What Was Down Is Up (And Vice-Versa)

Too often, reading the news makes me ill.

One recent example: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he’ll pardon a White man who a jury had found guilty of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester–an announcement he made one day after the verdict and before sentencing.

No dog whistle there…

In 2016, I reluctantly concluded that the actions (and votes) of a significant minority of Americans could only be explained by racism. I’ve had no reason to modify that conclusion since.

We live in a time of unprecedented political polarization; it has brought reasonable policymaking to a halt  and transformed the Republican Party into a cult harboring White Christian Nationalists, QAnon adherents and a variety of disordered individuals nursing assorted grievances.

As a result, Republican party leaders have a problem.  To keep the malcontents who dominate their base happy, it becomes necessary to feed the beast they’ve created by framing everything as “us versus them.”  And in order to do that, the GOP has had to abandon virtually everything the GOP once stood for and reverse previous policy positions, no matter how awkward the result..

Remember when Republicans criticized the FDA for being too slow and risk-averse when it came to authorizing new vaccines?

So it’s sad or funny — or both — that Operation Warp Speed has already emerged as a vulnerability for Trump in the 2024 presidential campaign, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida moving to distinguish himself from Trump as a vaccine skeptic. And Trump, rather than touting his achievement, has been reduced to accusing DeSantis of only pretending to be anti-vaccine, noting (accurately) that DeSantis was enthusiastic about vaccinations when the program was first underway.

Watching Republicans compete to distance themselves from a major GOP policy success would be amusing if it weren’t so depressing.

Want depressing?

  •  The party of free trade enthusiastically endorsed Trump’s damaging tariffs on China.
  • The party that opposed government intrusion into corporate boardrooms has reacted ferociously–and legislatively–to corporations considering diversity and inclusion.
  • The party of  limited government and”individual liberty” has become highly selective about the individual liberties citizens are entitled to. Want to infect your neighbors and go mask-less? Fine. Want to control your own reproduction? Not so fast.
  • For the past several years, the party of fiscal responsibility has used the once-uncontroversial raising of the debt ceiling to blackmail Democratic administrations–threatening a default that would plunge the world into financial chaos by refusing to  pay existing financial obligations  for which many Republicans had voted.
  • The party that once opposed totalitarianism and autocracy and supported a strong and unified foreign policy now cozies up to Vladimir Putin and invites Victor Orban to speak at its events.
  • The party that trumpeted “law and order” now defends the “patriots” that  participated in the January 6th insurrection–and continues to support the ex-President who fomented that violence.

This list could go on and on. It’s instructive to read the party’s 1956 platform, to see just how dramatically today’s GOP differs from its former iteration. (For one thing, the party used to produce a platform…)

We are unlikely to be facing a “hot” civil war, although we are seeing increased domestic terrorism from the far Right, but the transformation of one of America’s two major parties into a White Christian Nationalist cult is enormously consequential. That transformation deprives reasonable Americans who differ on policy a mechanism for working out those differences, leaving genuine conservatives nowhere to go.

Indeed, few of the current GOP “stars” seem capable of discussing policies at all–what thoughtful analyses have we heard from the likes of Jim Jordan or Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Worse, the willingness of party members to publicly embrace racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic tropes encourages those who harbor those hatreds to express and act on them.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this situation is the fact that today’s GOP is a distinctly minority party. Today’s Republicans depend for their power on elements of American governance that have become obsolete and undemocratic.  Gerrymandering, the Electoral College and the Filibuster distort and obstruct government at both the state and federal levels; the composition of the Supreme Court facilitated its capture by political ideologues.

For the record, I believe that majority opinion will ultimately prevail. Demographics and culture change are inexorable. (For that matter, it’s recognition of those changes–and the fears they engender– that has triggered the GOP’s war on people of color, women, trans children–those who are in any way “other.”)

The question is: how much damage will we sustain in the interim?


  1. “We live in a time of unprecedented political polarization; it has brought reasonable policymaking to a halt and transformed the Republican Party into a cult harboring White Christian Nationalists, QAnon adherents and a variety of disordered individuals nursing assorted grievances.”

    While reading this blog, recently making Chicken Gnocchi came to mind; adding the Gnocchi to the boiling liquid and stirring till all Gnocchi rises to the top, then lower to a simmer. The Republicans chose to nominate (and then appoint) a known liar who became wealthy using illegal tactics and a sexual predator, as their presidential candidate. Trump managed to quickly bring this entire nation to a “boil” and all of the racists, sexists, bigots, antisemitism and all other “antis” rose to the top and we are still “simmering”. The GOP party which once was, is no more; a fact that those who refuse to speak or act are not willing to admit, making the Up and the Down switch to a full political situation rather than differences in solutions to problems.

