Anyone who has seen Good morning joe The past week has been repeatedly gifted by self-proclaimed Conservative host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough. explosion Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for being a “great government socialist.”
Why does Scarborough call DeSantis by this provocative and politically charged name?
Well, it was really a moment of political opportunism for Scarborough to hit socialism, due to complete ignorance of what socialism really is.
However, Scarborough’s anti-socialist rants, in addition to ignorantly characterizing socialism, were strangely timed to this pandemic moment in a way that actually exposed and clarified the dangers and backwardness of conservative ideology, starkly highlighting the elements of small government and political rights. states’ rights that allow racism, sexism and other repressive authoritarian policies.
What Scarborough described as “socialism” was DeSantis’ state anti-masking mandate, which prohibits businesses, schools, organizations, any person and entity, from requiring that people wear masks in their facilities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Scarborough went to town in DeSantis, mistaking the stupidity of top-down government for socialism. Hey rant:
“It sounds like a socialist to me. When you’re the governor of a state and you tell businesses, small businesses that they can’t run their business the way they want to run their business, to keep their stores safe, the way they think they can run theirs. safe stores, and also when you are telling local school boards, forbidding them to take safety measures in their own areas.
Florida is like five different states. So go tell someone in Broward County, a local school board in Broward County, they must do the same thing that happens in Walton County, ten hours, twelve hours away, it’s ridiculous government. , one size fits all for socialism. It does not make any sense “.
Let’s first start with the medical stupidity and pettiness of the Scarborough tirade from a political perspective.
To state the obvious, we are dealing with a highly contagious and transmissible virus. The virus knows no local boundaries, and it is undeniable that one of the greatest obstacles to managing the virus in the United States has been the refusal of individual states, and individuals, to address the reality of the pandemic and take steps to do so. achieve. – or even encourage – behaviors and policies (testing, vaccination, masking, distancing) that would collectively protect us from the virus and slow, if not prevent, its spread.
In fact, a big News Block the nation has not contained the pandemic is precisely because we have not had a coordinated effort at the national level and uniform policies across states, such that governors in states like Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and Texas are licensed to endanger the rest. of us.
Scarborough’s logic is exactly what also allows the anti-vaccination movement and, frankly, the movements to undermine democracy, legitimize racism and sexism, and disenfranchise voters.
Indeed, Scarborough’s logic not only undermines the basis for a nationally coordinated approach to managing the pandemic, but also to preserving democracy, voting rights, and civil rights.
Scarborough makes this argument for local government rights at the precise moment when desperately needed legislation is in the process of being drafted in Congress that would create a federal law to protect voters’ right to vote in across the country from Republican state legislatures who are vociferously trying not to. only to restrict access to voting, but also to allow the state legislatures themselves to determine the outcome of the elections regardless of what the voters say.
Would a federal action that supports and defends democracy constitute “big government socialism” for Scarborough?
Were the voting and civil rights laws of the 1960s, necessarily passed and enforced at the federal level because some states wanted to maintain racial injustice and segregation, also “big government socialism”?
The push for conservative ideology to support state rights has historically been an effort to allow states to maintain racist and sexist cultures and societies at the local level.
As I wrote last week for Politicus United StatesOur founders imagined that democracy required citizens to act not out of narrow self-interest, but out of a sense of the public good. They did not envision democratic freedom as one that would license every small business, school, community, or even state to do as they please regardless of its impact on others in the nation.
Yet that’s what Scarborough’s conservatism calls for.
And his interpretation of socialism, a political economy in which everyone shares the collective fruits of social labor and recognizes their interdependence, is simply absurd.
There is not enough space here for a full discussion, but I will recommend Albert Einstein’s book to readers. 1949 essay on socialism, which offers a key insight into the problems we face today. I could have written these words today, in fact:
I have now come to the point where I can briefly indicate what for me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It is about the individual’s relationship with society. The individual has become more aware than ever of his dependence on society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic bond, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Furthermore, his position in society is such that the egoistic impulses of his constitution are constantly accentuated, while his social impulses, which are weaker by nature, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are undergoing this deterioration process. Unknowingly, prisoners of their own selfishness, they feel insecure, alone and deprived of the naive, simple and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. One can find meaning in life, however short and dangerous it may be, only by dedicating oneself to society.
We have seen a fugitive individualism in the nation that denies any sense or concept of the public good, precisely because we have not been recognizing our dependence on each other, our interdependence with each other. The failed and chaotic response to the pandemic, particularly in the red states, highlights this collapse.
Einstein’s socialist perspective demands that we recognize the reality of our interdependence. Scarborough’s conservatism, so ignorant of the socialism Einstein describes, denies it and poses dangers to a healthy democratic society.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a Chicago state university. A longtime progressive voice, he has published many scholarly and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Association for Working Class Studies, the International Association for Labor Communications, the National Federation of Press Women and the Illinois Women’s Press Association.