Greg Sargent addresses the question, “Why is the mob angry?”
President Trump and Republicans have adopted a closing electoral strategy that depicts the Democratic Party and â€œangryâ€ leftist protests against Trumpian rule as the only real reigning threat to our countryâ€™s civic fabric and the rule of law. A new Republican National CommitteeÂ videoÂ juxtaposes footage of leading mainstream Democratic figures with that of angry protesters, while decrying â€œthe leftâ€ as an â€œunhinged mob.â€ …
…Â But much of the resulting debate over all this is hollow, because it is not putting these basic realities front and center: Trump, more than any leading U.S. figure in recent memory, has actively tried to stoke civil conflict on as many fronts as possible. He has concertedly subverted the rule of law, not just to shield himself from accountability, but, more to the point for present purposes,Â with the deliberate purpose of exciting his minority base â€” and enraging millions on the other side of the cultural divide â€” in a manner that is thoroughly corrupt to its core.
Witnessing this gaping hole in the debate is akin to watching a team of doctors diagnose a patient with advanced stages of brain cancer without acknowledging the existence of his tumor.
In the first â€œWho Gets to Be Angryâ€ post I pointed out that right-wing white men are the only demographic in the U.S. allowed to display anger without social or cultural penalty. Right-wing white women are allowed to display anger if they are standing next to a white man who is angry about the same thing â€” call it ladiesâ€™ auxiliary anger. Otherwise, women who display anger are labeled â€œhystericalâ€ or â€œwhacky,â€ whereas a white man doing the same thing is â€œstrong.â€Â Men who are not whiteÂ must also take care to be gentle of temperament, because right-wing white men have a pathological fear of black men displaying so much as mild pique. Or wearing hoodies.
Even white men can be slammed for anger if they are also â€œliberalâ€ or â€œlefties,â€ although younger white guys generally arenâ€™t used to being sensitive to the privilege rules and donâ€™t hold back expressing themselves in angry ways. If thereâ€™s a big leftie demonstration, if somebody acts up and behaves badly itâ€™s nearly always a young white guy.
One of the not-often-spoken rules we’ve all followed all these years is that only right-wing white men are allowed to be angry. This was plainly illustrated by the Kavanaugh hearings, in which Christine Blasey Ford was careful to be calm and unemotional, although she clearly was frightened, while the Right rewarded Kavanaugh for his unhinged hostility to the Democrats who questioned him.Â Literally, he was entitled. If Ford had behaved the same way, they would have crucified her for it.
The same multiple standards apply to group demonstrations. Right-wing mobs are celebrated as the voice of the people; leftie demonstrators are condemned as violent extremists on George Soros’s payroll. EvenÂ Karen Tumulty noticed right-wing hypocrisy on that one.
There was a time, less than a decade ago, when the sound of red-faced protest was music to Republican ears.
That, of course, was when Barack Obama was president, and the tea party movement was hijacking congressional town hall meetings with shouts of â€œTyranny!â€ There were plenty of shoving matches, and Democratic lawmakers were burned in effigy. The police were regularly called in to bring a semblance of order.Â …
…Â Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) lauded the conservative agitation as a pure expression of the frustrations and values of ordinary Americans.
â€œYouâ€™re the people who prove the politicians wrong when they say that all this activism and unrest was crafted, somehow, in a boardroom, down on K Street,â€Â he said. â€œThe grass-roots movement isnâ€™t Astroturf, as they like to put it. Itâ€™s something that started at your kitchen tables.â€
The tea party really was more astroturf than grass roots, but let’s go on …
Now it is the Democrats who are making the noise, and the argument is playing in reverse.
â€œYou donâ€™t hand matches to an arsonist, and you donâ€™t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law â€” not the rule of the mob,â€ President TrumpÂ tweetedÂ Saturday about the demonstrations that erupted after the Senate voted to confirm his nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
I’ll go back even further. Remember the Brooks Brothers Riot? Those guys really were paid political operatives. They stopped a legitimate vote count and helped steal a presidential election. What did Democrats do to retalitate? Nothing.
BTW, while googling “Brooks Brothers Riot” I came across this opinion piece at Jacobin that’s worth reading.
Today Democrats are re-evaluating Michelle Obama’s famous words, “When they go low, we go high.” A few days ago, Eric Holder said,Â â€œWhen they go low, we kick ’em. Thatâ€™s what this new Democratic Party is about.” The Right, naturally, has been outraged, never might that they declared open season on kicking, punching and even shooting Democrats a long time ago.
I’m still opposed to violence. I’m not opposed to pulling whatever legal, political levers can be pulled to destroy the Republican party, however. Voting rights reform and putting an end to gerrymandering would go a long way in that direction, and Democrats damn well better get to work on those if they take back the House. No more Mr. Nice Political Party.
We’ll know better after we get election results, but I’m seeing indicators that Republicans finally broke the Bigger Asshole rule. To review:
The Bigger Asshole Rule
Effective demonstrations are those that makeÂ themÂ look like bigger assholes thanÂ us.
That’s because the public will turn against whichever side is the bigger asshole. So, if demonstrators are seen as bigger assholes than the Powers That Be, public opinion will support the establishment and turn against the demonstrators. But in the Kavanaugh debacle, I sincerely believe that a majority of the public saw the Republicans as the bigger assholes, and most recent polling backs that up. Even now right-wing commenters are crowing that the Democrats damaged themselves on Kavanaugh, but I don’t think so. And I think the backlash against Republicans for the Kavanaugh debacle is just beginning, and it will continue for a long time.