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Now RFK, Jr., is a Threat to Democracy Too?

Now RFK, Jr., is a Threat to Democracy Too?

Posted by Ed Folsom, June 27, 2023.

According to the latest-Party-line-thing machinery, RFK, Jr., is now a “threat to democracy.” My local newspaper, the Maine Sunday Telegram, recently picked up an editorial by Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, printing it under the headline “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Is a Threat to Democracy, not to mention your health.” Ya, it’s a hit piece. For the most part, it denigrates Kennedy for his positions on childhood vaccinations and the U.S. Government’s COVID-19 vaccination, treatment and related speech suppression policies. As for the threat to democracy thing, here’s the sum total of what the piece has to say about it:

“The dangers from Kennedy’s campaign should be clear. One is that a Kennedy candidacy that gains any real traction alone will increase the political credibility of anti-vax claptrap, which already has more than enough.

Another is that it could cut into the vote in 2024 for a responsible Democrat, whether President Biden or anyone else, which could sweep Trump or a Trump clone into office, along with the thuggish attacks on diversity, inclusion and voting rights that have become the alpha and omega of Republican politics.”

In other words, RFK, Jr., threatens the Democrat Party’s control of political messaging in the public square and of the Presidency itself. Therefore, RFK, Jr., is a Threat to Democracy™! Claptrap, Trump clones and thuggish attacks, oh my!

This is in line with a broader theme that anything that threatens the Democrats’ grip on power threatens Democracy™ or Our Democracy™. Have you ever witnessed a time when so many domestic threats to democracy were identified, and so frequently, by the presidential administration, its collaborative press organs, the DOJ and the U.S. intelligence services? Even the Supreme Court has been identified of late as a Threat to Democracy™ (as discussed here).

In the here and now, is there any real difference between branding someone a “threat to democracy” versus an “enemy of the people?” No, there is not, other than that the former identifies the particular reason why the targeted person is an “enemy of the people” – because the person is a Threat to Democracy™. President Trump used the formulation “enemies of the people” to describe the U.S. press corps and certain others – a formulation famously employed by Joseph Stalin and other communists. And Trump was roundly and immediately condemned for it by the same machinery that now disseminates and amplifies the near-daily Threat to Democracy™” smears issued by the Biden administration and its collaborators.

The formula exploits the way people tend to think. The antithesis of good is bad. The antithesis of bad is good. What threatens the good is bad and what threatens the bad is good. And, what is good cannot be bad, just as what is bad cannot be good. So, once everything is reduced to a good/bad binary, and as soon as what is good has been identified, we know that what opposes or threatens it is bad, and cannot be good.

Because Democracy is unquestionably good, whatever threatens or opposes it is bad, and cannot be good. The demagogues who control the public discourse only need to instill in the public the idea that they represent democracy itself, aided by the fact that they call themselves “Democratic.” With that much accomplished, whoever or whatever opposes or threatens them (Democracy™) is necessarily bad and cannot be good. On the flip side, because fascism (or its rhetorical equivalents: Nazi, white supremacist, white nationalist, right-wing, Trump, MAGA, etc.) is unquestionably bad, anyone or anything that opposes it is good and cannot be bad.

As Matt Taibbi recently pointed out, the mass communication machinery has effectively reduced all political discourse to this binary. As Taibbi puts it:

“They [those with control over who is and who is not to be heard] prefer to look at it as, ‘Over here are people who are conscientious and believe in science and fairness and democracy and puppies, and then everyone else is a right-winger.’ This is how you get people with straight faces calling Russell Brand a right-winger.”

The recent treatment of RFK, Jr., is another example of the phenomenon. Once the binary has reduced Kennedy to a Threat to Democracy™, how can he be allowed to be heard? The common good must defend against it. The good are warned about whom they must shun if they want to avoid guilt by association with the ungood. In this, Taibbi sees echoes of the speech controls that George Orwell portrayed in his book 1984, where all words are converted to serve a model of binary thought, merely by adding “un” to the primary word. For example, the word “bad” is eliminated and replaced by “ungood.” Or “good” is eliminated and replaced by “unbad,” depending on which formulation the government prefers. This allows for a reduction in the number of words in usage, which in turn reduces the range of thought, to the degree that thoughts depend on words. Control the language, control thought.

