It’s the fourth day of the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and it’s astonishing to witness just how much stupid, horrific shit they’ve managed to spread in that short time. There’s the big, obvious stupid, horrific shit–like the stupid, horrific new House Committee on the Weaponization of Government, or the stupid, horrific way they’ve gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics just as they’re examining the Members of Congress who refused to honor the subpoenas issued by the Jan. 6 committee. But the House of MAGA has also given some attention to smaller and less obvious stupid, horrific shit.
For example, they went to the bother of changing the name of the House Committee on Education and Labor. It’s now called the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Why, you ask, would they change ‘labor’ to ‘workforce’? Because changing the name complies with the House of MAGA’s prime directive: piss off the libs.
The Chair of the new House Committee on Education & the Workforce is Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. Rep. Foxx has a long Congressional history of being stupid and horrific. Back in 2005, she voted against the aid package for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. She claimed the murder of Matthew Shepard was “a very unfortunate incident” but not a hate crime (“We know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay“). She opposed Obamacare, saying “We have more to fear from the potential of the Affordable Health Care Act passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” She voted against Comrade Trump’s impeachment twice. She was one of the Members of Congress who opposed the certification of the 2020 vote. And she opposes all abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
Rep. Foxx, in her role as Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, offered an explanation for the change in name.
“‘Labor’ is an antiquated term that excludes individuals who contribute to the American workforce but aren’t classified as conventional employees. ‘Labor’ also carries a negative connotation that ignores the dignity of work; the term is something out of a Marxist textbook…. The Left prefers the term labor because it creates a sense of enmity between employees and employers which union bosses and left-wing activists seek to stoke for political gain…. Though the Left likes to treat employers like predators, we know that most job creators have their employees’ best interests in mind”
See, the ‘Left’ is only interested in workers the workforce for political gain, which is unAmerican and unpatriotic and therefore wrong. Employers, on the other hand, are only interested in financial gain, which is very American and patriotic and therefore right. Okay, maybe worker productivity rose more than 60% over the last forty years while worker workforce pay rose less than 18% (after adjusting for inflation). But hey, they’ve still got plenty of that ‘dignity of work’ to keep them happy, right? Where’s the dignity in ‘labor‘?
Also? Workforce sounds like they could be a team of Marvel superheroes. Isn’t that as good as money? Would Workforce America! ™ ask for safe working conditions? Hah!
Over the next two years we can expect to see much more stupid, horrific stuff across every scale of government. They hope we will be numbed by the barrage of stupid, horrific stuff. There’s a danger they could be right.
Here’s the problem one of the countless problems with the modern Republican Party: they’ve completely abandoned the idea that the purpose of government is to get shit done.
They say they want shit done, but they’re not willing to engage in the process required to get it done. I suspect some of them mean it when they say, “There’s shit we need to get done.” But there’s a hefty chunk of the GOP that actively interferes with getting shit done simply so they can blame President Uncle Joe for failing to get shit done. They love telling everybody “Shit that needs to get done is NOT getting done, BUT if you elect us, we’ll do all kinds of shit.” Except, of course, when they get the power and authority to get shit done, they…well, they shit the bed.
We’re witnessing that right now in the food fight over electing a Speaker of the House. The most telling (and probably least discussed) aspect of this fuckparade is the simple fact that apparently nobody in the Republican House can count votes. Each of the political parties in Congress has a semi-formal position called a Party Whip. The job of the Whip is 1) to find out how members are going to vote, and 2) to try to ensure they vote the way the party wants them to vote. Right now, ain’t nobody in the House GOP doing that. Nobody seems to have reliable information on how many people are going to vote for or against Kevin McCarthy for Speaker.
As I write this, the House is getting ready for the 7th attempt to elect a Speaker of the House. With any normal political party, this would be a formality. It’s been a formality for around a century. With any normal political party, there wouldn’t BE a vote until the party was certain they had the votes necessary to win. A normal political party would want to elect a leader who’d demonstrated strength of purpose, personal integrity, strong policy views. But the modern GOP isn’t a normal political party; the man most of them want to be their leader has cravenly given in to the threats of the GOP’s most extreme elements. He’s demonstrated a moral and ethical flexibility that offends both his supporters and his opponents. Kevin McCarthy stands for nothing other than a desire to be Speaker of the House.
