These two pieces say it all about what we are going through
The Republicans have no ideology. We know that now. They serve the rich and white people, by any means necessary. Period.
This from Marcy Wheeler perfectly illustrates that fact:
The House Judiciary Committee just voted to send two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the full House.
It is entirely likely that we will end up with two white, male septuagenarians running against each other for president in the general election next year.
I don't know what to say about that. I'll vote for the one who runs against Trump and his cult, of course, whether it's Biden, Bernie or Bloomberg. I'm not an idiot.
The entire vote took just minutes. But it said so much about the state of America today.
It will forever be portrayed as a party line vote, with 23 Democrats in favor, and 17 Republicans against. But it was also a tribute to the degree to which polarization in America today pivots on issues of diversity.
The Democrats who voted in favor included 11 women, and 13 Latinx and people of color (Ted Lieu missed the vote recovering from a heart procedure). Three (plus Lieu) are immigrants. One is gay. These Democrats voted to uphold the Constitution a bunch of white men, several of them owners of African-American slaves, wrote hundreds of years ago.
The Republicans who voted against were all white. Just two were women. These Republicans voted to permit a racist white male President to cheat to get reelected in violation of the rule of law.
This is about a clash between the rising America and the past. And it’s unclear who will win this battle for America. But the stakes are clear.
Watching TV News today has been painful. Maybe I'm just tired but after that marathon of GOP mendacity yesterday, all the talk of "partisan bickering" and barely repressed admiration for Trump just spitting in everyone's faces and doing what he wants has me feeling down. He wins even when he loses.
This from Michelle Goldberg in the NYT speaks for me today:
The despair felt by climate scientists and environmentalists watching helplessly as something precious and irreplaceable is destroyed is sometimes described as “climate grief.” Those who pay close attention to the ecological calamity that civilization is inflicting upon itself frequently describe feelings of rage, anxiety and bottomless loss, all of which are amplified by the right’s willful denial. The young activist Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, has described falling into a deep depression after grasping the ramifications of climate change and the utter refusal of people in power to rise to the occasion: “If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before?”
Lately, I think I’m experiencing democracy grief. For anyone who was, like me, born after the civil rights movement finally made democracy in America real, liberal democracy has always been part of the climate, as easy to take for granted as clean air or the changing of the seasons. When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term, the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it.
After Trump’s election, a number of historians and political scientists rushed out with books explaining, as one title put it, “How Democracies Die.” In the years since, it’s breathtaking how much is dead already. Though the president will almost certainly be impeached for extorting Ukraine to aid his re-election, he is equally certain to be acquitted in the Senate, a tacit confirmation that he is, indeed, above the law. His attorney general is a shameless partisan enforcer. Professional civil servants are purged, replaced by apparatchiks. The courts are filling up with young, hard-right ideologues. One recently confirmed judge, 40-year-old Steven Menashi, has written approvingly of ethnonationalism.
In “How Democracies Die,” Professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard describe how, in failing democracies, “the referees of the democratic game were brought over to the government’s side, providing the incumbent with both a shield against constitutional challenges and a powerful — and ‘legal’ — weapon with which to assault its opponents.” This is happening before our eyes.
The entire Trump presidency has been marked, for many of us who are part of the plurality that despises it, by anxiety and anger. But lately I’ve noticed, and not just in myself, a demoralizing degree of fear, even depression. You can see it online, in the self-protective cynicism of liberals announcing on Twitter that Trump is going to win re-election. In The Washington Post, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a Never Trump conservative, described his spiritual struggle against feelings of political desperation: “Sustaining this type of distressed uncertainty for long periods, I can attest, is like putting arsenic in your saltshaker.”
I reached out to a number of therapists, who said they’re seeing this politically induced misery in their patients. Three years ago, said Karen Starr, a psychologist who practices in Manhattan and on Long Island, some of her patients were “in a state of alarm,” but that’s changed into “more of a chronic feeling that’s bordering on despair.” Among those most affected, she said, are the Holocaust survivors she sees. “It’s about this general feeling that the institutions that we rely on to protect us from a dangerous individual might fail,” she said.
Kimberly Grocher, a psychotherapist who works in both New York and South Florida, and whose clients are primarily women of color, told me that during her sessions, the political situation “is always in the room. It’s always in the room.” Trump, she said, has made bigotry more open and acceptable, something her patients feel in their daily lives. “When you’re dealing with people of color’s mental health, systemic racism is a big part of that,” she said.
In April 2017, I traveled to suburban Atlanta to cover the special election in the Sixth Congressional District. Meeting women there who had been shocked by Trump’s election into ceaseless political action made me optimistic for the first time that year. These women were ultimately the reason that the district, once represented by Newt Gingrich, is now held by a Democrat, Lucy McBath. Recently, I got back in touch with a woman I’d met there, an army veteran and mother of three named Katie Landsman. She was in a dark place.