While our public censors have not yet managed to entirely eliminate certain words as a means of reducing the range of thought, they have adopted the good/bad binary to make clear which thoughts are acceptable and which are not — which thoughts are to be targeted for elimination and which are to be amplified and celebrated. Returning to RFK, Jr., Boston Herald reporter Joe Battenfeld recently recited examples of a concerted effort to portray him as ungood:

“‘Democrats Shouldn’t Ignore RFK Jr. They Should Expose Him,’ proclaims New York Magazine.”

“‘Pro-RFK Jr. Super PAC Has Deep Ties to Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos,’ blares a Rolling Stone article.”

“‘He should be regarded as a pest doing the bidding of the opposing party,’ New York Magazine said.”

Not only is RFK, Jr., a “threat to democracy,” but under the Democrat/left-normative binary that the public discourse is channeled through, he is in league with the (“fascist,” “white supremacist,” “MAGA,” Trump, etc.) right. RFK, Jr., stands in opposition to and therefore threatens the good! As Taibbi points out, this is the same method by which Russell Brand was turned into a right-winger in the public discourse. Brand and Kennedy oppose the good, which makes them categorically ungood. Since the left is good and cannot be bad, and the right is ungood and cannot be good, Brand and Kennedy are right-wingers.

This is really something to see, considering that RFK, Jr., is a lifelong Democrat of a seriously left-leaning stripe, whose skepticism toward childhood vaccination safety was, until fairly recently, much more widely shared by people who self-identify as liberals or progressives than by those who self-identify as Republicans or conservatives. But in the binary that simplifies everything to either good or ungood (bad), vaccine hesitancy or safety-skepticism of any sort is simply ungood, which makes it not of the left, because the left can only be good. Vaccine hesitancy or safety-skepticism is therefore of the unleft – the right.

Today’s Democrat Party and its collaborators are not the first to recognize the utility of reducing opponents to a single category for targeting purposes – in this case, the ungood, which are the right, which are “fascists,” “white supremacists,” “white nationalists,” MAGA, Trump, etc. In Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler, himself, stated:

“In general the art of all truly great popular leaders at all times consists primarily in not scattering the attention of people but rather in concentrating it always to one single opponent…It is part of the genius of a great leader to make even quite different opponents appear as if they belong to only one category, because the recognition of different enemies leads weak and unsure persons only too readily to begin doubting their own cause.”

As stated in Readings on Fascism and National Socialism, “It was the aim of Nazi propaganda…to unite the masses of the people in hatred of certain enemies, designated by such conveniently broad and simple terms as ‘Jews,’ ‘democrats,’ ‘plutocrats,’ bolshevists,’ or ‘Anglo-Saxons,’ which so far as possible were to be identified with one another in the public mind.” Note the parallels.

But this is certainly not to say that Adolf Hitler and today’s Democrats are the only historical figures to have exploited this principle. Every despot worthy of the name has.

In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rosseau, who long ago planted seeds for a lot of this stuff, had this to say about dogmas to be formulated and rigidly enforced by the State:

“There is…a purely civil profession of faith of which the Sovereign should fix the articles, not exactly as religious dogmas, but as social sentiments without which a man cannot be a good citizen or a faithful subject. While it can compel no one to believe them, it can banish from the State whoever does not believe them – it can banish him, not for impiety but as an anti-social being, incapable of truly loving the laws and justice…If any one, after publicly recognizing these dogmas, behaves as if he does not believe them, let him be punished by death: he has committed the worst of all crimes, that of lying before the law.

Those who distinguish civil from theological intolerance are, to my mind, mistaken. The two forms are inseparable. It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned; to love them would be to hate God who punishes them; we positively either must reclaim them or torment them.”

Reclaim them or torment them, for they are the ungood who threaten Our Democracy™. Torment them and cancel them, with righteousness!

Just don’t tell me it isn’t a civil religion.