Here’s a True Thing: governance is about getting shit done. It’s about the dull, grinding, detailed work of talking to people you disagree with and finding ways to compromise. The modern GOP isn’t willing to do that. The modern GOP isn’t capable of that. If the Republicans, as the majority party in the House, aren’t even able to elect a leader, they’re certainly not going to be able to get any meaningful shit done.
The modern GOP is more focused on doing shit TO others than in getting shit done. They’ve ceased to be a political party; now they’re basically acting as an incubator for future Fox News hosts and right-wing media darlings.
It’s going to be a long, long two years in Congress. Assuming the House ever manages to elect a Speaker.
We all know former president Comrade Trump has no respect for the US Constitution. I mean, he’s never been shy about that, has he. The guy has been committing crimes without any serious repercussions for decades. But he’s rarely so openly dismissive of the Constitution as he was yesterday. You’ve probably already seen the comment he made on his social media site, but it’s awful enough that it deserves repeating.
We can safely ignore that ‘revelation’ he’s talking about because it’s seriously stupid. It’s grounded in the belief that Twitter’s decision in 2020 NOT to allow posts with dick pics stolen from a private laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden is somehow a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. You can’t make this shit up.
Let’s also ignore the fact that Trump put “Founders” in quotation marks, as if the title is an exaggeration. And let’s further ignore his bullshit about “massive & widespread fraud & deception” because that’s either delusional thinking or deliberate lying (or possibly both). And while we’re ignoring stuff, let’s ignore Trump’s ridiculous assertion that his baseless claims of fraud magically ‘allows’ us to put aside “all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” because Jesus suffering fuck, that’s idiotic.
Instead, let’s look at how Comrade Trump’s base has reacted to his statement. And for that, we have to hold our nose and go wading through the fetid waters of FreeRepublic.
Not surprisingly, a lot of Freepers initially refused to believe Trump actually made that statement. They felt the post must be a lie or, more likely, another demonic Democratic-commie false flag propaganda effort.
Are these confirmed posts by Trump? posted on 12/3/2022, 7:01:51 PM by EEGator
There is no suggestion of terminating the Constitution; however, it appears to suggest that this is exactly what Biden is doing right now. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:26:06 PM by Olog-hai
But, of course, he did actually post that. Once it was confirmed, the majority of Freepers found it necessary to ‘interpret’ what Trump really meant, because clearly he wouldn’t suggest violating the Constitution. So what did Trump really mean when he said fraud “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution”?
I don’t think he’s actually suggesting that we take extra-Constitutional measures, just that we will wish that we had before we had to. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:35:40 PM by Jonty30
When Trump says “even those found in the Constitution,” he’s speaking of the 12th amendment counting of Electoral College votes. He suggesting that if the election was based on fraud, then the 12th amendment legally counted fraudulent Electoral College votes and should be set aside. I’m not endorsing his argument, but he’s clearly not suggesting that the Constitution be terminated. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:59:09 PM by Political Junkie Too
He is merely calling for the restoration of the constitution, by rectifying the deep state monkey wrench that was jabbed into it in 2020 (and 2016, 2018, 2022, etc). posted on 12/3/2022, 8:12:06 PM by C210N
Some Freepers, of course, were perfectly happy with the idea of Trump ditching the Constitution and seizing control of the country. That pesky Constitution just got in the way, keeping him from doing what needed to be done to protect…well, the Constitution. And also make America great.
He has a point doesn’t he? posted on 12/3/2022, 7:08:30 PM by isthisnickcool
Anyone who doesn’t think the Democrats aren’t trying to terminate the constitution and replace it with progressive socialism is a fool. I’ll take Trump’s alternative any day. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:16:27 PM by bigbob
Fine by me. posted on 12/3/2022, 8:12:34 PM by going hot
Maybe that’s why our great founders had no thought of popular voting as a means of appointing a President. posted on 12/3/2022, 8:21:12 PM by Jim Noble
That’s the stuff I was expecting to find on FreeRepublic. A lot of ‘damn the Constitution, full speed ahead’ alpha-male bravado. But surprisingly (to me, anyway) at least a third of Freepers called Trump out. Many were decidedly and decisively against terminating the Constitution; others thought it was merely a bad idea.
So as someone who’s sworn multiple times to support and defend the Constitution with my life, that’s slightly problematic. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:02:09 PM by quikstrike98
No, Donald. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:03:40 PM by Mr.Unique
Greatest president ever. Now shut up and go away. You will not get the nomination. And only a fool would vote for you as a third party candidate. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:10:05 PM by rrrod
Termination of the Constitution’s rules? That actually does sound fascist. I am adamantly opposed to this suggestion. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:23:16 PM by Golden Eagle
In my opinion this would disqualify Trump from ever being considered for POTUS. posted on 12/3/2022, 7:32:23 PM by xkaydet65
Face it, your lord and savior Trump would burn the Constitution itself if it meant he could regain power. You’ve been conned. posted on 12/3/2022, 8:05:25 PM by thefactor
Trump seems to be saying that we must go past the Constitution to set things right. Well, that’s exactly how banana republics work. posted on 12/3/2022, 8:12:37 PM by Leaning Right
That sort of angry opposition from Freepers is unexpected and downright shocking. It’s a good shock, to be sure, but lawdy it’s a massive tectonic shift in the hard-core conservative firmament (and yes, I know there’s no plate tectonics in the heavens, but you know what I mean).
However, there was also a minority of Freepers who wished Trump would rescind the Constitution and were openly angry with him because he hadn’t done it already and wouldn’t do it in the future.
Trump doesn’t have the balls to do anything of the sort, just look at how he allowed BLM and Antifa to burn the nation’s cities in 2020 with barely a whimper. A President with balls would have declared a national emergency, suspended habeous corpus, and sent the Marine Corps out to arrest the enemies of the USA. But he did nothing. So when the rubber meets the road, I doubt President Trump will have the courage to act. posted on 12/3/2022, 8:36:36 PM by rod5591
This is just a small sample of the more than 450 posts in a single discussion thread, but I think it accurately illustrates the scope of the Freeper discussion. Here’s the thing: this is Comrade Trump’s base. These are the people who followed him with almost religious fervor. These are the people he counted on to stop the peaceful transfer of power on January 6th, and who came close to succeeding. These are the people he’s counting on to support him in the 2024 election.
And a sizable proportion of them apparently aren’t going to do it. If Comrade Trump has lost a significant number of Freepers, he’s effectively done as a viable presidential candidate in 2024. He’s still a threat to democracy, of course, and his true believers remain a danger to civil society, but IF (and yeah, that’s a big IF) these posts are representative, then Trump has managed to kneecap himself.
As another Republican said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” I’m not sure Lincoln actually said that, but it’s a good line. I hope it’s true.
And by the way, no. No, there’s no “rich debate about whether or not a document is declassified if a president has decided but not communicated it outside of his own head.” Jesus suffering fuck, people. I mean, just listen to yourselves.
Okay, now as I was saying…wait, where was I?
Right, I hadn’t even started yet. Okay, as I was about to say, it’s a job of work being a Trump martyr. I’m thinking about this mook Ricky Shiffer. You know, the MAGA fuckwit who decided to start the War Against the Deep State by attacking an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio. First, you’re never going to make it to the Martyr Hall of Fame if your name is Ricky. Ricky is a fine name for a second baseman on a minor league team or the regional manager for a company that sells convenience store snack cakes. But not for a martyr. Rick would have been okay. Richard would work. But Ricky? Never gonna happen.
Second, Cincinnati? It’s a fine city, no mistake, with wonderful architecture, some very fine sports teams, the home of a truly great ice cream (Graeter’s black raspberry chocolate chip is exquisite) and a rich history of riverboats exporting pork products. But it’s not on the list of Best Places to Take the Fight to the Deep State. Cincinnati is where you’d go if you want to start a War on Decent Chili (oh lawdy, they do terrible things to chili there), but if you’re going to take on the FBI, then really, look elsewhere.
