Republicans May Chastize Our 'Incivility' Just As Soon As Donald Trump Is Not President.
One of the most common reasons that people supported Trump in the 2016 election, and the reason why many still support him now, was that he promised them an end to political correctness. They were tired, so tired, of people thinking they were jerks just because they didn't want to consider other people's feelings, especially the feelings of those they felt were beneath them. Feelings, after all, were for snowflakes.
Those who wanted this cultural change so desperately were not fighting for any kind of real cause, or any kind of justice for anyone, they just wanted to be free to be jerks without anyone saying, "Hey, don't be a jerk." They wanted, they claimed, a world where people could say and do whatever they wanted and never be held accountable by anyone else -- but they only wanted that for one group of people. Now, what they want from us is "civility."
Over on Politico, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote a very long and very serious essay about how very disappointed he is with the Left and their lack of "civility" -- most especially the fact that even Hillary Clinton is now saying wacky radical things like "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."
Personally, I would go further and say you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to grab you by the pussy. I would say that this is when the Right lost any right whatsoever to ever bring up the word "civility" again.
He writes, in the style of someone writing their Junior thesis or a particularly monotonous toast at a wedding:
Civility is a rather fundamental thing to throw under the bus. It isn't knowing that you really shouldn't stick your pinky in the air when drinking a cup of tea, or how to tell the difference between a soup spoon and a teaspoon.
Derived from the Latin word civilis, relating to public or political life, civility is the basis of our life together, assuring that disagreements are settled within certain bounds and don't escalate into blood feuds.
Lowry complains that instead of politely sending easily ignorable letters to elected representatives, activists approached them in elevators in order to
murder them tell them about their own experiences with sexual assault and rape. Nothing so impolite as expecting Republican senators to have some semblance of empathy for other human beings! Poor Ted Cruz, he notes, could not even go out and have a lovely dinner with his wife without these evil women asking him to give a damn about them. How rude!
Why can't they be more civil? Why can't they just lie back and think of England? It's almost as if this was something that mattered to them more than the outcome of a sports game.
Even worse, Lowry notes that the Left is starting to lose faith in the system. Can you believe?
But our system is increasingly held in low regard on the left. The 2016 election was somehow stolen and the mechanism that gave Trump his victory, the Electoral College, is illegitimate. The Senate, which confirmed Kavanaugh and gives small, red states the same representation as large, blue states, is also illegitimate. Finally, the Supreme Court, now home to two Trump-appointed justices, is illegitimate, as well.
That's a lot of illegitimacy, all stemming from one lost presidential election. Imagine if Democrats lose another? The fact is that if you believe an institution is legitimate only if you control it or it works in your favor, you never truly believed in its legitimacy to begin with.
Psst! We did not. I didn't, at least, and a lot of other people are now coming to that conclusion, as it becomes increasingly obvious. There are 570,000 people in all of Wyoming. That is less than a quarter of the population of the city of Chicago, where I live, but they get three electoral votes and two Senators. The idea that they deserve more representation than the rest of us is some pretty serious bullshit.
Now, one would think that if Lowry were truly as devoted to "civility" as he claims to be, that he would write an equally strongly worded essay directed at uncivil Republicans. As he is editor of the National Review, he surely has the ability to do this. Alas, the article that he chose to write directed at them was instead titled "Why the Kavanaugh Smears Validate Trumpian Politics."
If Trump's attacks against the media are over-the-top and sometimes disgraceful, at least he understands the score.
He may not be a constitutionalist, but he will be faithful to his own side, and fiercely battle it out with his political opponents.
The logic of this dynamic is risky. It can be self-defeating, and lead down the road of supporting, say, a Roy Moore, a kooky candidate doomed even in red Alabama. It can be corrupting, if character and standards are no longer considered important. But the dark view of our politics that has driven the Trump phenomenon for three years now is impossible to gainsay. Who can watch the frenzied assault on Brett Kavanaugh and say that it's wrong?
Oh. Yes, I see now. It all makes sense.
Let us be clear on exactly how Rich Lowry and others calling for "civility" want this to go, shall we?
Republicans get to elect Donald Trump. He is allowed to lie, he is allowed to say any horrible thing about anyone that he likes. They get to chant "Lock Her Up!" They get to march along with torches chanting "Jews Will Not Replace Us!" They get to demand an end to "political correctness" (which, by the way, is another way to describe "civility"). They get to be internet trolls. They get to rage the fuck out while being questioned by the Senate. They get to threaten to kill journalists or senators who don't vote the way they want. They get to say all kinds of racist, anti-Semitic and sexist things on the regular. They get to invent wild conspiracy theories in which they accuse those who disagree with them of being pedophiles and practitioners of Satanic Ritual Abuse who murder babies in order to get high on their blood. They get to tarnish the credibility of the Supreme Court by rushing the investigation of a credibly accused sexual assailant, in order to take away women's reproductive rights (in a move they wouldn't be able to do had Mitch McConnell not changed the rules for them). They get to be Tami Larynx and Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos and Mike Cernovich and Gavin McInnes and Phil Robertson and Dana Loesch and Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson, etc. etc. etc. They get to say and do any horrible and cruel thing they want.
And, in response, we are supposed to be very polite and civil. We are to be the bigger people. We are not supposed to complain about anything the Right does, even civilly, because that would make us snowflakes. We are to pretend that the personal is not political -- hell, even the political is not political, unless we do it, and then "political" is bad. We are not to be angry, we are not to upset people during their dinner, we are not to speak to our representatives in any tone that could not be described as adoring (unless those representatives are Democrats). We are supposed to assume that their dogwhistles are unintentional, even when they are very, very loud and very, very obvious. We are supposed to accept that all the white supremacists and the QAnon/Pizzagate idiots and the anti-Semites are the exception and not the rule, and that even Donald Trump himself does not truly represent the "good" Republicans in this country. We are supposed to be having a WASP Thanksgiving where we pretend that everything is fine and great even when it clearly is not, because acknowledging that would just be rude. We are supposed to be gracious and we are supposed to give them every possible benefit of the doubt. We are supposed to coddle them.
That ... is not going to be happening. Because even the people who used to be able to "go along to get along," who were once able to smile and nod and act as if major political decisions that affect people's lives were no more serious than a baseball game where everyone could shake each other's hands afterwards and say "good game"? Even they don't have the patience for that shit anymore.
This is what scares Lowry, and it should. He should absolutely be scared. I am glad he is scared. I hope all of them are scared. I hope they are so scared, in fact, that they do not re-elect Donald Trump for fear that this will continue.
Electing Trump was going for the jugular. It was meant to punish the rest of us. It was as much an act of violence as anything else. But the thing about going for the jugular is that if you do it, you can't then complain that you have blood all over your new shoes.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse