Years ago, I took Plato quite seriously when he said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” I ran for mayor of Portland, Oregon. The first thing I found out was that a person doesn’t need to hold a degree in Political Science or have any experience in the public sector at all to run for office. The biggest requirement, after being a resident where you are running for a period of time, is that you must have a bank account for your PAC (Political Action Committee). I thought that was funny. You don’t need experience or knowledge, just money. Money sets the tone.
In fact, if you don’t have a minimum amount of money in your PAC, you aren’t allowed into certain debates. I was turned away from debates where only the candidates with money were allowed to speak multiple times. Where we could, my team and I would sneak into venues and jump on stage. Even if you do well at events, the media won’t do a story on you if you don’t have any money, unless you can generate enough public support, which my campaign did sometimes. Even so, the day I did my Willamette Week (local weekly paper) interview to see who they would endorse, the candidate with the most money was on the cover of their paper. They ended up endorsing him. He won. The candidate with the second most amount of money came in second. The candidate with the third most amount of money came in third. Surprise, surprise.
The first strategy you learn in politics is, if you perceive someone as a threat, you turn their strengths into weaknesses. If a candidate has experience as a politician, you say that he’s part of the failing system. If they have money, you say that he’s been bought. If they have progressive ideas, you call them a crackpot. Et cetera, et cetera. It’s the most basic rule in running for office, and I understand that, and that is what this dispatch is about. On a national scale, both parties do it, but the GOP lost control of this firehose. Not only are they trying to take down people they view as a threat to their agenda by discrediting them, but they’re also making heroes out of morally despicable people, and they are actively killing the people they proclaim are heroes.
For the past couple of years now, the Republicans have had Doctor Anthony Fauci in their crosshairs only because he believes it’s a good idea to wear a mask and get vaccinated for COVID during this pandemic. I’m sorry, let me restate that: the Republican Party has done everything they can to discredit a man who, according to the Institute for Scientific Information, was the 13th most-cited scientist in scientific journals among the roughly three million authors in every single discipline throughout the entire world. This man helped cure fatal diseases like polyarteritis nodosa, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. Stanford University said his work is among the most important advances in managing rheumatology in over two decades, and that was in 1985; but yeah, he dares to tell people to wear a mask and get vaccinated and suddenly, he’s public enemy #1.
(artwork by Sean Davis)
This week, in Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal response to the omicron COVID-19 variant, Kansas Senator Roger Marshall accused Fauci of making money off the pandemic and demanded that he disclose his financial records, even though the good doctor’s financials have been public knowledge for the past 35 years. In response, he called the Senator a moron. The point is, Dr. Fauci is the head of his field, and the GOP has done their best to not only vilify him, but they are now using his name to raise money for their own PACs.
Emails sent from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to his donors read, “Fauci for prison,” and “Help me protect freedom right here in Florida by chipping in.” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and the world’s worst neighbor, sent his potential donors emails and mailers that read, “Fauci is hysterical. Chip in if you agree!”
Kyle Rittenhouse, the kid whom no one asked to patrol a parking lot, shot three people with an assault rifle and killed two, is now a hero for the Right. While he was on trial, “Free Kyle” merchandise opened many wallets (you could have bought a “Free Kyle” bikini for $43), but now that he’s been exonerated, he’s on a speaking tour. He’s already spoken at the “Turning Point USA” conference last month and you better bet you’ll see him at the next CPAC.
This is bad enough, but a man who had no political experience other than being Trump’s personal physician in the White House (where he would drink, cat call women, and take Ambien while at work) ran for a House seat in Texas and won. Trump nominated this guy to run the Veteran Affairs department, but he had to withdraw his name in disgrace. Now he’s in Congress.
While this is horrible, to be sure, what is worse is the heroes the GOP are making by accident.
Michael Cohen, a man who was convicted of five counts of tax evasion, making false statements, making unlawful corporate contributions, making unlawful campaign contributions, and more, became a hero when he wrote a tell-all book detailing how he would pay off porn stars and Playboy bunnies for rich Republicans. This was the guy responsible for the hush-money payments. When blonde bombshell and Playboy bunny Shera Bechard somehow found herself with child, it was Cohen who popped up with the $1.6 million to help her pay for her abortion, and because he decided to get revenge on the people responsible for sending him to jail (mostly house arrest) in the form of a hardcover that retails at $32.50, he’s given a redemption arc?
Look at Sean Spicer telling lies to the national media for years for Trump, including easily provable falsehoods like 45’s inauguration being the largest ever, but put him on Dancing with the Stars and his history is erased?
What about Stormy Daniels for that matter? A woman who would lower herself to have sex with a married man whose wife is days away from giving birth, but she tells a radio personality that Trump has a mushroom dick and all is forgiven?
Kayleigh McEnany just spoke to the January 6th committee on Wednesday, we should prepare. She may just be the new hero for the Left, a villain for the Right, and the next life-sized stuffed animal dancing on The Masked Singer.
I hear Sirhan Sirhan’s parole just got denied. If this happened a year and a half ago, Trump would have probably given him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Then, there is an entire group of Republicans that had some respect at one time. My god, they took Rudy Giuliani who Time Magazine, on their cover, called the “Tower of Strength”, America’s Mayor, and turned him into an animated talking head with hair dye dripping down his face during a third-rate press conference to wrongly claim the election was stolen at a lawn and garden center. Trump took one of the best military minds of our generation and one of the best military leaders in history and said he was “not too good” at his job as Defense Secretary and “the world’s most overrated general.” And no one, except maybe Senator Lisa Murkowski, stood up for General Mattis.
But what should we expect? This is the party who turned a sandals-wearing, long-haired Jew from the Middle East who stood up for the poor, the persecuted, and the impoverished into a blue-eyed, blond, gun-toting, fuck-your-feelings savior of the US of A.
It’s one thing to want to win an election so you can govern according to the beliefs of the people who voted you into office, but it is another thing entirely to lie, cheat, and attempt to reframe reality in order to keep power.
Meanwhile, the people that the Right and all those Blue Lives Matter people proclaim as heroes every day are dying from misinformation that Republicans and their allies are spewing daily. Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, Sean Hannity, and a ton of other “media personalities” are telling people that getting vaccinated is a violation of their God-given freedoms (the fuck-your-feelings god mentioned above). This misinformation has led to thousands getting kicked out of the military, front-line healthcare workers being overworked, schools closing because their children and teachers calling out sick, and a 55% rise in police fatalities. Yes, more police have died of COVID than any other reason in 2021. People who fly Blue Lives Matter flags from their trucks are perpetuating the lie that is killing more police officers than gun violence fatalities.
I realize I’m writing this as someone who believes we live in a rational world and completely disregards CNN news stories with headlines like “5 reasons you should not deliberately catch Omicron to ‘get it over with’” and the fact that there are MAGA vloggers out there trying to increase the number of their YouTube subscribers by catching COVID and reporting from their hospital beds while on oxygen.
It’s one thing to want to win an election so you can govern according to the beliefs of the people who voted you into office, but it is another thing entirely to lie, cheat, and attempt to reframe reality in order to keep power, especially if who you represent, and their beliefs, are in the minority. This is a democratic republic, designed to evolve with the changing times, not hold on to the past, especially a flawed past that was built on the backs of the weak and vulnerable.
There’s another Plato quote I like, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”