Round Four Wrap-Up!

[Content Note: Racism; xenophobia.]

Last night was the fourth Republican debate (only seven more to go!) and I did end up watching it and live-tweeting it, which naturally I deeply regretted, because these bozos are the wooooooooorst!

image of all eight participating candidates, with their own special labels added by me: John Kasich BUH; Jeb Bush ZUH?; Marco Rubio UHH; Donald Trump FUH; Ben Carson GUH; Ted Cruz WUH; Carly Fiorina MUH; Rand Paul HUH?

Here's a collection of 11 allegedly interesting moments from the debate. I guess they're "explosive" by the standards of a flop debate populated by boring drips.

The main takeaway from this debate, aside from the obvious fact that none of these jerkwads should be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office, was that this is a profoundly racist and xenophobic party that literally has nothing to offer but fearmongering and aggression toward any perceived threat to white male supremacy and the American hegemon.

"We must take our government back" was a big theme of the evening. Carly Fiorina explicitly said those exact words, twice.

Taking back the country/government is a classic GOP dogwhistle, serving to communicate to the non-wealthy, non-corporate conservative base that the Republicans will protect them from the emergent menace of liberals, brown people, immigrants, atheists, feminists, same-sex couples, jihadists, socialism, and trans people in their bathrooms. GOP operatives spend vast amounts of time, energy, and money ginning up outrage and fear over imaginary threats, only so candidates can stand at a podium and promise to deliver salvation from the onslaught. It's a grossly cynical piece of politicking, and it's also all the Republicans have got, because they sure don't have any serious policy ideas.

Last night, however, Fiorina wasn't even blowing this particular dogwhistle in the context of a supposed assault on conservatives' moral values and the very fabric of the nation. Instead, it followed critiques of Big Government and profligate spending and corruption and cronyism.

The government, argued Fiorina, like many of her compatriots onstage, is a shambles—and we must take it back!

But...from whom?

Republicans control both houses of Congress and a majority of state legislatures. There is a slim conservative majority on the Supreme Court (especially on issues relating to corporations, lobbying, and federal powers). If Fiorina wants to take the government back, and the conservative crowd cheering in agreement wants to take the government back, that's an indictment on Republican governance.

I have never heard people with as much power as rich white US conservatives whine so obsessively about having to upend the power structure, without a trace of self-awareness or irony.

People who have bought wholesale into the narratives of self-determination, of rugged individualism, of bootstraps, into the gilded myth of the American Dream, have been left with nothing but impotent anger—and, having been encouraged to make no social contract, to depend on no one but oneself, to hoard all the rewards of the success that bootstrapping was supposed to yield and share naught, they've now been left with no one to blame but themselves as it has all gone wrong.

And, weirdly, that is exactly what they're doing. They're blaming themselves, as they cry desperately about the need to take back the government. But they're doing it without acknowledging that they are the ones from whose responsibility it needs to be taken. Their elected representatives. The people whose sacred covenant with its straight, white, patriarchal, Christian Supremacist base has been: Vote for us, and we'll protect you.

Even though voting for Republicans has meant giving away their standard of living, their children's education, their jobs, their civil liberties, their national security, their environment, and their economy—all in exchange for the gossamer promise of a return to a time that never happened in a country that never really existed.

To assuage invented fears.

On this, the non-wealthy, non-corporate conservative base and I agree: We need to take our country and government back. But they clearly don't know from whom it needs to be taken. They are, after all, cheering candidates running for the presidency who want to give them more of the same, under the pretense that they are outsiders to the system—and to the majority ruling that system who promise protection to their base and deliver instead nothing but exploitation and thievery.

(And delivers far worse to the people they scapegoat in order to deflect deserved blame.)

It's a neat trick the Republicans pull. And their base just keeps falling for it. They can't believe there was a scapegoat hidden in that magical hat!

image of a rabbit with a goat's head being pulled out of a top hat by a magician

Honestly, conservatives: What you need to take back is your support of these assholes who are promising to save you in a bid to exploit you. Because at the moment all you're doing is hating all of us right into oblivion.

I will never, ever, comprehend people who would rather lose everything than share a little.

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