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A Catalogue of the GOP’s Paranoid Preoccupations

From COVID vaccines, to unsecured borders, to commie public schools, to an abusive executive branch, the right is scaring itself silly.
February 22, 2023
A Catalogue of the GOP’s Paranoid Preoccupations
(Composite by Hannah Yoest / Photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock)

The world, according to MAGA Republicans, is a dark and dangerous place. There are constant existential threats. There’s vaccination. There’s critical race theory. Illegal immigrants are flooding across the country’s open borders, fentanyl in hand. Woke culture is remaking America into a dystopian leftist bootcamp.

Here’s some of what’s keeping the far right up at night.

People are just suddenly dropping dead.

Actually, dying suddenly is something that has always happened to people. But now we know why: It’s the COVID-19 vaccines. They’re killing us. Every sudden death can be used as evidence.

These vaccines, which have saved the lives of more than three million Americans, are being blamed for killing off unknown-but-large numbers of people. Among them: a six-year-old girl in Ohio who died as a result of lifelong health problems including epilepsy, asthma, and respiratory problems. Someone tweeted an image of the kindergartener alongside a syringe. A Facebook user sent a message to her mother, calling her a “murderer” for having gotten the child vaccinated.

Vaccination has also been framed for killing a bull rider who died from a rare disease and an actress who died from a bacterial infection. And it’s been implicated in the near-death of Buffalo Bills superstar Damar Hamlin from a heart stoppage caused by impact.

An online “documentary,” Died Suddenly, contends there’s been a sharp rise in this phenomenon. It shows a series of headlines, one of a young man who died in a car crash in 2017, two years before COVID-19 was even a twinkle in some diabolical scientist’s eye. This film has been viewed more than 20 million times.

Pink-haired Communists are teaching our kids.

Donald Trump, casting about for a viable campaign message, just announced that “public schools have been taken over by the radical left maniacs” and warned about “pink-haired communists teaching our kids.” Trump pledged to shut down federal money going to promote “critical race theory, gender ideology or other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content on to our children.”

The former president has called for giving parents the authority to elect and fire school principals. Meanwhile, one of his likely GOP rivals for the presidency, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has forbidden instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity prior to fourth grade; blocked high schools from teaching a new AP course on African American studies; and signed the “Stop WOKE Act,” which bars discussion that might make students feel guilty for historic wrongs because of their race.

Another potential rival, former Vice President Mike Pence, is going after schools that embrace transgender-affirming policies, saying “we cannot stand idly by as the radical left attempts to indoctrinate our children behind parents’ backs.” And everyone agrees on the danger of critical race theory, which Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has helpfully explained is “a racist curriculum used to teach children that somehow their white skin is not equal to black skin.”

Nailed it.

The country is flooded by a true invasion every single day.

Rep. Greene has pledged to use her new clout as a member of key House committees to crack down on illegal immigration. It’s a longstanding priority of hers: She introduced her signature bill addressing the issue, the Protect America First Act, in early 2021. (Back then, Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred the bill to nine committees, an unusually large number, especially for a bill that was going nowhere. But now her House colleagues might decide it’s ready for prime time.)

Greene’s proposed legislation would impose a four-year moratorium on all immigration, speed up extraditions, cut federal funding to sanctuary cities, finish Trump’s border wall and name it after him, and revoke the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA)—or, as she called the policy protecting Dreamers in a press release, “Deferred Action on Child Aliens.”

“When a country is flooded by a true invasion every single day, it’d be a good idea to take a pause and work through the overwhelming amount of unknown people we have in our country,” Greene said. In recent weeks, illegal border crossings have sharply declined—apparently thanks to stronger border enforcement measures adopted by the Biden Administration.

But Rep. Jordan of Ohio, the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the crisis at the border is raging out of control, and that this is happening on purpose: “I think it’s intentional. I don’t know how anyone with common sense or logic can reach any other conclusion. It seems deliberate, it seems premeditated, it seems intentional.”

Corrupt individuals within federal agencies are working to defeat their political opponents and promote left-wing ideology and government control over our lives.

