“Grinning proudly as blood gushed from his victim’s windpipe, House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly slit an auto mechanic’s throat Wednesday to kick off the GOP purge of the working class. ‘With our tax reform bill giving us the mandate we have long desired, there’s nothing stopping us now – commence the bloodletting!’ said Ryan, holding up the lifeless body of the local blue-collar worker as blood from his severed arteries sprayed reporters gathered at the press conference.”
You can make that stuff up. Indeed The Onion, a website that purports to offer satirical commentary on the events of the day just did – complete with a photoshopped picture illustrating the event in all its gory, bloody detail.
Pardon me for seeming like a scold but, seeing as how throat-slitting is literally in vogue once again in certain quarters of the world, this doesn’t come across as either funny or clever. Going back to the time of the ancient Greeks up into today, satire is a powerful form of criticism that prompts people to think and may, at the same time, produce anything from a chuckle to an outright guffaw.
The article in question does neither. It is, instead, vulgar and inappropriate in its depiction of U.S. lawmakers committing acts of violence and mayhem against ordinary Americans. Lest you think bias interferes it would be no more appropriate to depict House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cutting the throat of an easily recognized billionaire like Bill Gates or, to keep things lined up properly, Charles Koch. There is a line, undefinable but there, that good satirists know exists and which they are loath to cross. The folks at The Onion have jumped over it with both feet.
They’re not alone. The fact the Republicans managed to pass the most significant tax cut in 30 years without a single vote from a single Democrat has lots of folks leaping over the top. Once again, the folks on whom so many of us rely to explain what is happening in the political world got it wrong. They said Trump would never be nominated; that he’d never be elected even if he did get nominated; that he’d never get his cabinet confirmed; that Congress would block his agenda; and tax reform would never pass unless the wealthiest Americans got soaked (and that it was doubtful even then). It’s no wonder they are tearing out their hair. They don’t understand what’s going on. They think they should be winning. The newspapers and television commentators say they’re winning. And yet they’re losing – and losing big. Even the effort to repeal Obamacare, which they blocked, and which had them feeling like winners, only survived by one or two votes.
Given that Trump is, as he promised, winning on so many fronts, it’s not surprising lines are being crossed. It reflects the kind of desperation that reduces otherwise intelligent, educated individuals into sputtering idiots unable to form coherent sentences on live TV. They don’t understand how it’s possible and figure, somehow, that if they get more inflammatory then more folks will follow along.
That’s classic Alinsky thinking, along the lines of people being part of the problem if they are not part of the solution. Unfortunately, it pushes more people away than it attracts which is something the left has never seemed able to figure out. And the burden is on them to figure out why since, as has been explained repeatedly during the ongoing kulturkampf, they are the smart ones. The folks on the right are supposed to be, in the words of a long-forgotten Washington Post reporter, “poor, uneducated, and easy to command,” incapable of out-thinking and out-strategizing Team Trump.
It’s not all rosy for the Republicans. The data from the November 2017 elections in Virginia and New York and New Jersey shows the party is in trouble with Hispanics, with college-educated married women and others whom, as the media would have it, the president has gone out of his way to offend. Whether he has or not, and he probably has, the numbers don’t lie. If they don’t go to work on fixing these problems the next election is not going to go their way. The battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives is going to be fought in the Americans suburbs where, if the last contest gives any clue, Trump may be toxic.
He’s got a lot of work to do to repair the damage he’s caused. The tax cut just signed into law will go a long way towards doing that when middle- and higher-income people who live in those parts of the country realize they’re going to benefit from it. One thing he has going for him is the left doesn’t know when to rein it in – as things liked the photoshopped picture of Speaker Ryan in The Onion shows. They need to be worried about bringing people toward them. They can’t afford to drive folks away. They’re going to need every vote they can get to stop Trump from winning and they won’t get them if they alienate independents and liberal-to-moderate Republicans who find the president distasteful.