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Saturday, July 07, 2018


Purity, authoritarian style

by Tom Sullivan

Image from promo for The Strain, Season 3

Republicans were once the party of local control. Now, they’re just the party of control.
— Thomas Mills, NC political consultant

Purity/sanctity is one of a set of foundations underlying the morality of both liberals and conservatives, says Jonathan Haidt. In his model, conservatives score higher on the purity scale, valuing purity more (and/or in different ways) than liberals.

But it is not moral purity, clearly, American authoritarians and a radicalized Republican Party pursue in the Trump era. It is political purity achieved by limiting the population of non-white ethnic groups, and by limiting the franchise of political competitors not of the GOP's shrinking white base.

News that the administration is embarking on a program to investigate and "denaturalize" citizens proven to have falsified their citizenship applications should put Therese Patricia Okoumou of Staten Island on notice.

Tucker Carlson warned Thursday on his Fox News program of "growing extremism" on the left, pointing to the anti-ICE protester who climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty. “Just yesterday," Carlson began, "a Congolese immigrant shut down the Statue of Liberty — our Statue of Liberty — to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The left applauded that.”

Okoumou, 44, is a naturalized citizen. It is her Statue of Liberty too. Now her nonviolent exercise of that liberty has put a bureaucratic target on her back. She has to worry the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will pull her file searching for a pretext to strip her citizenship and deport her.

Jamelle Bouie writes of the denaturalization program at Slate:

The small scale of this effort belies its significance. As a country, the United States makes few distinctions between naturalized citizens and their native-born counterparts. The naturalization process, which includes long-term residents with deep ties to the U.S., is assumed to be permanent. This new task force on denaturalization throws that permanence into question, bringing suspicion on anyone who received their citizenship through means other than birth.

There’s no guarantee this effort will stay confined to cases of cheating and fraud. The Trump administration has shown, in its drive to criminalize asylum-seekers, that the existing processes for seeking legal status can effectively be criminalized at any time. The president’s willingness to demonize all immigrants as intruders on American soil offers little comfort.
Amanda Marcotte concurs at Salon. Seeing an escalation in "what amounts to an ethnic cleansing campaign," Marcotte adds:
... the administration has made it a priority to shake the trees to find every legal avenue possible to throw out people Trump considers too dark-skinned. This has included getting the Supreme Court to approve a Muslim travel ban, finding legal loopholes to prosecute people who are legitimately seeking political asylum, and ending temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of people from countries such as Haiti and El Salvador.
As we noted yesterday, the Trump Department of Defense is abruptly discharging enlistees who joined the service through a post-September 11 program that offered "expedited naturalization" to immigrant soldiers. The Trump Justice Department has pulled out all the stops to deter Central American immigrants from filing for asylum, including "ripping children from their mothers and fathers."

But targeting immigrants is simply the next logical extension of GOP efforts to disenfranchise its political competitors, among them immigrants once welcomed by the colossal statue in New York harbor. The GOP years ago moved beyond its unofficial Defund The Left program to defund trial lawyers and unions to defunding cities and public universities. Basically, any and all vectors of financial and electoral support for political rivals is a target for GOP ratf*cking. Passing voter ID measures that “target African Americans with almost surgical precision”; drawing and redrawing district lines for state and federal legislative seats to secure them for the party, confuse voters and drive down turnout (their own, if necessary); taking control of whole cities and invalidating their elections; changing the methods and timing of elections; redrawing city and county districts to favor Republicans; tweaking one election law after another to find a legislative "sweet spot" that will tilt the balance of power permanently in their favor. They hope.

As pattern-seeking animals, readers likely perceive one.

Like Therese Okoumou, here in the Cesspool of Sin, we know something about having targets on our backs. NC political consultant Thomas Mills wrote this week:
Republicans were once the party of local control. Now, they’re just the party of control. They’re doing all they can to limit democracy by gerrymandering districts, rewriting the rules of local and judicial races, making voting more difficult for elderly African-Americans and limiting the power of the governor. What’s clear is that they believe their legislative majorities are intact for the foreseeable future. They believe they’ve insulated themselves from checks-and-balances of our democratic system and they’re going to make all of us who disagree pay a price.
But getting back to Tucker Carlson. In the same July 5 monologue in which he warned of growing extremism on the left, Carlson acknowledged his deep-seated fear that demographic changes (to which immigration contributes) would disempower Republicans:
They're going to tell you it's about civil rights, or about some other principle that they pretend to care about, but they are lying. It's about seizing power and holding it. That's their only aim, they're deadly serious about it. While you were grilling in the backyard last night, they were plotting, in effect, a coup.
Our Statue of Liberty. While you were grilling, they were plotting. The "coup" and "seizing power" of which Carlson speaks ominously Republicans of yore called democracy practiced through free and fair elections. Those would be the ones the GOP has worked deliberately to ensure are neither, and have ceased pretending to care about.

What they care about is purity, ethnic purity that guarantees control.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.