Category Archives: Politics

Assorted political linkage

Abby Johnson is an anti-feminist who got some attention in 2020 for saying only the head of the household should vote — which (as covered in Undead Sexist Cliches) is one of the standard excuses sexists offer for why women not having suffrage is justifiable: the man, as head of the household, voted for his family.

Which is bullshit. Widows who headed households couldn’t vote. Single women couldn’t vote. Single men with no household could vote; sons living with their parents could vote; younger brothers living with  wealthier brothers could vote. But she’s also a devoted forced-birther who recently declared her enthusiasm for executing ob/gyns who perform abortion (I’m unclear whether she includes the patients as well, but it sure sounds like it).

It’s not a good sign when they feel comfortable saying the quiet parts out loud, like right-winger Patrick Howley saying he supports free speech until the right is able to take it away from liberals.

I’m not sure what it signifies that Jim Bakker claims Christian pastors are already being executed for controversy.

Missouri Republicans want to prevent pharmacists from saying ivermectin isn’t a covid cure. Over in Florida, Typhoid Ron DeSantis has wealthy anti-vax supporters. And Senator Ron Johnson accepts claims that covid vaccines give you AIDS. An Oklahoma Republican wants Fauci executed.

Florida Republicans are bad in other ways, too. And yet other ways.

Fascist attorney John Eastman had a simple path to Trump stealing the election: make numbers up.

Some conservatives insist the Alito draft opinion on Roe v. Wade won’t affect gay marriage, contraception rights or interracial marriage because they’re so popular. Of course, that’s what they said about overruling Roe … and right-wingers are eager to get to the overruling.

A mostly black town in Tennessee looks to benefit from a Ford plant opening near by. State officials want to take over running the town.

Republicans continue equating gay characters to adult sexual material that should be kept from kids. Even to the point of hiding it in library databases. At least some teens are fighting back.

The Texas Bar is suing allegedly corrupt state attorney Ken Paxton — who by amazing coincidence is now suing them.

Despite all the right-wing lies about “groomers” they’re fine when the grooming’s coming from inside the house. Fred Clark links to a few more examples. And here. And here.

The real reasons gas prices are so high. And prices in general are going up so companies can enjoy record profits.

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Replacement theory, Republicans and misogynist Matt Walsh.

You’ve probably hear by now about the Buffalo shooting fueled by the killer’s belief in the great replacement theory, that Democrats are deliberately important non-white immigrants to destroy the white race. As explained at the link, it’s a protean paranoia that can attach its rage to multiple targets: Jews (they’re behind it), immigrants, environmental destruction (but blaming it on immigrants) and white women who don’t have enough babies. It can therefore justify anti-immigrant policies, anti-abortion policies and opposition to feminism. Among the reasons college is bad for women is that educated women have fewer kids — though to be clear, misogynists hate women’s education for lots of reasons.

It was popular with racists in the last century but it hasn’t vanished in this one. As the Washington Post says, Tucker Carlson and a number of other of prominent right-wing pundits believe it or claim they do. Elise Stefanik is one of multiple congresspeople who claim to agree. Stefanik’s pseudo-outraged response was that pointing out her statements was the same as saying the shooting was her fault waaaah, why are liberals so mean?

Forgive me for stating the obvious but this is a racist theory. It’s based on the idea that the U.S. is a white nation and that nonwhite immigrants are going to take “our” country away from us. Guess what, if nonwhite citizens outnumber white citizens they’re perfectly entitled to elect the officials of their choice. That’s how democracy works. And it’s unlikely a Latino-run government would do any worse than Republican WASPS.

A number of conservatives, such as Laura Ingraham, claim they’re only concerned about illegal immigration but their words show they’re lying. Ingraham we should put the blame for Buffalo on the media, presumably exempting her own channel, Fox. A network that, coincidentally, is avoiding any mention of replacement theory as the killer’s motive.