Third, it’s really hard to be a martyr for Comrade Trump. I mean really, really, REALLY hard. It’s hard on account of if you’re an ordinary white working stiff with a history of making racist and violence statements and you commit a crime for Trump, you’ll be almost immediately written off BY OTHER MAGA FUCKWITS as a Deep State stooge.
Ricky Shiffer said all the right MAGA things, just like MAGA Republicans in Congress. He said the FBI was a threat, they were the enemy of the people, they were corrupt thugs, the people have to fight back, the FBI must be destroyed. He echoed the GOP establishment. Only he apparently actually believed what they were saying. He followed through. Not effectively, but he acted on what almost every Republican was saying. And now?
Now Ricky Shiffer is considered a ‘crisis actor’. Now his attack on the FBI is seen as a false flag incident. Ricky Shiffer died stupidly, in a corn field, wearing body armor, thinking he would be a martyr, an example to his fellow ‘patriots’. Now his fellow ‘patriots’ are accusing him of being Antifa. Here’s a smattering of comments from FreeRepublic:
I suspect this is an FBI operation given the blow-back from a lot of people on both sides with the raid on Trump’s home. — by CFW
FBI asset, BLM, or Antifa? — by mass55th (“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” ~~ John Wayne )
This isn’t a coincidence. This was timed for today. We’re going to see these RAT antics every day from now until election day. — by FlingWingFlyer (The House is supposed to represent the people, not the friggin’ Federal government. )
Right, this doesn’t pass the smell test. — by pacificus
Almost certainly, they murdered the CI/patsy they paid to do it. Until evidence to the contrary turns up, I will assume ALL attacks on the FBI or any other Federal agency are 100% false flag attacks. — by backwoods-engineer (Hold on, y’all, 2022 is going to be a ride you won’t soon forget!)
They used the stooge, then killed him for his efforts. — by TheElectionWasStolen
Stevie Wonder could have seen that a false flag was incoming. — by Cowgirl of Justice
FalseFlag — by joma89 (Buy weapons and ammo, folks, and have the will to use them.)
Odds are, Ricky Shiffer won’t be the last mook to take up arms for the delusional cause of Comrade Trump. Violent, threatening rhetoric is a staple of the GOP diet and Trump’s followers are eating it up as avidly as ducks devouring cracked corn. I’m not convinced there’ll be a January 6th Only With Guns, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened. And if/when it does, the mooks who join in will be characterized by the mooks who didn’t as false flag crisis actors.
It’s been a while since I’ve dipped my toes in the fetid fever swamp of FreeRepublic. I was curious to see how they were responding to the FBI executing a search warrant on Comrade Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort/home while Trump his ownself was up in Communist NYC taking the Fifth Amendment in a civil fraud suit.
There were a few surprises. For example, I expected to see a lot of posts claiming the FBI had ‘planted’ incriminating documents in Mar-a-Lago. That’s been a common theme on FOX News, after all. But there was very little of that. I was also surprised to see a small but persistent group of Freepers who were seriously concerned about the gravity of the situation. They supported Trump, of course, but were disturbed by the accusations that he’d taken and kept classified documents in his golf club. They felt it was irresponsible. The Freepers in this group were always accused by the majority of being ‘woke leftists’ who were, deliberately or not, undermining Trump.
Many Freepers simply dismissed the entire matter, either as ‘fake news’ or political theater by Democrats meant to disrupt the mid-term elections.
“Given the FISA fraud, 2 nonsense impeachments, and the blind eye given leftists, I consider any charge against Trump to be baseless and solely politically motivated.” by fruser1
Other Freepers found the matter confusing–not the claims made by the FBI and the DOJ, but the motivations of Trump opponents. They could NOT understand why anybody would deliberately want to oppose President Donald J. Trump. It just didn’t make sense to them.
“At least they unsealed the warrant so Trump knows what he’s up against. It’s still weird that they’re coming after Trump before he’s even announced his 2024 run, before he’s any kind of threat to their agenda. Generally law enforcement only spends this kind of effort on career criminals. That obviously isn’t the case with Trump so I don’t know what they’re playing at.” by FormerFRLurker
Who can possibly understand why the FBI would even consider searching Trump’s home for classified documents? It’s ridiculous. It’s crazyworld.
