The Road To Hell

May 22, 2024 at 5:25 pm
The Road To Hell
Marc Murphy
Thoughtful, well-intentioned people understand that most of the political challenges they'll encounter are often the result of the intersection of many things. That the reason a given issue has become a political one is because it isn't easily addressed. Many of these issues are the product of years or generations of history, and of forces and constituencies that are difficult to reconcile.

Thoughtful, well-intentioned people are losing — badly. William Butler Yeats wrote "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Some of the best are filled with conviction. Problematically, they hold multiple convictions: That rules should be followed. That one's opponent should be treated fairly. That things are complicated and reducing your argument to clear, simple terms is juvenile. That doing the right thing will always prevail.

Such principles are laudable. Good people feel dirty arguing otherwise. But there's nothing noble about constantly hoping a magical referee will appear from the sky and start calling fouls on the other side when that's not going to happen while you’re standing on principle and watching America turned into the globe’s next authoritarian state. I’m no Nostradamus. They're telling you this is their plan. Nazis march in the streets and populate law enforcement, women have fewer rights than their grandmothers, the GOP candidate for President promises to jail journalists and his opponents, and The Best continue to ask how anyone can vote for these "horrid, lurid people" when the answer is obvious. Those horrid people, this lurid former President, offer them the world they seek: A white theocracy that is intolerant and serves the rich. And is tax free. They don't care who delivers it to them.

While I was writing this, Texas Governor Abbott pardoned the white man who murdered a Black Lives Matter protester after he drove his car into the protesters. In a statement, Gov. Abbott said "It's not complicated. It's OK to kill Black Lives Matter protesters." He didn't say that out loud. But the message is loud and clear. Republican leaders send messages like this several times daily. That immigrants are animals. That taxation is theft. That women belong in the kitchen, pregnant, voluntarily or not. That anything can be bought, including our democracy.

In the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders it was said "You wondered what you would have done during the Civil Rights protests in the 1960’s? You’re doing it now." The answer, almost always, was that even The Best weren't doing anything in 2020, and would have done nothing in 1967. The Best now are saddened by the current attacks on our Republic but generally aren't willing to call this what it is, because "It's Complicated." Any ability we — those who oppose authoritarian, misogynist, greedy, racists — have to defeat what has terrifyingly begun to seem as inevitable is hamstrung by our inability or unwillingness to acknowledge that it is, in fact, happening. Right now. It’s a classic and possibly fatal case of paralysis by analysis.

It's Complicated has a cousin and its name is Political Risk. Judges won't jail the former President for contempt of court in circumstances in which my own clients would have been buried under the jail for fear that his followers will respond with violence. As a result, every contemptuous act that isn't punished is a self-fulfilling proposition. The MAGAts learn, again, that their leader is, in fact, above the law. And, that they will be, too. Members of Congress, in the year of our Lord 2024, refuse to commit to accepting the results of the Presidential election. Honestly, why would they? Their side — the worst — play to win.

The It's Complicated gang needs to decide, and quickly, that these people are not our opponents, they are our enemies. I'm not suggesting rules be broken. They don't have to be. Mitch McConnell will die soon and be honored as a lion of the Senate, including for the manner in which he used the rules to his advantage. This despicable powermonger ruined the Supreme Court and possibly, forever, a nation. But it's arguable he never broke a rule. He simply identified his enemies and played to win. And, so far, he's won.

Perhaps it feels better to be the good guys. To luxuriate in the self-satisfaction that you alone understood all along that things were complicated. In these times, though, The Road to Hell is paved with It's Complicated. Genocide is not complicated. White supremacy is not complicated. Religious extremism is not complicated. Greed is not complicated. Authoritarianism is not complicated. Idiots in Congress are not complicated. They're idiots, and they're in Congress. We're losing ­ — the rule of law, our rights, the republic itself, because we grasp instinctively to find common ground, to dwell on and in the subtle spaces in which we may not be perfectly right. This is a knife fight for America and we keep bring- ing a tattered rule book, which may soon be covered with our own blood.