T-Rump’s GOP: Nihilists Flavored With Sadism

August 3, 2021

Weird shit facing America from the right side of the fruit bowl:

Classic philosophy — nihilism — for a gut-wrenching portion of our country, who are working tooth-and-nail to destroy what’s left standing — this item originated with an op/ed this morning at The Washington Post by Max Boot, a former Republican, a supporter of the Iraq War (later was sorry about it), and correctly calls the awful GQP the lying hypocrites they really are, maybe worse.
High points:

The most benign spin you can put on the Trumpified Republican Party is that the American right has entered its “hippie phase,” as Kevin D. Williamson suggests in National Review. In the 1960s, he points out, the liberal counterculture attacked the establishment, while the GOP stood for order and authority.
Today the roles are reversed: Liberals are the ones who respect the authority of institutions such as the federal government, the scientific community, universities and schools, the media, big business, the military and the FBI, while the right subjects them all to “ridicule and scorn.”

A less kind but more accurate characterization is to argue, as Edward Luce did in the Financial Times, that “Republicans have become the party of nihilism.” Like the Joker, a lot of Republicans just like “to watch the world burn” — quite literally, in the case of their climate denialism.
Republican anarchism is also on full display with regard to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the covid-19 pandemic.

The right these days bashes not only the military and law enforcement but also every other institution that it accuses of having been taken over by “the left” — which means almost every national institution except the Supreme Court and, heaven help us, Fox “News” Channel.

Corporations earned the right’s ire for condemning Georgia’s voter suppression law and for deleting right-wing social media accounts that incite violence.
Schools and universities have become objects of rightist wrath for teaching about America’s history of slavery, segregation and continuing racism — which conservatives denounce as “critical race theory.”
The media establishment has long been an object of hatred but all the more now for exposing Trump’s lies — the “enemy of the people,”Trump called us.
Scientists have faced threats and harassment for showing that global warming is real and needs to be addressed.

Most sinister of all, the medical establishment has become a target for attempting to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 613,000 Americans.
The night after Tucker Carlson mocked the officers who defended the Capitol, he accused Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, of having “helped to create covid in the first place.”
It’s a lunatic charge, but one that has become popular on the right.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called Fauci an “enemy to our nation” and said he “deserves to go to jail.”

There are many ways to describe this attitude — childish, irresponsible, destructive, nihilistic — but “conservative” isn’t one of them.
Republicans, who once upheld authority, are now tearing it down. They give no indication of caring about the fate of American democracy, or about the fate of individual Americans.
Their slogan might as well be “Burn, baby, burn.”

Pretty-much right on.
Yet worse — Dr. John Gartner, psychologist, psychoanalyst, and former professor at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School (via Salon last month):

The four traits of malignant narcissism that I’ve emphasized in my discussions and warnings about Trump and this era are narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personality disorder and sadism. The one trait that is the most important, and the least recognized, is sadism.
On Jan. 6, during that attack on the Capitol, there was a sense of carnival for Trump’s mob. These people were having fun. There was a weird manic joy, a kind of euphoria, pleasure and excitement at harming other people.

Trump is a sadist, but he’s also arousing and tapping into the sadism in his right-wing authoritarian followers. He liberates a level of aggressive energy because one of the beliefs of the right-wing extremist is that aggression should be used for dominance and to enforce conformity and submission.
And so aggression is sexualized and celebrated. Freud said there were two kinds of energy, sexual and aggressive. So when you liberate aggressive energy, it’s euphoric, elating, you feel alive. So these people felt more alive on Jan. 6 than any other day of their lives.

And in that context, and the whole democracy thing:

All connected — Larry Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center, and the future (The Hill):

“Our democracy is at stake, that’s no exaggeration,” Norden said.
“You cannot have free and fair elections without election workers who are able to ensure nonpartisan administration and can do so without fear.”

According to experts, the key driver behind the violent threats is the same impetus that fueled the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: former President Trump’s repeated lies about the 2020 election being stolen.
“There is no question in my mind that in both cases, you have people who believe violence is justified because of that Big Lie,” Norden said.

And here we are…

(Illustration out front is of a New York state high-school student exhibit: ‘The piece was displayed during student-driven art show at Shenendehowa High School. It consisted of at least 12 identical black-and-white pictures of Donald Trump. There was also a sign above the pictures that read, “Draw on Me.” Using markers from the art classroom, some students opted to scribble critical messages and profanities on the pictures‘ — and found here).

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