So apparently this week the New Yorker made the amazing discovery that Fox News is nothing but the propaganda arm of the Trump administration, setting the agenda and delivering marching orders to the goggle-eyed faithful while keeping things at fever pitch. Not one meaningful revelation in the whole article that wasn’t agonizingly obvious to anyone paying attention ten years ago. This is a huge part of why I finally gave up on the New Yorker subscription after two decades plus: it got old reading other people discovering and recapitulating what everyone already knows. I don’t need to wallow in it.
Because this is how it’s worked for a quarter century. The history of the GOP in the 21st century can be described in a single sentence: ignorance, stupidity and fear harnessed in the service of safeguarding wealth. That’s it and that’s all. All the racism, all the perpetual outrage, all the made-up inflammatory garbage to ensure that the dull-eyed yokels will reliably and religiously pull the lever for the people who will ensure that big money stays protected and that the awful socialist conditions that prevailed in (checks notes) the 1950s cannot return.
I mean, how many times do we have to go over it? The top marginal tax rate in the Eisenhower years was 91%. One-third of the working population belonged to a union. But whenever people talk about going back to the good old days, it’s alway the cultural ones – the 1950s where you didn’t have to acknowledge the existence of anything but white, mostly Anglo-Saxon, mostly Protestant (hell, the Irish and the Italians were slur-able ethnics in the Rat Pack era) culture. And the perpetual cry of the assholes from George Wallace to his modern heirs has always been the same: “we can go back to how it used to be.”
This didn’t remotely begin with Trump. It was obviously in play from the beginning of the Contract With America era, but because the South was still plausibly able to select Democrats, had several in office (including in the White House) and the media Wurlitzer wasn’t fully in place, it took time before it could really get rolling. By the end of 2001, though, you had GOP control of Congress (effectively), a chucklehead Southern Republican as a pliable White House occupant, and the promise of a new wartime milieu to varnish racism and authoritarianism as the only true American way. And after that, it’s just a chase scene.
Thing is, this is unsustainable. Demography and geography are at cross purposes, and we are reaching a point where the ability to govern America is being handed out on the basis of acreage rather than votes. The Senate is no longer viable as a parliamentary body, and the Electoral College is a worthless appendix infected to bursting (arguably has already, when you get right down to it). I don’t have an answer right now that doesn’t involve migrating to Ireland and living out my days in a shack on the coast.
But if it meant I would be five thousand miles from the bullshit farm, it might be worth it.