Virus

COVID-19 virus

I had no idea earlier this year I would have read so much about virology.

One tidbit: virologists have learned that viruses are something less than alive: they contain genetic information but cannot reproduce. They require a host that they can take over and make do their bidding. Once a bug is inside us, its’ spikes grab on to a cell’s membranes and fuse with the cell. It then sheds the spikes and starts issuing chemical demands, like any good hijacker.

Much like the way the Trumpists took over the Republican Party.

Over my lifetime as a voter, the party of small government and fiscal control, staffed locally by realtors, bankers, and factory owners where I grew up gradually became the party of the wealthy, and in a miracle of propaganda has been able to convince regular working people that their interests were one and the same.

Throughout the last four years, I’ve tried not to refer to the party of the current President and his cronies as Republican anymore — I call them Trumpists. The original party has been co-opted; their original mission reprogrammed to no longer be the party of small government, but to do the bidding of Trump. Exclusively. Like a virus.

I get it: parties and interest groups change over time. Phil Vischer has a series of great Youtube posts that explore how race informs our politics. I particularly like this one that describes why white Christians vote R and black Christians vote D. It’s a great history lesson on how we got from There to Here. It’s also good for illustrating how, if I were a marketing consultant for the Republican party, I’d say “you’ve got a great platform here, but your history is turning off a lot of potential consumers.”

I’m not alone in thinking that one of the problems is the quest for power, regardless of party affiliation. Driven individuals have gravitated to positions where they can wield the biggest stick. We’re seeing Republicans now (like the Democrats before them) who are conveniently forgetting the norms and rules that have quietly kept the government machinery running for over 230 years. Like the MBAs who shaved the sizes of food cans to save millions, politicians now are quite comfortable working in the margins, where they believe they can stuff their ethics in their back pocket for a time. Unfortunately, if the last 40 years have taught us anything, they have more and more trouble finding that pocket again.

Like cells in a body, we have embraced the alien Trump virus not to kill it, but to learn how to fight it off. We are now a week after election day and the body politic is still in defense mode: the largest popular vote counts, and electoral votes that portend to follow. But we’re in a fever — heating up to drive out the infectious agent.

Like any virulent agent, Trumpism will remain with us. Without sufficient inoculation with information, people will remain susceptible and get infected. If we don’t forget it and seek to solve the underlying weaknesses (systemic racism, economic and educational inequality) that made us susceptible, we’ll be able to fight it off again.

Maybe another outbreak in 2024.

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