The Unlamented Death of Reaganism

Last night the first public hearing of the 1/6 House Select Committee was live across most of the internet and cable entertainment services in the United States. They’ve been working quietly in the background since that day, the day we almost lost our republic to insurrectionists at the instigation of then President Donald Trump.

Quietly investigating the events that lead directly to the second impeachment of Donald Trump in an attempt to uncover exactly how we got to the point where the supporters of the President could attack the Legislature of the United States while screaming for the death of the Vice President because of his required role in certifying the Presidency of Joe Biden.

The election had been held. The votes had been counted, the lawsuits dismissed, the lies about the election exposed. There was nothing left to do but rubberstamp the certified results in the traditional manner before handing the administration of the United States government over to the next President. An event that has occurred more than 40 times since the creation of this country back in 1776.

But not this time. No, this time the President wasn’t going to allow his own defeat to be recorded. Not that he wasn’t defeated, that had already been determined democratically and judicially. He wasn’t going to allow the defeat to be recorded officially so as to turn defeat into… what? It couldn’t be victory because there wouldn’t be a United States after he retained power in defiance of the rules and of the votes of 81,282,916 people. So what did he hope to achieve beyond the destruction of the norms that had governed the lives of Americans since March 4, 1797 when the first president of the United States voluntarily surrendered the office?

It is ironical that these events mark the logical end of Reaganism. Reaganism that was re-invented into neo-liberalism and then rebranded into compassionate conservatism and finally zombified in the form of the prosperity gospel and Trumpismo. Reaganism kept animated by the dedicated effort of Roger Ailes’ FOX news and political activists determined to see Reagan’s grand compromise with Evangelicals and their joint takeover of the Republican party brought to its ultimate… victory?

Trump rode into office mouthing phrases utilized by Reagan. He promoted the ideals of Reagan, whether or not he lived up to those ideals of wealth and morality. He delivered on his and Reagan’s promises to the Evangelicals who backed both of them, creating a Supreme Court that was pre-rigged to overturn Roe v. Wade, the cornerstone of hatred that modern Evangelical America was founded on.

With FOX news and Rush Limbaugh smoothing over every excess of Trump’s criminal reign for four years. With the apologetics of Christianists well versed in twisting ancient texts to suit modern agendas. Through two impeachments. With the transparent puppeteering of Trump by Vladimir Putin ignored. With Trump’s love affair with Putin’s strongman tactics. It all came to the only end that could possibly have been in store for it given his complete inability to have a private thought unexpressed. What end? The near-destruction of the United States as we have all known it, before he was finally forced out of office.

…Of course the Republicans who profited from Trump’s reign refused to acknowledge the damage that had been done. Of course FOX news doesn’t admit that there was anything wrong with the Presidency of Donald Trump and instead spends every single moment of its air time deriding the performance of the sitting President.

That would be Joe Biden, for those who are still in denial out there. Joe Biden, the second coming of Barack Obama.

Make no mistake, this is what Republicans hate most about Joe Biden. That he represents the triumph of a black man who successfully ran the country for eight years, and was the only President since LBJ to reverse the decline of the fortunes of the American people. Reverse the decline through a single act of legislation that he guided through a nearly comatose Senate.

So FOX news talks endlessly about the flagging economy that none of their vaunted heroes have ever been able to fix, let alone understand; leaving out the part where Joe Biden orchestrated the ending of the COVID pandemic, the cause of the economic woes, through the rollout of vaccines that Donald Trump couldn’t get delivered and that his supporters still won’t take.

FOX news talks about the ignoble ending of the Afghanistan war, blaming it on Joe Biden when it was their golden boy, Donald Trump, who set us on the course to be kicked out of Afghanistan by the Taliban that we had defeated twenty years earlier. If there is a stain on America then they put it there by first electing the guy who restarted American imperialism, Ronald Reagan, and then continued to agitate for a more expansive American agenda for more than forty years in the face of changing climates, vanishing resources and more militant opposition in those places that we took our resources from.

FOX and the American conservatism that it gives voice to have pushed us all to the edge of destruction. No matter how you slice and dice the evidence this is the only conclusion that can be drawn, which is why they have all decided that the evidence is the problem and must therefore be ignored.

If FOX and American conservatism are to be believed, then the 1/6 investigation is a witch hunt that has found actual witches. For the first time in history. They won’t talk about the Committee’s findings, only that the Committee shouldn’t exist and that the Republicans who sacrificed their careers to see the investigation carried out should be drummed out of office. The findings are real though, despite the denials. The facts speak for themselves; which is a good thing, considering the climate.

