Not that there aren’t dozens of other things to flail about, but in the past couple of days, one of the ones I’ve seen people most agog about is Steve Bannon talking about wanting “deconstruction” of the government.
Coming, as I do, from a family steeped in the “patriot” movement, I think I might get this better than some who aren’t familiar with it first hand. Allow me to try to explain:
First off, yes, there’s a crapton of sheer bigotry and violent, toxic masculinity going on here. That’s the driving psychological force behind all of it. Above the Id level, however, this is all going according to plan. This is exactly why people voted for 45 and why they keep calling his reign “successful.”
The right wing has wanted to dismantle the federal government since the Civil War (and there’s also always been an anti-federalist faction going back much farther.) Everything they’re doing right now is designed with that goal in mind. They’re aiming to all but break up the U.S. in to 50 nation-states, with us sharing only very big things like currency, military protection, interstate transportation and border security. They want the U.S. to be more like the U.N., or at least the E.U. Most of these folks are also isolationist (at least in terms of our responsibility to help stop dictators, etc.) Aside from the desire to actually invade and take over oil-producing countries, and return Israel to its Biblical borders so the Rapture will come, this is all about total sovereignity: Much the same impulse that led to a lot of Brexit votes. Obviously, xenophobia and racism are behind much of this sentiment, but in their minds, that’s incidental. They’re looking to give each state the ability to self-rule as much as possible, because they believe centralized government can’t properly serve diverse states.
For those of us in blue states, that probably doesn’t sound so bad. I do occasionally entertain the idea of Pacifica, really. But the net effect of this is that marginalized people who are stuck in red states are absolutely screwed. We could set up our own little refugee programs–sponsoring the poor schlubs in red-state cities or whatnot–but that would still leave the children of these creeps in dire straits, and frankly, people shouldn’t have to move to a whole different state just to have their basic human rights recognized anyway.
There are legitimate debates to be had on whether centralized government is really capable of efficiently providing public services to 300 million people scattered across a very broad geographic area and cultural spectrum, but at the very least, Constitutional rights have to be protected, and if these asshats get their way, that’s going to collapse. Appealing to them on the basis of compassion and anti-racism isn’t going to work regardless, but if we really want to stop them from doing what they’re doing, we have to look at what it is they’re really aiming to do, and challenge them on that, too. Continue reading