The senior editor from Slack, Matt Haughey, recently started a new Tumblr blog publishing pictures of Republican presidential candidates holding dildos.
Haughey has asked his Twitter followers to send him photos of the candidates holding guns, and then he edits out the weapons, replacing them with phalluses. He says that he will publish these visual satire pieces until the election.
This is great. A juvenile prank for juvenile politicians. The fact that the Republican candidates make time to routinely publicity-stunt themselves holding and shooting guns is a juvenile way to go about democracy. Responsible politics is leading by example, and constantly pulling out guns is not responsible politics, or even responsible gun use.
But gun pride is so important for rural Americans that even President Obama did it once. It is visual pandering to people who of course are already going to vote for certain candidates, or, in Obama’s case, not vote for him.
Though it’s not like Republicans have anything else to do. These gun photographs have become a big part of Republican strategy, focusing on rural America with a heavy skew toward the South. The South obsessively loves its guns, going back to the antebellum plantation era in which Southern slave owners wanted to be armed at all times in order to put down morally inevitable slave rebellions. The GOP cemented its regional base of Southern support with Richard Nixon’s privately racist Silent Majority movement aligned in opposition to the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s.
The America that Republicans presumably want back is the 1950s, nostalgically white male privileged pax Americana: the patriotic American era before blacks were integrated into whites-only schools, before women had jobs or birth control, before gays came out, before Muslims and Mexicans moved into the suburbs, and when everyone was still afraid of public socialism.
This is the culture war conservatives imagine: that liberals and equality have ruined this good ‘ol days America, and unregulated gun rights are one of the few American freedoms left. So the Republican primary has been hijacked by the people who organize open carry gun parades and restaurant gun-ins, and the good Christians who send armed-and-proud Christmas cards. This vocal minority has influence far beyond its actual democratic voting power, and the National Rifle Association has bought a political wrench and stuck it in the works of effective governance. The paranoid politicization of gun rights in response to near weekly mass shootings is going to be a wedge issue for both parties in 2016, hence these dumb gun photo ops on the Republican side.
So seriously, check this blog out. Haughey has already done his work on the classic photo of Mitch McConnell holding a giant shotgun upside down at CPAC last year, basically turning his 2014 Senatorial campaign into a Kentucky gun-off with Democratic challenger Allison Grimes. He looks like a giant turtle dimly holding a gun, but I’m pretty sure his tortoise face was not photoshopped.
Haughey’s photos are works of political art in a time capsule kind of way. Keep these stored on the Internet for students of the graduating class of 2116 to study. Yes, future students, back in 2016 Republicans presidential candidates literally showed off guns as they rallied their campaigns with rhetoric of forcibly taking America back, back to some non-specific, diversity-ignorant American era that never really existed outside their privileged men’s club lives. Nostalgia is endearing, but American history really is not very rosy, and that is why progress is so wonderful. Republican ideology has become a willingness to be against any progressivism at all because progress bad business for those who profit wildly from the status quo. Thus our oligarchic quid pro quo.
Unfortunately, though, these publicity stunts are popular theatrical productions, and after scrolling through Haughey’s growing collection, Republican politics starts to look like the last scraps of vaudeville silliness. Election 2016’s Republican debate entertains xenophobes with vaudeville’s old-school racial exploitation, and the GOP’s frontrunner is an unashamed fascist who merely shrugs at being compared politically to Adolph Hitler. Vaudeville star Charlie Chaplin made his first true talking film about this stuff.
Donald Trump, however, would rather have us compare him to Franklin Roosevelt because he wants to repeat the shameful, amoral things FDR did that still make us feel guilty today. Trump’s policies are otherwise the complete opposite of FDR’s Great Depression and WWII presidency. Trump, with his inflamed political rallies, is Hitler in his own analogy.
Meanwhile, the only thing Republicans actually do talk about on the stump is repealing everything Obama ever did. Their campaigns’ reactions to current events are just opposite however the Obama Administration reacts.
And it’s dangerous, because opposite-Obama is foreign war and Islamophobia. Republicans want to start a new Middle Eastern occupation, and frontrunner Trump wants to build domestic internment/concentration camps. A new occupation is insane because we just ended two major occupations that lasted a decade each, simultaneously, and they didn’t work. Neoconservatism did not take in the region, and the military-adventuring ruined America’s post-Cold War, Post-9/11 political and moral hegemony. America simply is not the freest country in the world, and the US is not the beacon of freedom that Republicans claim it is with mindless Pavlovian muscle memory.
We invaded Iraq for corporate profit and militaristic hubris. Our cities self-finance with white-flighted ghettos, while our police have a murder problem in them. The world pays attention to American politics, and right now the leading Republican presidential candidate is ignorantly riling up crowds of people and politicizing the facts that Muslim concentration camps are bad, and police brutality is unnecessary. ISIS pays attention to this stuff more than anyone else, and Republican Islamophobia feeds radical Islam’s ideology.
Trump aside, another Republican candidate is so childish in a schoolyard bully façade of toughness that he doesn’t want to let even toddler Muslim orphans into the country. Another Republican candidate announced that her administration would not talk to President Putin until Russia did what she wanted. Others call for mindlessly bombing civilians. Republican plans to institute the silent treatment and break international humanistic rules is the politics of immature toddlers.
The 2016 Election has become a desperate Republican effort to turn America into a shitty, vile country. It first started turning shitty under President W. Bush when the Bush Administration fucking tortured people, and Republicans today say it wasn’t the wrong choice. That’s one of many reasons why Republicans ruined America’s beacon of freedom reputation.
So if Republicans are making America betray its ideals, and disappointing the rest of the word because their party is made up of fear mongers, at least Matt Haughey’s Tumblr dildo photos prove that not all Americans are nativist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, fascists. Satire is the greatest weapon against fascism, and the Republican presidential candidates deserve it.