Harold Meyerson’s Washington Post column, “The right’s war against the spirit of Christmas” calls out the toxic stew of xenophobia, bigotry, resentment, fear and greed that the GOP is serving up for the holiday season. Meyerson raises interesting questions:
Who’s really waging a war against Christmas in 2015? Secular multiculturalists who, stealthily and nefariously, have somehow rendered Starbucks’s coffee cups a tad less festive? Or the self-proclaimed culture warriors on behalf of traditional values, who demand we leave refugees — even small children, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has made pitilessly clear — at the mercy of the latter-day Herods? Who condemn entire religions? Who fear and loathe strangers?
Put another way, can you even imagine any of the Republican presidential candidates actually quoting Christ’s teachings about love, forgiveness, charity and peace? Meyerson continues,
It’s been a banner year for fear and loathing, xenophobia and racism. What has made the year genuinely ominous is the emergence of fictions presented (often, but hardly exclusively, by Donald Trump) as facts that legitimize a sense of both grievance and hatred: New Jersey Muslims celebrating 9/11; the quarter-million Syrians that the Obama administration is planning to bring in; a wave of black-on-white homicide. Concoctions all, but credible enough to the sizable share of Republicans who also believe the president is a Kenyan Muslim. Fed by talk radio, Fox News and paranoid websites, millions of our compatriots dwell in a parallel universe of alternative realities. My colleague Dana Milbank has noted that the fashion among conservatives is to dismiss hard facts that clash with their alternative realities as “politically correct.” That’s Republicanese for “empirically correct” — verifiable by research, but at odds with the stories they’ve created to justify their rage.
Such right-wing fictions have always hovered on the fringes of the body politic, but what has enabled them to go more mainstream is the sense of displacement — from their previous position as a majority race, a thriving class, a dominant religion — that is now widespread among the white working class Trumpites and the evangelical Christians flocking to Ted Cruz’s banner. The mission of right-wing media and pols has been to exaggerate some of that displacement (the threat to white America), play down other parts of it (the evisceration of blue-collar living standards by corporate America) and lay the blame for it all on minorities, foreigners, liberals, feminists, gays — you know the list.
There’s nothing new about politicians pandering to the worst instincts and most irrational fears of voters. But in 2015 Republicans hit a new low, as Meyerson explains, “…Enmities, and most certainly not love, have become the core of the right’s appeal and message this year…They may well sweep Trump or Cruz to the Republican nomination; they have already infused the entire party with bigoted perspectives that will be hard to disclaim.”
It’s a sad turn for a political party that once tempered its conservatism with appeals to “bind up the nation’s wounds,” instead of inflaming them with expressions of contempt and exclusion. As Meyerson concludes, “They are most surely at odds with the spirit of Christmas. Walls on the border, religious tests for admission, despising the poor — good thing Joseph and Mary didn’t have to encounter our modern-day defenders of the right as they scrambled from one country to another, desperate to save their son’s life.”
It would be good if Democratic candidates and office-holders everywhere craft their holiday and New Years messages in stark contrast to the Republicans sour spirit by presenting a more healing and hopeful vision of shared prosperity, peace, brotherhood and sisterhood. These are the values that can lift up and unify all Americans of good will, and this is the brand that can inspire the best in voters and move America forward.