Truth is on one side, sedition and lies on the other

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy provoked mirth Sept. 1 in his prebuttal of President Biden’s speech on threats to democracy, with a botched attempt to sound Lincolnesque: “The electric cord of liberty still sparks in our hearts.” Call it his Thomas Edison Paine moment. McCarthy was like Shemar Moore in the Paycom “unnecessary action hero” commercial, minus the talent, sex appeal and a point.

Biden spoke with conviction and clarity about what is at stake in this country. He nailed the MAGA Republicans for insisting that either they win or they were cheated.

The president spoke that night outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. He condemned white supremacists. On MSNBC afterward, presidential historian Michael Beschloss mentioned Lincoln’s 1858 “House Divided” speech in which he said, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

Republicans, meanwhile, objected to Biden having military officers standing behind him, though their Glorious Leader Trump did the same thing.

A heckler with a bullhorn offered a crude underscoring to Biden’s speech. One of Biden’s best moments was when he acknowledged the heckler and said he was “entitled to be outrageous.” This contrasts starkly with Trump, who has encouraged supporters to “beat the crap out of” protesters at his rallies.

The insurrectionists cling to the tribalist belief that for them to be blessed, others must be damned. They play the politics of scarcity and resentment. It’s not that they think Trump is virtuous. It’s that they regard him as The Anointed One whose sins consequently do not matter. The so-called Christian nationalists would replace the rule of law with theocratic bullying that is in no way rooted in the Gospel.

As Biden noted, you cannot support insurrection and be a patriot. The American Way requires respect for the results of free and fair elections. The will of the voters must not be thwarted by suppression and nullification or by people like Justice Sam Alito who feel entitled to impose a medievalist perspective regardless of its unpopularity.

The threat to our republic is about one faction’s presumption more than policy. The problem with Sen. Ted Cruz is that he is an unscrupulous opportunist. Sen. Lindsey Graham is a coward who overcompensates with viciousness. Sen. Ron Johnson thinks rich people like him should run everything.

These people are pretenders. They ignore the wisdom of recently-deceased author Barbara Ehrenreich, who wrote, “When someone works for less pay than she can live on … she has made a great sacrifice for you…. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.”

Sen. Rand Paul cares no more about the working poor than his fellow partisans in Mississippi care about the residents of Jackson, whose infrastructure the Republicans who run the state have long neglected because Jackson voters are mostly black Democrats. Paul is interested in the COVID pandemic only as a pretext to push wild conspiracy theories and demonize Dr. Anthony Fauci — America’s top epidemiologist, whom George W. Bush awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom and who now requires a security detail because of death threats Paul has provoked.

The petty motives threatening our freedoms include racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and a desire to exploit and persecute. It is only because transgender people are convenient scapegoats that Florida’s tyrannical governor, Ron DeSantis, demonizes them.

Republicans, like bank loan officers, prefer giving help to those who don’t need it — while pretending their own silver spoons are the fruit of rugged individualism. Rather than lift up the downtrodden, they use them to foment fear.

Another obstacle for Democrats trying to govern is the bothsidesism of many in the news media. For example, Chris Licht, the new CEO and chairman at CNN, wants the network to be politically neutral. On Aug. 24, Brian Stelter of CNN quoted Carl Bernstein saying that “the truth is not neutral.” The following week, Stelter’s colleague John Harwood said, “The core point Joe Biden made about a threat to democracy is true. [As journalists], we’re taught not to take sides in honest disagreements between parties. But these are not honest disagreements. The GOP right now is led by a dishonest demagogue.”
Stelter and Harwood are now gone from CNN.

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2020, President Biden said, “We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.” This is what he has done. Democrats need to tout their accomplishments for ordinary Americans, reject bothsidesism and clinch a blue wave in November.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist at Copyright © 2022 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.