Friday, June 23, 2017

Want to know why the Democrats can't win? This.

If we're honest, many of us who fear for our country under a reckless and unstable president who's bucking to become a reckless and unstable dictator have had our fleeting "Will no one rid us of this nut with the nuclear codes?" moments.

That always is followed by a mental checklist of all the ways that would be really, really bad. "It'd spark a civil war" is on there somewhere. The last item is "Congratulations. You will have just become what you abhor."

That last thing is rather the point of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar . . . that play the Republicans so love to hate, now that theater companies are staging it with a Caesar who looks like Donald Trump and not one who looks like Barack Obama. That last thing is the acknowledgement that empowering one's darkest impulses  is to cast off even the veneer of civilization; it is to become a murderer to stop a despoiler, to destroy this democracy in order to save it.

You feel bad thinking it. You feel ashamed to admit to thinking it. You resolve that surely there is another way, even in the face of an unprecedented threat to American democracy and civil society.

That, I would think, is the reaction of normal, self-aware Americans. That is not the reaction, obviously, of many in the Democratic base. Enter Phil Montag, a now-former official of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb removed a party official from his post today after a recording surfaced of him making offensive remarks about the shooting of U.S. Rep Steve Scalise. 
Kleeb removed Phil Montag on Thursday morning as co-chair of the state party’s technology committee after The World-Herald sent her a link to the recording on a black advocacy website. 
In the recording, Montag said he wished Scalise was dead, and he called the Louisiana Republican obscene names. The conversation took place in a private home in Omaha between Montag, Nebraska Democratic Party Black Caucus Chair Chelsey Gentry-Tipton and a friend of hers. In an interview Thursday, Montag said that he was “horrified” by the shooting of Scalise and all gun violence, that he “absolutely” did not wish Scalise was dead and that the recording had been edited to take his words out of context. 
“I did not call for the congressman’s death,” Montag said. 
Scalise, the House majority whip, and four other people were shot June 14 at a Washington, D.C., area baseball field as Republicans practiced for a congressional baseball game. The gunman was shot and later died. Scalise’s injuries were life-threatening; he is still hospitalized and listed in fair condition. 
On Thursday, Kleeb acted immediately upon hearing the recording. 
“This is the first I am hearing this,” Kleeb said by email Thursday morning. “As soon as I heard it, I sent it to the (party) officers and then sent an email to Phil Montag informing him I am removing him from his appointed position as Co-Chair of the Technology Committee. ... Wishing a Member of Congress or any individual dead is disgusting and has no place in our party.”
IF THIS IS how a Democratic activist is talking in Omaha, Neb., I'm not sure I want to know what the activist Democratic base is saying in San Francisco. Again, from the Omaha World-Herald:
Motherf***er (R-La.)
In the recording, Montag, referring to Scalise, says “this (obscenity), his whole job is to get people, convince Republicans to (obscenity) kick people off of (obscenity) health care. ... I’m glad he got shot. I’m not gonna (obscenity) say that publicly.”

“Well then what are you saying it to us for?” a friend of Gentry-Tipton, Destin Madison, asks in the recording.

“I wish he was (obscenity) dead,” Montag says as the recording continues.

“Why are you telling us but not telling anyone else?” Madison asks.

“Because I’m trying to figure this (obscenity) out,” Montag replied.
I DON'T KNOW about you, but if I know so little about Steve Scalise that I'm referring to him as "that Scaife guy," I certainly don't know enough about the man to have any idea whatsoever whether or not he's a "motherf***er." "Motherf***er" is the first (obscenity) in the newspaper account.

I mean, I usually try to know what someone's name is before calling him a motherf***er. That's just me.

And even when I feel I do know enough about someone to drop the mother of all curse words on him and his from 5,000 feet, it's my practice -- and again, I don't know about you -- not to do it in front of people I don't know well enough to know they're not recording it for the benefit of YouTube.

Obviously, wishing a fellow human being dead is, shall we say, morally fraught. The propensity to do so is not a quality one looks to emulate. Neither is being happy others have been shot and grievously wounded.

But then we get to the part where we're wondering just how stupid does a party official have to be to talk like this, no matter whether it's in public, in private or in one's sleep. Is the political party of Phil Montag one in which you'd place your confidence?