Fox News’ choice to NOT cover the January 6th Committee hearings is the first ethical decision they’ve ever demonstrated.

Given that they’re seditious coconspirators, it would be a conflict of interest.

facebook/Stonekettle

Who has cable anymore? A show of hands? Exactly. FOX news may be the most popular news channel on American cable systems, but almost no one watches cable news anymore. Most of us get our news from (shudder) the internet. What FOX is, what MSNBC and CNN are, are dinosaurs. They are the vestiges of a once powerful opinion manufacturing machine that has largely gone to dust.

They long for the good old days when they could change history with their influence. Now they are transparently what they always have been, political reflection machines that serve only to ramp up the beliefs of the minority of the population who still watch them.

PBS News HourFull January 6th Hearings (Playlist) C-SPAN

I watched the hearings on YouTube like most people did. It’s true that the feed was NBC’s, and even older dinosaur than MSNBC, but what I saw is what anyone who watched saw, the opening salvo of a months-long series of hearings that will lay out the coup attempt by Trump and his co-conspirators, facts that those of us who pay attention to politics already know the gist of.

What FOX will be doing is trying to hold the attention of their viewers, not just for hours or days but for months, desperate to distract their viewers from the truth airing everywhere outside the conservosphere. MSNBC will simply be embroidering on the facts revealed in the hearings. CNN will reduce the facts to easily digestible chunks so that even the unwilling will have to concede to their existence. Which of these jobs would you rather have?

The results of all of this redundantly expensive noise will be determined outside of the reach of any one political entity; which is the way it should be. The one true thing that Vice President Mike Pence will probably ever say in his lifetime, a thought repeated in the 1/6 evidence on that first night of public hearings, bears repeating here:

There is no idea more unAmerican than the notion that any one person could choose the American President.

twitter/Mike Pence

…and by extrapolation, what the will of the population is should not be the decision of one man or even one political entity but should be readily established by the voices of the people themselves, directly. Eighty million people voted for Joe Biden, therefore Joe Biden should be President not Donald Trump.

Donald Trump still can’t accept this fact almost two years later and is still trying to enact a coup to have himself re-instated as President, as if that is even a thing that can be done. FOX is happy to beat the drum in support of Donald Trump; thereby signing its own death warrant, which is the punishment for treason.

Sedition. Treason. Easy words to say, hard accusations to prove.

He doesn’t mean talking in front of the committee when he asks for equal time. There is an open invitation for him to come to the committee and testify out there right now. The Chair of the committee extended this invitation from the beginning of the investigation. All Donald Trump has to do to be allowed to speak is comply with the requirements of the law. First he has to submit documentation for review, and he doesn’t have documentation on anything. Then he’d have to show up and not lie about established facts, a thing he doesn’t know how to do.

As his fan club has protested for years, requiring him to testify under oath is entrapment; except I don’t think they understand what this objection means. What they are saying is that he is not sane. If he was sane he could and world stop lying about established facts. His supporters know this when they say the word entrapment. If he was sane he would be able to stop himself from lying. He can’t, and so he isn’t.

Trump’s lying in front of the panel is exactly what is needed right now. Having him appear and face judgement would be the best for everyone concerned. If he could be made to appear and accept responsibility and our judgement. That is the crucial point of this juncture in time. Can he and his followers be made to accept responsibility for their actions and our judgement of them?

If we could compel him to appear he would do one of two things. He would transparently lie just as he always has and then dare us to act against him, the former President, in full view of his supporters. His supporters who will then probably start another insurrection. At least it would be in the open then.

Either he would lie or he would do the thing that all his betters do. He would plead the fifth just as he has done in past depositions (otherwise known as the “I can’t recall” defense) and that would leave us right where we are now. The place we don’t want to be. But we would still have the evidence of his evasion under questioning. This is why he blusters for equal time but will not avail himself of the opportunity to sit before the committee.

He doesn’t want to sit before the committee, he wants to run the committee. He wants a committee of his own. This potentiality is not as farfetched as most people might think. He could have his own committee if Republicans take the House and appoint him Speaker after the midterms. Anyone can be made Speaker of the House, although traditionally only sitting members have been appointed to this job. Think about that for a few minutes. Speaker Donald Trump. Have a puke bucket handy before you do.