In his prepared statement at the February 9 inaugural meeting of the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson blew the whistle on the mother of all conspiracies. As he explained it, “corrupt individuals within federal agencies are [operating] as vital partners of the leftwing political movement that includes most members of the mainstream media, big tech social media giants, global institutions and foundations, Democrat Party operatives, and elected officials.” Their goal is to “defeat their political opponents and promote leftwing ideology and government control over our lives.”

Johnson said “my eyes began opening” to what is going on when the Obama administration sicced the IRS on Tea Party groups; then over its kid-glove treatment of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server; then “the most destructive political dirty trick in U.S. history: the creation and promotion of the false Trump-Russia collusion narrative.” Add in Hunter Biden’s laptop, the harsh treatment of January 6th insurrectionists, the refusal of federal authorities to acknowledge “the significant injuries caused by the COVID vaccines,” the fact that the World Health Organization “has been captured by the Chinese government” and that “global institutions in general have been captured by the left,” all topped off with Johnson’s claim that he had “barely scratched the surface in describing the complexity, power, and destructive nature of the forces we face,” and it’s clear: The select committee has its work cut out.

The radical left is setting our money on fire and teaching our children to hate each other.

In her response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech, newly installed Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, formerly a spokesperson for President Donald Trump, said this about the man who now occupies the Oval Office:

He’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is. In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country. Whether Joe Biden believes this madness or is simply too weak to resist it, his administration has been completely hijacked by the radical left. The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy.

Sanders, in this dichotomy, sees herself as being on the side of normal.

Everything Joe Biden does is wrong, as balloon saga shows.

When the president did not immediately shoot down a giant Chinese spy balloon that had entered U.S. airspace, Republicans in Congress howled with outrage. “Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country?” demanded Rep. Jordan on February 3. (Actually, it turns out, similar balloon incursions occurred when Trump was president but went undetected.)

Two days later, after the balloon was shot down on Biden’s orders—he waited to authorize the strike until it no longer posed a danger of raining deadly debris over American homes—Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas clucked that the president “allowed a full week for the Chinese to conduct spying operations over the United States” before taking action, which “telegraphed weakness” to the Chinese government.

On Feb. 14, after three more objects flying over North America were blasted from the skies, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas declared that Biden “owes the American people an explanation” and “should speak on camera directly to the American people.” Two days later, the president did just that, explaining that the objects likely had nothing to do with China. GOP lawmakers were still upset. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana said in response to the speech, “President Biden continues to lead from behind” and “is not providing for the safety and security of the American people.”

Others on the right ripped the president’s rashness and waste of good missiles for shooting down the objects, one of which may have belonged to the Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, a hobby club in Illinois.

“Joe [Biden] shot a $12 balloon with a half-million-dollar missile,” exclaimed Jesse Watters on his Fox News show. Biden, he said, “sent a clear message to the Bottleneck Balloon Brigade: The United States will not rest until every father/son balloon hobbyist has their $12 helium balloon violently removed from Northern American airspace.” He added, “‘No more enjoying hobbies on my watch,’ said Joe Biden.”

Woke culture is turning M&M characters into lesbians.

A year ago, Fox News host Tucker Carlson reacted indignantly to changes in candy packaging in which the brown M&M lost her stilettos to kitten heels while the Green M&M traded her go-go boots for white sneakers, as part of an effort to promote “inclusivity” and keep up with current trends. Carlson said it made the characters “less sexy” and warned his audience: “M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous, until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them.”

Now the threat is back, with a new ad showing the gals and their footwear. “Woke M&M’s have returned,” Carlson told his audience. “The green M&M got her boots back, but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe?”—an apparent reference to a 2015 viral tweet from the official M&M’s account that showed Green and Brown holding hands.

Attentiveness to such topics—and not, say, proof positive that Fox News hosts actively conspired to lie to their audience about the 2020 election to maintain market share—is what passes for normal among MAGA Republicans. As opposed to crazy.

Bill Lueders

Bill Lueders, former editor and now editor-at-large of The Progressive, is a writer in Madison, Wisconsin.