Years ago, while monitoring the latest inanity of Rush Limbaugh, I was interested to hear Rush twist the words of the late Jack Kervorkian, to some known as Doctor Death, on the practice of helping terminally ill patients with assisted suicide.
The medical compassion of Kervorkian offended arch-conservatives, who seem to take consistent pleasure in insisting that a life in pain and misery is still much better than No Life At All.
Who can forget the hand-wringing intrusions on the end-of-life events surrounding Terry Schiavo, the woman lost to a coma, and whose husband simply wanted to give her a dignified ending? So-called life experts ranging from Sean Hannity to Every Other Conservative On the Planet turned the woman’s case into a battleground for medical and personal ethics, claiming that she should be kept alive no matter what.
The hand-wringing of End of Life issues continued when the Affordable Care Act came down the pike. Conservatives rushed to the forefront by claiming there would be “death panels” shutting down care for people in old folks homes and beyond. The lies were rampant. Rush: “The bureaucracy is going to make the decisions. You aren’t. And it’s in the House bill. Once you reach, I don’t know what the age is, every five years, it’s in the sixties, every five years some counselor shows up.” And Sean Hannity: “In other words, they would mandate that those who get government care literally could be pushed to refuse care.”
These were exaggerations of lies about the plan. But conservative power trips always start with the fearmongering inaccuracies. For example, that day I listened to Rush Limbaugh blabbing about Dr. Jack Kervorkian, he falsely quoted a description by the doctor of what he favored in life. Kervorkian advocated what he called “personal autonomy” in being able to choose the timing of your own end when terminal illness tears out the quality and meaning of life. But what Rush chose to hear, and how he characterized the words of Kervorkian was a very different thing. “He’s in favor of anarchy,” Rush claimed.
Autonomy and anarchy are two very different things. Autonomy means “independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions.” And that’s a value most conservatives would gladly embrace. Yet in this instance, Limbaugh saw it a different way.
After all, personal autonomy could not possibly extend to the right to end one’s own life when faced with a terminal illness, could it? That, according to Limbaugh, equalled “anarchy,” defined as: “a state of society without government or law,” and “political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control.”
How very ironic that Limbaugh and his cohorts should claim that the absence of government equates to chaos and anarchy. Neoconservatives going back to Ronnie Reagan have long and loudly complained that government is the source of our society’s problems. Where does this hatred of government go when use of government suits the conservative claims to morality?
This is the cognitive dissonance and a refusal to “connect the dots” in conservative ideology pertaining to both morality and government. While conservatives advocate personal liberty and responsibility in public, too many it inconvenient and difficult to grant that right when they find something in the world that is uncomfortable or contrary to their highly selective and often repressive morality.
So they turn to government as the tool to impose their views upon society as a whole. This is how (and why) conservatives oppose the so-called “gay agenda.” That “agenda” is nothing more than a push to be granted the same civil rights to marriage and work compensations as defined by the United States Constitution. But again, this is an inconvenient truth to the ugly, judgmental morality favored by arch-conservatives, who in finding their own beliefs logically indefensible, choose the tool of law as a means to ignore that their convictions do not align with America’s founding principles.
Conservative hypocrisy on issues of personal and civil justice cross the entire spectrum of human existence. In religious discourse, the claims that “religious liberties” are blocked in by community refusal to post signs bearing the 10 Commandments on public property…or imposing group prayer in public school classrooms…or returning the Pledge of Allegiance to its original version in which the words “Under God” were not included… are all somehow all intrusions on the free expression of religion in America. When in fact, these actions of barring imposition of religion on the public are in keeping with the constitutional call for freedom from religion if one so chooses under America’s freedoms.
So you see, the goals of conservatives are not about religious freedom at all. They instead favor religious imposition, specifically (and typically) a conservative Christian version of said faith.
But let’s examine the “religious freedom” claim from another perspective. No Christian conservative of record has ever come out in support of allowing Muslim students to bend down in prayer during public school time in accordance with the demands of Islamic faith. That brand of religious freedom apparently cannot be tolerated in America. That fact proves the dots of logic never really connect in conservative ideology. It is aggressively hypocritical to claim any such thing.
And in cases where the dangerous dots should be connected, as in the recent instance in which Donald Trump issued a veiled edict to beckon “Second Amendment people” to take out his opponent in order to carry out a twisted form of political justice, conservatives wrongly try to fob it off as a joke. They refuse to connect the dots at all.
The same goes for the refusal to connect the dots between mass shootings, gun crime and the massive proliferation of powerful guns in America. There are now literally more guns than people in the United States. It should be simple math that tells the story. The police themselves are outgunned and outmanned by this fact, and have thus been forced to militarize. The result is that we now have not one, but two supposedly “well-regulated militia” squared off in the public sphere. Guns take lives through both murder and suicide. They enable the madness that takes over the human mind, yet are celebrated in popular fiction and in Wild West tales of gunslingers and heroes who kill or assassinate for a living. What do we think is going to happen when these are the kinds of dots we choose to connect between solving troubles and killing those with whom we disagree?
