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It's Friday afternoon, no one's reading Twitter, so it's a good time for a THREAD. I wanna try to capture some recent thoughts I've been having & figure out if they're worth writing a Real Piece on.

Our subject today: WTF are Republicans doing? No, seriously. WTF.
Rs have acquiesced to a policy on the virus that amounts to letting it run rampant through the population, killing over 1000 people a day. They've more or less abandoned efforts to contain it. Meanwhile, they're forcing people to go back to work & kids to go back to school.
Meanwhile, they are fighting to provide as little public help as possible to people, businesses, cities, & states suffering from the pandemic/lockdown. They want to minimize unemployment bennies, give nothing to cities & states, do nothing for landlords or renters.
Instead they want to shield businesses that force workers into unsafe conditions from lawsuits. Now, rather than meet Dems' minimal demands, they're just fucking off back home w/ no relief bill at all, for a month! Just going home!
Anyway, all that is familiar. The question is, WHY? Why are they doing this?

First, there's no conceivable ideological or economic rationale. None of the usual moral-hazard arguments apply. Unemployed ppl & suffering businesses aren't being lazy or shiftless ...
... they're beset by a virus, an entirely exogenous force that has nothing to do w/ their choices, for which they couldn't conceivably have any responsibility. None of the "fiscal responsibility" arguments apply. If there was ever any conceivable reason for deficit spending ...
... it's a giant exogenous crisis! What is controlling your own currency FOR if not to spend at a time like this? They aren't even offering a coherent argument for why cities & states shouldn't get aid. Pinheads like R. Paul & T. Cruz are opposing fed assistance based on ...
... a bizarre, kneejerk "gov't should never spend $$$" instinct that has no basis in any ideology or economics. Nor is anyone on the right even pretending to offer a coherent justification for forcing people back into schools/offices/bars when the damn pandemic is still raging.
And the wildest thing of all is, it isn't coherent ideology, it isn't good policy, it isn't good economics, but it *isn't good politics either*. It's not like they're sacrificing responsible governance in a bid for popularity. People HATE the shit they're doing!
People don't like being terrified of a virus. They don't like losing jobs, losing health care coverage, getting evicted (in the middle of said virus). People want help. They sure as fuck aren't clamoring for liability protections for businesses. As a million people have said ...
... the single best thing Rs could do to maximize their chances of winning the presidency & Congress is to get the virus under control -- and until then, write every American & small business a check every month. Big econ stimulus would save their political bacon!
So, collectively, their behavior makes no policy, economic, OR political sense. It is not to their benefit, in any way. Why the F are they doing it? Is it shady billionaire donors running the show? Kochs or whatever? I can't see how they're helped by this either. No one is.
The conclusion I've come to is that no one's in charge. They're not doing anything, per se. The party has lost all superego & runs entirely on id now - no strategy, no plan, no intentionality. All that's left is a bunch of tired tropes & instincts that haven't changed in decades.
You can see this in the pathetic campaign against Biden. He's senile & he's a manchurian candidate for socialists. Kamala is a diss to the left because Wall Street but also a secret leftist Trojan horse. None of it makes any larger sense.
It's all, as Lionel Trilling put it about the conservatives of his day, "irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas." There is no RW person or group w/ the power or incentive to think critically; the only incentive structure now is to pwn the libs for a news cycle.
If there were anyone in charge, anyone with a plan or policy program or overarching message, they wouldn't be doing what they're doing. No one, even McConnell can herd these cats. The party - from top electeds to think tankers to party officials to voters -- has become ...
... one big swarming mass of hack pundits competing to go viral. The movement/party is operating on its own hateful, paranoid logic now, not according to anyone's intentions. The terrifying implication is that there's no one with whom to negotiate. No one can steer the thing.
It's entirely possible that the GOP could drag the US down into utter wreckage even if every individual GOP leader would claim to want otherwise. They just can't stop it, any more than the rest of us can. It turns out you can't unloose a revanchist authoritarian movement ...
... & keep it neatly under control. Who knew.

Every US institution & leader should think long & hard about how they tolerated, coddled, normalized, amplified, & defended this movement -- & are still doing so. Our national tombstone may yet read: But Her Emails. </fin>
Well, @ezraklein went & did an excellent, heavily reported version of this 👆 thread ... & came to the same basic conclusion. There is no Republican plan. There is no agenda except mindless, kneejerk opposition to Ds. The party is broken & bankrupt.…
We are in the "conservatives find out they can't actually control the reactionary authoritarian they unleashed" stage of democratic decline. Right on schedule.
It's interesting to me how deeply, instinctively averse many people are to the "no one's in charge, shit is just happening" conclusion (about the GOP, but also generally). People would *much* rather believe there's some evil council of oligarchs in charge somewhere.
Even though, at this point, reverse-engineering a coherent Evil Plan out of what the GOP is doing requires some truly heroic leaps. "They're gonna kill everyone, then lose the election, but then win the NEXT election..." In this world, Machiavellis are rare, stupidity v. common.
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