Much has been made of the fact that, in the absence of an actual platform, the GOP is now essentially the party of grievance — which is to say, that the onetime party of “personal responsibility” who went around bullying “snowflakes” has most decidedly turned into a party with two signature moves: Whining, and blaming. Or, put another way, it’s just one: performative grievance.
Of late, Bucks’ own U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) has been performing grievance both on the Hill and off. Fitzpatrick is one of the sponsors behind the Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act, H.R. 3583, which is all about monitoring and preventing future pandemics. What’s in the bill isn’t crazy on the face of it — and in fact, it seems mostly toothless. It’s the motivations behind it that are actually dangerous, because the bill, too, is performing grievance — it’s looking for someone to blame for COVID-19, and -20, and -21, and so on.
One gets the feeling that it won’t end well. Fitzpatrick went on Fox Business earlier this month to thump his chest, identify himself as a former FBI Agent, and, uh… crack the case?
“It is not hard for me at all to connect the dots with what’s going on here,” before launching into some (forgive me) utter batshit nonsense about how it’s not the BATS that we need to be worried about, it’s the PETRI DISHES. He winds up with a rant about how “This is what the Chinese do, they lie,” seemingly oblivious to, well, his own party, their chosen Daddy, and all the rest of it.
Everyone knows this is the wrong approach, even our neighbors right here in Bucks County.
Even though it’s been roundly rejected by scientists since the moment someone thought it up, the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was leaked from a lab near Wuhan (intentionally or accidentally) has gained traction in mainstream politics in the last few months. With all of the conspiracy theories being floated these days, it’s both only logical that one would sneak through into the broader consciousness, and deeply sad that it’s this one in particular. (What if, instead, we all just chose to believe, I dunno, that Tupac was still alive?) But no: blamers gotta blame.
But that blame doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In addition to Fitpatrick’s conspiracy theory truly getting in the way of science itself, there is also this. Since Baby Trumps, Medium Trumps and Daddy Trumps began spouting off this nonsense, violent attacks against Asian-Americans have skyrocketed, and they’re still going on.
Fitpatrick is now seen to be using all of this to gain political traction for his own self. At best, what he’s peddling is intellectually dishonest; at worst, it’s actively hateful. But you don’t have to choose: Like today’s GOP, it’s both.