Yet conservatives have ignored these disturbing straight-line causes of violence, and as such have fobbed off Trump’s calls for violence toward protestors and ignored his cloying association with racists. The Republican Party turned a blind eye to his misogyny and indeed, some in Christian conservative circles even welcomed him in direct defiance of the tenets of a faith that by definition calls for extensions of forgiveness and love. But Trump promises power, and the Christian church and the Jewish faith before that has fallen prey to the seduction of flawed yet powerful leaders. Even God reputedly told David at the end of his life that he was not fit to build a temple in his honor because there “is too much blood on your hands.” And after that, the Catholic Church was seduced into power-hungry madness and politics, slaughtering its enemies, sending mercenaries out on Crusades, persecuting Jews, torturing people for blasphemy and acting like religious goons until Martin Luther came along and started the Protestant Reformation.
But it hasn’t stuck. People in religious power still don’t get that they are often the self-righteous enemies of God. One can see that in the manner in which the current Pope Francis is castigated by political conservatives for expressing the very tenets of Christian faith. “He’s not a true Christian!” they scream through the news media.
Into this void in morality comes Donald Trump like the new King Herod, swinging those promises of power and debauchery around like there’s no tomorrow. He’s even bragged about his penis size in public, and lusted after his own daughters. This is a man of corrupted values of near biblical proportions. And yet conservatives have been forced to embrace him in a devil’s kiss because he bears the political covenant of a party.
That has freed the man to go around wildly calling for nuclear strikes as a pre-emptive global strategy. Trump thinks he is a king of the world before he is even crowned. He takes only his own counsel as worthy of consideration. These are the antics of an insane ruler, a modern Caligula as it were. But not a man adept at connecting the dots, except those he chooses to promulgate his own self-serving reality. Madness, in other words.
Those of us with brains have connected those dots, and we don’t like what we see. The disconnected process by which Trump rose to potential power is a direct result of broken logic that fuels the entire neoconservative movement, that led us into Iraq on falsified information and that led to thousands of American lives destroyed in a war of choice. We also murdered hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and yet wonder why terrorism still persists.
That would be the product of our own hate as a brand of diplomacy, force as a tool for justice, propaganda as a form of “fair and balanced” information, and lies as a cruel joke foisted on the American people. Obama did not cause ISIS or ISIL or whatever you want to call it. He merely fulfilled a course into which America was forced by people determined to rule without responsibility. Even a responsible president cannot immediately cure that insanity once it has begun. He is even “blamed” for the withdrawal from Iraq that was negotiated by the administration of George W. Bush. The Iraqis demanded it. So the lies about Obama’s “mess” in the Middle East are actually the product of cause and effect. We broke those countries and it has cost trillions in time and treasure trying to fix them.
And given this record of falseness in domestic and international calculation, we can therefore also connect the dots clearly connecting the lies and misinformation distributed by conservatives about Hillary Clinton. These are contraindications of the bankrupt aims of neoconservatism, which cares only about power, not the people it is supposed to serve. They hate Hillary Clinton for the things she does best, which is play hardball politics and bat back information that may or may not be fact. She may in fact be one of them, as a possibility, which is why both the Right and the Left have suspicions that have not been resolved. The whole thing reads more like an ugly sibling rivalry than a classroom scuffle.
But Trump is the scary uncle in all this, which is evidenced by his own fearfmongering reproach. Weird Uncle Donald with his secretly sexual past recently fixed his angry stare at his female opponent, pointing fingers while questioning her mental fitness for the job of President. This was Trump’s reaction to the fact that his own sanity was being questioned by legitimately concerned professional psychologists, who see clear signs of psychopathy, sociopathy or some other pathologic condition to which he will never admit, but confesses to daily in his words.
Meanwhile, conservative Internet bandits have been distributing a photo of Hillary Clinton being helped up some icy stairs during a campaign event last February. Their claim was that she is in poor physical health as well. The photo was posted out of context, and far out side the realm of truth.
But that’s been the tool of conservatism for so long, there is no longer any truth left in the movement. So many have falsely tried to connect dots in the Hillary Clinton narrative and been debunked in hearings and the court of law that it is the punitive actions that count, not the results. The Right has done this to promote belief that she’s a crooked human being. Some on the Right love to claim that supposedly sane people have simply refused to connect the dots in her political history. But when those dots are scrambled to a pointless, pointillist approach of peppering her narrative with untruths there can be no credibility. The truth is paved over with the lies and hatred of her accusers.
Yet Trump can stumble and bumble and make up disconnected lies at will, and rabid conservatives buy his disconnected thoughts lock, stock and barrel. Because there is an investment in his lies. It is the only way conservatives can further bury the consequences of poor governance and the failed policies that have gutted America, torn up our global reputation and turned the nation into a reactionary republic rather than a leader in the world. Were it not for the steady, considerate hand of President Obama, criticized as he was from the moment he took office, there would be no recovery at all. Romney or McCain or Palin or any in the line of hard-line zealots would have gutted social programs and further impoverished America’s aging and poor. Compassionate conservatism is yet another lie.
It’s the difference, you see, between people who advocate personal autonomy, which stands for freedom and thought enterprise. This stands in direct contrast to political anarchy, in which people advocate for a candidate who wants to blow up his enemies or have them shot in order to win.
We can either connect the dots in what this man says, and stand for autonomy as a nation, or we can degrade into anarchy. Because that’s what Donald Trump represents.