    But…and that but is the major factor in “What Was Down Is Up (And Vice Versa)”. The divisive Republican party, with their members clinging to the old party foundation vs. the MAGA, Freedom Caucus members, will all vote for Republicans come November 7, 2023 and will follow suit in 2024. The Democratic party needs to find a way to trump Trump whether he is or is not the candidate or is in prison where he belongs. President Biden is again waging the same battle President Lincoln waged trying to pass the 13th Amendment by uniting both parties…which have switched places since the end of the Civil War. He must first find a way to unite the Democratic party within itself.

    “The question is: how much damage will we sustain in the interim?”

  2. Far Right Extremists are like cormorants. They fly in. Spread guano everywhere. Spread their wings in triumph. Then fly away. Lands become barren as trees and every once thriving living species just dies overwhelmed by the cormorants’ waste. Don’t look up.

  3. Remember the “good old days,” when Rand Paul was the typical Republican crackpot?

  4. Norris. True,I haven’t, but I tend to think long term and I’m pretty sure even cormorant shit doesn’t last forever. Which brings us back to Sheila’s question of how much damage will be done in the interim. 😱

  5. recent votes in wisc,ill to a progressive side may be a lean to the left again.. removal by a judge,(jury exicutioner) in texas has started a firestorm of WTFs. even the right side sees to much conflict with womens rights in reproduction. so far i havent heard of any cross/church burnings. but i feel many who totted the black book of good,are become sceptical. seems the big spiel of muslims and the way they treat their women,(mind ya im going on what is present in the far fights genre of ignorance) and kids, back in 2002 gave the far right reason to start a war that was a no win,ever in centuries of history.. that cheap talk of how Muslims treat women somehow has become the norm for the same christian right here now,today in America. its time to set em down and put a maga hat on them ,its now the mark of the beast today. anyone got a viagra?

  6. What does it say about a party that, when given the opportunity to end 45’s dominance, there aren’t even 17 Republicans who would stand up for the rule law and vote guilty? Profiles in Cowardice is the best way to describe today’s GOP.

  7. Let’s remember one more thing, although it may not be as moving as some of the social justice (or lack thereof) positions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was the republicans’ (lower case deliberate) separation move after having done nothing in a year, created trillion dollar annual deficits. Ironically, the congressional staff put in some deduction limits on interest and overall business losses, which are coming back to bite trump (choose part of anatomy).

  8. In my books, “Killing the Dream…” and “Racing to the Brink…” I foresaw this flip of the GOP toward this anarchical position described so well above. It’s not that I have a crystal ball, it was just so obvious. I too researched the mid-50s Republican platform and the economics of the Eisenhower years. Then, the Republican party was mostly respectable and at least worked at ideas that would benefit all citizens.

    That little GOP joyride went out the window with Ronald Reagan/Donald Regan at the helm. They embraced the grotesque, idiotic and total capitalistic greed ideas of Milton Friedman and the lurch toward Fascism went into high gear. You can thank George H.W. Bush for bringing the flame throwers into the fray by promoting the likes of Clarence Thomas, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, Lee Atwater and Dick Army into prominence. Then, his mis-begotten son gave us Sam Alito and Roberts along with other horrors like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

    Those actions and appointments is what brought the Republican party to its current confederacy of evil dunces status today and created unnecessary hardships on those tax payers who still believe the Republican party works in their best interests.

  9. Cynical Friday….”For the record, I believe that majority opinion will ultimately prevail.


    (For that matter, it’s recognition of those changes–and the fears they engender– that has triggered the GOP’s war on people of color, women, trans children–those who are in any way “other.”)

  10. If I didn’t have obligations here, I would flee…not Europe, but Brazil.

    Welcome to another Knozone day!

  11. Is racism a symptom or the root cause of social anxiety?

    I would posit that society has been rudely awakened in our recliners mesmerized by our big/little screen entertainment environment to a reality that is critical, not merely entertaining. There are too many of us, we are turning earth’s irreplaceable resources into toxic waste at an unsustainable rate and our comfort must be replaced by purpose.

    We simply don’ wanna and are looking for others to blame so they have to change, not us, never us.

  12. The republicans that control red states and those in Congress are despicable and don’t deserve to be called human beings. Their greed and hunger for power has turned them into the most vile excrement that makes everything they come into contact rot with their stench. They are completely shameless and realize that they can lie, cheat and steal whenever they choose because their colleagues will defend them without hesitation.

