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Opinion | The consequences of GOP governance were on full display last week

Josh Moon

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We all hear your dog whistles.

If there is anything good and/or beneficial to come from the catastrophe that is Donald Trump roaming aimlessly about the White House, it is that there has been an awakening of sorts in this country when it comes to recognizing racism.

We’ve turned calling the cops on black people doing everyday activities into a national meme. We’ve learned to spot the code words utilized by racist cowards too scared to come right out and say racist things. And we’re able to catch it when some self-serving politicians want to benefit from the fear and ignorance of racism without getting completely in the mud.

In years past, we might’ve missed some of these. We might have chalked some up to simple ignorance, or even honest mistakes.

But now, we know better.

We know, for example, that when Kay Ivey’s campaign sends out a fundraising email with “[George Soros] Alabama’s Next” as the subject line, and the words “radical” and “extremist” used throughout, this is not simply a candidate playing on the liberal v. conservative norms.

Instead, it’s a politician with apparently nothing substantive to say that might elicit money from donors, so she is instead relying on the George Soros boogeyman — a fairytale submerged in anti-Semitism and “globalists” fears — to scare up dollars from the bleary-eyed, Fox News/Breitbart crowd.

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I assume this is a lucrative tactic, since it is used so often by GOP politicians — particularly those in deep red states, like Alabama.

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But there is a cost.

It was paid Saturday at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. And at a grocery store in Kentucky last week. And by the good people scared to death by mailed pipe bombs last week.

These are the costs of pushing such vile hatred.

These are the costs of dabbling in racism, instead of rebuking it when given the chance.

These are the costs of choosing political expediency over human decency.

And when you choose to do so — to take the easy way and pander for votes — you become part of the problem. You become partly to blame — if not for whatever awful act that inevitably occurs because of the atmosphere of fear and hate and desperation to which you’ve contributed, then for the atmosphere itself.

If decent people who know better would disavow such hatefulness, we would never have to concern ourselves with these awful acts. Because there would be no rhetoric to drive society’s most susceptible people over the edge.

But that doesn’t happen, because the reward is just too great.  

So, instead of educating voters on the issues and driving those voters to the polls by using sound reasoning and policies that ensure they live better, more productive lives, we’re left with an entire political party reduced to scaring the hell out of impressionable voters by telling them fictional horror stories about the non-whites.

The Mexican immigrants are mostly rapists and murderers. A group of desperate migrants are hiding unknown people of Middle Eastern descent who want to harm Americans. That “globalist” George Soros is paying for the Middle Easterners to invade America. And that Soros wants to destroy America and capitalism as part of his “globalist plan.”

The man who shot 11 people in a synagogue was convinced that the Jews — even Roy Moore’s attorney, I bet — were trying to destroy America and were behind the migrants seeking asylum. The man who sent mail bombs was pushed over the edge by phony, ridiculous stories made up by Fox News and other rightwing outlets to sow fear and racial discord.

And you know what, none of it is a surprise.

If you’re honest with yourself right now, you know someone — maybe a family member or friend or coworker or guy at the gym — who is teetering right on the edge of crazytown. He’s armed to the teeth, talks about “doomsday” and is convinced that a wide array of conspiracy theories are real.

In decades past, these people — the far right conspiracy theorists — would be ignored by the politicians. But in the internet world, they’ve become an important voting bloc for the GOP, as they gather on message boards and secret apps and build social networks to spread their hate and fear and stupidity.

With an America growing more diverse by the day, and an over-65 population that’s shrinking every year, the GOP is desperate for votes. The party’s economic plan is built for the 1 percent and has consistently been an abysmal failure. It lacks social policy to an astonishing degree. And it’s answer to growing voter diversity in America is voter suppression.

That leaves just two staples: fear and anger.

And last week was a perfect example of where that sort of governance will take us.

 

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