Some conservatives, such as the Wall Street Journal editorial page, have condemned the theory. I will give them credit for that. But the bulk of them? Not so much. Arizona State Senator and raving anti-semite Wendy Rogers blames it on the feds. Franklin Graham says only Jesus can stop mass shootings (funny how our deeply Christian nation has more than many nations with fewer believers).

But then there are people such as right-wing Christian Matt Walsh. While I blogged about Matt Walsh’s misogynistic writing almost a year ago, I had no particular reason to think he was racist as well as misogynist. My bad: he’s now claiming Democrats “want to minimize what they call whiteness in America … this isn’t a conspiracy theory. There’s nothing wild or speculative about it. It’s just a fact. And one of the ways you know that it’s a fact is the left and the media — The New York Times, CNN — they’ve been very open about it, many times. So if it is a theory — if the great replacement theory is a theory, then it’s a theory propagated by the left. They’re the ones who go around talking about this supposed scourge of whiteness.”

Much as I despise Walsh, I doubt he’s idiot enough to think criticizing whiteness (whether he means CRT, the 1619 project or merely pointing out racism is widespread) translates into “we must take power away from white people.” So I assume he’s lying, even though in Christianity, bearing false witness against your neighbor is a big no-no. Whether he’s lying because it’s good for his bottom line or he’s racist and wants nonwhites to stay out, I cannot say.

I cover more misogynists and more on misogynist lies about women’s education, in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers.

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DeSantis: Sexual harassment training is evil, just like Disney is evil!

As you all probably know, Fla. Governor Ron DeFascist and his fellow Republicans are outraged that Disney dared defy him and question the wisdom of Don’t Say Gay. He’s claiming that Disney’s sexing up cartoons — as noted at the link, it’s not a new thing in cartoons — but it’s doing the job of encouraging corporations to collaborate. He’s unsurprisingly fine with Nazis protesting Disney. And his party’s on board too: Josh Hawley’s suddenly discovered corporate copyright lasts too long and needs to be changed. Provided you’re a corporation with $150 billion in revenue so it’s not like he’s targeting revenue.

While I agree copyright stretches out way too long, altering the law to punish specific companies is not a good alternative.  Once again, Republicans show themselves as the Stalinists they pretend to despise. It was a staple rule in the old USSR, and many other oppressive states, that you either give lip service to party orthodoxy or pay a price. It’s not the first time, either: back when George Soros looked at buying into major league baseball, some Republicans said that would cost MLB its antitrust exemption. But the important thing from Republicans’ perspective is that its discouraging other corporations from speaking up.

The focus on Disney and DeSantis’ hating on gays shouldn’t obscure that he’s also punching down at sexual-harassment and diversity training. It bans training that says, for example, that race, sex or national origin make some people privileged, or that tells employees they should feel “guilt, anguish or psychological distress” because of actions committed by people who share their race or gender. If an employee thinks their employer has crossed the line, they can sue.

Rather like the Texas abortion bounty hunting program this is considerably more freewheeling than a policy supervised by the government. Would saying that statistically more men than women commit harassment or that women have to deal with harassment a lot qualify? Even if the employee loses, it’s going to cost the employer time and money, providing an incentive for employers to be very, very careful about harassment and diversity training).

Like Don’t Say Gay, the primary goal here is proving DeSantis is fascist enough to be a Republican presidential candidate. I suspect the right-wingers who complain sexual harassment is an arbitrary standard will be fine with it. They’re not offended by sexual harassers such as Madison Cawthorne or Roy Moore. Like Suzanne Venker they assume the problem is that women are there in the workplace so it’s their fault. Just keep women and men apart at work and if women’s careers suffer, well why should misogynists care? Likewise, the assumption is that diversity is a synonym for “minorities and women getting jobs they aren’t qualified for” in contrast to the fantasy era when white people ran everything because they were superior.

I don’t know if DeSantis believes any of that or is just making a calculated political gesture. Like his enthusiasm for punching down at gays to gain political points, it’s vile either way. Which unfortunately makes him a perfect Republican.

I have a chapter on sexual harassment-excusing bullshit (including the Pence Rule) in  Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers.

