supremacists.
- One side's leader has made it a point to make sure the country knew that within a mob of armed white nationalists, one of whom committed murder in the name of the cause, there were "very good people."
- One party leader calls immigrants from central and south America animals, and nations with non-white majorities shithole countries.
- One party has put white supremacists and literal actual Nazis on the ballot....
- ....who have won primaries.
- The leader of the Nazi party LOVES the current leader of the GOP and sees a real opportunity there.
- One party has enjoyed the political mobilization, organization, and campaign contributions of the KKK, literal Nazis, white nationalists, and white supremacists.
- And one party's elected officials are now saying openly racist things on the regular.
I want to be reasonable. I want to be nuanced. I want to see the humanity in "the other," even when I'm part of political movements that are othering conservatives. I do.
They either get to elect, endorse, approve of, finance, and follow with no conditions or stipulations those naked bigots with openly fascist tendencies who they cheer for "speaking their mind" and "never being PC," or they get to, with the tiniest hint of liberal-guilt-inducing plausibility, act utterly offended when we suggest that their side of the political spectrum has been taken over by bigots, and they sure do seem strangely quiet about it.
Oh wait....it seems they already did.
And I can't stand by and pretend that the world is an endless honeycomb of nuance while the people hurt by that choice die behind me.