But most Freepers clearly believed the ‘raid’ on Mar-a-Lago was an attack directed at Trump his ownself. Why? Because 1) the work left hates him and/or 2) they’re terrified he’s about to expose them for what they ‘really’ are. (SPOILER: what they are, apparently, is evil pedophile god-hating communists.)
“It doesn’t make sense why they are so obsessed with destroying him unless he himself presented a huge threat to them BEYOND being elected POTUS again. Think about it, when he was in office he didn’t go after them, he even let Hillary walk after the collusion hoax. So why are they still after him? Because they are terrified of something he has! A list, and I think it involves kids, pedophilia.” by GrandJediMasterYoda (As long as Hillary Clinton remains free, the USA will never have equal justice under the law).
“Gore, Biden, Garland, Obama, both Clintons – they’re all in this together. The thought of targeting a political opponent with imprisonment is pure evil.” by Observator
“The Left MUST STOP him BEFORE he announces….there must be an INDICTMENT…..they KNOW he’s totally innocent, but they DESPISE him because they are EVIL, VILE, LYING DESTROYERS of GOOD PEOPLE and GOOD THINGS!” by Ann Archy (Abortion……. The HUMAN Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
Evil, vile, lying destroyers of good people and things always go after innocent people like D.J. Trump. It’s not clear to me why, if Trump has information proving so many woke leftists are evil pedophile god-hating communists, he hasn’t published it, but apparently he’s waiting for the right moment. (Tangent: another Freeper explained that the hate of these wicked Leftists is exactly why there hasn’t been anything good on television since Gunsmoke was canceled in 1975.)
There was also a large contingent of Freepers with a vast knowledge of the nuances and subtleties involved in of the process of classifying and declassifying sensitive documents, knowledge they’d gained through intensive study over the last day or so. Having familiarized themselves with these nuances and subtleties, they universally agreed the nuances and subtleties weren’t that important, and could just fuck right off.
“The president doesn’t have to write up anything. He can wave his hands over the documents and say, ‘Presto! Declassified.’ Why is that so hard to grasp? The president is the ultimate consumer of all the classified information, and as the head of the executive answers to no one else within the executive. This is not rocket science.” by curious7
It’s hard to argue with that. Waving presidential hands over documents is deffo NOT rocket science. I mean, you know, there might be some top secret, compartmentalized documents that involve science–and maybe even rockets–but overall, it’s not even remotely rocket science. So the opinions of FBI rocket scientists can be dismissed out of hand.
As Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Oh, and kids in school. And folks shopping for groceries, if they’re not white.” Yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant…what?
Okay, some of you are saying, “Greg, old sock, I don’t think you’ve accurately quoted our boy TJ.” Maybe you’re right; this may not be an exact quote, but it’s close enough to the way it’s interpreted by a lot of people who identify as right-wing lunatic gun nuts. Okay, okay, maybe they don’t actually identify themselves that way, but stop calling me old sock.
I mean, sure, TJ was talking about Daniel Shays, a farmhand in western Massachusetts who was having trouble paying his taxes, partly because he was also having trouble collecting the pay he was supposed to have received as a grunt in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. There’s still a lot of debate about what TJ meant by that tree of liberty bullshit, but the right-wing lunatic gun nuts take it as an article of faith that TJ was suggesting folks need to periodically have a good old fashioned bloody war of rebellion against the legitimate government. This is exactly WHY the term lunatic is included in the name of ‘right-wing lunatic gun nuts’.
But even right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how mass murder events at schools, mall, movie theaters, and grocery stores fit into that ‘blood of patriots and tyrants’ business. Especially when…oh yeah, and churches, I forgot to include churches. And temples and mosques. Anyway, right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how that blood of patriots stuff fits with those mass murders committed by white men specifically against victims who aren’t white. Or men. Or people who don’t quite fit into the right-wing lunatic gun nut definition of ‘men’.
