Plus: Maybe crazy doesn't work
First, love your writing. Love that you’re trying to take a stand. Love most of what you have to say.
But your whataboutism, and your impossible-to-resist impulse to assign blame for the right’s abhorrent behavior to the left undermines your arguments.
You mention the boy who cried wolf- that the right shrugs off valid criticisms of racism and bigotry because “the left” called out apparent racism and bigotry too often. The first plank in your argument of why the American right is literally without shame today is “it’s the left’s fault for crying racism where there was no racism”.
Then you accurately describe the Republican Party’s increasingly open embrace of racists, support of racist policies, apologies for racists in their ranks, dog-whistling turning to bull-horning, to finally literal, overt, performative (vice-signaling?) racism by its most prominent members.
So to make sure I understand your argument:
- The left called out racism on the right,
- This was wrong of the left, because in the 90’s-00’s, racism was only “tacitly” tolerated by the right (but still made a home for the worst kind of hateful extremists,
- The right’s embrace of racism increased to the point it’s now not only encouraged, but in fact required to be successful in the conservative ecosystem.
- The right now has literally no shame and elicits behavior no civilized society should ever tolerate.
- This is the left’s fault, because even though the right has harbored racists for decades, we never knew just how depraved they would *really* get.
Sound about right?
I’m sorry conservative America (since the 60’s at least) has stood on the side of limiting progress for minorities, women, and non-straight-white-males in general. I’m sorry you feel it was “mean” to call the policies and behaviors that made this obvious what they really are- racist, bigoted, misogynist, homophobic, etc. I’m sorry you took personally what were criticisms of your Party, not necessarily you as people.
But that’s not “the boy who cried wolf”- unless you change the story to a boy who states that a wolf is eating his sheep; then the wolf eats villagers; then the villagers say “I’m so sick of this wolf, it’s all that boy’s fault for mentioning it in the first place”.
Charlie is quick to demand names of respectable Republicans who made racist comments while using nameless, faceless “Democrats” as a cudgel for his “crying wolf” charges. Bothsiderism is apparently his only defense against clearly delineated moral differences between the two parties.
I’d eat my words if he could make a reasoned argument about non-racist “good” Republicans by listing all the legislation that was authored, supported and passed by the Rs to alleviate structural inequalities for racial minorities and the working poor. How far back would he have to go to make that case?
I get why you’d want to blame the right’s racism on the left, but it’s still your problem, not ours.
Charlie, the time has come to call Paul Ryan out! Either he is a principled conservative or a Fox prostitute?
It's gross that Carlson was apparently thrilled to have his photo take while his nose was running.
Right its the democrats fault! The Left made them do it. The "left" isn't responsible for this dumpster fire of deplorable, what happened to the right being the party of " personal responsibility"? I refuse to have Tucker Carlson , Donald Trump , MTG, Cawthorn be my responsibility. So Harry Reid said a mean thing about Mitt Romney and W? And the country deserves this? The democrats never stooped to the depths of today's Republican electorate. It's not even close, but the conservative movement was always destined to end up here. Selfish, conspiracy theory inclined and unable to adapt to a changing world they just stewed. In the rest of the animal world if you can't adapt you go extinct but here you get to elect a president. From the John Birch Society to the " sainted" Reagan who was more than happy to provide the kindling of today's insurrection party it was pre ordained. His support for the " Sage Brush" folks and relentless attacks on government to the Tea Party lit the flame. The constant telling that thry were losing " America", read straight, white and Christian was the seedling for January 6th and beyond. It's not that democrats cried " wolf" or " left" them behind or can't speak to them or cried wolf they decided that all on their own. When %46 of Americans who received the child care credit will vote for a republican what's a democrat to do? When a majority of West Virginian's are against the infrastructure bill what can you do? I'm pretty sure WV is like 45th in everything. When a electorate can maybe give Eric Greitens and Herschel Walker a excellent chance what's to talk about? Btw Roy Moore only lost by 2 points in Alabama so not like a repudiation. Democrats have issues of course but one of them isn't the state of mind of a republican.
I think I am going down to change my registration from Democrat to Republican. Just so I can vote for a sane individual in the Republican primary and return the party back to their original ideology. I miss when I used to scream at Charlie Sykes on TV and forget about it by dinner. Now I will probably read his newsletter for the rest of my life because it's become apart of my routine. Brush Teeth, grab Coffee, Read Charlie.
Hey Charlie - Just listened to your Bulwark podcast with Will Saletan which I listen to regularly and find quite informative, so allow me to quibble with your quibble about Pelosi’s trip to Kyiv not being bi-partisan. I heard Jason Crow, who was on the trip, asked about that on NPR and he said Republicans were invited but couldn’t make it. That struck me as a very diplomatic response since he could have easily blasted them for not having their priorities straight. Keep up the good work.
The report for "One analysis shows about 40 percent of recent college graduates are employed in good jobs that don’t require their college degree" is from 2014. 8 years ago. That's pretty old data.
Is it really a smear when they are telling the truth about an opponent? Wasn't the Republican Party officially courting racists? It isn't important whether the Republican Party was racist or not. I don't think it was. The important fact was that the racists thought/think the Republican Party was/is a "safe space" for their racism.
