Oh, man, red state Republicans really don’t like Democrats, do they? What could have possibly sparked these DEFCON 1 levels of outrage? Is it the billions in tax dollars blue states funnel to red states through the big, bad federal gubmint? Was it President Joe Biden trying to save their pure, unvaxxed bodies from their Trump-infected brains? Or maybe—and this seems like the more likely answer—they can’t brook seeing LGBTQ+ and other traditionally marginalized people poking their heads out from the margins, asking to be treated like first-class citizens. Life is a zero-sum game, after all. If you get a cookie and then, 10 minutes later, your brother gets a cookie too, it logically follows that you’re now starving.
Of course, we know all about this hate. We feel this hate. It’s long hung over our heads like a lavatory chandelier as we try to choose between the latest edition of “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader” and our nation’s contingency plan for invading Greenland and keeping all the fish oil.
That said, former Florida state representative and current GOP congressional hopeful Anthony Sabatini is really heating up the rhetoric lately.
This is the kind of rant you normally reserve for your diary before burning it in a crematory and burying the ashes in a lead-lined safe below Area 51. But here Sabatini was—the actual chair of the Lake County, Florida, GOP—saying all the quiet stuff out loud as he spoke at the June 17 Florida Teenage Republicans Youth Summit in Leesburg, Florida. In the video, which Lauren Windsor, executive producer and creator of the web show The Undercurrent, recently shared on Twitter, the Jesse Helms-loving Sabatini is heard but not seen. Which is probably for the best, honestly. But what you do hear is simply gobsmacking.
ANTHONY SABATINI: “The only thing that’s good enough is completely and totally destroying the political left in this country. [Enthusiastic applause.] Destroy it. The greatest American general ever, Douglas MacArthur, said there is no substitute for victory and defense is never going to bring you to victory. It’ll never, sitting there and saying, ‘I’m going to defend the Second Amendment, I’m gonna defend this, we’re going to defend, defend, defend.’ Defense gets you nowhere, except where you already are if you’re lucky. It’s tough to defund the left. I’m talking about defunding government agencies, defunding bureaucrats, defunding government schools and going to 100% private schools like Florida is making gestures at right now. Let’s make sure that bill that just passed, House Bill I, gets fully implemented in good faith and we don’t have government schools and we don’t have strings attached to our private education models that are about to emerge here in the state of Florida at a much faster rate. Let’s truly beat the left at the federal level. What does that look like? Gutting the DOJ like a fish and defunding these government agencies. [Applause]
“You know, it’s funny, 10 years ago when we were in a government shutdown, it was the first time the Tea Party really made headway in D.C., people were so afraid of a government shutdown. Oh, what if the government shuts down, that could be so bad. The public thought that would be bad, [we’d reap] the consequences. I can tell you right now, the polls show, and they’re accurate, that independents and people across the political spectrum are so fed up with this federal government. A government shutdown would be considered a major accomplishment by the Republican Party. I think we should actually push for a government shutdown. I think we actually need to defund and destabilize this terror that’s happening to Washington, D.C., that’s quite literally aimed at us and our families and our children and everything that’s going on here. Defund and shut down and destroy the wokeism that exists in this country.
“But the truth of the matter is we need to go so much further. We need to go so much further with our laws at the border. We need to extinguish the left.”
Hoo-boy, there’s a lot to unpack there, and you’d need a hazmat suit to tackle it all, so let’s just focus on a few salient items.
- Sabatini really, really sounds like he’s encouraging political violence here. Because, you know, “defense” is no longer good enough.
- I mean, great American Gen. Douglas MacArthur also said defense was for wimps, and he wanted to nuke China! But it’s not like Sabatini is promoting preemptive violence or anything.
- Red state Republicans would love a permanent government shutdown right up to the point where it threatened the federal largesse they perpetually wallow in. So that’s not happening, even if it sounds really appealing if you don’t think about it for too long.
- Shutting down every public school in the nation sounds like a great rallying cry for 2024. By all means, keep beating that drum. It’s a sure winner.
- So the party of law and order now wants to get rid of the DOJ, huh? It would be far easier to stop holding up a serial lawbreaker as their undisputed standard-bearer, but who ever said Republicans were lazy?
- Exactly which part of the federal government is “woke”? Because I have a feeling it’s not the part that keeps sending red states billions of dollars to repair their roads and bridges and build out rural broadband.
Of course, this kind of rhetoric isn’t really new. Donald Trump has been ginning up these jabronis for years now. Telling a slobbering fan you’ll cover their legal bills if they punch a protester sends a pretty clear signal. And it’s not only possible, but increasingly likely to be elected as a Republican after body-slamming a reporter who asked you a question you didn’t like.
As The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote in October as Republicans celebrated the attack on Paul Pelosi:
Political violence is not an unintended consequence of the MAGA movement. Much like Nike’s swoosh, it is at the center of the movement’s brand.
Violence has become the norm for the MAGA crowd. The House Jan. 6 select committee presented voluminous evidence of violent threats directed at election workers. MAGA-inspired protesters have also shown up at school boards and other local government meetings to threaten public employees. These people are taking signals from MAGA leaders.
Americans should recognize that only one party has instrumentalized this sort of violence.
Such rhetoric and images would never be used by the Democratic Party. Voters horrified by increasingly common political violence should consider if they really want promoters of such behavior in office, where they will have bigger platforms.
But Sabatini, for his part, seems particularly geeked about a new American civil war.
For instance, there was this Oscar Wilde-worthy bon mot:
And that time he pooh-poohed COVID-19 as it continued to ravage the country and the world.
More recently, Sabatini cosigned an assertion that “graphic t-shirts worn by adults” as a key factor in society’s current downward spiral.
In the same vein, he apparently wants to bring back “ugly laws.”
Florida’s 11th District—home to The Villages and other western Orlando ‘burbs—is, unfortunately, ruby red. Incumbent Rep. Don Webster is an election-denying forced birther who somehow almost lost to Laura Loomer in 2022, and already endorsed Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign via a mutual back-scratch.
So does Sabatini have a chance? His outreach to suburban mothers is certainly going swimmingly. So keep talking, Tony—and we’ll see you in ‘24.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.