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Some pundits pretend repealing Roe v. Wade is no big deal

I disagree. If you follow my blog regularly, you know that. Nevertheless, syndicated conservative columnist Kathleen Parker assures us that none of the judges want to go down in history as the ones who opened the floodgates for forced-birthers. Of course, as noted at the link, Parker also wrote in 2016 that Congress would rein in Trump’s worst impulses so it wouldn’t be a catastrophe if he got elected. I doubt her precognitive abilities have improved.

Ramesh Ponnuru insists that even if Roe goes the right to contraception is not in danger and there’s no chance of a national abortion ban. Gay conservative Andrew Sullivan claims that gay marriage is totally different from abortion and so should be safe. It would be bad if gays couldn’t marry you see, while making it possible for states to ban abortion is just fine with him.

I presume they’re either clueless or trying to damp down the possibility of a pro-choice backlash in November. But plenty of politicians, including Mitch McConnell, feel confident enough to say that yes, they might ban contraception (assuming SCOTUS throws out the relevant cases) and yes, a national abortion ban is on the table. On the other hand the National Republican Senatorial Committee is telling this year’s candidates to say they don’t want to put women or doctors in jail or to take away access to contraception. For most candidates these will be lies, possibly finely parsed (“I don’t want to put women in jail but if the sluts kill their babies, they have it coming.”).

Even without any of that, anti-abortion laws post Roe will get worse. Christian pundit TIsh Harrison Warren, however, is more optimistic, suggesting the pro-life movement will now do positive things: better community resources, child care, economic support for mothers, etc. Other pundits have made similar claims. I think Warren’s sincere, but she’s also fooling herself; as LGM says, if Republicans wanted to do that, they’d already have done it. Nothing’s stopping them. Except their own misogyny. For example South Dakota state Republican Wayne Steinhauer helped kill a bill offering more job protection for pregnant women: if their employer doesn’t support them, they should just quit.

We have people like one guy crowing “your body is mine and you’re having my baby.” Or the online Trump-worshipping trolls who suddenly discover women have to be responsible (see here). Alito says it’s a matter for the voters, ignoring that SCOTUS and Republicans are building towards minority rule. To say nothing of the draft opinion citing the domestic supply of infants as a relevant issue because that makes it harder for other women to adopt. Which is, I’m sure, linked to the conviction that America needs women breeders. And the neo-Nazi view that their wombs belong to men. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, women are individuals with the right to make their own choices, not a means to an end, either society’s or men’s.

Then there’s the question of how they’ll enforce the ban. Monitor cell phone location data? Turn an ob/gyn’s office into a room full of informers? Access period-monitoring apps and see if there are irregularities (which is normal and common, but I doubt they’ll accept that)? Investigate miscarriages, Just In Case? As Jennifer Rubin says at the link “since the ‘crime’ takes place in a woman’s womb, the enforcement mechanism by necessity will be intrusive.” And abortion bounty hunters (as under the Texas law) aren’t officially government agents so they aren’t hindered by the Fourth Amendment at all.

One woman who went to her doctors with a miscarriage — up to that point, she hadn’t known she was pregnant — saw how suspicious they could suddenly become. Texas pharmacies have begun refusing prescriptions for miscarriage treatments in case they’re for secret abortions. Other women have gone to jail for miscarriages already. Misogynist Georgia lawmaker Bobby Franklin (he once proposed rape victims be referred to in the justice system as rape accusers unless there was a conviction) wanted the state to investigate all miscarriages as potential homicides. As Fred Clark points out, some conservative Christians believe miscarriages come from sin so it’s perfectly reasonable to hold the mother responsible.

It isn’t.

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This seems like a good time for a link post about abortion, does it not?

Yes, it can get worse.

Republicans have lied in the past and pretended women who get abortions won’t ever be prosecuted. Now, though? Conservative Louisiana politicians are already looking at making abortion a homicide and charging the mother. The Missouri legislature was looking at a bill that would criminalize aborting ectopic pregnancies, even though the fetus can’t be saved. The sponsor, Brian Seitz objects the bill wouldn’t affect ectopic abortions because they’re legal — but then what was the point of the ban?

