We all saw this coming.
For reasons passing understanding, the Washington Post has published an op-ed by a “senior fellow” of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute named Danielle Pletka, who claims that she “never considered voting for Trump in 2016” but “may be forced to vote for him this year” because she is terrified, absolutely riven with fear and consumed with dread, of “the tyranny of the woke left.”
Of course, everything that terrifies her comes straight from the annals of Republican fan fiction:
- “Joe Biden would be a figurehead president, incapable of focus or leadership, who would run a teleprompter presidency with the words drafted by his party’s hard-left ideologues.”
- “...devastating economic measures such as the Green New Deal …”
- “...nationalized health care...”
- ”...the dismantling of U.S. borders...”
- ”...the introduction of socialist-inspired measures that will wreck [the] economy...”
And that well-rehearsed, standard-issue, boilerplate tripe is just the appetizer. It gets really scary after that:
- ”... the grip of Manhattan-San Francisco progressive mores [on] my daily newspapers, my children’s curriculums and my local government.”
- ”...the virtue-signaling bullies who increasingly try to dominate or silence public discourse — and encourage my children to think that their being White is intrinsically evil...”
- “...the growing self-censorship that guides many people’s every utterance...”
Then there’s the usual bullshit about how Biden, like every Democrat, “would slash defense spending” and be “hostil[e] to the state of Israel,” all of which Republican fans/enablers are required to believe and dutifully recite whenever they have to justify voting for the GOP’s cruel, destructive, ruinous policy agenda that, by design, harms far more people than it helps.
The piece is a variation on a couple of themes, which I’ve written about before and with which we’re all intimately familiar. One is that conservatives, by and large, are utterly incapable of any degree or semblance of honesty when it comes to describing Democratic policies or liberal/progressive policy goals; i.e., they can’t describe those policies or goals in a way that liberals/progressives, or anyone else outside the GOP/Fox comic-book universe, would agree with, or even understand.
Another is that no matter how depraved, faithless and malevolent the Republican Party and its more rabid right-wing fans/enablers become, the alternative has to be spun into something worse:
I suppose it’s possible for someone to believe that progressive taxation and having a social safety net (i.e., collecting taxes from those who can afford them and providing services and assistance to the needy) is actually worse than ... oh, I don’t know ... theocratic oligarchy, white nationalism, oppressing women, persecuting gay people and non-white immigrants, voter suppression, trading arms for hostages, cynically and hypocritically impeaching a sitting President for purely political reasons, blowing up a balanced budget, going to war on false pretenses, aggressively promoting guns, pollution and religious fundamentalism, stealing a Supreme Court seat, and writing a tax code to benefit themselves and their wealthy donors at everyone else’s expense.
Pletka actually makes this ubiquitous and appalling double standard explicit by claiming that the “horrible nasties” and “execrable gun-toting racists” that make up the Republican base “do not represent the mainstream of the Republican Party or guide the choices of the vast mass of Republican members of Congress,” but that the same can’t be said for the Democrats because “so much of the party’s thinking is driven by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).”
One can only wonder whom she imagines “so much of” the GOP’s “thinking is driven by” these days.
When it all comes down to it, to the extent there’s any truth to anything Pletka says she’s afraid of in the bullet points quoted above, the reality is not terrifying at all. The first set of bullet points are just variations on the standard Republican theme — an article of faith, really — that absolutely anything and everything Democrats want to do to improve the lives, health, safety, education, financial well-being, equality, &c. of all Americans, not just those with seven-or-more-digit incomes, are “devastating” “socialist-inspired measures that will wreck the economy.” They’ve been saying that for decades and it’s never been true. That anyone still believes it is a tragedy and a farce:
it means, “holding the wealthy and powerful men, corporations, and industries that own [the Republican] Party accountable for the harm they cause to the public, workers, consumers, and the environment.”
The Republican “agenda” is to allow its owners to run roughshod over everyone and everything else; the Democratic “agenda” is to prevent that — which is what Republicans and Fox News mean when they talk about “socialism” or a “far left agenda.” And it’s why they’re so terrified, and want the public to be terrified, of a Democratic-controlled federal government.
The second set of bullet points, again to the extent there’s any truth to it, is even less cause for fear: the existence of people with thoughts, ideas, priorities and values that Pletka doesn’t share and doesn’t like, whose existence she can feel free to ignore if Grand Nagus Drumpf is president but not, apparently, if Joe Biden is president. That’s the most mind-boggling thing of all; not just that the “woke left” is somehow worse, more dangerous and more threatening than the racists and the militias and the religious cranks and the gun-strokers and the idiocracy, but that somehow electing or re-electing a Republican president — even a demented racist gangster — is a rational solution to that “problem.”
Again, we all know all of this.
So what’s The Washington Post doing publishing a gaslighting, fear-mongering pile of Republican fan fiction on its op-ed page? (The comments, well over 15,000 as of this posting, are savage.)
Notwithstanding the paper’s editorial decisionmaking, what Pletka’s piece indicates to me is that the owners of the GOP are not going to give up their license to pollute, abuse, exploit, poison, maim and kill so easily, so they need the so-called “never Trumpers” to, proverbially speaking, come home to Papa, and Pletka was chosen to give them permission to do so. Republicans and their owners know that a Democratic government will mean accountability for the harm they cause to the public, workers, consumers and the environment. That’s what they are, and have always been, afraid of.