When Ivy League-educated, formerly sane politicians spew conspiracy theories, debunked talking points and contempt for science, the question often arises: Do they believe this nonsense (i.e. have they become thickheaded by listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching all that Fox News?), or are they cynical purveyors of claptrap designed to woo unsophisticated voters?
America is perhaps facing the greatest challenge yet to our democratic republic. The fact the nation’s own president and his party (the GOP) are at the heart of this grave threat is somethng many of us foresaw and predicted. But approximately 40% of America (give or take) see Trump as the savior of America’s white population. They are fearful of losing their white priviledge in a nation they really believe belongs to white folks. Trump’s most avid suporters are therefore only too happy to throw their weight behind the Authoritarian and his party apparatus who they believe will keep the status quo and protect them (for the time being anyway) from getting “squeezed out” by brown and black folks.
The following excerpt from the Washington Post by Jennifer Rubin is spot on. Ms. Rubin is a conservative who understands the grave danger Trump is to our democratic republic. It would be well for tose who value freedom and personal liberty to heed her remarks.
It is not as if anti-intellectualism suddenly appeared with the election of President Trump. The habitual rejection of expertise on everything from climate change to the economic impact of immigration has been rampant in the Republican Party for some time. It is part and parcel of the invented victimization of mostly white, non-college-educated men who attribute their loss of prestige and status to “elites,” especially those in colleges and the media. Even right-wingers who should know better have felt compelled to pander to audiences that wear ignorance and anti-intellectualism as a badge of honor.
With Trump, the resort to lies, conspiracies and propaganda has become a matter of political survival for the ambitious right-wingers. Trump’s authoritarian contempt for truth sets the tone, forcing military hawks such as Cotton to remain mum when Trump dismisses traumatic brain injuries as “headaches” and former Cold Warriors such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to parrot Russian propaganda on Ukraine.
Their know-nothingism is sustained and hardened inside the right-wing media loop. Trump and his sycophants can repeat whatever falsehoods required to support Trump without fear of contradiction, let alone mockery, in the right-wing media world. It is only when Republicans venture out into legitimate media that refuses to play along with conspiracy theories that they run into trouble.
Trump has merged the know-nothingism of right-wing populism with a far more dangerous intellectual evolution from defense of limited-government conservatism, which was formerly at the heart of modern conservatism, to outright worship of authoritarianism. Now, far too many conservatives have reverence for executive power and reject constitutional government.
Attorney General William P. Barr and his cheerleaders from the Federalist Society embody this frightening development. Donald Ayer, former U.S. deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, writes that Barr advocates “the need for a virtually autocratic executive who is not constrained by countervailing powers within our government under the constitutional system of checks and balances.” For Barr, limited government means limited checks on the president, the antithesis of the framers’ vision. Ayer writes:
For whatever twisted reasons, he believes that the president should be above the law, and he has as his foil in pursuit of that goal a president who, uniquely in our history, actually aspires to that status. And Barr has acted repeatedly on those beliefs in ways that are more damaging at every turn. Presently he is moving forward with active misuse of the criminal sanction, as one more tool of the president’s personal interests.
Bill Barr’s America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen.
More BELOW the FOLD.