Editor’s Note: I got the idea for this from Bill Maher’s HBO political talk show, “Real Time.” At the end of the show, he does a segment called “New Rules,” a series of short monologues. His last one a few weeks back hit the nail on the head. It reminded me of how silly one of the participants in the first Democratic debate, Julian Castro, had been, giving a ridiculous and embarrassing answer to a question that involved abortion. He came out for the right of transsexuals to have abortions, despite the fact that transsexuals can’t get pregnant. This is the sort of nuttiness that loses elections.


Who’s Less Crazy Than Whom?

 “It’s gonna take a dead Russian hooker at the bottom of the Hudson River before Republicans wake up.”
— Nicole Wallace, GOP campaign operative (ex-campaign manager for Sarah Palin)

“Most of America … all they want is to vote for someone who’s not weird.”
— Bill Maher, comedian and wiseass

It’s always a good idea to know your enemy; however, most MSNBC viewers can’t even find Fox News on their remotes, while Breitbart fans don’t watch enough serious, mainstream news to have any idea why their president is being impeached.

As a moderately left-of-center columnist, I’ve deliberately made an effort to understand how conservatives think. Initially, I thought their devotion to smaller and less-intrusive government, fiscal restraint, Christian morality and the Constitution was sincere, and I naively believed right-wingers share the same values and sense of patriotism as the rest of us — then they joined the church of Trump.

Since 2016, like Islamic fanatics, they’ve whined relentlessly about the martyrdom they and “The Dear Leader” endure at the hands of liberals. It’s no wonder the GOP’s far right is labeled its “Taliban wing.” With all due respect (and what follows that phrase is almost never respectful), Republicans have developed a hive mentality, and conservatism is now whatever The Donald tells them it is. They’ve morphed into a servile cult of personality — the portmanteau word might be “Trumpservatives” — that slavishly shouts “amen” at everything he says or does, no matter how deplorable.

Trumpservatives consider any news that fails to lionize the president “fake news,” while history that reflects badly on the Right is deemed fake fodder for revisionism. Joe McCarthy has been rehabilitated into a patriot crying out in the wilderness. Watergate was a “witch hunt” that brought down a noble president re-elected in a landslide. And America’s greatest pre-Trump president was unfairly smeared for the tiny and excusable treason of selling missiles to terrorists. I’ve been screamed at for even mentioning Reagan’s complicity in Iran-Contra, even though that scandal is now a part of history.

Conservatives take weirdly un-American positions. They’ve taught me blacks were better off as slaves, and that reverse racism (i.e., the erosion of white privilege) is more widespread and dangerous than white supremacy. Many on the right believe bigotry of all sorts (e.g., against immigrants, women and/or homosexuals) is far less a problem than opposition to it, which is deemed “political correctness.” And freedom of religion demands the freedom to force your faith on everybody else.

In truth, we all harbor out-of-the-mainstream beliefs. If I were running for office, I wouldn’t air my convictions that dogs are better than people, we should repeal the Second Amendment (and hunting is sadistic), god’s existence is unproved, doctor-assisted suicide should be covered by insurance, and churches should be taxed like the businesses they are. I’m also libertarian enough to hope all recreational drugs (e.g. weed, cocaine, crystal meth and heroin) will be decriminalized. (Although I could easily justify each position with a coherent argument, none would play well in a campaign ad.)

For many voters, the 2020 election will come down to how much insanity is tolerable. We know the frenzied foolishness looming from the buffoon-in-chief, but the question is whether we want to see more of it, or would prefer the dignity and decorum of classier presidents, such as George H.W. Bush or Barack Obama. The Democrats’ task is simple and should be easy: Just be a little less crazy than The Donald and present a sensible alternative. This has caused Joe Biden, a mature moderate, to be the early front runner.

Of course, the Trumpservatives will label whoever runs against the president as a socialist or a communist (most can’t tell know the difference), and, in classic “pot/kettle” irony, our president is already calling Democrats “crazy radicals.” Sadly, the progressive wing often exhibits an annoying tendency to play into this characterization.

Democratic debaters who raised their hands in favor of free healthcare for undocumented aliens didn’t raise their electability. Nor did candidates who’ve advocated that people be compelled to give up their private insurance to clear the way for Medicare for all. And backing the right of incarcerated felons to vote from prison or promoting taxpayer funding of transgender convicts’ sex change surgeries is unlikely to impress the electorate or rescue the country from Trumpservatism.

Bizarre, far-left issues alienate more voters than they engage, especially in the crucial midwestern swing states, whose ballots count as much or more than those on the coasts. Similarly, in a nation that loves its guns more than its children, Beto O’Rourke’s musings on seizing AR-15s and AK-47s were a roadmap for failure. (Luckily, he’s now out of the race.) This is similar to candidates who make assertions Republicans can then twist into specious accusations that Democrats favor open borders.

When the alternative is Orange Mussolini, far-left positions shouldn’t be necessary to woo progressives. Each Democratic candidate pretty much had me at “four more years of Trump.” I simply have no alternative, so, even a Democratic platform that doesn’t legalize weed or tax the Catholic church won’t make me vote for a fascist bigot. When a progressive sits it out on election day, we lose a vote; however, a centrist who thinks Trump is nuts, but casts a ballot for him anyway, because he sees progressives as worse, represents a net loss of two votes.

Of course, it’s all immaterial if Trump loses, but refuses to graciously bow out. Who thinks sycophantic GOP weasels like Devon Nunes or Jim Jordan wouldn’t back such a coup? Who thinks Moscow Mitch would choose the Constitution over continued banana-republican rule? And how much will Trumpservatives care about the verdict of history when they can just call it “fake news”?  

 

As I said, it’s a good idea to know your enemies. My biggest fear is that I already do.


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