The essence of prejudice is the unequal measurement of the qualities, achievements and failings of two groups of people. Prejudiced people use a trick scale — one that always tilts in their favor. It always measures the failings of themselves and the group of people they belong to as slight, the successes of their group of people as tremendously weighty and the character of their group of people as perfectly balanced. Conversely, this same scale weighs the achievements of those outside their group as feather light, the character of those outside their group as immeasurably unbalanced and the failings of those outside their group as an anchor weighing down the world. What’s more, it’s a scale that weighs the evidence of achievements and failures the same way so that the prejudiced person can deny the achievements of others, and their own failings, or imagine failings in others where there are none.
This is the kind of scale Republicans use to measure the behavior of their leaders and the behavior of Democrats leaders. For proof, just compare their reaction to any number of accusations of improper behavior against Democratic leaders over the last 20 years with their reaction to the accusations against any number of Republican figures in the same time period. Especially examine their reaction to the accusations against Donald Trump.
As I write this, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan is in the impeachment hearings on the floor of Congress asking Democrats why there’s no discussion of what he says was partisan interference in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats — namely the FBI’s investigation into the Trump’s campaign that year. He apparently can’t see the irony of that statement given that Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent, was also investigated that year, twice, and that her investigation was announced in public and likely hurt her at the ballot box while the Trump investigation was kept quiet. Republicans didn’t see any value in discussing that because she’s a Democrat, but Jordan thinks we should all see value in discussing the investigation of Trump. Jordan and his fellow Republican are so blind to their own partisanship, that they can’t see the outrageousness of defending Trump’s attempt to create a partisan foreign investigation against a Democrat by complaining about a supposedly partisan investigation into Trump.
Other Republican committee members are bringing up the accusations against Hillary Clinton on Benghazi and against Obama regarding the Fast and Furious gun sales investigation, which they recount as if both Clinton and Obama were found guilty of something when in fact they were not. Republicans conducted 7 investigations on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi with all those investigations run and led by Republican dominated committee. Yet they found nothing criminal on Clinton’s part. The investigation into Fast and Furious by the committee chaired by Republican Darrel Issa likewise found no wrongdoing on Obama’s part. But such is the prejudiced mindset of Republicans, that no number of investigations, no amount of evidence is ever enough to clear a Democrat. They always just ‘know’ that somewhere, somehow a Democrat must be guilty. They know it because their prejudice against Democrats — as people — tells them so.
At the same time, they always just “know” that Republicans are innocent victims of some kind of Democratic scheme. They’ve dismissed all the evidence against Trump in the Ukraine scandal out of hand on the basis of little more than it having been presented by Democrats. Seventeen witnesses have come forth and risked their jobs to do so in some cases, but in the minds of Republicans this evidence has no weight on the scales of justice. In fact, they repeat over and over that no evidence of wrongdoing exists at all. They likewise have insisted that the Mueller investigation, which found clear evidence of obstruction of justice, was partisan. An Inspector General report found that it wasn’t, but the IG’s conclusion counts for nothing in their eyes, instead they say, in the words of Trump’s loyalist attorney general William Barr, that the report actually showed the investigation was started on the thinnest of evidence for partisan reasons. And this they insist, was an outrage.
At the same time, one of their primary defenses of Donald Trump’s requests for Ukraine to investigate Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son continues to be that the Bidens’ deserved to be investigated. No matter that the evidence of anything criminal is not only thin, it’s highly suspect. This is a Democrat. So the evidence is weighed differently in their minds. What “evidence” exists is from a former Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden got fired for being soft on corruption and who therefore has an axe to grind, and several pro-Russian Ukrainian legislators who arguably have their own agendas. The most prominent of them is a graduate of Russia’s premier school for spies.
It also doesn’t appear to matter to Republicans that the origins of this investigation into a Democratic presidential candidate, Biden, would have been a Republican President and his supporting Republican lawyer and a big money Republican donor. It doesn’t matter to them if the origins of an investigation into a Democrat are partisan. Investigating a Democrat is always righteous.
