The Cruel Minority and the Reliably Compassionate
“Today the cruel minority vote to enlarge the darkness.
They vote for shadows to take the place of ponds
Whatever they vote for they can bring to pass.
The mountains skip like lambs for the cruel minority.
Hail to the cruel minority!” — Poem by Jerome Rothenberg
As I write this, Floridians are suffering deeply. Hurricane Ian slammed into the state as a near-category-5 monster storm that will probably take months and billions of dollars to recover from. The state’s insurance industry is already tottering on the edge of calamity. Entire communities, including barrier islands, were nearly wiped out. It’s looking like there could be hundreds of deaths. Florida’s economy is about to take a huge hit. Does anyone want to take any guesses on how Governor Rick DeSantis is going to handle this disaster?
I have to say, if I lived in Florida, I sure wouldn’t want to have to rely on their current governor. He’s proven himself to be way more obsessed with crass, cruel political stunts to seemingly help his presidential aspirations than in any way shape or form helping his constituents.
Just last week, DeSantis spent covid relief funds on kidnapping migrants and dumping them in blue cities and states. (I’m not going to try to claim — as some have — that this hurricane was karma for DeSantis’ illegal and immoral acts since DeSantis’ own property is probably A-OK. ) These were legal migrants. Right wingers are always saying they have no problem with immigrants, “so long as they come in the right way.” These people DID. They are legal asylum seekers fleeing communism in Venezuela (how many times have Republicans used Venezuela as a cautionary tale about the boogeyman of “leftist socialism”?)
Not long ago, he stripped the people of Orlando of 2 million dollars to punish Disney, simply because Disney COMPASSIONATELY didn’t go along with DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ agenda.
This is also the man who, when he served as a “tea party” member of Congress, voted to deny aid to New Jersey and New York after hurricane Sandy. There’s no way he’s going to be able to avoid having to go hat in hand to the federal government and his nemesis, Joe Biden, for aid. I’m betting we won’t see any bipartisan hugs like we did with Chris Christie and Barack Obama. For Ron DeSantis, like most Republicans in this new Trumpy GOP, the cruelty is the point, and they simply do not care about appearing hypocritical.
As Atlantic writer Adam Serwer pointed out in first an article, then a book:
The Cruelty Is the Point
The Museum of African-American History and Culture is in part a catalog of cruelty. Amid all the stories of…
Why is the cruelty the point?
To weaponize their supporters. To use them to commit violence against Republicans’ opponents. Because the GOP no longer has any policy ideas. A party that only represents wealthy donors and corporations can no longer win elections fairly, so they will resort to any corrupt, unethical tactic to remain in power — no matter who gets hurt or dies.
Wealthy donors don’t want compassion. They don’t want Americans to unify and appreciate diversity. Why? Because when we have compassion, we understand the need for government aid to the poor. The selfish wealthy GOP donors don’t want their tax money used for that. In fact, they want to pay NO taxes. They’ve absconded their responsibility to this country for greed.
I can’t help but wonder if the “Let’s Go Brandon” crowd in the Villages and other “red” parts of Florida will ever acknowledge that if we had a president who followed Trump’s lead and let the state suffer because they didn’t vote for him — as Trump tried to do with California wildfire victims — they’d be screwed. I’m sure they’ll keep voting for Republicans, though, even as they continue to take handouts from a Democratic president who considers us all his constituents, whether we voted for him or not, and isn’t going to “punish” those who don’t support him.
It’s consistently puzzling to many of us who are in the majority who these GOP base people are who reward sadism with votes. I can only lend insight from my own family. I have sisters who are Trump cult, die-hard Fox News addicted, QAnon adherents. My entire life, I’ve watched them behave purely in their own self interest. I’ve had to hear them constantly claim victimhood over every bad thing that happened to them, which was usually the result of their own choices.
One of my sisters worked for a government agency. She seemed to spend all her time sending panicky right-wing political emails warning of this threat, or that threat — everything from “gay marriage” to Obama’s alleged intent to seize power and become a totalitarian leader (oh, the irony given the events of January 6th). Meanwhile, she constantly complained about “affirmative action” at her work that resulted in promotions for Black or Brown people in her office over her. I always wanted to gently suggest, “Yknow, maybe if you spent less time shooting out right wing propaganda emails, which by the way is illegal for a federal employee to do, then you might actually advance in your career, too.”
What happens when cruel people are forced to rely on the compassionate? Of course, compassionate people will always step up. But frankly, I’d like to see the cruel pay the price for their cruelty. Democrats should not be so compassionate that they let illegal and immoral acts go without punishment. I’d love to see Biden condition hurricane aid on DeSantis never pulling another migrant kidnapping stunt again, but of course, he won’t.
Andrew Warren, duly elected attorney for Hillsborough county, was fired by DeSantis simply for vowing not to enforce a cruel anti-abortion bill that hadn’t even been passed yet. He’s suing. In a recent MSNBC interview, he asked: “When did it become okay in this country that the people stopped demanding — stopped expecting — elected officials to start acting like leaders, diplomats and role models for our kids?”
It’s hard to deny the facts that those who are still supporting Trump, after “very fine people on both sides”, after child separation, after the plot to overthrow the election that left several people dead or severely injured; or those who have moved to DeSantis clearly approve of these sadistic acts by their tacit support of their candidacies.
Cruelty is consequently a feature of authoritarian regimes, which thrive on fear. Authoritarians gin up paranoia against “the other” (like the migrants DeSantis uses as pawns), because fearful people are easier to control. So, what should those of us who object to the cruelty do?
NOT BE SILENT, first of all:
Look at recent protests in Iran and Russia. Despite the risk of jail or, even worse, death, thousands of people are rising up to fight cruel authoritarianism in their own countries. As MLK Jr also said, the moral arc of the universe is long but bends towards justice. Or as the Rascals song goes: “people everywhere just want to be free.”
We need to stand up against the cruelty. Protest. Vote. Because we need to show THESE people that they’re the minority.
Copyright 2022 S. Wade
Stay tuned for my upcoming multimedia project: Trumpmerica 2017–2020: 5 Years of Hell As Told on Social Media