The Cruelty, As Always, Is The Point

People being nasty jerks at a Trump rally

Gisele Fetterman is a good person. She has the receipts. Her work starting the Braddock, Pa., Freestore in her adopted hometown is just one example; they take items that stores would otherwise throw away and offer it to the community at no cost.

She is also the wife of newly elected senator John Fetterman. A tall bald man with a goatee who prefers hoodies and shorts to suits, he is not central casting for a U.S. Senator. This makes him a target for the right, who curiously enough switch from “elites out of touch with the Real America (read: white people)” to “lol this guy as a Senator?” when it comes to him. Fetterman won by being able to reach out to Real Americans, and in his case, that included non-white people, too.

So they deeply hate him, mainly because of his politics, which are focused on trying to help people less fortunate than he is, and that includes any race, so they reflexively recoil. Fetterman seems to understand this, and it’s politics. However, this is not defendable politicking in any way, shape, or form:

Kids of politicians (not grown children, to be clear) should not be targets. Children are sensitive and their appearance is something they fret about. For adults to attack them for some sick idea of political points is out of bounds.

I wish I could say this was a random jackass on Twitter, but it was not. It was the Republican Party’s official account.

Gisele followed that up with:

When Adam Serwer wrote “The Cruelty Is the Point” for The Atlantic, he was met with howls of “UNFAIR!” from the usual suspects in the Smartest and Most Sensible Centrists of the Discourse. But liberals can be cruel, too! Serwer responded by saying that Democrats, in the modern version of the party, do not make cruelty part of policy and messaging.

If you look at the history of the Republican Party going back to the 1960s, none of what is happening now should surprise you. In fact, this is a logical point in their progression.

I have receipts. The South flipped to Republican once Democratic leaders like Pants Enthusiast Lyndon Johnson led the fight for civil rights. The Hard Hat Riot in 1970 featured people attacking and injuring war protestors for exercising their freedom of speech, and Nixon rewarded them by inviting them to the White House. Things really got rolling in the Reagan administration, when Interior Secretary James Watt openly mocked civil rights with a stunningly nasty, even for the early 1980s, comment about diversity on a government panel (all you civility/unity police out there, he was a key player in the GOP’s campaign to make the Democrats out as people who do not belong in America). For homosexuals terrified of the then-raging AIDS crisis and crying out for government help, the voice of the Reagan administration had jokes.

As for targeting children, this is not exactly anything new. The most influential right-wing pundit in American history, Rush Limbaugh, certainly didn’t think picking on an adolescent girl was off-limits. On his old television show, he referred to 12-year-old Chelsea Clinton as a dog.

Note how The Good People of the audience laughed and broke into applause.

The thing about all of this stuff, there is nothing really about conservatism in the traditional sense that should encourage this. Calling a young girl a dog or referring to a senator’s family as the Addams Family has nothing to do with lowering taxes. Certainly some conservative-in-the-traditional-sense policies have aspects of cruelty to them, such as cutting social security, but there was always the argument among at least a few conservatives that the private sector could somehow pick up the slack to help the less fortunate. But that seems to be dead. Watt got canned eventually when it became too much, but hard to imagine that now. They can’t even agree that a serial liar should not be representing his district and party in Congress (George Santos if your question is “which one”).

As any reader of this blog knows, Adrastros has hammered home repeatedly that it wasn’t always this way. Watt lost his position. While Reagan’s AIDS policy (of sorts) was seeped in cruelty, there were some critics of it within the party. But like cancer tumors in a human body, this metastasized and took over the entire party. Despite the hopes of a decent man, Trump losing power did not change a thing. If anything, they are worse.

We as a nation let it get to this place by giving them the benefit of the doubt, by not wanting to see it to preserve some immature sense of national unity (as in not wanting to think “conservative” friends they have over for dinner could be so mean), and in case of the media, a totally misguided quest for “unbiased reporting.”

But it is getting harder and harder not to see it. The question now is how do we get these people, individuals who take great delight in the suffering and mockery of people they hate, to see it in themselves?

The last word goes to the late Lisa Marie Presley, who died yesterday at age 54. I always thought she should have done more than three albums because she had a great voice in her own right.