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Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Kevin McCarthy, Social Security, SOTU
President Biden exposes the real intentions of the Republican Party. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was back this week with what she does best: trying to gaslight the American people. In the process, she demonstrated that the GOP is all about fear mongering and offers little of substance.

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– OPINION –

The most newsworthy event that occurred Tuesday night was not anything that President Joe Biden said during his State of the Union address nor the fact that he was heckled by some Republican lawmakers. It was that Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke the truth.

These days, that is pretty remarkable for any Republican, but especially so for Sanders. As White House press secretary under President Donald Trump, she didn’t bother with trying to deflect questions or carefully mincing words; she just lied. One can’t really blame her since that was the MO of her boss and just about everybody else in his administration.

On Tuesday, as the new governor of Arkansas, she was tasked with giving the GOP’s response to Biden’s address. Traditionally, this is an opportunity for the opposition party to lay out its own vision for the country and to steal a bit of the spotlight from the president.

That’s not what Sanders did, though.

Her rambling monologue was a cross between something you’d hear from a drunk holding a “The end is near” sign on Times Square, a QAnon thread, a Fox “News” story meeting, and a Saturday Night Live segment in which the comedy show spoofs Sanders.

In roughly 15 minutes, she didn’t offer anything even coming close to resembling a concrete plan. Instead, it was just the fearmongering that has become the one and only tool in the Republican arsenal. The “dangerous border crisis,” “violent criminals [roaming] free,” “out-of-control inflation,” kids who are “taught to hate one another” — the GOP’s America is a bleak place. Fortunately, it only exists in the minds of anybody watching Fox.

And, of course, Sanders spent a bit of time talking about a “woke mob” and “radical” Democrats who launched a “left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”

Coulda fooled me, Sarah! Because, while the FOX-led GOP is all about fighting that culture war, most Democrats would rather stay on the sidelines of it — precisely because these “woke” issues are fueling the right-wing hate machine.

Sanders did provide moments of levity. As we frequently point out in this space, Republicans are masters when it comes to hypocrisy — and the former White House press secretary didn’t disappoint.

“Democrats want to rule us with more government control, but that is not who we are,” she said. Less than three minutes later, completely unironically, Sanders followed that up with bragging about banning “CRT, racism, and indoctrination” in Arkansas as well as eliminating “the derogatory term ‘Latinx’ in our government.”

But these aren’t the problems that the GOP wants to fix. No matter how much its leaders want to gaslight voters into believing otherwise, they don’t want to talk about crumbling bridges, the millions who are uninsured, or how American workers don’t get to enjoy any of the perks that are commonplace elsewhere.

Nothing says “we are the party of less government control” better than banning educational concepts and words.

Let’s briefly look at the term “Latinx” to illustrate who is actually fighting culture wars. Hardly anybody, including Hispanics, has heard of it and even fewer people use it. There is no doubt that there is a radical element on the left that wants to mandate how people behave and think. But, generally, these are college students and other super progressives.

This demonstrates another crucial difference between the two parties: On the left, this is a “bottom-up” approach where members of the base want to tell others how to think and behave. On the right, it’s Republican leaders who want to force people how to think and behave through legislation. 

For example, here is what Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) has to say on this issue: “To be clear my office is not allowed to use ‘Latinx’ in official communications. When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.”

Yes, others, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who falls in that “super progressives” category, said Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to use “Latinx.”

However, in the same breath, she also said: “If putting a little ‘x’ on your campaign literature is the difference between winning and losing an election, you need to talk about health care more, you need to raise people’s wages. You need to talk about more issues that also matter to people.”

And that’s the difference right there. These cultural issues are not at the center of the Democrats’ agenda. On the other hand, it’s all Republicans want to talk about.

Still, in her address, Sanders tried to gaslight Americans into thinking it’s the other way around. Repeatedly, she made the case that the Biden administration “has been completely hijacked by the radical left.”

There are plenty of valid criticisms of Biden, but “[surrendering] his presidency to a woke mob” isn’t one of them.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders caricature by DonkeyHotey. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

That brings us to another point. With their gaslighting, hypocrisy, and insanity, Republicans have made it very difficult to point out the (many) things that are wrong with Democrats right now, because there is no equivalency anymore.

It’s tough to criticize one side for not going to bat for democracy when the other side supports a coup. It’s difficult to call out MSNBC for shoddy reporting when Fox not only serves as an unabashed propaganda arm of the GOP but also sets the party’s agenda with its programming decisions. It seems ridiculous to call out Biden for embellishments when his predecessor couldn’t get through five sentences without telling a blatant lie.

We would love to write more about the shortcomings of Biden, the Democrats, and the liberal media, instead of pointing out how terrible Trump, the GOP, and Fox are. But only one party poses a clear and present danger to democracy, the country, and the world.

So here we are, once again pointing out that all Republicans have to offer is scaremongering.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t serious problems. The US has fallen far behind its peers when it comes to infrastructure, education, health care, quality of life, and any number of other areas.

But these aren’t the problems that the GOP wants to fix. No matter how much its leaders want to gaslight voters into believing otherwise, they don’t want to talk about crumbling bridges, the millions who are uninsured, or how American workers don’t get to enjoy any of the perks that are commonplace elsewhere.

Instead, they want to talk about who should be on swim teams, caravans of migrants, “grooming” children, and an imaginary increase in violent crime. Well, unless one of their own clubs an 82-year-old man in the head with a hammer. Then they want to talk about anything but crime.

And that brings us back to the one true thing Sanders said in her address: “The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy.”

While that was likely more gaslighting rather than a rare moment of introspection, it is the one thing we can agree on.


The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Joe Biden caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), Kamala Harris caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Kevin McCarthy caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), tin foil hat (Happy Worker / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), glasses and mustache  (Marco Verch Professional Photographer / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), mtg (GOP / Wikimedia), cigar (Ankarino / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), popcorn (Jackie Matthews / Pixabay), background (The White House).


Authors

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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  • DonkeyHotey

    DonkeyHotey creates art to illustrate news articles and opinion pieces. His current work is a combination of caricature, photo collage, and photo manipulation.

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