From the Google cache of Montag's now-deleted Medium blog

I UNDERSTAND why Montag is furious at the congressional Republican motherf . . . the congressional Republicans. I understand. I passed furious and entered into heartsick months, if not years, ago.

It's clear that, to Montag, ripping health insurance away from millions will cause untold scores of people, devoid of means and of coverage, to avoid seeking help. And many -- like Montag's friend Devon -- will die because of that.

My wife and I have buried all of our parents. Three of them died in nursing homes or in assisted living. One was on Medicaid at the end. You think we're not abjectly terrified of what our future holds in Trump's America? In Republican America?

But the thing is this: Why should we have any confidence that Democrats would wield power any less intemperately than the Republican Party of Donald Trump, Steve King, Mitch McConnell and Steve Scalise?

How can you lead a county or a state, much less a country, when you hate half of it so much that it's permissible to wish those people "f***ing dead"? After all, a lot of Americans out there think Scalise is doing a heck of a job.

Right now, it's clear than Montag has done a "heck of a job" for Nebraska Democrats . . . in the "Brownie" sense of the phrase. I wonder what he thinks of all those Trumpkin Republicans who wish all the "libtards" were "f***ing dead"?

If they weren't before, they might be now. They know, just as I know, that Montag is far from alone in the Democratic Party. If the Democrats really want to know why they just can't win -- even with the specter of Mad King Donald hanging over us all like an orange-hued Sword of Damocles -- that just might be why.

Listen, I am no Republican. You know those ubiquitous "tests" you find on Facebook? I took the political version of one of those; it said that, economically, I'm 75 percent socialist and that in most other areas, I'm centrist. The test said I should, in reality, be a European-style Christian Democrat.

On the other hand, I am no Democrat. I used to be one, but I also am a Catholic. The Democrats have spent years trying to convince people like me that we're no longer welcome in the party. Finally, with their unyielding attitude about the "contraception mandate" under Obamacare, the Democrats finally persuaded me.

So I left.

NOW, with the national uproar over the Omaha mayoral election -- yes, the national uproar over the Omaha mayoral election -- the party's national committee chair made it clear that pro-lifers no longer are welcome in the party. Let's see how that works out for them.

So far, we have established that prominent Democrats want pro-lifers out of the party. We have established that a local party insider, Montag, would like some Republicans "f***ing dead." And I, as a Catholic who believes what his church proclaims, have a pretty good idea that when exposed to exactly what the Catholic Church proclaims, a lot of Democrat true believers might want me "f***ing dead," too.

Of course, believing what the Catholic Church proclaims puts me pretty substantially to the left of many Democrats on a lot of things, but that's not important now. Because the problem with Democrats is, like Republicans, it never was about people -- and it sure is hell never was about "diversity" or "tolerance" or being able to "coexist."

It's about ideology. It's about the "ism." It, just like with the Republicans, ultimately is about radical autonomy and individualism. Some might call that "alienation." I would.

What it's not about is the common good. What it's not about is authentic freedom.

"Do what thou wilt," yes. Freedom, no. Those who object will be dealt with, right Mr. Montag?

THEY WILL be dealt with, just like biology professor Bret Weinstein at Washington's Evergreen State College.

"That's unfair!" Democratic activists and officials would say right about now. Maybe it is, but it really doesn't matter. That is how Democrats' social-issue monomania and their ideological intolerance have allowed the entire party to be defined across the great heartland of the United States -- to the point that it's barely even a viable political party across wide expanses of the South and Great Plains.

You know, like Nebraska. I wonder why.

A lot of Americans don't wonder at all. Thanks to Democrats like Phil Montag, they know exactly why . . . which is why they keep voting Republican.

You have to be pretty bad off as a political party to make your opposition, which has gone full neofascist, seem reasonable by comparison.

Looking across the dystopian landscape of America's dysfunctional politics, one wonders whether we're just plain finished as a country. It seems unpatriotic to think it, but you fear that we may have lived to see the end of "us" and the beginning of "me and all those other motherf***ers."

If that's the case, we're all going to end up "f***ing dead."

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