First, a big “Thank You!” to readers who voted NO on the recent recall ballot measure. It was a vote for continued good government, even if sometimes uncomfortable or inconvenient.
What? American Taliban? Shades of 2001 John Walker Lindh. No, this is about doctrinaire trumpism where mainstream contenders cannot survive the primary election process without out-trumping other candidates on their conservative flanks. Dogmatic zealots in the trumpublican party currently drive the hidebound agenda. As we see in Afghanistan with American parallels, out-of-power extremists are much better at incendiary rhetoric and disruptive interference than at the difficult work of governing. Here are some recurring themes in the Taliban and trumpublican/GOP arenas.
Both refuse to accept the legitimate will of the people, such as the result of a valid election process. We see that in conservative American states where election “audits” are costing those residents millions of dollars in lost causes. Here in liberal California, that same refusal to accept the 2018 gubernatorial election result has cost taxpayers a quarter of a Billion dollars! ($276 Million to be more precise) just to prove again: more than 60% of us still prefer Gavin Newsom.
In Florida, the trumpublican governor has refused to allow local school district requirements for students and teachers to be masked, even though 73% of Floridians favor this local control. Further, that governor signed a law imposing “millions of dollars in fines” against local governments that require vaccinations of employees. The result is the state government will sue (using taxpayer money) local governments to pay (with taxpayer money) for every instance of required vaccination. Of course, the local governments will use more taxpayer money to defend against the suits. Very trumpublican.
Both the Taliban and GOP prefer vocal opposition over governing. The Florida governor (expected to run for president in 2024) has loudly criticized the Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan (not without some basis), but consider this: the 10 day Afghan evacuation maneuver removed 122,000 persons to safety and regrettably lost 13 American soldiers and 170 others. During those same 10 days, 3,757 Floridians died from Covid in a state where the governor opposes vaccinations and actively prevents local efforts to curb the disease.
The trumpublican House Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened telecom companies with retribution for complying with Congressional committee document demands. It is a felony to obstruct Congressional activities (like encouraging companies not to cooperate), which makes McCarthy’s statements theatrical obstruction, not governance.
Both the Taliban and trumpublicans have histories of encouraging sectarianism and demonizing opponents. Their zealots frame every issue as “us versus them.” It was a prominent strategy of the trump election campaign – and administration – that continues on trumpist Fox News even after trump was deposed.
When trumpublican governors mandate “No Mandates!” for their fringe followers, they call it “freedom of choice.” When President Biden mandates vaccinations for the safety of federal employees, contractors, and healthcare workers, trumpublicans call it “totalitarian,” “authoritarian,” “overreach,” or “fascist.”
Both the Taliban and GOP prioritize their sanctified beliefs over the common good. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has repurposed the Kabul Women’s Affairs Ministry building to an agency for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice.” In Texas, evangelical jihadists have legislated a vigilante bounty system to outlaw abortions.
Trumpublican state governments also have a curious was of achieving herd immunity to defeat Covid. Herd immunity is that theoretical percentage of immunized people that prevents an infectious disease from spreading. Most states are edging toward the magic percentage by vaccinating more residents. Trumpublican states in the South are approaching herd immunity by letting their unvaccinated citizens die.
In America, increased ethnic diversity, decreased average voter age, and geographic population shifts all favor future Democrats. Dictatorial trumpublicans are desperate to hold power by whatever means possible. For any threat to their electoral success, they counter with new voter restrictions. For any lost election, they claim corruption.
It’s not a pretty picture, but rightwing radicalism in the middle East is reflected here in America by a renegade political party that cannot, or will not, look itself in the mirror.