War Between the States (of Reality)

The battle for the soul of America is a narrative war. And we must prevail.

THE JANUARY 6 besiegers wanted, expressly, to kick off a new Civil War.

Some of the insurrectionists even wore t-shirts emblazoned with CIVIL WAR 2.0. (The silkscreening of garments, you see, is a critical first step in organized revolt; it is a little known fact that the gladiators in the Third Servile War of 73-71 BCE all wore tunics with I AM SPARTACUS splashed on the breast.) The Boogaloo Bois are so called because they seek a sequel to the war of 1860-65—Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo.

I am kidding about the Spartacus tunics, but not, sadly, about the provenance of “Boogaloo.” It is both easy and amusing to poke fun at grown men in cosplay military get-ups who name their clans after breakdancing movies and songs from Aladdin. The Q Shaman will be a figure of ridicule until the day he dies. But the more we learn about the insurrection, the more it becomes clear that for all the slack-jawed MAGA taking sedition selfies and smearing feces on the walls of the Capitol, this was a well-planned, coordinated attack on our government. The photojournalist Sandi Bachom, who witnessed and filmed the insurrection, explained it perfectly:

What happened on January 6 was a military operation. To the insurrectionists, the besieging of the Capitol was the storming of the Bastille—a revolutionary act. “Insurrection,” after all, is a violent uprising against an existing government. There was fighting that horrible day: hand-to-hand combat. Blood was drawn. People lost their lives.

The irony is that the insurrectionists did not need to ignite a new Civil War. The new Civil War was already upon us. It predated January 6. And it rages still. This is an information war, a narrative war, a war waged in the press and on cable news shows and across social media platforms. The battlefields are not Antietam, Gettysburg, and Bull Run, but Facebook, Twitter, and Clubhouse.

In this new Civil War, states do not secede from the Union; instead, citizens divorce from reality, inventing their own alternative universe, in which Donald John Trump, not Joe Biden, is the rightful President of the United States; in which Biden’s son, not Trump’s, is exploiting his father’s office for personal gain; in which MAGA Republicans, not Democrats, care about the rule of law and the wellbeing of the people. Biden stole the election! Trump will return to Washington to be sworn in again, in fulfillment of the Q Scripture! Then he can continue his clandestine operation of rooting out the pedo sex trafficking ring! Save the children!

If the battlefields are virtual and fuzzy, the battle lines are clear. On the opposing side is an entire political party that is full-tilt authoritarian—a Confederacy of Fascists. Gone is the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Reagan. What remains is a zombie party, which looks the same outwardly—we all recognize the pickled husks of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley—but is hellbent on the annihilation of democracy. This is no longer about right versus left, management versus labor, Medicare expansion versus tax cuts, “cancel culture” versus “woke.” This is a fight against tyranny, simple and plain. Everything else, everything else, is just noise.

Reality check: The Republican Party has no substantive platform. It has no policies beyond voter suppression, gerrymandering, and looting the Treasury for its billionaire whoremasters. It quashes dissent, it cheats, and it steals. And when legislation comes up that will actually help people, it obstructs. The Republican Senate under Mitch McConnell is a kidney stone, an aortal blockage, a banana in the tailpipe, that ship in the Suez Canal. It has been this way with Washington Republicans since Newt Gingrich was House Speaker.

Consider: Right now, the unifying principle of the GOP is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a piece of legislation that has improved the lives of literally every American. The Republicans have no viable alternative. Trump promised a better, “beautiful” healthcare plan in two weeks, 220 weeks ago. If anything, the last 12 months have made it clear that the GOP’s idea of healthcare is to let Mother Nature run her course. More important for them than even life itself is to destroy what Obama and the Democrats created. If real people suffer and die as a consequence? Them’s the breaks, sweetheart.

Tate Reeves is emblematic of this new, despotic, cruel GOP. He is the governor of Mississippi, a state that routinely ranks in the bottom five for education, health care, economic opportunity, and infrastructure. (He also looks like an inflatable penis with a toupee, but that’s neither here nor there). Reeves claims to be “pro-life,” despite presiding over a state ranked 49th in life expectancy. Whatever the effect on zygotes, his executive decisions have adversely impacted actual, air-breathing, womb-independent Mississippians. In lockstep with the monstrous Texas governor Greg Abbott, Reeves declared Mississippi open for business last September, lifting restrictions on almost everything (the “life” he supports in his “pro-life” position is clearly that of SARS-CoV-2). “We should not use the heavy hand of government more than it is justified,” he proclaimed, some of the dumbest words ever given voice. Mississippi now ranks fifth in covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people. But hey, at least it’s not 49th!

