The World is Not Enough
Republicans are holding a fire sale in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, asking uninterested oil companies to stake claims before President-Elect Joe Biden halts the opening of the refuge to outside interests. Extracting oil is an expensive enterprise; it requires infrastructure, investment, and the ability to take the long view, all things that modern shareholder companies are not interested in. As it turns out, oil companies don’t actually want to build their own roads, housing, hospitals, and other things that human workers will need as they labor.
What’s happening in the Arctic, far from the daily concerns of average Americans, is emblematic of the GOP’s lack of a governing vision and a dedication to Spite Policy for no other purpose than owning the libs and making Truck Guys feel like they have giant balls or something. It’s not news that the current Republican Party is functionally a criminal enterprise fueled by billionaire money and the belief that the end of the world is imminent, but what is their actual aim? What political end could possibly be served by creating a permanent minoritarian state? It certainly isn’t preserving the Union.
The myth of the Good Republican should have died after the stolen election in 2000, and any notion of a coherent conservative ideology and strategy was swept out of Congress by the Tea Party wave of 2010, when an absurd number of Americans decided that a black president just would not do and any GOP rep who gave him a smile should be drawn and quartered for the entertainment of gleeful racists like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Republican voters mainlined conservative talk radio, enthusiastically ate the shit shoveled at their faces by Fox News, and took to nascent social networks to torture their relatives and find like-minded assholes.
There’s been a quiet sweep of what we might call “normal” Republicans over the last decade, where people like Tom Petri were systematically investigated and booted or primaried in favor of more deep conservative “thinkers” like Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows. People love to believe that Trump is some sui generis political supernova, but the ground and minds were softened in preparation for him for years. He was an imperfect vessel for everything they wanted, but I still don’t know what they want. The fact that they had a trifecta for two years and only managed to nuke the budget and allow hunters to shoot animals with lead bullets again tells me that they don’t actually know either.
And that might be the point. The GOP has moved to the right for the sake of moving right, leading us along with a disingenuous toleration of marriage equality and allowing small wins, while never actually giving up any kind of ground. Now they’ve led us to a cliff and our feet are dangling over the edge; the hollowness of our policy wins through compromise have been exposed by millions of tiny cuts. This is a party that has gutted voting rights and blown holes in all of our institutions, while the ostensible opposition either stands to the side saying “You can’t do that!” or spends weeks blaming each other for winning. I cannot be bothered with Twitter slapfights about the proper definition of socialism and whether or not Black Lives Matter messaging was responsible for losing a single Congressional seat when the real problem is that gerrymandered districts mean Democrats have to play every election perfectly to win, and we cannot do that when the caucus behaves like my extended family at Thanksgiving after we stop the pretense of liking each other. One political party represents nearly 70 percent of the country at this point; a party that includes both Joe Manchin (bad!) and Ilhan Omar (good!) cannot hold, but it MUST hold thanks to the inequities built into this system that allows 400,000 people in Wyoming to have two Senators, and the 600,000 residents of Washington, DC to have none.
The Republican Party cannot be shamed, because they are succeeding with actual evangelical zeal. They are free to pursue power for the sake of it, to reject relief for millions of Americans during a pandemic, to insist that they have the right to stall any attempt at governing by the incoming administration, because they know that they can do whatever they want and never suffer electoral or personal consequences. They will destroy themselves and the country in their desperate attempts to sell off our public lands, to foul our water, and allow the seas to rise for no other reason than making life miserable for 300 million people. Some honestly believe that none of it matters because the god they worship, a petty, vengeful deity with origins in the early agricultural settlements of the Levant, will return to Earth and be pleased with the fact that they collectively took a giant, toxic shit on everything He gave them.
I’m afraid that the fever won’t break until the last Republican stands in the empty Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, hunting rifle scope searching the landscape for deer only to find the perpetual motion of oil derricks impersonating absent birds stirring the mud for food and wonders why Jesus didn’t come for him and to save creation. Even then, I have my doubts.
This author chooses to remain anonymous.