Commentary

The right spits up a new American idol

November 21, 2021 6:30 am

For behold, a star is born. (Photo by Sean Krajacic -Pool/Getty Images)

Weapons worship is woven into our society.

And the comfort with which a significant portion of the population denies structural racism is matched only by the bitterness with which they try to cling to it.

Little wonder that white gun culture occupies a hallowed presence in the judicial system (reinforced of course by a perverse interpretation and application of an 18th century legal provision regarding state militias).

And so we get Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal, in which vigilante violence is sweepingly condoned. The verdict is confounding and maddening from rational and humane standpoints. But probably defensible on technically legal ones. Or so say a lot of expert-texperts anyway.

What’s not defensible is white jubilation over the verdict, and white celebration of an extremely reckless adolescent who went way, way, way out of his way, armed not only with a gun, but with a readiness to kill people, which is what he ended up doing.

It’s understandable that Rittenhouse’s acquittal is met with a sense of approval and relief on the white right. After all, these people and their culture are what spits up a Rittenhouse in the first place.

But then, instead of having even the slightest remorse over their creation and his actions, or signaling any concern about copycats who are fantasizing that Tucker Carlson will make a documentary about them too, the white right deifies and idolizes Rittenhouse? That reflects a mindset even less mature than Rittenhouse’s. And much more malevolent.

***

Throwback thaw. This week started with the Democrats getting what they had been pining for: A big bipartisan bill, signed, sealed, delivered and enacted into law, so they could show voters how grown up they are.

Bipartisan congressional support for spending money on roads, bridges and the like has been abundant for ages. In these perniciously polarized times, infrastructure legislation has been a uniquely low-hanging legislative fruit.

And yet the most notable infrastructure-related achievement produced by Trump and his Republicans was the “infrastructure week” punchline.

Perhaps Trump wasn’t all that interested in the issue. And who could blame him? His base’s top priority wasn’t infrastructure legislation or any legislation at all. His base’s top priority was/is sticking it to the libs.

No one expects the actual projects funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law to be far enough along to grab the attention of voters in 2022. (And the Build Back Better legislation passed by the House at the end of the week – watered down and about to get watered down some more in the Senate  – may have only one immediately noticeable impact, continuation of direct monthly payments via the child tax credit, which are scheduled to expire at the end of this year.)

But watching a little bit of Monday’s signing ceremony brought on a tinge of nostalgia. Elected officials from both parties were congratulating each other on the enactment of a significant piece of legislation with long-term beneficial consequences for the country. We haven’t seen that for a while. And who knows when we will again.

***

Nevada doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Your state lawmakers, well, the Democratic ones anyway, greased the skids and approved new political boundaries for themselves and the state’s congressional delegation.

Zero people testified in support of the maps the Democrats approved. Which was fitting, because zero is also the number of  f**ks exhibited by Democratic leadership for what anyone thinks about their maps or the process by which they rammed them through.

And what of Republicans? They are grousing, as is not only their right but also their obligation on behalf of their supporters. Grouse on, GOP, grouse on. And maybe sue.

But in the end, this is the 21st century and all politics is national. So as Nevada Republicans complain about their unfair treatment and the obvious Democratic efforts to secure partisan advantage — the darned politics or it all — they may want to consider what their fellow Republicans in other states are up to, unfair partisan-advantage-wise. In GOP-controlled states, Republican state legislators are drawing maps “that are more distorted, more disjointed and more gerrymandered than any since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.” The not unlikely result: the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives in next year’s election is already being decided in the GOP’s favor.

Although Nevada is a small state with only four congressional districts, every little bit helps. So does doing everything legally possible to shore up Democratic control of the Legislature — especially if Republicans win all the other things, at which point Democratically controlled legislatures will be called on to serve as some manner of shield from rampant Trumpism, at least on some issues.

In a nation where Wyoming has the same number of U.S. senators as California, and where Republicans have lost the popular vote in (counts fingers) five of the last six presidential elections and yet the Republican was installed as president on two of those occasions anyway, the very structures of our political system are perverse, to the benefit of Republicans.

Now combine all that antiquated structural political dysfunction with contemporary Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters and seize control over election procedures so as to overturn results if they lose. However aesthetically unpleasant, Democrats in Nevada and nationwide have not only the right, but an obligation to pursue every procedurally legal means to serve their electoral advantage.

To whatever degree Nevada Republicans are aggrieved or even personally offended by the manner in which the maps were drawn in Nevada, they shouldn’t take it personally. It’s isn’t really about them. It isn’t even really about Nevada.

***

The Circus is coming (maybe). Trump told some corner of the internet that he is coming to Nevada. So the Review-Journal followed up and Trump told the paper yes, he is coming to Nevada, because of his bromance with Adam Laxalt. Who of course is swooning. Asked to respond, Democrats said oh hi did you see our infrastructure week?

No dates are set for the Dear Leader’s show, and he’s a flibbertigibbet so who knows when it will be. But hopefully Trump will come to Nevada many many times over the next year to campaign for Laxalt and all the other Republicans too. As of now it looks like 2022 is going to be a tough year for Democrats, so they can use all the help they can get.

(The above items are excerpts, some lightly massaged, others more heavily, of material published in the Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.)

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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