January 14, 2021
Little Rock Once you breakout of metro Atlanta and hit interstate 20, the hills start rolling towards Birmingham, and then interstate 22 moves through northern Alabama towards Tupelo until connecting to I-55 into Memphis. There’s not much to see in that stretch of I-22, but it’s beautiful. The hills are higher. Houses and towns are scattered. Snow was on the western rises of the road in Mississippi, left over from storms earlier in the week, and still melting down. Truth to tell, it’s a very nice drive on a good road. Listening to the radio on the other hand is a scary introduction to the confused, fragmented, and leaderless right in this stretch of red states.
One talk radio show after another, bouncing back and forth with the callers, were having trouble finding their footing in the new world of Trump silenced and the Capitol under siege. They knew they weren’t supposed to like it, but they didn’t know how to defend it, and were clueless to advise their listeners on what – if anything – could be done for their cause. For more than four years, they had been able to say “ditto” to whatever the president was tweeting more than a dozen times a day. Now they were lost without a clear sightline to a leader and unable to decide what to do with the tiny voices still out there, and whether they might be sucked into a mess without having gotten their bearings. The problem for followers of authoritarian leaders is what to do in the vacuum when the leader is defeated, deposed, and sidelined.
They were having to concede the election as a reality, rather than a nightmarish fantasy they could pretend never happened. They were embarrassed by the violence and vandalism of the Capitol riot. It wasn’t a good look. Sure, there were Confederate battle flags here and there, but they had just taken them off the Mississippi flag and traded them in for God and magnolias. One cracked a lame line about the Biden-Harris new administration calling it the Harris-Biden, but there was no enthusiasm to it or reaction.
The FBI and Homeland Security are warning police chiefs around the nation about possible impending violence without being able to cite eminent threats, because they are caught flat-footed as well. 20,000 National Guard have been mobilized and allowed live arms for the inaugural. The pathetic, shut-the-barn-door-after-the-cows-ran-out action of social media monopolies like Facebook and Twitter delisting of various sites and spokespeople has meant that they are flocking to encrypted communication and smaller, unmonitored areas. While Facebook’s #2, Sheryl Sandberg is trying to lean out of taking any responsibility, the right rads are going underground.
The establishment seems to be trying to puff up Trump just enough that he calls off his dogs, because they are afraid of wild, roaming leaderless packs, while pretending they didn’t abet and enable him for years. After allowing no responsibility or accountability, now they want to act like he’s in charge, even as he is silenced, because they are finally afraid of the deluge. This would be a funny moment as they skitter about trying to find a place to hide from their past and present, if it wasn’t such a dangerous moment for the rest of us. The only consensus for a number of miles would be when they would break to salute the Crimson Tide, and remind people that they were talking about Alabama’s national NCAA championship and not the red radical mayhem they had all helped unleash.