“It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease,” she said, speaking of our country. “Each day, you still have that little hope no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else.” Some mornings, she said, it’s hard to get out of bed. “It doesn’t feel like depression,” she said. “It really does feel more like grief.”
Obviously, this is hardly the first time that America has failed to live up to its ideals. But the ideals themselves used to be a nearly universal lodestar. The civil rights movement, and freedom movements that came after it, succeeded because the country could be shamed by the distance between its democratic promises and its reality. That is no longer true.
Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans are often incredulous seeing the party of Ronald Reagan allied with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but the truth is, there’s no reason they should be in conflict. The enmity between America and Russia was ideological. First it was liberal democracy versus communism. Then it was liberal democracy versus authoritarian kleptocracy.
But Trump’s political movement is pro-authoritarian and pro-oligarch. It has no interest in preserving pluralism, free and fair elections or any version of the rule of law that applies to the powerful as well as the powerless. It’s contemptuous of the notion of America as a lofty idea rather than a blood-and-soil nation. Russia, which has long wanted to prove that liberal democracy is a hypocritical sham, is the natural friend of the Trumpist Republican Party, just as it’s an ally and benefactor of the far right Rassemblement National in France and the Lega Nord in Italy.
The nemeses of the Trumpist movement are liberals — in both the classical and American sense of the world — not America’s traditional geopolitical foes. This is something new in our lifetime. Despite right-wing persecution fantasies about Obama, we’ve never before had a president that treats half the country like enemies, subjecting it to an unending barrage of dehumanization and hostile propaganda. Opponents in a liberal political system share at least some overlapping language. They have some shared values to orient debates. With those things gone, words lose their meaning and political exchange becomes impossible and irrelevant.
Thus we have a total breakdown in epistemological solidarity. In the impeachment committee hearings, Republicans insist with a straight face that Trump was deeply concerned about corruption in Ukraine. Republican Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas, who is smart enough to know better, repeat Russian propaganda accusing Ukraine of interfering in the 2016 election. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General report refutes years of Republican deep state conspiracy theories about an F.B.I. plot to subvert Trump’s campaign, and it makes no difference whatsoever to the promoters of those theories, who pronounce themselves totally vindicated.
To those who recognize the Trump administration’s official lies as such, the scale of dishonesty can be destabilizing. It’s a psychic tax on the population, who must parse an avalanche of untruths to understand current events. “What’s going on in the government is so extreme, that people who have no history of overwhelming psychological trauma still feel crazed by this,” said Stephanie Engel, a psychiatrist in Cambridge, Mass., who said Trump comes up “very frequently” in her sessions.
Like several therapists I spoke to, Engel said she’s had to rethink how she practices, because she has no clinical distance from the things that are terrifying her patients. “If we continue to present a facade — that we know how to manage this ourselves, and we’re not worried about our grandchildren, or we’re not worried about how we’re going to live our lives if he wins the next election — we’re not doing our patients a service,” she said.
This kind of political suffering is uncomfortable to write about, because liberal misery is the raison d’être of the MAGA movement. When Trumpists mock their enemies for being “triggered,” it’s just a quasi-adult version of the playground bully’s jeer: “What are you going to do, cry?” Anyone who has ever been bullied knows how important it is, at that moment, to choke back tears. In truth there are few bigger snowflakes than the stars of MAGA world; The Trumpist pundit Dan Bongino is currently suing the Daily Beast for $15 million, saying it inflicted “emotional distress and trauma, insult, anguish,” for writing that NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s now defunct online media arm, had “dropped” him when the show he hosted ended. Still, a movement fueled by sadism will delight in admissions that it has caused pain.
But despair is worth discussing, because it’s something that organizers and Democratic candidates should be addressing head on. Left to fester, it can lead to apathy and withdrawal. Channeled properly, it can fuel an uprising. I was relieved to hear that despite her sometimes overwhelming sense of civic sadness, Landsman’s activism hasn’t let up. She’s been spending a bit less than 20 hours a week on political organizing, and expects to go back to 40 or more after the holidays. “The only other option is to quit, and accept it, and I’m not ready to go there yet,” she said. Democracy grief isn’t like regular grief. Acceptance isn’t how you move on from it. Acceptance is itself a kind of death.
Yesterday, I wrote on twitter than I had that November 8, 2016 feeling. There's something so dispiriting about what happened in the UK and the president and the Republicans just defying reality in this impeachment process.
On the other hand, there is 2018 to show that it is not preordained that Trump will prevail.
We just have to win in big enough numbers that they can't steal it.