But investigating a Republican is always a conspiracy and no amount of evidence is enough to find a major Republican figure guilty enough to warrant punishment. This is a party that continually denies or distorts evidence against Republicans, exaggerates evidence against Democrats and weighs the significance of the behaviors of Republicans and Democrats very differently.
It’s the party that keeps saying over and over again that the Mueller report cleared President Trump of wrongdoing even though the report states clearly, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”.
It’s the party that didn’t care about the use of private email servers by President George W. Bush’s administration, but thought Hillary Clinton should be locked up for using one. This is the party that didn’t care about the use of private email servers by President George W. Bush’s administration, but thought Hillary Clinton should be locked up for using one.
It’s the party that doesn’t care about the current administration’s use of private email servers.
It’s the party that railed against Hillary Clinton for supposedly criminal failure to protect classified information, but has refused to even investigate Trump’s use of an unsecured phone, his discussion of classified information in public places, his impromptu declassification of secrets on occasion, or his granting of security clearances to people who were denied clearances by the usual process used to determine who gets them.
It’s the party that defended George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program in the 2000s and helped create the FISA court, but now sees conspiracy in mistakes made in FISA applications to surveille a Republican, Carter Page. They didn’t care when the surveillance was of law-abiding American citizens opposed to US wars. After all, those people were probably liberals or Democrats.
This is the party whose press organs to this day call Obama a criminal for serving during the failed Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation at the FBI, but who ignore that this type of gunwalking operation started under Republican President Bush.
It’s the party that practically celebrated Rep. Gregory Richard Gianforte when he body slammed a journalist for asking a question, an act for which he was ultimately convicted of assault. It’s the party that constantly accuses Democrats of voter fraud without providing any evidence but fought hard against holding a new election for a North Carolina Congressional seat when incontrovertible evidence of fraud by a Republican candidate emerged. It’s the party now concerned about politically motivated investigations, but which didn’t care when the Bush administration fired 7 Attorney Generals for what the Inspector General’s office determined were politically motivated reasons. It’s the party that held Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents to a Congressional investigation after Obama claimed executive privilege on them but voted against holding Republican Attorney General William Barr in contempt for the same thing. It’s the party that also doesn’t seem to care that the President is now asserting the right to withhold all documents for any reason and that he is above investigation, but still talks about Obama’s responses to investigations as stonewalling and evidence of his criminality. It’s the party that mostly defended Republican Tom Delay in the 2000s against ethics complaints and whose Texas judges overturned a jury conviction of him for illegal campaign contributions on a party line vote. This is the party that defended Clive Bundy in a standoff with federal law enforcement over his illegal use of federal lands. This is the party that celebrated Oliver North’s violations of law in the 1980s and made him a hero. This is also the party that weakened the ethics committee rules in the House on a party line vote when it took control in 2004 and tried to weaken an independent ethics office when it took control of the House again in 2017.
This is a party that doesn’t care about the law or ethics except when it’s useful as a political weapon against Democrats and Liberals.
Democrats, on the other hand, forced Senator Al Franken to resign over sexual harassment allegations. Just this year, freshman Congressional Democrat Katie Hill was forced to resign over an affair that violated House ethics rules despite the fact that the House was controlled by Democrats. The last impeachment proceeding in the Senate was against a judge appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton and it was Democrat Adam Schiff who prosecuted that impeachment. Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, opposed an effort to reduce the response to ethics violations by leading Democrat Charles Rangel from a censure to a reprimand and Rangel was censured with Democratic support. Democrats mostly condemned Bill Clinton’s behavior in the fight over his impeachment. They just wanted him to be censured or prosecuted after he left office rather than impeached. Democrats are willing to discipline even important figures in the party when ethics or the law make a compelling case for it. (just not in response to GOP conspiracy theories).
The standard being put forth by Republicans is that partisan investigations are fine if those investigations target Democrats, but that it’s an outrage if even some of the investigators in an investigation of a Republican president are Democrats or have expressed dislike of the President. The standard of evidence for launching an investigation of a Democratic Presidential candidate in their view should be mere suspicion while the standard of evidence for launching an investigation of a Republican President cannot be met even when that President’s own public statements appear to provide evidence of wrongdoing.
