Baseball movies are usually far from the best in cinematography. That said, probably my favorite baseball movie of all time is the 1957 film, Fear Strikes Out. It portrays Jimmy Piersall’s (who was a very good major leaguer) fight against mental illness exacerbated (I’m probably being kind) by his father. In baseball basically the worst thing a hitter can do is strike out. It is the ultimate failure in any particular at bat. Piersall was afraid of failure/failure to please his father.
Today’s Republican party is led by Donald Trump who is little more than a bully that is really a scared little boy in an overly large man’s body. He has such a grip on the GOP that the Republican National Committee is in total fear of him. They illustrated that fact earlier this month when they unanimously voted to no longer involve themselves or their presidential nominee with the Commission on Presidential Debates. Televised presidential debates have been an important fixture of the presidential elections since the 1960 campaign. They are the few chances the public gets to see the competitors (usually, but not always two) next to each other fielding questions. While not perfect, they are an important element of having the informed electorate that is necessary to a functioning democracy.
The reality is that the Republicans are afraid of an informed electorate. Like the debates when run by an independent, albeit imperfect, commission they can’t control it. Bullies rely on control. They usually enforce it by fear; the irony is that they are afraid (mainly of failure) the entire time.
Let’s explore a few other Republican fears:
The Republican Party is basically a political party controlled by old, white, Christian (more about that below), heterosexual (at least that is what they claim to be in public), cisgender men. In reality they fear “the other”. They are dependent on people like them, especially the less well educated who resemble the previous description.
They fear women. Just look at the laws they enact aimed at controlling women. My degree is in management but someone trained in the study of the brain could have a field day with that.
They fear the non-white. Today’s GOP has become a haven for the American right wing and they have been discriminating against non-whites since they colonial days. Just look at their treatment of red, black, yellow and brown skinned people.
Perhaps the most nonsensical fear is that of the LGBTQ+ community. In reality they are a small percentage of our population and basically just want to be treated with human dignity. But to Bubba, (my stereotypical GOP adherent – I haven’t used that in my writing in a while), they are the other and Bubba doesn’t like what he doesn’t understand; in fact, he fears it.
They fear anyone who is not a member of some “approved” denomination of Christianity. I’ve always found this prejudice/fear particularly interesting in that it osculates depending on the situation. Catholics and Mormons are sometimes accepted and at other times not. It depends if Bubba needs them on a particular issue. Non-Christians are automatically out, particularly Muslims and to an only slightly lesser degree Jews.
They certainly fear public education with good cause; an educated electorate is much less likely to vote Republican. Don’t believe me? There is plenty of publically available data to back me up on that point. Look at what red state legislatures have done with charter schools. In many cases, especially in the South, private and charter schools are thinly veiled indoctrination centers. Don’t forget that at its core today’s Trump led GOP is anti democracy.
Today’s GOP lives in fear of the legitimate press. The control of information is crucial to any autocrat or wannabe autocrat. “Fake news” was not something that Trump came up with on his own. Mussolini and Stalin used it decades ago. Is it any wonder that autocrat Vladimir Putin made it illegal to call his invasion of Ukraine a war?
The GOP’s biggest fear is the voter. This is a radical right wing thing. Remember in the Jim Crow era it was the far right wing southern Democrats who made it almost impossible for Blacks to register to vote. (The parties flip flopped racist positions starting in the 60s.) There is a huge voter suppression effort underway. (I expect some real horror stories to come out of the 2022 and 2024 elections.) Today’s GOP knows it is a minority mainly composed of old white men and they are simply on the decline. They can’t win a fair election so the only way they can survive (and retention of power is really their number one concern – you can’t steal if you are not in control) is to rig the game.
To continue with my baseball metaphor, the GOP is at bat and the voters are on the mound. The question is whether the voters will strike them out; that is what they really fear.
This article was written well ahead of scheduled publishing in order to accommodate my travel plans.
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