My guess is that he does want to criminalize them — it’s not like this would be unique — but backed off when the opposition got intense. Of course, even laws which don’t flat out ban treating them can intimidate doctors — is it a life-threatening emergency yet, or not?

Ohio Republican Jean Schmidt thinks forcing teenage rape victims to bear their rapist’s baby is a personal growth opportunity. Again, this is a standard-issue right-wing viewpoint. So are lies about ob/gyn science and abortion.

The son of an ob/gyn who performed abortions says the media and medical professionals trying to pacify forced-birthers hasn’t worked out well.

Adoption is not the miracle solution to replacing abortion.

If abortion is illegal we’ll see more doctors reporting patients to the cops, even when not required.

Neither is Republican Senator Susan Collins saying she’s really, really upset that judges she voted to appoint didn’t tell the truth about their abortion views. It’s her MO in most awkward political situations — wring her hands and then do absolutely nothing. Other Republicans are focusing their outrage on whoever leaked the draft.

Alito’s draft opinion says gosh, his reasoning doesn’t apply to any rights or prior decisions but Roe, but the same logic could easily apply to rights of gay marriage, birth control and interracial marriage. LGM thinks gay marriage is the only one immediately at risk but I think the poster underestimates right-wing hostility to sexually active women. Though Republican pundits such as Megan McArdle are very loud that it’ll never happen.

But it can get better. Stopping medical abortions will be a lot tougher than surgical procedures. Voting pro-choice Dems into office or keeping them in office can help protect our rights (the Activate America campaign I’m working on now has that goal).

Some abortion providers in blue states are looking at other ways to help. Connecticut just passed a bill refusing to accept the various “sue a provider even out of state” laws red states are passing. More like this, please.

For more on the misogynist reasoning and lies of the forced-birth movement, read Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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J.D. Vance: if you don’t want a dictatorship, that shows you’re biased!

That’s an observation Vance — now the Republican candidate for senator from Ohio — makes in a Vanity Fair article on relationships between him, his backer Peter Thiel and neoreactionary Curtis Yarvin. At one point Vance suggests Trump should just fire everyone in federal government and replace them with loyalists; if the courts say that’s not legal, he should ask how they plan to enforce that. From the article:

I’d asked Vance to tell me, on the record, what he’d like liberal Americans who thought that what he was proposing was a fascist takeover of America to understand.

He spoke earnestly. “I think the cultural world you operate in is incredibly biased,” he said—against his movement and “the leaders of it, like me in particular.”

Well, yes, I am biased. I think dictatorship is bad. Vance clearly doesn’t, and Yarvin’s been advocating for it for years. Like many conservatives Yarvin despises democracy, believing in “unconditional personal authority, subject to some responsibility mechanism.” He does not specify the mechanism; he seems much more interested in the power. Reading about him I get the impression he genuinely dislikes the idea of government that has to answer to the people; much better the people shut up and obey their superiors. Who will, of course, be predominantly white and male, and totally include him.

This is not a new thought, of course: Justice Rehnquist of the Supreme Court once wrote about how monarchy worked better than democracy because the plebes just shut up and obeyed the king instead of thinking they should have a say in running things. That said, a couple of things leapt out at me reading the article. As LGM says, it reads like another example of would-be revolutionaries/dictators convinced they’re edgy and cool and saying the unsayable.

In reality they’re cliches, the revolutionaries dreaming that once they sweep the old order away they’ll build as close to utopia as possible. They’re little different from the radical left of the 1960s, the French revolution, the Cuban revolution and so on. In the words of Stephen Vincent Benet they’re out “to make perfect states, in the names of the perfect states.” And it will work just as badly as it always does. Outside of the American revolution, very few have avoided sinking into a struggle for power.

