Saturday, October 6, 2018

Dear Liberals: Republicans Aren't Your Friends

By the time I've published this, Brett Kavanaugh will probably have been confirmed to the Supreme Court. This is bad news for many women, labor unions and a lot of other people, but pretty good news for Clarence Thomas, who's now only the second-biggest sex creep out of the nine justices. The final vote hasn't happened yet as of my writing these words, but every Republican senator except Lisa Murkowski has come out in support of Bart O'Kavanaugh, and all of them (again except Murkowksi) voted to proceed with his nomination. This is after Jeff Flake and Susan Collins both made a big show out of being undecided and supporting an FBI investigation. Once the FBI had completed an extremely half-assed investigation, they both decided that was good enough and they could now support the Kav without shattering their image as independent-minded, post-partisan American Heroes.

Which leads me to the main thrust of this blog post. I want to address a misconception that I see among a lot of liberals. In particular, older liberals seem to cling to it. So to any liberals who are reading this, let me say something extremely simple, but equally important, which is this: Republicans are not your friends. I don't mean that you shouldn't be friends with regular people who happen to be registered Republicans, I mean the Republicans in Congress and in the media. They are not your friends. They are your enemies, and the enemies of any positive future for the country and the world.

Sen. Jeff Flake (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now--if you're a liberal--this might seem obvious. You're probably thinking of guys like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and other such walking piles of trash. That's not who I'm talking about. Of course, everything I said above applies to them, but they're not the ones I'm writing this post about. I'm talking about the assholes like to pretend they're Very Upset about Trump's lack of decor when he tweets something stupid but then turn around and help him actively screw over millions of people. These are people like Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, the late John McCain (as previously discussed) and of course the aptly named Jeff Flake.

Let us keep in mind, for starters, that every Republican senator except Lisa Murkowski supports Brett Kavanaugh even after multiple women have very credibly accused him of sexual assault. And while, yes, Murkowksi deserves a very small amount of credit for coming out against the Kavster, let's not forget she voted to put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and that his vote was crucial in the Janus decision (which said public sector employees can't be required to contribute to the unions that represent their interests), the decision to uphold Trump's travel ban, and doubtless will also be a deciding vote for many other horrible decisions that make life worse for large numbers of people.

Yes, some of the "moderate" Republicans have defected from the party line at crucial moments, such as during the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they don't deserve brownie points for doing the right thing every once in a while when the rest of the time they do things that make life harder and more miserable for vast numbers of people. If they really wanted to act as a check against Trump, they could become independents, or Democrats, or at least stop supporting the worst and most destructive things he does.

The point of this, by the way, isn't about how they are as people--whether they're doing what they think is right, and mean well, and are sincere. There's a strong case to be made that Jeff Flake and Susan Collins are grandstanding frauds who want to be lauded by the media and by Democrats while quietly enabling Trump's agenda, but that's not the point. Even if they and the other Trump-critical Republicans are completely sincere and well-intentioned, it only shows their view of the world is dangerous and delusional in the extreme and that they are in no way useful allies.

While we're at it, all of this also applies to #Resistance heroes like David Frum and Bill Kristol, who have won plaudits by reinventing themselves as anti-Trump Republicans. These guys, granted, might be more genuinely anti-Trump than Flake et al., but their ideas are still absolutely awful. Both Kristol and Frum continue to defend the Iraq War, the worst war crime of the twenty-first century so far and an atrocity that killed an estimated several hundred thousand people. Even Trump has said the Iraq War was a terrible idea.

You might be tempted to respond at this point by quoting Frederick Douglass: "I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong." Or to point out that Hitler was able to rise to power partially because of how divided the opposition was. To which I say: yeah, if any of these jerks actually offer some useful form of resistance to Trump, support them in that particular instance. If they're actually doing something that might make the world a better place, join them in that particular endeavor. But supporting them when they actually do something good doesn't mean you have to heap praise on them for their courageous opposition to Trump, and their condemnations of Trump are cheap and useless. No one cares when Jeff Flake whines about Trump saying a mean thing or David Frum writes a piece saying that he's just like Fredo Corleone. These things change exactly zero people's minds and effect no change whatsoever. Neither deserves praise when their authors are so completely awful in every other respect.

So, please: stop praising these people. Stop treating them as some kind of antidote to Trump. Their ideology helped lead to Trump and they have absolutely nothing to offer. They are not useful as allies. One of the problems Hillary Clinton experienced in 2016 was a major decline in minority turnout. Is allying with "moderate" Republicans the key to bringing black and Hispanic voters back to the polls? Will it help turn out young voters, do you think? These people are clinging to some pre-Trump conservatism that has been soundly defeated in their own party--Republicans overwhelmingly approve of Trump's performance as president. There is no actual base for their ideas.

On the other hand, there is a real surge that we're seeing on the left, with incumbent Democrats being unseated by upstart progressive challengers, widespread support for Medicare-for-All, and a surge in membership for the Democratic Socialists of America. These are the people to pay attention to if you care about bringing down Trump. Maybe you don't agree with all the ideas that some of the more left-leaning segments of the population hold, but you have no excuse for refusing to ally with them if you've been drooling over every Republican that coughs up some lame criticism of Trump.

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