Seizing Defeat, The Competition

On the fifth of January, a runoff election will be held in the State of Georgia. The assumption going in was that at least one, if not two, Republicans would prevail. After all, this is Georgia. Then came the right wing’s craziest voices, inexplicably loved for their willingness to give their careers, fortunes and perhaps even their lives for the cause.

Whether this will have an impact is unclear, but what is clear is that telling people not to vote, and not to vote for a party’s candidates, is generally not a good idea if they want to win. It may turn out to not have any impact, but if it draws enough voters away, it could affect the outcome.

The purpose, apparently, is to compel Loeffler and Perdue to come out and support the claims that the election was rigged against Trump, or else. The “or else” is that the Democrats become the 50-50 plus Kamala Harris majority of the Senate. While that may end up the outcome no matter what, or not, the point is that there are two lawyers who have inexplicably captured the conspiratorial delusions of a not insignificant group of right wing voters, despite the calls to the contrary of established and not insane Republicans like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, whom Wood contends is a Chinese agent, telling these voters to burn it all down for Trump, despite the impossibility and basic wrongfulness of their quest.

On the flip side, President Obama criticized the “snappy” slogan, “defund the police,” during an interview.

Former President Obama said political candidates lose support when using “snappy” slogans like “defund the police,” in an interview scheduled to be released Wednesday.

Obama told Peter Hamby, who hosts a Snapchat political show “Good Luck America,” that those who use the slogan could jeopardize their goals of enacting meaningful reforms for police.

“You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.”

The Squad, inter alia, went nuts.

“We lose people in the hands of police,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., shot back. “It’s not a slogan but a policy demand.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., said she’s “out of patience” with criticism of the language that activists used.

“The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific,” she tweeted. “Lives are at stake daily so I’m out of patience with critiques of the language of activists. Whatever a grieving family says is their truth. And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing.”

Obama wasn’t challenging the need for reform, but the slogan and the simplistic policy cries behind it. On the one hand, the slogan that appeals so deeply to the detail-disoriented progressive left doesn’t resonate well with much of anyone else. Some argue that it’s because it sends the wrong message, when the “real” meaning of Defund Police is to shift resources away from law enforcement to education, housing and mental health. Others argue it means exactly what it says.

It’s not as if there’s any “real” definition to the notion, as it’s awash in empty rhetoric and devoid of functional detail. Even one-time progressives like Matt Yglesias were attacked for acknowledging that it was a dumb yet meaningless slogan.

What’s astounding about all of this is that both tribes are doing everything possible to destroy their own credibility, viability and support by pandering to the worst elements of their most extreme, and fundamentally stupid but loudest, cohorts.

The right wing is going to persist in pushing not only the “rigged election” claim, but not voting in an election that will determine the majority of the Senate and put a check on Democratic control of two branches of government.

The left wing is going to persist in pushing absurd and vapid grandiose “policy” changes for which there is no support outside their echo chamber, and for which they don’t even approach a cogent idea of what they’re talking about beyond screaming empty, often false, grievances.

As I argued with Radley Balko following his twit challenging Yglesias:

We’ve spent far too much time reducing an extremely complex problem into a simplistic solution to fit into this shallow medium for passionate people with 8 second attention spans.

But the question remains whether there is any alternative at the moment. Yet again, the fight seems to be limited to the crazies of the right and the crazies of the left, both of whom are so bent on their most outrageous beliefs that they will self-destruct rather than give an inch or concede that maybe they’re wrong.

Joe Biden was elected president not because he was anyone’s favorite, per se, but because he wasn’t Trump and he wasn’t Bernie or Liz. He was elected to bring us back to normal, to return to sanity. I had my doubts that he was up to the task, and thus far he hasn’t demonstrated otherwise. Notably, his name doesn’t really come up in these discussions, as if he’s not relevant to any of these political outrages either way. Maybe he was taking a nap and missed it.

On the other hand, President Trump seized the opportunity to make clear to his fans and detractors alike that he’s just as crazy as ever.

It appears that the left and right are doing everything possible to fail, to lose, to conclusively prove to those who aren’t dedicated the most extreme and idiotic fringes of their sides that they are the people who least should be in power, who least deserve to govern this country.

And there does not appear to be anyone standing up for the rational middle to call bullshit on either side’s crazies. Has the majority lost a nation to its worst, loudest and most unhinged edges? It’s increasingly looking that way, as both sides do everything possible to seize defeat from each other and make their tribe the one America least favors.

11 thoughts on “Seizing Defeat, The Competition

  1. Richard Kopf


    English historian Edward Gibbon wrote the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a six-volume work. He postulated that great civilizations fail when civic virtue is ignored.

    Pedantic although I admit, we as a nation–a people– might think more about Ed’s thesis and less about a state known primarily for people who can’t speak English. Or I suppose someone could write a book about the Decline and Fall of the America Because of Pernicious Peanuts.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      If you ask them, they claim civic virtue. And if you challenge their claim to civic virtue, they will do everything possible to destroy you in the name of civic virtue. What a time to be alive.

      1. Rengit

        I saw this in action when a very moderate commentator made what I thought was an innocuous comment about how “we don’t build anything anymore”, which in my lifetime has been true: no trips to the moon, no Hoover Dams, no coast-to-coast interstate projects like in my parents’ or grandparents’ childhoods. The commentator got jumped on for “sounding MAGA”, and was chastised for not realizing that people now *are* builders, they’re trying to “build a just and equal society.” I suppose it’s more important that everyone be able to have equitable access to and participate in the design of a bridge than that the bridge actually function properly.

        1. SHG Post author

          It’s a function of rhetorical gimmickry today, like “words are violence” because violence is harm and words can harm. With a modicum of effort, anything is whatever you want it to be, unless someone more marginalized than you disagrees, in which case it’s not. This is not a healthy or useful way to go through life or sustain a society.

  2. B. McLeod

    Because the goal is not to have credibility, but to “never stop fighting.” These morons are openly telling the public their exact plan for the future, but people don’t seem to be getting it.

  3. Debra

    “And there does not appear to be anyone standing up for the rational middle to call bullshit on either side’s crazies. Has the majority lost a nation to its worst, loudest and most unhinged edges?”

    Yes. And it looks like even the libertarians have lost their minds: Reason Magazine just fired Shikha Dalmia, one of their most clear and engaging long-time writers; her work is on immigration issues is especially well-researched. Looks like they caved to pressure from pro-Trump donors: [Ed. Note: Link deleted per rules.]

    I’ve tried and failed to get a clear statement about this from Reason. Which existing major media outlets are truly un-influenceable, except by the facts? Anyone?

    1. SHG Post author

      While your comment is absurdly off topic, something that’s frowned upon here, you might want to consider that she was fired because she wrote of nothing except hatred for Trump. No matter how good a writer, it gets insufferably boring to read the same thing over and over.

      Blaming it on pro-Trump donors may be accurate. Or it may just be that she had nothing new to write.

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