|"There is no redemption in being one of the 'good Nazis.'"
||[Jul. 23rd, 2016|02:20 am]
Somewhere around 2014 I stumbled across a blog entitled GOPLifer. It was written by a man named Chris Ladd, who also wrote a political science / current event book called The Politics of Crazy. I don't remember exactly which article drew my attention there, but I do remember which article ignited my interest and kept me going back:|
The Blue Wall: The Missing Story of the 2014 Election was what my generally liberal non-affiliated partisanship mind wanted to read. It read like 'data' that claimed that in 2016, the White House was prohibitively unlikely to go to any Republican due to straight up zoning and demographics.
In the end 2016 happened and it's not following data of any analysis. It's a black swan event and the only analyses you DON'T want to trust right now are the ones that sound certain or claim to know what's going on.
But let's put that aside a second. Because like everything in intellectual development, there's a reason you start to pay attention to certain information and there's certain information that gives you reasons to start paying attention. What Chris Ladd's GOPLifer blog answered for me was information I needed for a very long time:
What are the intellectual / philosophical roots of the Republican party?
I'm a Millennial. After the Republicans scandalled the only President I knew out of office due to a blowjob he was caught with, I had George W. Bush and a whole lot of hero worship of this man named Reagan as my frame of reference for what the Republican party 'is'. In very rapid succession came the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2008 (PRE FUCKING OBAMA) Recession, the Tea Party, Ted Cruz, and now Trump. My mother could give me insight discussing Reagan (complicated) and Nixon (you know, Tricky Dick).
However, it nevertheless bears worth mentioning, the Republican Party is the party Lincoln was a member of, and Eisenhower. Chris Ladd has, over the course of my following his blog, given insight into How the GOP took in the Dixiecrats after the Civil Rights Act and began to go full retard.
It was nice having Ladd around. The reason he intrigued me is because so many people, especially older people, told me about this unicorn phenomenon called 'moderate Republicans', and meanwhile there were some Republicans that I knew who managed, after much discussion, to hint at values and ideas that I actually did resonate with, it was just very difficult to distinguish where those ideas deviated from the white supremacist yokel ideology of David Duke, former KKK
activist terrorist and now official Trump surrogate for Senate.
Ladd convinced me: there's a heart and a soul and a principle to what Republicans originally were. In fact, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower may have, at one point, been the sort of party I would have wanted to join were I to associate ideologically with a party. He helped me understand my Republican friends better and he helped me think about ways in which parties, though fluid, can birth and die and transition and schism and reconnect and generally operate, assuming one basic principle, and that's that
it coheres around well understood and humanistic principles,
which the Republican party no longer does. Which brings us to Chris Ladd's open resignation letter to his party chairman today:
From his fairy-tale wall to his schoolyard bullying and his flirtation with violent racists, Donald Trump offers America a singular narrative – a tale of cowards. Fearful people, convinced of our inadequacy, trembling before a world alight with imaginary threats, crave a demagogue. Neither party has ever elevated to this level a more toxic figure, one that calls forth the darkest elements of our national character.
I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”
I am no longer against parties as a concept. One thing I've learned over time that I've finally put into words this year is that 'protest vote' 'third parties' like Libertarians and Green are failing because they keep trying to put figureheads in executive office without the political capital to support them, when they really need to build that political capital by electing mayors, county clerks, judges, state representatives, then maybe start putting together coalitions and going after congress, POTUS, the Supreme Court.
In fact since 'the body politic' is a way of thinking about things, imagine politics as a tree and all the Congressmen and Senators and Presidents are really the fruit. For those fruit to grow ripe and be nourishing they need leaves to transform light to energy, branches to hold them, a strong trunk to stand on, and roots to nourish them.
How beautiful and poetic and shit. Point is if the fruit is rotten, it could be for any number of reasons affecting the tree, each of which could potentially be saved. The leaves don't get enough light, the trunk has bark beetle, etc.
What Chris Ladd constitutes of the Republican party is the roots. Without people like him, the entire logistical apparatus of a political institution falls over. The trunk has already been eaten away by the bark beetles of the Tea Party. The limbs have already been twisted up by racists and bigots. The leaves are nearing autumn and increasingly browned and dead in comparison to the woods around them. The leadership is rotten. But if more roots like Ladd, the actual people who stump out into the freezing cold election year Novembers to deliver pamphlets and write blogs analyzing the history and philosophy of their party, leave or die, then this whole tree is less than timber. It's dead.