I prefer not to think of the bastard at all. This was an easy thing to do before half the nation became members of his personality cult. All of this behavior around him is not what sanity looks like. It’s not just him, it’s his followers and others too. It started before him and it will continue after him. It may be the death of the human race if we don’t find a way to defeat it.

Climate change denial. Gun violence. Antivax. Trumpismo. All of these groups have the same thing in common, denial of the facts in evidence. Denial of the facts despite the rising levels of certainty stacked against this denial. Now either we figure out a way around this blockade so that the things needing doing get done, or we all die. We all die through climate disaster or nuclear holocaust or maybe even both simultaneously.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

You say you know he knows? That his lies are conscious? That all of this crap we’ve been through for six years was his idea of of a money making scheme? It’s possible, maybe even probable. We can’t say what he knows, despite what most people think. We can say what the facts are, and we can say that he was informed. We can’t say that he knows or that anyone similarly afflicted with this kind of dysphoria (?) knows. What we can say is that it is common and that a significant portion of the population can be influenced by others who have it. That people who are afflicted should not be trusted in positions of authority for the very reasons being laid out before us by the January 6th Committee today.

He was informed of the known facts and refused to accept them. Call it megalomania, call it willful ignorance. Call it Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Call it whatever you like but it still means he’s not sane and cannot be trusted to do anything of importance at any time after this. He needs keepers not access to the nuclear codes. He and his followers.

This is about much more than his freedom or our need to see Donald Trump punished. This is about all of our futures. I’ll happily call him nuts and fit him and his lunatic followers into straightjackets if that would get us past this crisis that we’ve been stuck on and in for most of my life. I doubt that will address the problem though.

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the era of big government is over

Bill Clinton, 1996 State of the Union Address

Two years into his first term as President, Bill Clinton announced his endorsement of Reaganism and the birth of his version of neoliberalism. His time in office saw the destruction of the public sphere that started under Reagan continue unabated through his two terms and through the two terms of George W. Bush, along with a heightened reliance on military strength as our way of demonstrating our will to the world’s people and governments.

The deregulation of industry. The abandonment of the poor and infirm. The triumph of greed. All of these trends have continued unabated since the day that Ronald Reagan won the White House and imposed his vision of America on us and the rest of the world. They have continued and now brought us to this crisis point in our civilization.

The environment is changing before our very eyes. The seas rise, the land sinks. Crops die in the field from intemperate weather and wars break out across the globe as the populations of the various nations realize that their governments do not care if they starve to death or not. Their caring may not even be the problem since there may not be enough food to feed everyone in the very near future. Is this the end? Only we can decide that.

Make no mistake though, Reagan is as much a product of the corporation’s desire to avoid paying for the impending climate disaster that they helped to create as he was a creation of the Christianists of the Religious Right who wanted to inflict their religion on the rest of us; and all of them are to blame for creating the environment that people like Donald Trump thrive in. They made his kind of lawless greed possible. They are to blame for all of this.

History will record that FOX died the same death as the Reagan Republicanism it was founded to promote. It was never more than an organ of that political movement and so will not survive its ultimate demise. A death that has been a long time coming but that we are watching play out around us right now.

What will replace Reagan Republicanism will be determined by those people who act on the politics of this moment whether they follow the news or not; and the truth of Trump’s crimes are there for anyone with the eyes to see them. All they have to do is open their eyes and look. So is the inflation brought on by a reigniting economy. So is the lingering pandemic. So is the war in Ukraine. So is the climate crisis that possibly has a hand in bringing all of these things to a head at the same time. What one thing will voters take to the polls in November to decide the next course this country will head on? Will it be just one thing?

We are barreling towards the November midterm election as I type this. Donald Trump and the Democrats who are trying to prosecute him want the election to be about Trump. The environmentalists want it to be about climate. The talking heads on FOX news want it to be about the economy. No one wants to think about the pandemic or the war, but they are out there influencing opinions anyway.

If you are blind enough to believe that Republicans ne Conservatives have answers for anything that the future might bring after everything we’ve been through over the last four if not forty years, then you’ll vote for Republicans and get violent when your side loses again. The rest of us will stick with the only sane group out there, moderate Democrats. How long can the center hold though? Hopefully long enough to see the next political philosophy rise, one that isn’t yet another zombified version of Reagan Republicanism.

Featured image of Ronald Reagan and Roger Ailes found here: highlandscurrent.org

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.

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