There is this entire genre of DC punditry that I call The Mean Left Made Me Do It.
In this slow train of thought, Republicans can’t help that they became radical. They turned radical because the mean liberals/progressives called them names, like racist, misogynist, privileged, etc.
The excellent political comic The Nib captured this perfectly four years ago:
You see this a LOT.
— The Nib ✒️ (@thenib) August 8, 2018
My goodness, Adrastos’ Malaka of the Week must produce at least 100 neofascists with every post. Such sensitive boys and girls.
There are a couple of examples this week of this line of thinking. Sam’s Club-Sized Senate Candidate John Fetterman’s absolutely brutal mocking of Shady TV Doctor Mehmet Oz’s Wegner’s video was the talk of the political world for a while this week. We really do have quite a crazy race for the U.S. Senate seat here in Pennsylvania. Fetterman’s approach – ridiculous actions and statements by my opponent deserve ridicule – attracts some of the usual suspects’ tsk-tsking on Twitter. Such mockery will hurt the Very Sensitive Feelings of Pennsylvania conservatives and drive them further into radicalism, they howl.
But perhaps the silliest moment in the Mean Left Made Me Do It this week came when Mediocre Center Right Pundit Peter Cook dropped this into the discourse:
The treatment of Mitt Romney during the 2012 election radicalized a lot of GOP voters in a way that the left and the press still don’t seem to understand. https://t.co/N4nZbCoEfa
— Peter Cook (@_Peter_Cook) August 17, 2022
Where to even begin? For starters, his own party has treated poor Mitt worse than any Democrat. He is the poster child for RINO. I guess Peter forgot how Vietnam War vet John Kerry was called a fake Purple Heart recipient during the 2004 presidential campaign, introducing the verb Swift Boating into the lexicon. Remarkably, Democrats managed to hold back the urge to carry out an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in early January 2005.
The reflex to defend the absolute worst behavior on the right by blaming the left is something to see. What it is saying is conservatives have no control over their actions, no personal autonomy, and therefore, should not hold any personal responsibility for anything they do.
I wish I could say that this “everyone was mean to the moderate Republican in 2012 so now there’s nothing I can do but become a fascist” thing was new. But actually, it’s been something bantered around for years now:
No. This is exactly backwards. It was the left’s (and the media’s) treatment of Romney that numbed the electorate to real, valid concerns about “character” four years later. https://t.co/n1prkdl4w3
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) June 7, 2020
I mean…was this guy paying attention during Obama’s two campaigns? They would not even give him the benefit of the doubt that he was an American. In fact, they both outwardly and not-so-outwardly insinuated he was a sleeper cell Muslim terrorist. Some of this might be that Republicans and their centrist supporters seemed to be laboring under the delusion that okay, we nominated the Reasonable Guy, so now give us our presidency. When that did not happen, the Republican Party definitely lost it and turned more radical, but not because the Democrats were being meanies. I am old enough to remember their pouting over Bill Clinton having the audacity to win the presidency, and how they embraced Rush Limbaugh, a particularly odious far-right liar.
I used to think this was being sore losers, but it is really about dominance. It is hard not to see that in today’s Republican Party.
That has nothing to do with Democrats. Pointing out something that is fairly racist should not drive you deeper into racism. Nor should any sort of criticism make you turn into an authoritarian. These people are adults, with their own freedom of thought and ability to take responsibility for their actions.
This strange insistence to give white conservatives every last benefit of the doubt, to make constant excuses, to travel to diners ad nauseam during the Trump presidency to “hear them out” is hard to ignore or deny. We do not give that same level of respect to Democrats/liberals/progressives, especially if they are a person of color.
As a nation, you often hear, over and over, lectures about personal responsibility. But it is very hard to take that seriously when it is only aimed at a portion of the population. For years now, we have heard excuses for the bad behavior of conservative Republicans. Claiming that the Tea Partiers are racist is demonizing them (ignore the signs with Obama as a caricature of an African native). People support Trump not because of his racism, but “economic anxiety.” And now when we have had an attempted insurrection by far-right Trump-supporting goons, a raid on a Republican ex-president’s home for national security reasons, and multiple violent attacks carried out by Trump supporters, we still see people attempting to lay the blame and responsibility for all this at the feet of the left and Democrats.
You have to really wonder. And I’ll leave it at that.
The last word goes to Daughter. Owning up to your actions is Doing the Right Thing.