Normalizing Cruelty: The Mainstreaming of Authoritarianism and What It Reveals
What Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott did was bad enough. But watching the media legitimize their exploitation and cruelty was even worse.
This Sunday, September 18th, at 8pm eastern will mark the return of my Bourbon Talk Political Q&A Livestream. I’ll be getting deeper into this tragedy and taking your questions. If you’ve never watched before, you should tune in for frank discussion and communal solidarity. We need to get on the same page regarding the forces at play and what we can do to turn them back.
It’s almost impossible to put yourself into the mindset.
Whatever possessed Republican governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott to hatch this cruel plot to transport asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard and Vice-President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington, D.C. is almost beyond actual comprehension. And every piece of information that’s come out since - that these poor people were lured with false promises, that COVID relief funds were employed, GOP donors were notified beforehand while authorities were intentionally left in the dark - is only more damning and more repulsive.
We should expect better, but sadly we cannot. The Republican Party is simply irredeemable. It has collapsed in on itself and jettisoned every espoused principle it ever claimed to have and embraced power-for-the-sake-of-power as its only creed and operating intent. There is nothing morally or ethically defensible in any of this. This isn’t about immigration or national security or fiscal conservatism or anything else besides bald-faced cruelty for the sake of cruelty. It is about scoring points with a base that celebrates the suffering of its enemies.
As bad as this is, and it is very, very bad, the obviousness of the act can only be examined so long. It is the equivalent of debating the exact nature and tone of a blue sky. Objectively, we understand the blueness. We feel the blueness. We are repulsed by the overtness of the blueness. And if you need any more proof of exactly how sadistic these people are, how uncaring they can be, and how precisely and happily they wield brutality in order to curry favor or, even more disturbing, how much they must enjoy wielding that brutality, this moment should provide more than enough proof.
What we must talk about, however, is what these actions have revealed about our culture and where we stand. This unequivocal trespass should have been summarily decried.
But of course, it wasn’t.
It was a “doubling down.” A “move.” A “dump” with “political risks.” The media called it a “protest.” Major outlets wasted no time treating this as if it were reasonable response to border policies or an ongoing crisis.
This was everywhere and what got lost were the dozens of human beings who were manipulated, maneuvered, used as pawns in a political game that never, not once, gave their fates a consideration. It was one of the most coldhearted stunts imaginable and, in predictable fashion, our media failed to cover it appropriately.
So. Why did this happen? And why is CNN moving right? Why is DeSantis and his authoritarianism being laundered?
Exactly what are we watching here?