I just returned from a cross-country trek with my wife and son and I am happy to report that in much of the country, COVID-19 is over and only freaky liberals wear masks. Fun!
Seriously, it was often just the three of us wearing masks in many of the places we stopped. Meanwhile, my phone was blowing up with variations of the headline “COVID-19 Delta variant bad news!”
In Minnesota, we drove by a billboard with a photo of a doctor and a message that was not reassuring: “The COVID-19 vaccine will not alter your DNA in any way.” It’s not that I was hoping the vaccine would jazz up my DNA, but that there are so many people who believe such a thing that such a billboard exists. Billboards are not cheap! Stupidity is very expensive.
That said, I did see several Pride Flags in South Dakota, so hooray for that. I also did not see many Trump flags or even bumper stickers. I expected I would see quite a few considering we were driving through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. But they were few and far between. I saw a giant semi-trailer with TRUMP 2020 sitting in a field near the highway. I also saw a barn with a giant hole through it and a big Trump sign next to the hole and that felt like a metaphor.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I think the majority of the country actually believes Joe Biden is our President now.
But, of course, there is still a very vocal contingent of folks who live in a world where Trump is a king and the Jan. 6 insurrection was just people doing normal tourism. And they are very serious about being insane.
One such person is Scott Lively. Not up to speed on this walking bad idea with a well-trimmed beard? Here’s how the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes Lively:
“A veteran of the anti-gay movement, Lively has been actively propagandizing against LGBT people since the early 1990s, but he’s perhaps best-known for co-writing the thoroughly discredited, Holocaust revisionist book The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party (1995), which claims that the Nazi party was full of gay men who, because of their “savagery,” were able to carry out the Holocaust.”
Here’s a fun fact about Lively. In a 2017 court decision, a federal judge described Lively’s social contributions as “crackpot bigotry,” in particular his conspiracy to persecute LGBTQ+ people in Uganda. Lively, true to form, was delighted by this depiction.
On Aug. 1, while I was in Wisconsin, Lively was at peak hysteria levels, this time live-streaming about violent insurrections in 2022 if Republicans don’t take back the house.
“Hopefully, we can take back the country in 2022,” Lively says. “If we don’t, if we don’t get it back by 2022, I don’t think it’s going to happen, short of some kind of violent insurrection, which is still possible. People are eventually going to stop putting up with tyrannical authority, and when the only remedy and the only avenue of resistance becomes armed rebellion, then some people are going to act in that way. And if they have any success at all, a lot of other people will follow them.”
This is a wild claim on so many levels. First, let’s start with the fact that he says that “violent insurrection” is “still possible,” as if that isn’t an avenue that’s already been very publicly taken.
Secondly, it’s worth noting that the same folks who claim that living under Biden is tyranny are the ones who are very excited about the idea of living in a fascist nation with Trump at the helm. They literally want to do away with democratic elections so that Republicans can stay in power even as their ideas are becoming less popular and they are earning fewer and fewer votes.
But Lively is spinning the opposite narrative, saying that if Democrats “cheat us in ’22” then it’s “a lost cause” and everybody should go live like the Unabomber.
“Just sort of hunker down, build your bomb shelter, gather your survival supplies, get your children out of the public school, move to a place that the government doesn’t know they exist, raise them without letting the government know who they are or where they are, and go underground with your church and your social network, your social structure,” Lively advises.
Yes, by all means go underground with your church. Become Christian mole people. Escape the tyranny of a public health campaign intent on saving lives and stopping a deadly virus, of LGBTQ+ people being treated like humans, of women being able to make their own reproductive health care decisions, of well-educated people running the federal government.
As Lively sees it, disconnecting “from the grid” is the only recourse if Republicans aren’t able to rig elections to ensure Republican victories. Which is really and truly what Republicans are trying to do across the country right now. State by state, they are stripping voting rights and making it harder for people to vote, especially Black people.
It’s almost like the Democrats who control the Presidency, the House, and the Senate should do something about that. If only there was something, anything that could be done.
There is, of course.
Democrats need to stop letting the Republicans govern as if they are the majority party. And to do that they need to eliminate the filibuster. The United States elected a Democratic majority, damn it. Use it or lose it.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.