Fix, Organize, Ignore
What do we do about the 74M who voted for Trump? The insurrection sympathizers? The stop the stealers?
We ignore them. This strategy is counter-intuitive and may alarm, but let me explain…
We’re all rightly outraged by what happened on January 6, and also frightened of what is yet to happen. Trump has an army of angry violent sympathizers who were — and still are — ready, willing and able to do his bidding. But what they did was incredibly weak, idiotic really, doomed to failure on every level, and it did fail. They failed the battle (the Capitol attack) and the war (the election.) They totally failed the messaging war. What the world witnessed on January 6 was so ugly, foul, disgraceful — literal shit left behind in sacred and beautiful spaces by stupid, ignorant men (and a few women) bellowing out their hate and ignorance, leaving behind a stench so strong that it induced a secondary ugly stampede of people trying to get away from it, disavow it, condemn it.
If the grand scheme was to interrupt the electoral vote counting, and by so doing somehow anoint Trump the winner, that was never going to happen. Trump trying to bully the Georgia officials into finding votes, or bullying Pence into doing some sleight of hand on the dais; none of that was EVER going to work because the people in those positions are serious people, not stupid cartoons like Trump who may have actually believed he could bully his way into winning a Presidential election.
And his people — the ones who got on planes and trains and pickups to go to Washington to march and mob — did they think they were going to march into the Capitol and coerce the Congress into flipping the election? Really? They were stupid if they believed the cartoon bully’s version of the world. Let’s play it out even further than it went: What if they had succeeded in finding Mike Pence, hanging him; found Nancy Pelosi, executed her. What then? Did they think the ugly hostage standoff that would follow would end with everyone giving in to the terrorists and handing power to Trump? You need to be stupid to believe that.
Here’s my theory of the “Insurrection.” Yeah, all those fools have the gear and the guns and they even have the manifestos. The nonsense they believe fills binders inches thick. They train, they speak in code over walkies and encrypted chat channels. Some are ex or current military or law enforcement, but they joined the military and law enforcement for the same reason: Because it furnished an excuse to play out a hyper-masculine, toxic alpha role, where the gun play and the body building and the bellowing and the gear wearing, allows them to act out their deep fear (in fairness, the fear all of us have) of our essential insignificance. That shape — the chest pounding, muscle pumping, bellowing shell of almost indestructible armor — allows them to deny that fear.
An essential component of this role is that it finds its object, its antagonist, in the other — the black, the brown, the Jew, the foreign, the educated, the liberal — all of whom seem to them to take more than their fair share from some larger pool that they themselves feel they never get to take enough from themselves. They are made, by these others, to feel lesser than, less educated than, less intelligent than; all of which brings up, again, that sense of essential nothingness, not good enoughness, which feeling only fuels the whole problem. All those fools in their silly costumes are basically LARPERs — live action role players. Going to D.C. on January 6 was not that different for them from going to Comic-Con.
What we should have seen that day was something that looked a lot like what we saw in Portland last summer. It would have been ugly and smokey, there would have been violence and bloodshed, but the Capitol would not have been breached. That security failure was outrageous, and we’re now rightly consumed with catching the perpetrators and bringing them to justice — all of them — including Trump and his enablers and co-inciters and those on the inside who may have provided floor plans and opened doors.
But we also look fearfully ahead, worrying about the 74 million and the “base” that’s still out there, wondering if they’re planning more insurrections. Stop it. We give them too much power. They failed. It didn’t work and it was never going to work.
The best thing we can do right now is to ignore them. By that, I don’t mean that we should allow the perpetrators to escape justice or that we should “move on,” or that we should put our heads in the sand to the danger of right wing militias. But neither should we exaggerate the real danger and/or the actual power that they have. Let’s not repeat the mistakes made in the overreaction to 9/11. Remember how we actually invaded a country that had nothing to do with the attack, costing trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives? (I’m including Iraqi lives, something we rarely do when we tally the war casualties.) It took Obama and Seal Team 6 to take out Osama Bin Laden in an appropriately scaled operation.
What is needed now (as was needed then) are focused, targeted, law enforcement operations. This should be relatively easy given how clueless they are about sharing their conspiracies online. We should also be wary of elevating them with breathless press coverage. As much as I enjoy (and consume far too much of) MSNBC and CNN — Rachel, Brian, Anderson and Nicole — we must acknowledge that their ratings benefit from a sky-is-falling approach — probably justified when Trump had the codes. Now thatTrump himself has been smashed to pieces, those pieces may have been reanimated in a thousand shards of mini-trumps like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Josh Hawley, and don’t forget Don Jr., but they don’t have the codes — or the House, or the Senate.
We won. We have the power. Let’s just get to work and leave them to their own devices. The Republican Party is shattered and in the process of devouring itself. A third of them are still rabid Trumpists — that is, racist xenophobes who are susceptible to the belief that Democrats and Liberals are also Communists who run child sex rings for profit. Really. Their politicians are terrified of them so they go off the deep end with them and for them. Let them. There aren’t enough of them. As far as I can tell, they are racing to see who can get to the bathtub drain first.
The Impeachment trial in the Senate will allow us to paint an incredibly damning picture — not for the Senators, but for the people — of the madness and depravity of Trump. Of course, in their obeisance to Trump and the shrinking base he represents, they will probably not convict. I say fine. If he’s acquitted he either runs again as a Republican or forms his own party. Either way, he splits that side of the electorate in half (remember Ross Perot?) and we win again in ’22 and ‘24.
We MUST win in ’22 and ‘24.
How do we get there? Not by wringing our hands and wondering how we win over the idiotic LARPERs and those who have dived head first into the QAnon wormhole. That “winning over” strategy has been embraced by some very smart commentators like Ann Applebaum in the Atlantic, Brian Klaas in the Washington Post, and others who fret that these people are not fringe crazies but rather YOUR NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS! Sure, some of your next door neighbors are indeed fearful racists desperately trying to hold back the tide of multiculturalism, so fearful of the inevitability of a majority minority country that they’re willing to demonize US (that is, those who are happy to embrace reality) by painting us as literal demons. The next stop on that philosophical train is extermination. There’s no reconciliation to be had without a truthful reckoning, and most of these folks are too far gone to ever let go of the conspiracy theories and admit that, yes, Biden won, Trump lost. All we can do — must do — is fight like hell to keep them out of power. The essential truth of the political moment is that the Q/Trumpist “base” is small and shrinking. [Footnote: translation from the Arabic of “Al Qaeda” is “the base.” Just sayin.] Borrowing a phrase from Grover Norquist, let’s reduce it to a size where we can drown it in the bathtub.
We do that with a two prong strategy:
- We FIX stuff. We use the power we have to do good. (Go Joe.) We fight the pandemic properly, we provide a real safety net for the desperate and we ignore the hysterical braying of “Socialism!!!” that always ensues when you try to help people.
- We ORGANIZE relentlessly. Lots of talk in this last cycle about how when Covid hit, the Ds stopped door knocking but the Rs did not and that’s why we almost lost. Well, the pandemic will soon fade (not magically) so we can get back to work. Thank you Stacey Abrams for showing us the way.
- (Bonus strategy) IGNORE the stupid, ignorant LARPER racists. Let them stew in their own juicy hate. Don’t give them your energy. Leave that to law enforcement who should rightly keep tabs, investigate, prosecute and incarcerate if necessary. You don’t offer a rabid dog a cookie and your hand to lick. You keep it chained.