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Commentary: Get ready for a year of fake politics
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

Commentary: Get ready for a year of fake politics

The mobs have come. The burning and the purging have begun. Innocent children try to read books, but the snarling fascists rip literature from their tender hands and hurl it onto the bonfire, jeering and sneering and doing — well, you know, Republican stuff. Recovering from miscarriages, women hear the police at the door, coming to drag them by the hair to the camps. Little girls weep as, like handmaids, the monsters force them to carry their rape-babies to term.

No, really. Here, watch:

And don't miss this one, with such subtle and real performances that you can feel Lee Strasberg applauding from beyond the grave:

The garbage is blossoming like a turd flower as we head into an election year, and it will get much worse in the months to come: darker, more melodramatic, more insistent. More ridiculous.

Leading the way, alleged California Governor Gavin "Zoolander" Newsom spends his days tweeting hard at Republican monsters in every state but the one he sometimes pretends to govern. In Newsom’s rhetorical world, the residents of Florida and Texas have almost no hope of ever even seeing a book again, as Nazi cavemen ban them all for the sake of pure meanness:

I interviewed Florida residents recently for this piece, and they all just grunted: "Book? What book is?" In fairness, they were very busy building the handmaid camps for the state’s 12-year-olds in Miami, that famously intolerant backwater.

We're heading into one of the all-time Hall of Fame subject-changing elections. People who hold elected office run on their records, when they have one to run on. Safe cities, quality infrastructure, balanced budgets, reasonable taxes. When they have something in the real world to point at, they point at it.

Democrats held the presidency and both houses of Congress for two years and now hold the presidency, the Senate, and Kevin McCarthy's soul in a jar. They have power, and they've used it to degrade the currency, punish political enemies, and bungle around in an endlessly escalating proxy war with a nuclear power. Household debt is climbing; federal debt is a five-alarm fire. The Democratic president is, is, is, is ... Look, man, I gotta double the 16-pancake pavement, Jack!

No joke, man!

There is nothing to run on. There is nothing to point to as successful. So we pivot to "book bans."

What about California, where Republicans control nothing, anywhere? Both houses of the state legislature have Democratic supermajorities, almost entirely safe from any form of effective opposition. They use their power to advance an endless stream of bills on important topics such as transgendered children and criminalizing disagreement with your local school board. Wonderful news: If you spend your childhood in foster care in California, your foster parents are now legally required to help you drug your body into a new sexual identity and cut off your genitals. Progress! You can be without parents and without a functioning reproductive system, a wonderfully 21st-century condition.

The state is run by Jacobin lunatics, and the results are predictable. You can see them by looking down if you have the misfortune to drive through Los Angeles, where the streets don't much resemble streets any more. Businesses are fleeing, freeways are awful, the bullet train is 15 years old and has no track yet. But what do you want for a few tens of billions of dollars?

California doesn't work. So the most important theme in Golden State governance today is "Florida bans books." I give them credit for a higher degree of shamelessness than I would ever have thought possible.

Seeing very clearly what the campaign will be, we only need to wonder about the voter response. And that part isn't looking good.

Democrats have been winning special elections this year and doing so in the case of some apparently red districts. The pivot to culture war messaging — absurdly fake culture war messaging, pumped up like an Instagram influencer's duck lips — has a real chance of success.

They're doing this stuff because it works. Fear, especially in a population of low-information voters, drives votes. A good number of people believe this rhetorical sewage. There's no alternative to facing it head-on.

We need to bring out the big gun, the Saul Alinsky weapon: ridicule. Pedantic hair-splitting — actually, the books are being curated in school libraries rather than banned — is a losing message. We need Trumpian plainness, in the original 2016 floor model, and aggressive, relentless, contemptuous attacks on hysterical fear messaging.

Scroll back up and watch that ad about the 12-year-old rape victim again. Watch the “Republican congressman” sneer and snarl about how he intends to ruin your child's life, bwah ha ha! The Democratic Party is not planning to offer a polite campaign year. Respond in kind, or sink like a Romney. Be gentle and restrained some other time.

This time around, gentleness and restraint are death.

Chris Bray is a former infantry soldier who earned his Ph.D. in history at UCLA. He writes at Tell Me How This Ends on Substack.

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