But at least some of those revolutions started out aspiring to build a better world for all. I doubt Vance, Thiel, Yarvin, etc. do (see here); when the rich and powerful start discussing how the rich and powerful could run America so much better if they didn’t have to follow stupid laws and listen to their inferiors, they’re at best lying to themselves, and certainly lying to us. Here’s Vance, for example, lying through his teeth.

The other thing is a comment Vance makes, that if he gets his fascist state (oops, there I go being biased again) “it will mean that my son grows up in a world where his masculinity—his support of his family and his community, his love of his community—is more important than whether it works for fucking McKinsey.” (I believe McKinsey is a consulting firm,). So how exactly is the current system preventing Vance Jr. from supporting his family and community? Is it that he can’t find a woman who’ll let him be the boss? Or that his wife wants to work and there’s no way for junior to stop her?

Yeah, I’m cynical, but I’ve heard too many right-wingers who think women’s equality is castrating men. Or that prosecuting rape is an attack on men. And Vance is lickspittle to Peter Thiel, a billionaire misogynist who thinks women getting the vote is bad (a very common right-wing view) and that date rape is just buyer’s remorse (again, not new). So I’m disinclined to give Vance the benefit of the doubt.

I go into the cliches Vance and Thiel spout in more detail in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

 

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Unsurprisingly but disastrously, the Supreme Court has ended Roe.

It’s  a leaked draft but it appears it’s the real deal. LGM has initial analysis of what it means. For example, that the legal reasoning would also count against the right to birth control, gay marriage or interracial marriage.

I have nothing deep to say about this yet, other than that this has never been primarily about the rights of the fetus. It’s much more about how much the religious right hates women having sex without risk of pregnancy. After all, only men are supposed to enjoy sex before marriage. And because they tell themselves women never need life-saving abortions. The worst of them don’t see women as having any rights, any more than aquariums.

And beyond that, some Republicans simply can’t see the world through anyone else’s eyes. If an abortion ban isn’t a problem for them (they’re male, past childbearing age, they can afford to get one discreetly) it doesn’t concern them.

I think the analysis in Undead Sexist Cliches of abortion rights is still sound, even though it’s now out of date.  The Kindle version is listed separately. It’s also available from multiple other ebook retailers.

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Like a prayer

” Madonna has been involved in satanism from the very beginning. For reasons I have yet to figure out, the global elite are still intent on using this now fifty-something woman concerning their end time agenda. “— One religious conservative’s paranoia about Madonna, which Fred Clark puts under scrutiny. Among other points, he notes that the writer considers her views about secret conspiracies to be unremarkable, mainstream Christianity.

As you may have heard, it looks like an upcoming Supreme Court case will bring back school prayer. Which won’t stop evangelical conservatives whining about how they’re persecuted. Or one Fox host arguing opposition to school prayer justifies shutting down public education. Or refusing to name a court building after an honored judge who made the right ruling in a prayer case

Plenty of conservatives, such as Newt Gingrich, would like to go beyond school prayer and impose a national Christian religion. But as Clark says again (I’m linking to a whole bunch of his posts today) — which sect, Newt? Which of the many flavors of Christianity do they intend to pick? Is speaking of tongues Satanic? Will Mormons and Catholics be accepted as Christians (I know plenty of Protestants who say No! to both)? We should challenge people on this point as often as possible.

Bigotry is the antidote to education.

“The core belief of hegemonic religion is that religion cannot be freely exercised unless it is also established in law.”

Back in the 1990s and early 21st century, there was an effort at racial reconciliation in the evangelical community. It died with Trayvon Martin.

A conservative Christian pastor argues George Washington’s slaveowning wasn’t inconsistent with his Christian faith because he was a compassionate slaveowner. As noted at the link, bullshit. But I can see why conservatives flinch from teaching accurate history of racism if this is what they want to believe.

I’ve never bought the idea that it’s somehow a moral compromise to provide wedding licenses or services for a wedding you personally disapprove of. But the battle goes on. Happily Virginia rejected a bill that would have given religious groups the freedom to discriminate.

