There is power in your community. You are a big part of that power.
Communities rejecting MAGA hate like Moms for Liberty suggests there might be hope for the United States, which is still reeling from the divisions exploited by the efforts to get Donald Trump into the White House in 2016 that then exploded upon his win and still divide us today.
The “Ground zero ” for the Moms for Liberty school board of Bucks County, Pennsylvania is now an example of fundamental change toward community and away from division, as voters rejected the far-right extremism of “Moms for Liberty” in the November 7th election and right wing school board members lost in critical districts.
This rejection was explicitly a rejection of book-banning and of the contempt the Republican-board had for everyone but “their” voters, whereas the winning candidates promised to work for everyone, not just the people who voted for them. This theme echoes the Trump v Biden approach to governing as well, where Trump deliberately punished states that were led by Democrats during the pandemic and favored Republican-led states with federal help, whereas Biden prioritizes all Americans when it comes to emergencies.
The Bucks County Beacon detailed what it was like under Republican-led rule, and the utter disrespect sounds very familiar (emphasis mine):
Over the last two years parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers looked on as the district, time after time, hit new lows. Programs to ensure all students felt welcome were discontinued. Award winning books were removed from the library. Large portions of the district’s curriculum were hijacked and replaced with Hillsdale 1776, a conservative curriculum associated with Hillsdale Christian College in Michigan. It had also become commonplace for emails to the school board to go unanswered, likewise remarks, actually pleas, were repeatedly ignored, dismissed or ridiculed during in-person public comment at meetings.
On Tuesday, Republican, Democrat and Independent voters issued a resounding condemnation of the current board’s governance by voting for the Pennridge Community Alliance candidate slate.
Ridiculing and dismissing comments and questions by anyone who isn’t a cheerleader for their ideas sounds scathingly familiar. It’s a hallmark of the fascist inclination we are seeing from the far Right around the globe, and at home.
Image: Bucks County Beacon Twitter
We see this same push from the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, who amplifies and elevates accused rapists and other Right-wing heroes, while sneering at mainstream media and anyone who isn’t far-Right. This crossover isn’t unexpected, as fascism can be thought of as a form of corporatocracy as it pertains to the very wealthy and the chosen. In the MAGA iteration, it’s about establishing a ruling class that functions like a monarchy for the wealthy, highly profitable corporations and the chosen, but looks like a democracy on the surface.
“Central Bucks is well known both statewide and nationally for heated board meetings over masks and Pride flags, policies banning certain books and directives to not use students’ preferred names and pronouns. Accusations of discrimination against LGBTQ students have also led to an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Education,” NPR reported on November 11th, after Democrats flipped the school board. “Republicans also lost majority control of school boards in Iowa, Virginia and a historically conservative district neighboring Central Bucks.”
The take down of Bucks County Moms for Liberty can serve as a model for the entire country to rebuild at a community level:
“Parents overwhelmingly perceived this movement as a direct threat to their kids’ education,” (Darren Laustsen, a parent in the district) Laustsen said. “They rolled their eyes at all the divisive culture war talking points and fear-mongering. Moms and dads are angry and, believe me, we are not backing down.”
He said it’s time to move on from the Moms For Liberty agenda. “It is clear that if the GOP does not abandon that playbook, they will lose. Every election. Every office. Period. There is a bipartisan army of local parent volunteers galvanized by this race.”
Voters rejected the culture war and turned to other community members who were willing to work from a model of respect for one another.
This is an important model in approaches to save the United States’ democracy from the efforts to corrupt and corrode it into a form of autocracy. As I’ve written about before, the people Republicans have weaponized to hate everyone else are my neighbors and helpers in other ways. When we speak about real problems facing us, including guns, we often agree. It’s when these problems get cycled through the Right-wing hate machine meant to distract from the Big Money behind the refusal to change positions on guns, for example, that the community is harmed, again and again.
Traditional media has not done its job to help unite this country around a set of facts, too lost in “both sides” to do its most basic job of upholding democracy. Traditional media continues to shove far-right MAGA talking points down the throats of Americans who – unlike the media, do not all live in wealthy areas of big cities where they are protected from the misguided hate being manufactured and served up by American media – even from people involved in the deadly insurrection. This rather important context has been whitewashed in an attempt to appease that “side” by dragging everyone else down, down, down further and further to the extremist Right.
Social media stepped into the void to give a voice to the people and thus gave rise to important pro-democracy movements like BLM, the Arab Spring, and MeToo. But when led by a billionaire who just doesn’t care, social media has also been weaponized against democracy like Mark Zuckerberg allowed Facebook to help Trump get elected by sharing user data to an extent that was hidden from users.
Wired delved into first generation social media users being kind of over it all, “This is how it goes now, in what is being christened the twilight of an era of social media that redefined community building and digital correspondence. For many first-gen social media users—millennials between the ages of 27 and 42—there is a developing sentiment that the party is over.”
Social media became too corporatized and serves the agendas of billionaires now, which some freely demonstrate aligns with MAGA hate. But people are now turning to one another, in their communities, which is something that billionaire tech bros can’t control.
MAGA Republicans evince democratic backsliding into autocracy. Their extremist ideology is a threat to our democracy and to our communities. It is meant to divide into those who support an autocratic style leader and those who do not. Vulnerable people are chosen as examples for someone like Trump to spit on in public while his supporters cheer the abuse and humiliation of the “other.”
But there is hope — and it is in communities coming together to reject the MAGA model of hate.
Talk to your neighbors and activate your desires to rid our communities of this vile anti-democracy movement. When we unite, we are a stronger, better country. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is lying to you, and you ought to ask why.
Listen to Sarah on the PoliticusUSA Pod on The Daily newsletter podcast here.
Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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