Republicans have been trying to defund America for decades, attempting to delegitimize government by attacking everything from public education to affordable healthcare and social security—and now they’re going after democracy itself.
By David Todd McCarty | Wednesday, November 11, 2020
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”George Orwell
America is under attack. This much is clear, but what may be surprising is that the threat is not coming from some foreign government or even some decentralized terrorist organization. It’s not a foreign actor at all. It’s coming from inside. They’re in the fucking house.
Republicans have been very effective at gaslighting Americans into believing that they’re not doing what they’re doing. They have become Jedi Masters at telling us that we can’t believe what we see or hear, but only what they tell us. The Trump era has taken this proclivity for alternative narratives and given it a turbo boost into the outer realms of believability.
Books have been written about the dangers posed in allowing this. George Orwell wrote two of them. Animal farm and 1984, both tales of the threat of totalitarianism and the ultimate corruption possible by the government.
Much has been written in the past four years, and even more in the past few weeks, concerning America’s dangerous slide into authoritarianism. No need to regurgitate it all here.
The political Left in America, mostly Democrats, are a skittish bunch, forever fearful of what is being done or not done. There is enough truth in the derogatory monikers of snowflakes and other delicate objects or creatures, to be of concern when you get into the real fight. Democrats prefer to rise above the fray, secure in the idea that their intellectual arguments will prevail, even though nearly half of the country views them as elitist at best, and corrupt at their worst.
What was once a constant nibbling at the edges of decency by the political right has turned into a full frontal attack on democracy in America and no one is coming to help. We rarely see the tipping point while in the midst of the battle, but only later in reflection do we realize the tide had already turned by that point. This is not to say all is lost. Only that the outcome is not yet known. The fight is certainly not over.
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”George Orwell
America is under attack and it’s high time that Democrats stepped up to defend her. Not by calling out the Republicans every time they cross the line like we’re telling on them to the kindergarten teacher. The teacher either doesn’t care, isn’t paying any attention, or very possibly being paid by a wealthy parent on the side.
Democrats need to go on the attack. We’ve been saying this for years and it’s true that we’re not very good it. Mainly because we believe any attack should be something we actually believe, grounded in reality and with at least the spirit of truth. The Republicans are under no such obligation. Anything that they believe will be effective is fair game to them. Republicans don’t fight much amongst themselves, and are more than willing to repeat talking points no matter how implausible or otherworldly. The message is the medium.
There is always concern about how Republicans will misconstrue a Democratic talking point, because Democrats actually take any criticism to heart. Republicans ignore it. They’re not trying to convince Democrats of anything.
Lately there is been discussion that “defund the police” was actually harmful to vulnerable Democrats in Republican districts. This is taken as some bizarre rationale for not doing anything that might upset Republican voters. That is a fundamental misunderstanding of how to shape public opinion. Democrats are afraid that the phrase, while provocative and memorable, was not really quite accurate and left them having to explain their policy strategy. Rather than fighting the point and ignoring the noise from the Right.
I would like to suggest a new strategy. Attack Republicans for what they’ve done, for what they’ve been doing for decades, and using their own rhetoric against them. Sound familiar?
Republicans have been in the process of defunding America and it’s high time Democrats started defending her. Republicans have been trying to deregulate protections put in place to protect America from attack, but defunding the institutions responsible for law enforcement. They have attacked public education, healthcare, social security, privacy, fiscal responsibility and the environment. They have attempted to lay waste to America in ways that we would have never allowed a foreign power to do, all because it was an inside job. And now they’re going after the final piece of the puzzle, democracy itself. The very essence of self-government is being questioned by a group of mercenaries willing to break every law if it means holding onto power. They have called into question the legitimacy of elections with nothing more than the specter of corruption. It’s a tactic we’ve seen before in America, but back then it was called Communism. It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now, if any of it is true. It only needs to seem true. As one Republican voter in Georgia was quoted as saying, “Even if they don’t find any proof of election fraud, I will believe in my heart that there was.”
You can’t prove a negative. We can’t provide proof that something never happened in the absence of proof that anything happened. We can’t defend their argument, we have to defend the dream of America itself and we need to do with some flair.
Liberalism is rampant in the creative industries, I suspect because creative people tend to be more open minded and curious. It’s somewhat unfair to say that conservatives are not creative, but all you have to do is look at the list of American celebrities willing to defend Donald Trump, and you can see for yourself that they are not representative of our best.
Democrats need to use the power of imagery and storytelling narratives to convince Americans that they have a better message. We need to go beyond twangy country music over farmers and pickup trucks. It’s not where the majority of Americans live. In a fight you rely on your strengths and the Left is so much better qualified than the Right to package an idea and present it with style and class. We’re up against tacky trucker hats with a meaningless dog-whistle slogan after all.
It’s time to defend America. We need to shine a light on the damage Republicans are trying to do to America. They are defunding all the public institutions we actually care about. Schools. Hospitals. The Post Office. They are trying to make it okay for companies to get rich making us sick by polluting the earth and water we rely on. It’s a travesty. They need to own it.
Anyone who loves America needs to be a voice in defense of her right now. It’s our patriotic duty. We need to take back the symbolism of the Flag and the Statue of Liberty. We need to preach in the streets that America is under attack. They are the enemy and we better get used to saying it.
It’s time to defend America.