The pro-Democrats or at least anti-Republicans may think that's an optimistic statement. It's not. It's the worst thing to happen at the worst time, even though the worst time is happening because this worst thing.
Trump did not win the GOP primary because he was a good candidate. He won the GOP primary because the Republican party is a weak institution. Whereas the Democrats are stronger, it's unclear to me to reasonably be able to state that they are strong enough either. Too many people have swallowed 30 years of poisoned well water regarding Hillary Clinton, and too many people are reactionary to their own echo chambered social network feeds to the point of being angry and disestablishmentarian for not always, or even often, solid reasons.
In fact simply stated, I'm going to take the privilege tactic, which I normally dislike, but here it is: minorities and women voted for Hillary in much higher margins against Bernie than white men. White men, some friends of mine, said with no sense of intended irony, "Why are so many black people voting against their own self interests?"
I've mentioned this before and I'm going to mention it again: if white people don't get what they want politically, they risk a long run of generally stressful institutional debates that may turn around and work out, or they can move to Canada or whatever. If black people don't get what they want politically,
they get strung up from fucking trees.
Minorities can't afford to fuck around. Trump constitutes a real and actual existential threat to their livelihoods and ability to be recognized as actual, breathing human beings. This is not a feeling that white people get. It's not a feeling that I have. It's something that's been told to me over, and over, and over again since I was little to now and it still took until only recently for me to fucking get it through my dense head.
And I know I sound like a 'Social Justice Warrior' when I say that, but the ironic thing is that the Social Justice Warriors are all too often voting Jill Stein for the same reason I pointed out above: because they can afford to register a meaningless 'protest' against the system rather than actually get off their Tumblr and build a local campaign for representative office toward the goal of designing a new party apparatus that promotes their interest.
And now it's come to this. We have an indication that Trump may attempt to purge civil servants from their government positions and attempt to directly challenge our free press. This is technical engagements he's promising in addition to what he's already done in terms of alienating and scapegoating marginalized communities to put them under attack for 'our' problems, giving voice to a culture of white grievance, and directly extracting nativist and isolationist propaganda to support his stance as a strongman demogogue.
That is form, function, definition, political science and theory, objectively straight up picture in the dictionary fascism. Full stop.
What this means is that Chris Ladd has done something very difficult for any single person to do in any situation: he's had to hold his own personal values and principles account against the sunk cost fallacy of thirty years membership in an organization he once believed in, AND he has to do that with no evidence of maintaining political capital. He risks criticism at best, and assuming an atavistic relapse of Western culture into another fascist period, could have potentially put a target on his back.
The main thing I'm wondering here is, I agree with him that there is no redemption for 'good Nazis.' I mainly worry, though, about what that really means.
What does it look like to live in a country run by a demogogue, from Erdogan to Putin to Mussolini to, you know, Hitler? What do you do in that sort of situation? How do you protect yourself without compromising your principles?
It was easy, when I was in high school or college, to say things like, "It's simple: you don't pull the trigger when the gun is put in your hand. You don't put the Zyklon B in the vents when it's your job. Conscientious objection. Free speech and protest. Speak your mind. Hold others accountable. Do what's necessary to subvert tyranny.
That's all good and well and easy to think of, but the banality of the banality of evil is that people have a really, really, really hard time doing the right thing in the face of systematic oppression, and people are really, really, really good at justifying themselves to themselves. All told, it's easier to keep your head down and your hand raised in salute and remain invisible in a crowd at a rally than to keep your fists firmly closed. To protect your family. To live to see another day.
What I'm hoping, of course, is that Trump loses; and if he wins, that the systems of checks and balances we have enacted keep him from abusing his power to the point of no return; and if he does, that it creates a resistance;
and that all of those considerations aside, that the world is just too fucking 'modern' to really support any sort of 20th century fascism in any meaningful way.
But Chris Ladd made a very difficult and unique decision that stands out because other people were not able to do it, and he hasn't even done the hard part yet. He still lives in a country with a choice and the ability to check out of a party apparatus and say "Goodbye."
The rest of us may have to make a decision like Ladd's too. And that decision will have to be over dealing with a country that we can't check out of because we live in it and it's the only place we have to live in (Canada aside, most can't afford to expatriate; and to be even more cynical, expatriatism at the point of oppression is being a refugee, not a retiree, and then you get to deal with what being a refugee in countries that don't like you feels like).
How does one resist the fascists when one actually lives in a fascist country?