So the right-wing lunatic gun nuts have developed a pair of sure-fire (get it? Sure-fire? See what I did there? I’m a hoot) responses to those events. First, they…well, wait. I say ‘first’ as if this is the preferred response, which would be inaccurate on account of these two responses are pretty much equally relied on. So when I say ‘first’ I’m just admitting that I can’t share two responses at the same time. These responses are numerical, not sequential. Or the other way around, maybe? Doesn’t matter.
First, they blame the mass murder on emotional health. As in “This kid who shot up the supermarket in Buffalo must be CRAZY because, yeah sure, he says he was motivated by hate and he says white folks are being replaced by non-white folks who breed faster and yeah sure, that’s exactly what Tucker Carlson says on FoxNEWS every night, but c’mon, you’d have to be CRAZY to believe that, so there, it’s a mental health issue.”
Second, they claim the mass murder is a false flag event perpetrated by Democrats or Jews or some other Satanist-pedophile group in order to TAKE OUR GUNS, or at least distract us from Hunter Biden’s laptop. They seem to think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to believe.
Sometimes they combine the two responses, suggesting Democrats and Jews and other Satanist-pedophile groups convince mentally ill white folks to commit mass murders to distract the population from some vague but really awful thing that Democrats, Jews, and other Satanist-pedophile groups really enjoy.
But as I was saying (you may have to refer back to the beginning of this blog), yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant 30-mile bike ride from one bike pub to another bike pub, some white kid went to a supermarket in a predominantly black community and killed a whole bunch of folks who were just buying groceries.
Right now on television (I don’t actually know this, but I know this) some conservative is on a national news Sunday program explaining that the mass murder in Buffalo would never have happened if we had better mental health programs, which we can’t afford to make free because that would raise taxes, but maybe for-profit insurance companies could include mental health anti-mass murder options for people who can afford it, but guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people and if they didn’t have guns, they’d do it with axes, do you really want to ban axes, and besides guns are good because an armed patriot inside the store could have returned fire and prevented more needless death, and sure there was a security guard who did return fire and hit the killer, but the shooter was wearing tactical body armor which is protected by the Second Amendment, however a highly trained patriot could have shot him in the head–or at least the part of his head that wasn’t covered by his tactical helmet–and that would have ended the tragic situation, but there’s nothing in the Second Amendment that says private citizens should have to undergo training to carry a weapon, and did I mention the kid was mentally ill, because that’s the problem. Unless if was a false flag event.
So it turns out TJ, whatever he actually meant, was right about the blood and the tree of liberty. We are refreshing the fuck out of that tree.
The CIA (yes, that CIA) sucks in massive amounts of data and information from a whole galaxy of sources. One of those sources, when it comes to assessing the stability of a nation, is the Center for Systemic Peace. You’re probably asking, “Greg, old sock, just what the hell is this Center for Systemic Peace…and is that really it’s actual, no-shit name?”
Yes, that really is its name. The CSP was founded in 1997 to conduct “research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal-systemic development processes.” Basically, they evaluate a nation’s stability by looking at stuff–like the spectrum of social conflict, the methods of governance, and the various responses of the population. The CSP does this for just about every nation state that has a population of over half a million. Also, stop calling me ‘old sock’.
One of the CSP’s metrics for national stability is what they call a ‘polity score’. It measures ‘regime authority’ on a 21-pont scale with a zero point at the center: -10 being an hereditary monarchy, +10 is a consolidated democracy. They tend clump nations into three groups: 1) autocracies (-10 to -6), anocracies (-5 to +5), and democracies (+6 to +10).
Now I suspect you’re asking, “Greg, old sock, what the fuck is an anocracy?” Good question. At the high end (+5) an anocracy is a form of government that’s democratic but has autocratic features; at the low end (-5) it’s an autocratic government with some democratic features.
Why am I telling you all this? Two reasons. First, the CIA uses the CSP as a tool for understanding how fucked up nations are. They have their own reasons for doing this, of course, some of which are almost certainly nefarious, but the CSP metrics are universally seen as pretty damned reliable. The second reason I’m telling you this is because the US, for most or our history, has been either a +9 or a +10. For a long time, the US was the world’s longest continuing democracy.
