The time for polite dialogue with the political right is over

The time for polite dialogue with the political right is over

- in Top Story, Weekly Briefing
Image: Adobe Stock

Supreme Court hypocrisy, effort to infiltrate progressive NC groups ought to be the last straws

It should have been obvious to anyone paying attention as far back as the fall of 2000. During those grim days and weeks of raw and cynical political thievery that followed the Bush v. Gore presidential election, the modern, extreme, win-at-all-costs American political right fully announced itself as a movement with no time for quaint niceties like fairness, precedent and the rule of law.

It was at that moment that progressives should have learned the lesson that all the right’s talk of “dialogue” and “civility” was a mere ploy – a tactic to provide a distraction and a cloak of respectability while the movement’s media talking heads, “think tank” denizens, corporate-funded lobbyists and elected officeholders did whatever it took to rewrite the national political contract.

The lessons kept coming at a rapid pace in the years that followed – from the lies and deceptions surrounding the invasion of Iraq to the racism-fueled efforts to undermine the Obama presidency before it even began, to the preposterous blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, to the movement’s full flowering in the serial dishonesty of the Trump White House.

Here in North Carolina, we saw the same phenomena play out in the repeated unconstitutional powerplays of Republican legislative leaders, the voter suppression and gerrymandering schemes and dozens of incidents like the infamous Sept. 11, 2019, House budget veto override vote.

And still, through it all, many caring and thinking progressives continued to naively fall for the right’s supposed desire for a “contest of ideas.” When respectable institutions convened confabs and retreats in which conservative extremists who spent most of their days dishing up red meat and fueling paranoid conspiracy theories to delusional audiences were allowed to launder their rhetoric and feign responsibility, progressives dutifully showed up, shook hands and smiled.

Maybe – just maybe – the events of recent days will, at long last, put an end to this decades-long delusion – at least for North Carolina progressives. Lord knows, it ought to.

Topping the list, of course, is the stunning treachery and hypocrisy that has followed last Friday’s death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

More than four and-a-half years ago, in the winter of 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died – almost a full year prior to the end of the Obama presidency – conservatives shamelessly refused to even allow the consideration of Obama’s nominee, a moderate and highly qualified appeals court judge named Merrick Garland.

Republican senator after Republican senator soberly intoned as to the inappropriateness of a “rush to judgment” on such a vital matter during an election year.

North Carolina’s Thom Tillis was typical when he stated that “The campaign is already under way. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”

Today – surprise! – they’re singing a radically different tune. The same men and women who blocked the Garland nomination are now ready to proceed with an absurdly rapid confirmation process for a Trump nominee – perhaps even in a post-election, lame duck session after Trump has lost the election.

Meanwhile, as Tillis, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators pursue their unabashed perfidy in the glare of Washington klieg lights, another branch of the modern conservative movement has been toiling under the radar, pursuing similarly dishonest, if less-well-publicized work. This fact was on display last week with the remarkable revelation that a right-wing operative with ties to the national conservative establishment had tried to infiltrate multiple good government groups in North Carolina.

As Policy Watch journalist Lisa Sorg reported on Sept. 18, the would-be infiltrator – a man using the name “James Fortune” – has ties to many far-right political operatives, some as high-level as a one-time member of the Trump White House.

What’s more, the tactic “Fortune” employed – attempting to deceptively ingratiate himself through the offering of financial contributions – is similar to that often used by Project Veritas, a notorious right-wing operation that has long used dishonest tactics in an effort to infiltrate progressive organizations and Democratic campaigns in hopes of catching them in (or prodding them into) some sort of unlawful activity.

In other words, both of these seemingly disparate incidents are actually right out of the same nefarious, “ends justify the means” game plan – a scheme to remake our nation and the Constitution through the repeated and strategic use of hypocrisy and deceit.

If there’s any fire left in the belly of the progressive movement, these incidents will serve as a final wake-up call – a last clear signal that the time for polite and civilized dialogue with the right has become all but impossible.

Simply put: Now is the time for caring and thinking people to fight like hell to save our country from those who would lie, cheat and steal their way to power.