Republicans like to let symbols do their thinking for them. It makes them easy to spot. They’re the ones who like to wave American flags, wear red hats, brandish Trump flags and, all too often and all too alarmingly, sport Confederate flags on their pickup trucks and even have swastika tattoos on their arms. They also like to speak in slogans and chants as a shortcut to thinking: Make America great again. Lock her up. Let’s go Brandon.
But you can’t run a viable political ideology on symbols and slogans alone, any more than you can get a viable dinner from a restaurant menu. It inevitably leads to hypocrisy and other contradictions. For example, Republicans are fuzzy about what socialism is. All they think they know about it is it’s evil and Democrats seem to be in favor of it.
Their naive understanding of the term is laughable, of course. As with critical race theory, all you need do with socialism is ask a Republican irresponsibly abusing the word to define it. Sometimes in an inarticulate scramble to discredit the ideas behind socialism they will point out that Nazi Germany was socialist because they were called “National Socialists.” Such people would be surprised to learn that a titmouse is a bird.
After fighting the last several months to end unemployment benefits for Americans on the spurious notion that unemployment benefits were making Americans lazy, Republicans are now positing the idea of paying Americans not to get vaccinated. Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have recently extended unemployment benefits to workers who are fired or quit over their employers’ vaccine requirements.
Normally unemployment benefits are not available for workers who are fired for cause. Republicans are attempting to make vaccine hesitancy into a legitimate position. That’s right, the pro-life party, the party of personal responsibility, wants to reward people for not getting vaccinated against an insidious and sometimes deadly disease. I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like they’re trying to subsidize not just laziness but stupidity. And isn’t that what Republicans usually mean by “socialism?” And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.