What’s more, they insist that any report or investigation of a Republican always exonerates a Republican even when it explicitly says, as the Mueller report did, that it doesn’t. Republicans in the House have repeatedly insisted that the impeachment hearings have cleared the president when the testimony has actually been damning, sometime going so far as to insist that the words in the transcripts of the President’s phone call with the Ukrainian President don’t mean what plain English definitions would have them mean.
After the Mueller report, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham insisted, “it’s over,” meaning that there should be no more investigations of Trump. Republicans seek to set the standard that a Republican should only ever be investigated once when there are allegations and then it’s over no matter the outcome and no matter how much they limited the scope. But they want Democrats investigated forever and broadly. Republicans investigated both Bill and Hillary Clinton and Obama every year they were in office about things personal to public, prior to their tenure and during it, and continued even when they continually found nothing. (The investigation into the Lewinsky affair for which Clinton was impeached wasn’t until the middle of his second term). They launched 7 investigations of Hillary Clinton over the attacks on the US embassy in Benghazi. None of them found wrongdoing, but it’s not hard to still find Republicans still asserting her guilt to this day. In fact, one of them did so in the impeachment hearings.
The same is true of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and an unsecured private phone. Two investigations have found she did nothing wrong, but that won’t stop Republican media from continually calling her a criminal. Meanwhile, President Trump has used a personal unsecured cell phone for official business for much of his presidency and several of his staff use personal private email servers, but Republicans don’t care. It’s only wrong when Democrats do it.
This is not mere hypocrisy. It’s prejudice.
What’s more, it’s a strategy. For years and with ever increasing ferocity, the Republican Party in concert with the right-wing press has engaged in the deliberate promotion of prejudice through lying and propaganda aimed at denigrating Democrats and liberals as a group of people. We need to come to terms with the fact that Republicans aren’t really arguing against Democratic policies or even liberal ideology. Trump has been quite willing to adopt liberal stances on issues around free trade, foreign intervention and the preservation of Social Security and Medicare. Republicans always stop caring about deficits once a Republican is in office.
The argument Republicans are making all the time is against Democrats and liberals as a group and as a people. Our history has made seeking political power by pitting one part of a population against another on the basis of race or religion repugnant. But the Republican Party has reimagined this strategy using the labels of Democrat and Liberal, Republican and Conservative as tribal groupings that they can pit against each other using the same kind of tactics previously used to pit people against each other on the basis of race and religion. And it shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice that the groups encompassed by the Democratic and liberal labels also tend to include all the people that were traditionally targeted on the basis of race and religion.
The trick of the new Republican tactic is that, on the surface, it looks like they’re simply arguing for the superiority of one party or one ideology’s vision for the country over the other, but look more closely and you see the true game. They’re in fact arguing that Democrats as a people are evil.
Books like Dinesh D’Souza’s “Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party” and Ann Coulter’s “Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism” aren’t meant to argue for a policy or even an ideology. They’re meant to destroy the reputation of Democrats and liberals as a group.
As conservative writer Andrew Sullivan observed years ago: “In [Ann] Coulter’s world, there are two types of people: conservatives and liberals. These aren’t groups of people with competing ideas. They are the repositories of good and evil.”
And even though they are making very serious charges against a whole group of people, these authors are extremely careless with both the facts and analysis. D’Souza’s work spins conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory from the thinnest of facts in order to label liberals and Democrats criminals as a group.
Coulter just gets facts wrong. As Sullivan further noted in his piece, “One of the most reputable scholars who has studied the McCarthy era in great detail, Ron Radosh, is appalled at the damage Coulter has done to the work he and many others have painstakingly done over the years. “I am furious and upset about her book,” he told me last week. “I am reading it — she uses my stuff, Harvey Klehr and John Haynes, Allen Weinstein etc. to distort what we actually say and to make ludicrous and historically incorrect arguments.”
As writer Joe Conason observed, “So replete is “Treason” with falsehoods and distortions, as well as so much plain bullshit, that it may well create a cottage industry of corrective fact-checking, just as “Slander” did last year. … So far the Spinsanity sages have found “at least five factual claims that are indisputably false” in “Treason,” along with the usual Coulter techniques of phony quotation, misleading sourcing, and sentences ripped from context or falsely attributed.”
