Be Worst

I firmly believe that people like to think the best of themselves. I think it forms a fundamental basis in most human interaction. No matter how terrible the actions, people will find a way to turn it around in their mind to make themselves the hero of their personal story.

This is how we get to people claiming that the victim of a crime was “asking for it”. The perpetrators want to believe that they are stronger and more deserving than others, but they simultaneously want to frame themselves in a positive light. When a dictator slaughters dozens or even millions, they do not do so for their own gain; they do it because they are the only ones who can properly rule their country. Even sociopaths frame themselves positively, with the key difference being that they do not take others into account.

When approached individually, we use our personal morality to guide our decisions. En masse, people are inclined to defer their positions to that of the group. They are able to think the best of themselves because they are furthering the ideals of their chosen group. This is a significant factor in why people in a mob will do things they otherwise would not. It’s not merely a perception of anonymity, it’s not just the example of others; it’s the belief that in order to be a member in good standing of the group, a person must act appropriately.

This was something which drew me to the Republican party. It wasn’t merely that they were calling for lower taxes, an end to affirmative action, or an end to abortion, it was the reasoning behind those calls.

The Democrats had strong moral reasons for their positions. The Republicans, in my view, had better ones. While the Democrats wanted a safety net for the most desperate among us, the Republicans wanted individual freedom and for private donation centers manned by those who wanted to help rather than simply get a paycheck. The Democrats wanted a boost for minorities to get ahead, the Republicans believed that minorities were fully capable of excelling on their own. The Democrats wanted to allow women to be free to live their lives, and the Republicans wanted to prevent murder.

Republicans developed a favorite phrase for the second Democrat position: The soft bigotry of low expectations. That line was written by Republican speechwriter Michael Gerson, who has gone on to become a critic of President Trump.

By providing an equivalence between protesters who were killed and injured and the protester who intentionally ran them over, by equating asylum seekers with gang members, by retweeting hatemongering racists and by other actions, Trump has encouraged formerly fringe activists to join the Republican party. He’s even earned the praise of Louis Farrakhan for his encouragement of anti-Semitism. In the pages of the Washington Post and on Twitter, Gerson continues to speak against it.

It seems that one thing worse than the soft bigotry of low expectations is the hard bigotry of dehumanizing preconceptions.

There have always been extremist elements in every party, including the Republicans. William F. Buckley famously led a successful effort to purge the racists, conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites from the Republican party, demonstrating not only that people’s positions can change while retaining a general philosophy (he’d been sympathetic to some racist positions early in his life) but also that a party’s basic tenets can change – in that case, for the better.

In the age of Trump, encouraged and inspired by his leadership, the party’s tenets have changed for the worse. Not only has the Buckley purge been completely reversed, the view now is to strive for the bottom. Hillary Clinton, during the campaign, tried to shame the Republican party into abandoning the fringe by calling them deplorables. She miscalculated how utterly loathed she and her husband were… ironically, because of their own immorality. Perhaps the Republicans could have been shamed, but not by her. Instead the fringe was embraced harder, with formerly rational people proudly redefining themselves as “deplorable”.

Perhaps if she had used the term “pedophile” they’d have been less eager to join. “You can put half of Donald Trump’s supporters into what I call a basket of pedophiles”… referencing Jeffrey Epstein (although there’s no chance that she’d do that, considering her own deep ties)… I don’t imagine you’d have had people standing up and insisting that they were a pedophile also, or wearing shirts and hats proudly declaring themselves a pedophile. That is effectively what happened, however.

The result is that the Republicans no longer strive to be better than the Democrats; they strive to be worse. When the Democrats want a safety net, the Republicans mock those who need one. When the Democrats want a boost for minorities to get ahead, the Republicans want a boost for the majority instead. When the Democrats want women to be free to live their lives, the Republicans want women to shut up and know their place.

This is being demonstrated once again, in the form of the Gillette ad. First and foremost, it’s an ad – it’s nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to generate publicity and garner sales. More than that, though, it’s a call for men to better themselves.

The traditional Republican reaction would be one for equality and justice. We should absolutely treat women with the respect due any other human being. We merely have to guard against giving accusations too much weight; evidence and reason should enter into the equation, too, because false allegations can be destructive to the innocent.

Hell, the first word in the commercial is “Bullying”. That’s supposedly the First Lady’s chosen cause, to end bullying. It is a direct appeal to the Republicans, just as the following phrase, “The #MeToo movement”, is a call to the Democrats.

The Republicans were handed the opportunity to demonstrate basic decency on the public stage. And they fumbled it. Rather than greet the ad with a collective shrug and nod there are calls for boycotts of Gillette.

This, despite the fact that if the exact wording is examined the vast majority of the complaints by recognized Republican pundits are voicing the traditional viewpoint I hypothesized. But they’re framing it within “Be angry at Gillette for raising this point.” Then, after fanning the flames of hatred, they’re studiously ignoring the conflagration which results.

An example, from the Daily Wire. Read the article, then read the comments. But Matt Walsh isn’t alone in this. He’s joined by Ben Shapiro (both at the Daily Wire and National Review), Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and more. Sure, some of them are already sponsored by the Dollar Shave Club, but even when that is set aside the key fact remains: decency is no longer the default position within the Republican party.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.