I rarely quote material from sites like Daily Kos–not because I worry about their essential veracity; I don’t. Despite Republicans’ dishonest insistence on equivalence between media spouting right-wing fantasies and those engaging in leftwing spin, factual assertions on sites like Daily Kos are almost all independently verifiable. They do, however, report from a decidedly liberal perspective, and since this site isn’t intended to cheerlead for any particular political perspective other than my own, I rarely cite to them.
I’m breaking that rule today, however, because I was intrigued by a recent post. File this under “be careful what you wish for.”
The article began by tracing GOP conspiracy theories–fluoridated water, Eisenhower as a committed Communist, etc., through QAnon and Jewish Space Lasers (which is evidently a real theory kicking around in wacko circles, and not simply another Marjorie Taylor Greene mental seizure.)
Apparently, however, there’s a political downside to encouraging your base to disdain anything remotely resembling reality. As the post puts it: When you’ve taught your base to believe nothing but the crankiest of crank conspiracies, how do you get them to listen when you need them?
In the last week, Republicans have noticed that the up = down machine has put them in a position where 90% of the people dying from COVID-19 are their people. That’s because 90% of Democrats are already vaccinated and 99.5% of those dying are unvaccinated. Who are those unvaccinated? Oh, right, the Republican base that’s been taught scientists, doctors, and experts can’t be trusted.
Over the course of that week, Republicans who still think of themselves as party leaders have begun to get louder about suggesting to their followers that maybe, just maybe, taking five minutes out of their day to not die would be a good thing.
The post then took a couple of paragraphs to explain the Republican dilemma:
For Republicans who ever actually cared about the traditional Republican agenda, eh. That’s all gone. For those who care about nothing but their own personal power, they’re out of luck as well. Just ask former Rep. Scott Tipton. Tipton was a conservative Republican who checked all the boxes. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He frequently angered environmental groups with a push to privatize public lands. He was solidly against reproductive rights as well as gay marriage, supported by wads of cash from the oil and gas industry, and he easily won election for 10 years. Then Tipton was knocked out of his primary by a woman who claimed to have inside knowledge about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming arrest as well as secret documents that would reveal the QAnon truth about the pizza-ordering cannibals in Congress.
Marjorie Taylor Greene didn’t step into a seat that was formerly held by a Democrat. She ousted Rep. Tom Graves, who had one of the most conservative ratings in the House. Cawthorn took over Mark Meadows’ former seat in a district freshly gerrymandered to make it super Republican safe, but in doing so Cawthorn actually defeated well-funded conservative businesswoman Lynda Bennett, who was the choice of not just Republicans in the state party but also endorsed by Donald Trump. It’s easy to say that Cawthorn won in spite of posting an Instagram photo celebrating his visit to Adolf Hitler’s vacation residence while explaining that a visit to see “the Führer’s” home was on “my bucket list.” But a more truthful framing would be that Cawthorn won because of his unabashed adoption of white supremacist positions.
What most Republicans in leadership positions today are just beginning to discover is that they are the alt-right. The white nationalist agenda that was cautiously courted along the fringe a decade ago is now the mainstream. If there is still a pro-business agenda, it exists only so much as it locks in racism. If there’s still a social conservative agenda, it survives only as a means of tacking a halo onto actions of hate. And the media outlets that Republicans were counting on to keep the base in line have discovered that it’s even more lucrative to feed them to the volcano god who pays Tucker Carlson’s bills.
As the post concludes, “There’s always another Boebert in the weeds.” No matter how obediently crazy the incumbent, no matter how slavishly devoted to Trump and/or the “big Lie,” there’s always someone willing to mount a primary challenge–someone even more anti-reason, anti-science, anti-Black, anti-Semitic–someone even less-tethered to reality.
These days, the crazier the candidate, the more likely s/he is to win a Republican primary–and in most places, the less likely to win a general election. Even with the GOP’s frantic rush to gerrymander everything in sight, there is a limit to how many red crazy districts they can carve out.