Republican pleas to save 'the children' are cheap, cynical politics at their worst: conservative

Republican pleas to save 'the children' are cheap, cynical politics at their worst: conservative
Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York State, Wikimedia Commons

The term “Lovejoy’s law” became part of pop culture in the United States when, in 1996, Helen Lovejoy — a fictional character on the animated comedy “The Simpsons” — pleaded, “Won't somebody please think of the children?” It was biting satire that brilliantly mocked politicians who cynically use children for political gain. Never Trump conservative Tim Miller, in an article published by The Bulwark on May 16, slams the Republicans of 2022 for invoking a MAGA version of “Lovejoy’s law” and doing it without an ounce of shame.

But while Miller considers it shamelessly “demagogic” to invoke “Lovejoy’s law,” he also acknowledges that it’s effective.

“In 2022, the GOP has been enthusiastic in their reanimation of ‘Lovejoy’s Law,’ that fallacious appeal to emotion which implores someone, somewhere to just please think of the children,” Miller explains. “This little bit of platitudiny — memorialized in The Simpsons episode ‘Much Apu About Nothing’…. has been employed by political mobs demanding they get their way for as long as there has been politics. The demagogic and simple-minded of all ideological stripes fall back on this argument because, frankly, it works. Children are vulnerable and lovable.”

“Lovejoy’s law,” according to Miller, has “become the central animating feature of America’s nihilistic and demagogic political party.” The party he is referring to is the GOP.

Miller himself is a former Republican, but like other Never Trumpers, he turned against the GOP in a big way thanks to former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement. And the Republicans of 2022, Miller complains, have cynically made “Lovejoy’s law…. central to” their “messaging.”

“Today, Republicans claim that ‘the children’ must be protected from all manner of things: groomer teachers, ‘critical race theory’ making them feel bad about their whiteness, books featuring gay penguin daddies, revelations that some families might be different from theirs, and, most of all, a shadowy cabal of child predators who meet in the basement of a pizza joint, and frazzledrip the skin from babies faces so as to maintain a youthful visage for themselves,” Miller observes. “None of these threats come anywhere near the importance the GOP places on them, of course. Many don’t exist at all. But they do confirm the prior worries of an audience who fears that they might, which is the important part.”

Miller is especially critical of Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York State, who now chairs the House Republican Conference and is the third highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Stefanik of the early 2010s was a moderate conservative along the lines of Sen. Mitt Romney, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan or the late Sen. John McCain, but she has since flip flopped and gone full MAGA — which is why House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise wanted her to replace Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as House Republican Conference chair. And Stefanik showed how MAGA she has become with a sleazy reference to “The White House, House Dems, & usual pedo grifters” in a recent tweet.

Stefanik posted:

In response, former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance — who is often featured as a legal analyst on MSNBC — called Stefanik out for debasing herself, tweeting:

Stefanik, Miller writes, is “simply making an appeal to her mob’s emotion.”

“Whether it’s roaming bears, or critical race theory, or gay teachers, or high taxes, or, inevitably, illegal immigrants, the call to think of the little pedos is never meant to actually solve any problems,” Miller emphasizes. “It only exists to give the intended audience their latest little bottle of rage-milk, so as to help sustain them one more day. So, you tell me who the pedo grifter perp in this story really is.”


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