In the election of 2008 John McCain rejected racist attacks on Barack Obama. Well, John McCain is dead and that kind of candor died with him. Lindsey Graham has helped extinguish that torch lit against the darkness.
Is the problem really liberals taking notice and pointing out the creeping decadence of the Republican Party that has been festering since 1994?
I remember all the voices of Conservative, Inc. raised in alarm when Mitch McConnell refused to even consider an Obama appointment to the Supreme Court with the most ridiculous and vacuous excuse. Oh, yeah, there wasn't any alarm. The reaction of Conservative, Inc. was expressed in terms of mild amusement and praise for McConnell's mastery of the game.
The Republican Party is falling to the level it has worked so hard to achieve for a few decades now. Once "Conservatives had become accustomed to being called mean, dumb, benighted bigots." Now it is a requirement.
Julian Assange once encouraged his followers to "Be the troll you want to see in the world..." and the Republican Party has made that their reality.
PS... I am sick and tired of having to vote for Democrats simply because they are less obviously evil. Democrats may be guilty of hypocrisy but at least their pretensions to moral superiority acknowledges there is still value in moral principles. Republicans have gone full nihilist. There is no good or evil--- just winning and losing.
Charlie et al., if you haven't already, I urge you to read Thomas Zimmer's op-ed in today's Guardian — "Conservatives don’t want true democracy, and ‘nice’ Republicans are no exception" . . . .
His unstated but obvious point with regard to Tucker Carlson is that he (along with Trump) is just the toxic visible tip of the dangerous iceberg growing in the Republican party since the early 1960's.
Respectfully, I would be very interested in reading or hearing your rebuttal (insofar as it relates to your own staunch, card-carrying membership in the party prior to the shock and blanch of Trump's ascendancy).
Politicians and Media Types have probably always -- certainly for more than 20 years -- spoken in Hyperbole and Hypocrite! There is some truth to the fact that the far right and the far left are now way too far right and way too far left to be let out on their own much less put in charge of, or allowed to steal, Government. Or even Church. But when winning is more important than anything else, that's what happens apparently. Moral compass, gone! Social contract, dead! Good manners, nonexistent! Putin is what happens. Trump is what happens. Boeberts and Gohmerts and maybe even the Squad is what happens. There is no Republican Party now but the few remaining true Conservatives cling to the wreckage (and sadly enable it with their votes). And the Democratic Party is as weak as its most extreme members and its blind ones (like those in Congress and the WH who seem clueless about the unfolding coup against democracy). I see no salvation for our Republic. What is truly sad is that the majority of Americans are neither extreme right or left. But seem voiceless and powerless to stop the coup.
Oh, that rascal J.P. Mandel. What a card!
A lot of people look for reason to, in modern terminology, "other" some group. When the reason is outward physical appearance, we call it racism. Even homogeneous communities find some reason, any reason. When I was very young, I had an internship in a very small town in the panhandle of Idaho. Demographically, everybody was fungible in every way. Nevertheless, there was conflict because the people who lived "in town" looked down upon the "country" people. A lot of people seem to feel a psychology need to manufacture some kind of difference.
Group inclusion criteria change. There was a time when the Irish of my mother's generation were othered in America. People used to look for work by walking down the street looking for "Help Wanted" signs. In those days, the signs said "Help Wanted. Irish Need Not Apply." Now the Irish are just "white." Racism is intractable [precisely because it is based on physical appearance.
One of the issues with popular conservatism is it is concerned with preserving existing conditions of privilege. In this country, given our history, this means that it tends to be racist or racist adjacent.
This was true when it was the Democrats who were the conservatives and it remains true when the GoP are the conservatives.
When I was growing up in western PA in the 60s and early 70s it was solidly Democratic. That was largely because of the steel industry, mines, and labor unions.
We were pretty racist--and the area is still pretty racist (or was, the last time I was there about 2 years ago). It is also pretty solid red. The "conservatives" switched parties.
You also have the whole in group and out group dynamic working. If you look at photographs of the political leadership of the parties and their congress people you will likely notice that the GoP is predominantly white and male. The Democrats are not.
This says something about how the group perceives itself, what the boundaries are as to who is in the group and who is not. Rightist media and "grass roots" political action have contributed towards narrowing these in-group boundaries even further--getting rid of RINOs, electing Real Americans (which has a very specific connotation of whiteness and Anglo-Saxon heritage).
The very principles that are (selectively) valued in American conservatism have their roots in Anglo-Saxon political philosophy (with a side order of French from the Revolutionary period, but taht gets complicated when you consider Burke's attitude towards the French revolution).
It would be MORE surprising that American conservatism WASN'T racist or racist adjacent than if it was.
The success of Tucker Carlson, the election of The Orange Menace, and more expose both the manifest and latent hatred of the American Populace. The same Americans who turned back the St. Louis for its cargo of Jewish refugees to be slaughtered by Hitler. The same Americans who tuned in to listen to Father Coughlin. The same Americans who formed the Nazi bund and packed Madison Square Garden festooned with Swastikas. Yes, this is who we are. Is there hood to improve? Yes. Is there fear it could get worse? Yes.