And it’s not like Tate Reeves doesn’t know better. His young daughter had her shit together last summer:

Reeves was in the national news recently for refusing $600 million in federal funding to expand Medicare in Mississippi. As the Mississippi Free Press reports:

“My position has not changed. I am opposed to expanding Medicaid in Mississippi,” Gov. Reeves said during a press conference [on March 11] before reverting to his preferred political term for the idea. “I am opposed to Obamacare expansion.”

Since 2014, Mississippi has rejected more than $7 billion in federal dollars that could have been used to expand eligibility to an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 more Mississippians. Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and current Gov. Tate Reeves, both Republicans, oppose Medicaid expansion after President Barack Obama created it when he signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

Expanded Medicaid would help Mississippians whose household income is too high for traditional Medicaid, but who do not earn enough to afford health insurance or to qualify for subsidized ACA insurance plans.

Like, I get not voting for something. But turning down funding? That’s cutting off the nose to spite the face—if the nose were 300,000 Mississippians who don’t have health insurance. Tate Reeves is your typical 2021 GOP politician: criminally negligent in his handling of the pandemic response, willing to sacrifice the lives of his constituents to sabotage the healthcare system, proudly MAGA, whiter than white. By ensuring that government fails, he hopes to prove Ronald Reagan’s idiotic and false bromide that government is the problem, not the solution.

I’m singling out Reeves, but he’s hardly the only Republican governor doing stuff like this. Kristi Noem of South Dakota single-handedly set off a covid epidemic in the entire Middle West by not shutting down that stupid motorcycle rally in Sturgis. The governor of Florida is known as “Ron DeathSantis” for a reason. Between the botched covid response and the catastrophic failure of the state’s electric grid, Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick of Texas are Horsemen of the Apocalypse at this point.

Malfeasance is now standard operating procedure for the GOP. This is the reality. Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor, went on TV a year ago and said that seniors should be willing to die for the economy. “There are more important things than living.” Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican Party!

All of these GOP clowns and their Republican-controlled statehouses have crafted a fresh batch of voter suppression laws, most notably the one signed into law last week by prick-faced election thief Brian Kemp. We all know the new Georgia law bars the handing out of water to voters waiting on line, but it also—this is important!—cedes power to the state legislature to overturn election results if the preferred candidate doesn’t win. That’s tyranny, in black and white. (That’s also what should have been the front-page headline, but of course it wasn’t.)

The scales of the federal government are inherently weighted in the GOP’s favor. Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota, each with a population well below a million, each staunchly red, have two Senators each—same as true blue California, with its 40 million residents. What the Republicans will do, if these laws are allowed to stand, is craft new, even more repressive laws to ensure they stay in power indefinitely. They have made no secret of this. It’s happening right now, in Georgia and other statehouses across the country.

As a minority party, the GOP as currently constituted can only survive by minority rule; thus, it seeks to establish a Russia-style oligarchical system here. Joe Biden and the Democrats cannot compromise with a party that wants to shit-can democracy. We don’t negotiate with terrorists. The current GOP must be destroyed, laid to waste, so that a new conservative party, one that doesn’t oppose universal suffrage, one that doesn’t want to kill us all, can take its place. Which means a stake must be driven through the heart of the filibuster. End forever that noxious vestige of whitewashed racism.

We have less than two years to put safeguards in place to ensure the survival of our democracy. There is no time to waste.

Not that the media has any fucking clue of the stakes, or even the battle. These Beltway fops only care about presidential press conferences and their own book deals. Just as the press is only now figuring out that, oh yeah, oops, Donald Trump did have ties to Russia and organized crime, and what do you know, he was a thief and a con man, so the MSM is still covering the two parties like it’s 1964. How many articles have there been criticizing Biden for not being “bipartisan?” As Eric Boehlert has pointed out, 70+ percent of Americans favored the $1.9 trillion relief bill. That’s as “bipartisan” as it gets. It’s the Republicans in Congress who are out of touch. But the buffoonish Beltway press paints a completely different, and counterfactual, picture.

It is up to us, I’m afraid, to fight this new Civil War, this battle of narratives. We must disseminate the truth we insist on, and ensure that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people does not perish from this earth.

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Photo credit: Tate Reeves, from his Facebook page.