Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say.
Well, actually no, that’s never true, I always have plenty to say. It’s just that sometimes there’s so much to say that I get tongue-tied. In the case of the impeachment hearing Wednesday, with all that horrible footage of psychos rampaging through the Capitol, I find myself clogged with outrage.
One of the things that forced me to be a writer (God knows I resisted it for years) was a need to isolate, name, and describe things that bugged me, to keep them from driving me crazy. It works pretty well most of the time; it slows me down, makes me think, gives me perspective. If you’re basically white-knuckling it through life, it makes for a very useful discipline.
But the insurrection tapes (Delegate Stacey Plaskett’s presentation here; Rep. Eric Swalwell’s presentation here) were something else. They were only slightly different than what I’d seen before — not really different in quality, though with much more visual evidence of psychotic, targeted violence and added, unsettling details. There was, for example, this creep, roaming down an empty hallway as his buddies yammered behind him, calling out in a singsong voice, Oh Nancy, Nancy, where are you Nancy…
I heard more than one woman talk about how that particular scene, with that obviously sexualized threat of violence, made them freeze up. There was the silly tone, added to give it that WHAT? I’M JUST MAKING A JOKE CAN’T YOU TAKE A JOKE element that is at the very heart of the whole MAGA phenomenon – and of all violent abuser logic – as well as the insistence that hey, we’re not committing the atrocity that we are very clearing committing, you should agree we’re not committing it because of “unity” (which you Democrats say you believe in!) because we Republicans already announced that we won’t convict him no matter what the evidence is, and, anyway, bitch, no one will believe you – an angle that came more sharply into focus when I saw this:
What I saw yesterday reminded me of the times I went among the Trumpkins in Washington – at their religious revival in September that explicitly and ominously referenced the storming of Jericho, and at their post-election Stop-the-Steal ragefests in November and December, where some of the soreheads in the streets were no doubt taking notes for their planned coup on January 6. Like I said about that last one: It’s not how far they’ll go to make their fantasy real, it’s how far they'll get.
It wasn’t just the ugliness of the insurrection evidence that left me speechless; it was also the imbecilic and mendacious responses of the people I knew either actively supported the insurrection or lamented its failure. That goes for Trump, of course, and for elected Republican Trumpkins like Senator Mike “I have no idea why Trump called me on Coup Day” Lee, and for the craven Oh Yeah What About BLM Riots Twitter shits. I knew this based on a long lifetime of experience with people exactly like them; I knew it based on their current drive to suppress likely Democratic voters by any means necessary and to prevent young people from ever learning the historical truth about how badly their philosophical forebears fucked up the country because they know that both democracy and the truth are enemies of their power.
In other words, as terrible as their failed coup was, it was only a more visible and repellent manifestation of their ongoing efforts – largely successful! – to make this country a fascist shithole, where nearly all our vast riches go to scumbags like Trump and millions are left to starve, sicken, and waste away, and only propaganda keeps the bastards from being swarmed and torn to pieces, which is why they flail and shriek about “cancel culture” whenever anyone gets close to tearing down that bulwark of bullshit that protects them.
I guess that’s really what made my gorge rise: The thought that even this extraordinary ugliness is just a symptom of something so dishearteningly huge that my voice can’t possibly make a dent in it.
I keep trying, though, and who knows, maybe I’m wrong.