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Right Wing 'Populism' Is Fake And Stupid
Republican politicians have found a way to reconcile the fact that scrutinizing the behavior of the US war machine appeals to their base and wins votes with the fact that the Republican Party is built around facilitating war and militarism at every turn. Their solution? Pour mountains of energy into championing the case that the nation's military has gotten too "woke".
Because everything in mainstream American politics is geared toward channeling the public's political attention down channels that pose no threat to the rich and powerful, and because the United States is the hub of a globe-spanning empire that is held together by mass military violence and the threat thereof, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing the war-weary sentiments harnessed so effectively in Trump's 2016 presidential run diverted into scrutinizing the military in ways that pose no obstacle to US warmongering.
Republican congressman Chip Roy published a press release on Thursday declaring that he has "called on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to provide a full accounting of the department resources that will be used to impose woke gender ideology on America’s men and women in uniform during the month of June."
“It has come to our attention that the Department of Defense (DoD) will once again divert American families’ tax dollars away from advancing its mission to 'deter war and ensure our nation’s security' to the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) events during the month of June 2023,” Roy wrote. "Expending vital resources on this type of political maneuvering, most apparent during the month of June, is inconsistent with the national security interests of the United States and is an inexcusable use of taxpayer dollars.”
Sure, Chip, that's what's been causing all that vital resource expenditure in the US military: the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion. Can't possibly have anything to do with all that extremely expensive military equipment you've been moving into every corner of the earth now, can it?
Probably worth mentioning at this point that the debt ceiling agreement reached between President Biden and House Republicans insisted on only non-military cuts to spending and increased the US military budget to $886 billion, which GOP leaders have already slammed as "inadequate".
Republicans everywhere are committing to this bit where they pose as brave populist heroes who aren't afraid to challenge the US war machine by spouting gibberish about how the Pentagon is being too accommodating on LGBT issues. Last week Congressman Matt Gaetz made a big show of opposing the complete non-issue of "drag shows on military installations," then took to Twitter the other day to proclaim a "HUGE VICTORY" when an air force base drag show was canceled.
During an interview on Fox News last week, Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis was asked by Trey Gowdy how he would respond to the war in Ukraine on day one of his presidency, and he started babbling about wokeness and gender ideology.
“Well first, I think what we need to do as a veteran is recognize that our military has become politicized," said DeSantis. "You talk about gender ideology, you talk about things like global warming, that they’re somehow concerned and that’s not the military that I served in. We need to return our military to focusing on commitment, focusing on the core values and the core mission."
Which is, needless to say, not an answer to the question. It's just a bunch of soundbytes designed to sound critical of the military and appeal to right wing sensibilities without actually saying anything meaningfully critical of the US proxy war in Ukraine.
Trump himself got in on the action at a Fox News town hall event on Thursday, gibbering in his signature incoherent manner about "the woke" in the US military and how it poses an obstacle to their fighting "bad people".
"You know, our military is great. A lot of things going on with our military with the woke and all this nonsense,” Trump told Fox News pundit Sean Hannity. “They’re not learning to fight and protect us from some very bad people. They want to go woke. They want to go woke. That’s all they talk about now. I see letters that are being sent. It’s horrible.”
An April article by virulent anti-China propaganda rag The Epoch Times titled "Can a Woke Military Win Wars?" claims that America's leaders "have injected the entire menu of radical 'woke' ideology into the tissues of the military establishment," placing new recruits at risk of being "catechized by anti-American Marxists or apostles of sexual exotica." It decries environmentalism, anti-racism and anti-bigotry in the military, before taking a moment to fearmonger about how Xi Jinping is “preparing for war” as though China would ever attack the US unprovoked.
This idea that "wokeness" is hurting the US military's ability to prepare for war with China has been gaining momentum in right wing punditry for a while now. Back in December 2021 a Rush Limbaugh wannabe named Jesse Kelly turned heads by proclaiming on Tucker Carlson Tonight that the US war machine needs men who want to "sit on a throne of Chinese skulls" rather than being accommodating to female and gay personnel.
"We don’t need a military that’s woman-friendly; we don't need a military that’s gay-friendly," Kelly said. "We need a military that's flat-out hostile. We need a military that's full of Type-A men who want to sit on a throne of Chinese skulls. But we don't have that now."
Last year Republican Senator Marco Rubio repeated the same talking point, saying "We don't need a military focused on the proper use of pronouns — we need a military focused on blowing up Chinese aircraft carriers."
Do you see how fake and stupid this is? Do you see how it lets Republicans posture as strong critics of the US war machine while actively facilitating all its top agendas?
This is a perfect illustration of what right wing "populism" looks like in the 2020s: phony, manipulative talking points geared toward convincing war-weary red staters who lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep supporting war and militarism, but anti-wokely.
And it's a good illustration of the function that both of the major "populist" strains serve in US politics, both on the Bernie Sanders/AOC "progressive" side and the Trump/MAGA side. Both branches appeal to the anti-establishment sentiments of their respective bases, and then herd their adherents into support for America's two mainstream political parties — both of which are designed to serve the interests of the same depraved establishment these "populist" factions supposedly abhor.
The oligarchs and empire managers who pull the strings of the US government not only control both parties, they control both of the major factions which purport to fight the mainstream establishment in those parties. It's a redundant security measure designed to protect the globe-spanning power structure which depends on keeping everyone marching in accord with its interests. They control the opposition, and they control the opposition to the controlled opposition.
Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are designed to take power away from the people and feed it to the empire. Every attempt to draw you into supporting them is designed to disempower you, even when it flies the flag of "populism" and claims to oppose the same interests you oppose. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to turn you into a tool of the powerful.
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