It’s sad that the US is now just a high-functioning, democracy-leaning anocracy. What makes it all very much worse, though, is that anocracies are much more susceptible to insurgencies, and nations that with active insurgencies are more likely to slide into an actual civil war. And we’re seeing overt signs of a growing insurgency movement in the US.
Depending on which poll you look at, somewhere between 17-38% of folks who identify strongly as Republicans believe the use of violence to ‘restore America’ is acceptable or necessary. Every state in the Union has at least one civilian armed militia movement. Some militia groups are national–the Oathkeepers, the III Percenters, the Proud Boys, etc. Members (and supporters) of militia groups have engaged in anti-government ranging from the insurrection on 1/6/20, to a plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan and put her on ‘trial’, to threatening the lives of local election or school board official. These aren’t just crimes; they’re insurgent actions.
Again, the US is still at the high end of anocracies. We can claw our way back into the realm of full democracies. But there’s no guarantee we will. At this point, the Republican Party is effectively acting as the political wing of an inchoate collective of insurgent groups, all of whom want to install some form of right-wing authoritarian government. Since Senators Sinema and Manchin have given the GOP the power they need to suppress voting, the odds of the US sinking lower on the polity scale have increased.
It’s hard for me to even say this–mainly because this should be unthinkable–but we may be witnessing a cascade of events that will be the end of representative democracy in the United States. And because it should be unthinkable, most of the people in the US aren’t thinking about it at all. Most of us are just assuming everything will go on just about as it always has. And maybe it will. But I’m not confident about it. I keep thinking of the closing stanza of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men.
This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
ADDENDUM (1/28): It appears that Uncle Joe’s move to the Oval Office has allowed the US to claw its way up from a 5 on the Polity Scale to an 8. We are now a middling, shaky democracy. Yay?
This year we’ve seen municipal school board meetings disrupted by aggressively angry crowds, threatening harm and violence against elected school board officials if they don’t set the pandemic masking policies demanded by the crowd. Many in those crowds don’t even have children attending schools in that district; they’re just angry about mask mandates.
We’ve also seen several State legislatures disrupted, swarmed by packs of aggressively angry armed men, threatening harm and violence against elected officials for setting–or even merely debating–state policies they opposed.
On January 6th, we saw the federal government disrupted and the US Capitol building breached by aggressively angry insurrectionists, threatening harm and violence against elected officials for certifying the legitimate election of the next president.
This is fractal insurrection. Insurrection is a complex dynamical system that’s self-similar across different scales. Zoom in on any part or facet of the intimidation and aggression, and it looks the same as the larger view. The intimidation and aggression seen at school board meetings is the same as the intimidation and aggression seen at state capitols, which is the same as that seen at the US Capitol.
These insurrections are recursive; they’re created, nurtured, fueled in the same way. Wrap lies and disinformation around one or more tiny kernel of truth, repeat it, add a dash of victimization, repeat, a wee bit of conspiracy theory, repeat, increase the urgency, repeat, and the cascade effect drives it farther and faster. Repeat the process over and over in an ongoing closed feedback loop, most often in social media, which promotes self-reinforcing partisan bubbles. The forces that drive people to storm the US Capitol to stop the transfer of presidential power are the same forces that drive people to a school board meeting to stop schools from requiring mask/vax mandates.
The sad thing is, that process can be considerably disrupted if social media were held accountable for the spread of lies, disinformation, and threatening behavior. There’s a place for unpopular (or even flat out offensive) opinions on social media, but those opinions can be expressed without lies, disinformation, or threats.
For example, it’s one thing to express the opinion that President Uncle Joe Biden is feeble and intellectually infirm, but it’s another thing to claim he ordered Alec Baldwin to murder Halyna Hutchins because she’d been a journalist in her native Ukraine and had uncovered information demonstrating Hunter Biden was a criminal. (And yes, that’s an actual conspiracy theory I’ve seen espoused on social media.)
So long as social media is more focused on keeping (and monetizing) their members than on their civic responsibility, we’re going to continue to see this sort of fractal insurrection expand to other arenas of social interaction.