    I wonder how many of the republican whores in Congress and Indiana will be at the NRA national convention in Indy this weekend with their hands stretched out to ask for dark money and campaign donations.

    trump and his little bitch pence are keynote speakers. I hope protestors will be there to make entering the building just a little less comfortable for them. We all know that protests won’t stop them from selling themselves to the highest bidders.

  13. If Republicans have actually accomplished the aforementioned subjects/goals,it’s proof they will not allow their constituents to go through interminable method of incrementalism. Hopefully,someday, the Democratic Party will become a viable organization as opposed to the self licking ice cream cone it has become.

  14. Jack, no cross burnings (yet), but there 40 “credible” bomb threats at schools across Indiana these mornings. Most of the buildings are closed now and students are pursuing e-learning. Since at least some of the threats were made online, the FBI is investigating.

    I doubt we’ll find “libruls” are behind the threats.

  15. Each case should be looked at individually before you start calling racism because if you do that in every case people will ignore your argument totally. We here see two men caring guns shooting at each other who are both white with differing opinions about police brutality and protests. Foster states he is defiant against police stopping protests and rallies and says hes bringing a gun to a protest to intimidate cops who might make arrests. Perry sides with anyone protecting themself if need be.
    Why did tge victim carry a gun into a peaceful protest? Did the Uber driver go out of his way to confront the crowd or was he there by default because of his job? Does a video show Foster pointing a gun at Perry? Did they exchange words?
    Is the Austin DA looking for political points? Is the Governor responding to pressure?

  16. Correction Foster never fired his gun. But did he point it at Perry in the protest march?

  17. Thought from the weekend from MLK: “saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”

  18. The shooting of a black lives matter protester in Texas reminds me of the one in Wisconsin. Kyle Rittenhouse shot up several black lives matter protesters. Both of the protesters had guns, and they both were gunned down by counter protesters?

    Bad decision making, leads to unfortunate consequences!

    As far as church is burning, there’s a lot more of that going on in this country then you might realize. With all of the insanity going on, that tends to get pushed to the back unless there’s a death involved. “Search” “Church burnings in the United States,” or “Recent Church’ or synagogue’ or mosque, burnings and vandalism!”

    The political factions and the religious factions try to outgreed each other! They lie cheat and steal! They will align themselves with each other only to promote nefarious and unfair paradigms that enrich themselves and bring personal gain.

    So much for doing the will of the people, so much for bringing comfort! Those who are supposedly servants of the people, have become their masters! So yes, up is down and down is up!

    The Three pillars of society, commerce, religion, and government have failed humanity! The inmates run the asylum, and the average world citizen is the commodity.

    Humans are like aphids, that beautiful flower Bud is so enticing oozing with nectar! They attach themselves to that bud and produce produce extremely valuable honeydew! Thus they begin their life of servitude to the ants! When the aphids die, they’re eaten. They’re nothing but a useful commodity to the ants. Once they’re gone, the ants will move on to other things. They will even eat each other!

    When commerce, religion, and politics are done with their human aphid commodities, they’ll just dig a big hole and throw them in! Then they’ll commence to eating themselves! Greed is their God, and they worship at its altar 24 hours a day!

    Human aphids are attracted to that beautiful nectar oozing bud. And that nectar oozing bud is sex! Sex attracts everything! Something that should be an extremely small part of life, becomes the elephant in the shoebox. Put the preoccupation concerning it, sex that is, leads to almost every single problem in society! So, for the average human citizen, sex is often their God! We’ve all heard if it bleeds it leads? Probably! But sex sells everything!

    It causes all sorts of divisions. Abortion issues, LGBTQ Plus plus plus plus, interracial relationships, clothing, movies, advertisements, it’s pounded in our heads 24/7. Even drugs, Viagra, abortion pills, contraception, it makes the world go round.

    Greed, covetousness and gluttony drive all of it!

    The apostle John quoted Jesus Christ at John 15:13 which reads; “No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.”

    Christ also said in Matthew to “love your neighbor!” He never said “except for!” Unfortunately, even those who claim to be Christian would rather kill their neighbor than love them!

    In Romans the 12th chapter of the apostle Paul stated; “… If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head. Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.”

    Jesus Christ said to love your enemy, this was quoted directly from the Mosaic law!

    Commerce, governments and religions very rarely comply with any compassionate or empathetic conduct! But they do promote greed, gluttony, and covetousness! Directly leading the human aphids, like the Judas goat leading The lambs to slaughter!

  19. I am afraid that we will sustain MUCHO damage in the interim, on many fronts.
    G.W.Bush’s war damage will be sending ripples of damage to several generations
    of people on both sides of his war, and we are in the second generation of that, already.
    This sort of thing does not quickly fade away. In fact e are still experiencing the damage of
    the Reagan years!

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