“This is the great fear of all religious hegemons and it arose, then as now, from the great incomprehension of such believers. They could not conceive of the world that Roger Williams imagined and advocated — a world in which religious belief is voluntary. ” — Clark on the horror of many Americans when they learned the new national constitution didn’t impose a state religion.

Wannabe Georgia Senator Herschel Walker brings up the old argument that monkeys can’t have evolved into humans because monkeys are still here. Apparently he thinks (or pretends to) that it was some magic transformation rather than a multi-generational thing.

One thing about religious conservatives, they have no problem ignoring the Bible’s prohibition on bearing false witness against others.

Here’s a bit of doubletalk: Oklahoma insists banning nonbinary birth certificates is based on science, yet the governor openly admits it’s based on his Christian faith.

Lots of Christians (myself included) have taken the covid vaccines. But Rep. Matt Gaetz pretends military vaccine mandates are meant to drive Christians out of the military.

Unsurprisingly, some Christian adoption agencies that discriminate against gay would-be parents are also willing to discriminate against Jews,.

Christian opposition to LGBTQ book displays has led to the library not only having no exhibits about relationships or gender but banning the romance book club. In Florida, Walton County (near my former home) has banned a cute book on babies.

And meanwhile the right-wing pretense they’re serving God by fighting pedophiles continues. After all, it’s an excuse to ask for money. Of course, as Clark says, this kind of thing has a long history. And yet, somehow, we won’t see the same outcry against Robert Fenton, a pastor who allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old when he was in his thirties. The pastor of the church they both attended says Fenton compared the relationship to Joseph marrying a much younger Mary — not the first time I’ve heard that excuse.

Some Christians are big on spiritual warfare — which somehow always equates to protecting straight white male power.

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Undead sexist of the day: Suzanne Venker

Back in my teenage years, Phyllis Schlafly was the face of anti-feminism. As Paul Campos notes, she already had a long career in right-wing politics when she swung to opposing the Equal Rights Amendment as her signature issue. She struck gold and would be primarily known for advocating for male dominance ever after, insisting it was really, really good for women to let the man be the boss and stay home with his babies. In the grand tradition of antifeminist women, she did not follow her own advice, leaving her kids at home while she worked on her activism. Whether she was a shameless opportunist or rationalized the contradiction (“I want to stay home but America needs me!” or some such bilge) I don’t know.

Her niece Suzanne Venker follows in the same mold, an ambitious career woman who shits on other women for being ambitious career women, “too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha.” Especially if they make more money than their husbands “because women tend to use that money as a means of control.” Men, of course, are known to use money as a means of control, particularly if they’re abusive, but Venker’s fine with that. After all, it’s against human nature (according to Venker at the same link) for women to be the family provider.

Sexual harassment? It’s women’s own fault for being in the workplace. Expecting men not to hit on them is saying “just ignore our breasts, our behinds, our perfume and our legs. Ignore the sound of our voices and the softness of our touch.” How is that reasonable? Of course, ignoring women isn’t the issue, it’s acting on it.

Venker has a double standard on education too. It was fine for her, because she went to college focused on her MRS degree, as it used to be called. But you young women today, ““you don’t go to college to find a husband; you go to find your own single life and your career.” That’s terrible! And it will cost you when you emerge with so much student debt no man will ever have you.

Likewise, despite her professional career, she tells other women there’s no way to be a wife, mother and professional. Sit back and let your husband be the breadwinner! You’ll be happy like the good old days, once you realize feminism “robbed you of what you naturally want: to be a wife, a mother, homebound.” Funny how Venker’s not homebound at all yet she seems perfectly happy.

Venker also loves to paint her trite misogyny as something edgy and daring, in the tradition of Bari Weiss and her intellectual dark web. She’s saying the things the mainstream media won’t tell you — if you overlook that she’s saying them on Fox, which is very much mainstream media. Venker ain’t broadcasting from a pirate radio station and nothing she’s saying is outside the mainstream. It should be; that’s the point of Undead Sexist Cliches, that this bullshit should have died long ago. Venker has found success helping to keep it alive.

