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The Story of Our Time
"The story of our time is the rot of the Republican Party"
Nicolle Wallace said this on The Recount’s Hell & High Water Podcast:
I couldn’t agree more.
Photo illustration of a flag-adorned elephant, split in two to represent the fracturing of the Republican party. Courtesy of Shutterstock.
The story of our time is the deep-seated corruption of a major political party’s incentive structures. They are incentivized to appeal to a minority and revel in systemic advantages - no matter how much they debilitate civic integrity and accountability.
It’s not just any political party.
It is a party that charts its birth to the end of antebellum America. It’s a party with widespread institutional powers that can shape communities.
In America, two dueling political energies transform and realign over time. Ultimately, they retain the same central goal: limiting or centralizing federal power in different ways.
The importance and insanity of America’s two major political parties can’t go understated.
In a nation as diverse as this one, our political system is shockingly hostile to the fact that we are complex individuals. That does not mean overlooking why people are dedicated to a certain party. Rather, it serves to call attention to the modern trend of divided government and the surface dissatisfaction most Americans have with establishment politics.
It’s very difficult to articulate how each party can become a prism that forces people into viewpoints that they may not otherwise stridently or even moderately hold.
Part of this is the way politics works. But, a lot of it today is because of a disturbing polarization in American society. Myopic party loyalty is fueled by incentives built within election cycles.
It causes political actors to push people to their existential edge.
Mind you, many of those same political actors know they won’t produce the solutions to a problem that they were dangerously activating people over.
In the most cynical of scenarios, the problem never existed.
This is a huge issue all over the spectrum, but, it’s overtaking the American right-wing today.
So, demagoguery is not new and both parties have a long and contemporaneous relationship with the trade. To acknowledge all of this is to understand a basic greasiness that comes with discussing an industry like politics. The tactics and the bad blood are also not new nor surprising.
However, today’s Republican Party is in a new category of grotesque.
It can’t be overstated that what the nation digested on January 6th, 2021 was potentially destabilizing for the future.
Most Americans have been learning since middle school about America’s chain of peaceful power transfers, specifically in the executive branch. It was unthinkable for many in the country (until that day) to imagine this chain being broken. It does not offer anyone a good feeling of what has potentially been unleashed on our national community.
Thus, uncertainty has been cast by the cynical Republican leadership attacking a free and fair election. So much so, that fellow Americans interpret an insurrection meant to stop a constitutionally-mandated process as just a rally gone awry. This is primarily because the “Republican Noise Machine” has done nothing but scramble the signal and cast doubt on elections in America. Even if it is just a cruel and dangerous troll.
So, let’s be clear here.
Donald Trump’s campaign chair, who was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury and later pardoned, was up to nefarious and illegal dealings around connections in foreign business dealings. The accessible parts of the Mueller Report feature indicators suggesting the president’s campaign welcomed systemic interference in the election even if they didn’t coordinate with the foreign operation.
The attempt to obstruct justice and the lack of confidence in the former president’s innocence are also outlined in the report that is available in book form.
These are real-life red flags that needed the attention of our national intelligence apparatuses. Despite the obsession over John Durham’s investigation (part of a shameless never-ending about-face after Trump’s derelict and lethal presidency), it is not hard to imagine Trump and his unscrupulous cabal engaging in these activities and generally cheapening a historic American process. You may not like the Clintons or even the Obamas, but it is also hard to deny that Trump was feeble when supposedly projecting influence on Moscow while ignoring the American intelligence community.
It is also noteworthy that a dossier by Christopher Steele (which has been shown to be questionable) was not relied upon when a Senate Intelligence Committee recognized Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Some Republicans seem to never stop the game or take a serious stance these days. Despite honorable efforts by House members like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney.
They demagogue the Mueller Report mischaracterizing it as a manufactured intelligence request by the 2016 Clinton campaign meant to undermine Trump’s candidacy. In a nutshell, they lazily reverted to negative partisanship and decided to ignore the substance of what was being unscathed about their dear leader.
This was a major step in the ongoing poisoning of the Republican Party, arguably expedited by Mitch McConnell when he announced that he wanted to make Obama a one-term president.
In stating that, he helped open up an even worse stage of political warfare threatening to unravel America’s post-racial, post-Roe, and post-Obergefell consensus.
Here is Adam Kinzinger expressing dismay with his party:
Still, the Republicans completely entered the darkness (many argue they were there for years or even decades) when they engaged in a strategic gaslighting campaign that also endorses the threat of political violence from right-wing interests. It involves rewriting the events of an insurrection inspired by a rally where Donald Trump encouraged people to fight and show strength.
The elites with all of their institutional messaging powers allowed for a new Lost Cause myth fueled by tribalism and misled bitterness. The last Lost Cause myth in America inspired systemic violence against African Americans that facilitated laws and fascistic designs that found their way to Europe in the 1930s.
This is not normal nor okay.
America has two political institutions that encapsulate two instincts: seeking solutions through the federal government’s oversight of the states and the urge to decentralize for an organic, localized process. Both viewpoints track historically and are what both political organizations have crested themselves around, whether it be for the interests of labor or of capital (or both).
If one of those parties is dysfunctional and raging against America’s democratic machine, then the entire process begins to rot. Love them or hate them (independent voter here), these are the two major forces of our political system built on generations of dreams, aspirations, and backroom dealings. In a healthier time, the nation should welcome a conversation around the party system. It could institutionally represent more opinions and not cast such weight within a binary framework. For now, there can be more discussions about the need for openly liberal Republicans that can moderate the conservative majority - as we see happen within the walls of the Democrat house.
But today, America’s political coin is more like the one flipped by Batman’s rogue “Two-Face” with one side deformed by the past and the other side shining unrealistically as if the other doesn’t exist.
Real journalism is discussing the story of our time.
That is not happening in the mainstream media. That accounts for the rise of alternative media and non-profit newsrooms.
The story of our time is how the legacy of corrupt local governments, agitated by and resistant to efforts for multiculturalism and labor fairness, fused with the incentive structures of industrial capitalism to culminate into the near-complete bastardization of Abraham Lincoln’s Grand Old Party.
That’s a big freakin deal.
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