We’re all in this together” used to be a cliché but has become a profound statement of civic patriotism now that white conservatives have rejected cooperation with the rest of American society. It’s difficult to over-estimate the venom with which white conservatives have come to reject any sense of common purpose, togetherness, sharing, or team effort with the rest of American society.
What Would I Care? The default position for white conservatives, has become “I don’t give a shit.” Caleb Wallace of Texas gave nihilistic view a “patriotic” spin with “I care about freedom more than I do your personal health.”
Translated: “I don’t want to wear a mask to prevent myself from being infected by or spreading Covid. And I could care less about you.”
That included his family. When Wallace came down with Covid, he fought against seeing a doctor despite having a pregnant wife and three children. He gave them no more thought than the rest of us. Perhaps even less.
All About Power. Losing the ability to imagine a common good, white conservatives think of public health measures like vaccines, mask wearing, and social distancing strictly in terms of “liberals” or “society” exercising power over them and insist on speaking of public health in terms of “control” and forcing “compliance.”
When speaking about masks, Tennessee pastor Greg Locke claims that “the federal government demands only” compliance, “not an improvement in public health, among Americans.” The same with Tucker Carlson:
This is about politics and social control. The Biden administration has decided it owns your body. The media agree with that. If the rest of us allow that grotesque claim to go unchallenged, we’re in deep trouble going forward, for generations, long after COVID recedes, and it will at some point.”
With no spirit of cooperation or common good, no idea of “We Are All in This Together,” Carlson can only view vaccine mandates as “politics and social control.”
An Insurrectionary Logic. Yesterday at a MAGA protest in Harrisburg, PA, Steve Lynch, a GOP candidate for Northampton County Executive advocated overthrowing local school boards. Lynch initially pitched his proposal in terms of “men’s advocacy”–Where are men. Men, wake up and smell the coffee! Let’s go!. Yeah, we want to make men great again. Make men men again.” That gets back to the main logic of white conservatism: Men need to be great again; heterosexuals need to be great again; Christians need to be great again; English speakers need to be great again; conservatives need to be great again; and above all “white people need to be great again.”
And according to the Steve Lynches and Tucker Carlsons of the world, men aren’t going to become “great again” through persuasion, politics, popular culture, the working of the free market, or any other peaceful mechanism. Increasingly, the only way white conservative men like Steve Lynch can imagine themselves regaining status is violence against local government institutions, the federal government, and American society at large.
Top picture by Gerald Herbert/AP