If you’d like more on this topic, Undead Sexist Cliches is live in paperback on Amazon, with the Kindle version listed separately. It’s also available from multiple other ebook retailers.

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Mike Lee and why Republicans hate democracy

Recent articles on the Jan. 6 coup attempt have highlighted how much Utah Senator Mike Lee supported the coup. At a minimum he was supportive of Republican states sending alternate slates of Trump-supporting electors to Washington as a means to keep Trump, the loser, from having to do what every losing president has always done — ceding power peacefully.

A month before the election Lee showed his colors, asserting “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” Vox frames this in the context of the “we’re a republic not a democracy” argument (and shows how that distorts the founders’ intentions) — but points out it’s alarming in the context of whether Republicans accept an election they use. Which, as we know, they didn’t.

I’ll concede Lee is correct: a democracy can thwart flourishing by electing bad, incompetent leaders. But there is no system that guarantees competent leaders. Monarchs, theocrats, military dictatorships can all produce horrible leaders and miserable living conditions without any democracy. The reason democracy matters is that it’s much easier to replace the incompetent rulers without violence. As Winston Churchill said, it’s the worst possible system of government except for the alternatives. Contrary to Lee, it’s not democracy or liberty, peace and prosperity. It’s democracy and all those things; in the long run, it’s the best approach to liberty, peace and prosperity for all.

But that’s why Lee and other Republicans don’t like it.

The fact is, Republicans are a minority party. Since 1988, they’ve won the popular vote in exactly one election, 2004. They have policies that are even more unpopular, like raising taxes on non-rich people. “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis’ feud with Disney may leave taxpayers in Central Florida having to pay off $2 billion in corporate bond debt, which works out to a $2,200 added charge per taxpayer. As Paul Krugman says, France’s far-right party at least felt the need to offer some policies favorable to workers; Republicans offer nothing except white male supremacy.

Understandably this isn’t a winning platform. Due to the electoral college, the two senators even the lowest population states get and to Republican control of redistricting (e.g., DeSantis using it to crush black voting strength in Florida) Repubs are in a much stronger position than they deserve. Even so, democracy is working against them so it’s not surprise they hate it.

And beyond that, some right-wingers hate democracy because that’s who they are. They simply want an authoritarian leader who will tell them black is black, white is white, and anyone who disagrees will pay a price. Right-wing preacher Tony Spell, for example, says Christian prophets should rule the country, telling the priests and politicians how they want — oh, sorry, he pretends they’ll be saying what God wants, not what they imagine or pretend God told them to do. JD Vance insists a fascist coup — he doesn’t call it that, of course — installing party loyalists in every government position would be so much better than the alternatives; it’s only the fake-news media that make people think there’s anything wrong with it!

Authoritarian leadership doesn’t give us liberty, peace and prosperity. It gives the people in power, whether secular or theocratic, liberty and prosperity; they’ll have the liberty to do whatever they want, without having to answer to their supposed social inferiors. It’ll be peaceful because the dissenters and protesters will have no choice but to stay quiet or get shot. If you’re in the 1 percent, and a thorough sociopath, that’s a great life. Not so peaceful, free or prosperous for the rest of us. Particularly if you’re gay, trans, a woman, POC or anyone else who has to be crushed down for male supremacy (Vance is emphatic that he’s creating a world in which his son can be a Real Man).

The same enthusiasm for being held unaccountable fuels their hatred of journalism. DeSantis’ decision to end tenure, making it easier to fire professors for questioning the regime. Their embrace of cancel culture in the form of banning books they don’t like.

The library conflicts inn that last link is a good example of the importance of democracy: we have an elite, unelected board meeting in secret to get books pulled off the shelves. As Vaclav Havel says, it’s not enough for modern tyrants to hold power, they have to shut down dissenting voices. Not because they’re a threat to the rulers’ power but because the rulers can’t tolerate people challenging their version of the truth. In the words of Walter Brueggemann, “every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.”

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