One of the hallmarks of prejudicial thinking is to apply the failings of individuals who belong to a group of people to all the people in that group and it’s not hard to find examples of this in right-wing media either. Below, for instance, is a link to TowhHall.com promoting an article that claims the Democratic Party is a criminal enterprise because some of its members have been caught committing crimes.
But look at a list of political scandals and one can see that there are plenty of Republican names, which right-wing media doesn’t see as saying anything about Republicans as a group.
In another example, a TownHall article used a scandal in little league baseball as a jumping off point to argue for the basic dishonesty of all Democrats. This is a constant refrain in the right-wing media.
Of course, The most blatant of the prejudicial propaganda that runs through the web is the QAnon stuff, which has even claimed that Democrats eat children in what can only be seen as straight up blood libel.
Many more examples can be found as they are produced on almost a daily basis.
But the most prejudicial thing about the current Republican and right-wing mindset is the views they express about prejudice itself. When Democrats complain about bias against them in proceedings, Republicans deny it, dismiss it and denigrate it as they did even when one of their own staff members sued the Benghazi committee, saying he was fired for refusing to conduct his examination of the facts in a partisan way.
When Democrats allege bias on the basis of race or gender, Republicans call it playing the race card. And what they mean by that is that the possibility that sometimes charges of race bias are wrong, politically motivated or overblown means that all charges of bias Democrats allege on that basis are to be assumed as wrong, politically motivated and overblown. And of course, any charges of bias on any other basis alleged by Democrats is also to be assumed to be politically motivated.
Yet Republicans are playing the bias card ALL, THE, TIME. They are obsessed with bias against themselves, as is evidenced by their constant complaints about the supposed bias of mainstream media outlets and even mainstream fact checking outlets.
Their primary response to the impeachment has been to play the bias card. They insist that the rules by which the House Democrats are running the impeachment investigation are unprecedented in their unfairness and bias against the President, some even likening the process to that of the show trials of Stalinist Russia or the Salem Witch Trials. Yet the rules by which Schiff’s committee ran its investigation were actually written by the Republicans and the rules for impeachment were pretty close to those used in past impeachments.
What’s clear is that Republicans aren’t arguing for objectivity when they make these claims of bias. They don’t ever propose a solution to the problem. They don’t propose a standard of objectivity or a process by which an objective understanding could be reached. They don’t propose a fair process. Instead, they use bias as a way to tell people to only trust them and distrust everyone else.
They’ve created their own media outlets that are grossly and blatantly biased in favor of their point of view and out-right defamatory toward Democrats and liberals. A lot of the characterizations of Democrats and liberals in right wing media are lies, half-truths or gross exaggerations, but it works because they’re able to produce so much of it so quickly that it become impossible for anyone to correct it all and impossible to reach the same audience with those correction. Moreover, they’re very good at building their lies and half-truths into a narrative that sounds plausible and tells the reader that they are a hero in a story against a great evil. It tells the reader a story they want to hear — a story about themselves.
The purpose of the Republican complaint about bias is to justify their own bias, not fix the bias problem. In fact, they want to promote bias. If they can establish a biased social and government regime, particularly in the area of law enforcement, they can make their bias against Democrats and liberals appear true with biased law enforcement and criminal convictions in much the way that prejudiced law enforcement toward African Americans has made them look like a people with unusually high criminal tendencies for decades. This is, in fact, how Putin rules Russia, As I’ve argue previously, it’s the clearest way to establish tyranny in the United States for those who are not part of the Republican cultural group while maintaining the semblance of democracy and freedom. https://medium.com/@unumepluribus/trump-gop-path-to-tyranny-comes-into-focus-daafd6e0e9fa
A common statement of people who actually believe in the principals this country was founded on is to say that they disagree with their political opponent, but they will fight for that opponent’s rights nonetheless. It’s clear that the Republican Party won’t. It’s a party fighting for the rights of its members only. It’s fighting for the right of its members to rule over the rest of us.