If you’re tolerant, and the other side is intolerant, you’re going to get beat.
What has kept America going for 230 years is that, occasionally, under extreme provocation, our tolerance can snap. It snapped in the Civil War. It snapped in World War II.
This is because right-wing intolerance doesn’t know when to stop. Hippies today are elderly. Yet conservatives still punch them. And liberals still accept it.
The reason conservatives continue to win in our politics, despite their minority status, is that liberals have remained tolerant. They tolerated the extremes of conservative behavior the way a mother does a wayward son, thinking he’ll grow out of it.
Conservatives won’t grow out of it. It’s built into their DNA that the most ruthless will rule. The end state for conservatism is fascism, in rule of the most power-mad. The end state of liberalism is true communism, where everyone gets practically nothing.
Trump is the end state of conservatism, but many reporters refuse to accept this. CNN still tries to balance academics and journalists against absolute loonies, as though politics is the Monty Python “Election Night Special” sketch. That’s how the Silly Party wins. We don’t call it out.
- Environmental lunacy, which holds that we can keep burning fossil fuels and somehow the world won’t throw us off the way our bodies throw off a virus with a raging fever.
- Economic lunacy, the idea that we can build tariff walls against our trading partners and somehow “win.” Or that throwing a party for billionaires is “growth.”
- Diplomatic lunacy, the idea that threatening to blow people up will force them to bend to our will.
- Racial lunacy, the idea that we can have one law for whites, an entirely different law for other people, and call that freedom or democracy.
- Sexual lunacy, the idea that women must accommodate the “desires” of men, no matter how vile or violent, and women must subordinate their lives to the abuse.
Liberals accommodated this nonsense for a generation. We let Texas put lies into our textbooks, about history, science and values. We let right-wing loons take over the courts, making money into speech and guns into totems. We let ourselves be led into a state of continuous war. We’ve been at war for almost 80 years.
Instead of blaming the policies that threw us into the ditch for our problems (which would be acknowledging our own fault), we let people like Trump blame “the other.” Liberals became “pink” in the 1950s. Civil rights became “extremist” in the 1960s. Feminists became “femi-nazis” in the 1970s and environmentalism became “anti-growth” in the 1980s. By the 1990s, liberals had stopped using the term "liberal."
We let conservatives turn every truth into a fiction, and every fiction into a truth, because they were united, and we were not. We let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and then found ways to tolerate the intolerable. Ralph Nader. Jill Stein.
What the fact of Trump should be telling liberals is that we can no longer be tolerant of lies, we can no longer be tolerant of liars, and we can no longer let ourselves be divided. Trump and his people have declared war on democracy, war on America’s values, war on the planet, war on the economy, war on everything and everyone, in the name of their own greed, racism, sexism, and stupidity.
Even though many of these people are our friends, our neighbors, even our family. We must become intolerant of stupid if we’re going to save America from it.
This is hard.
I’ve cut off some friends, and even family members, lately over politics. In normal times, I would feel terrible about it. I don’t have time for that now.
I’m not going to let people tell me that boycotting the NFL because players kneel in the face of racism is a principled stance. It’s not. When you let yourself be manipulated by Trump and his lies, you become the lie.
I’m not going to let people tell me that military service makes veterans more American than I am, or that the flag deserves more respect than the values it represents. If America isn’t its values, if it’s just the flag, then we are no different from any other country. We’re no better and deserve nothing better.
You wouldn’t have bought that shit in 1942. You wouldn’t have bought that shit in 1862. If someone handed you that shit then, you wouldn’t tolerate them. This is just such a moment.
Wars, when they come, must be fought. Those who would use my tolerance to impose their intolerance must be resisted. That’s true for everyone until the war is over and the emergency has passed.