From Muck-Spouts to Snollygosters –Gadzooks!– When Modern Language Fails

Writing helps me make sense of the world. From age fifteen I have kept diaries. My major was English Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Since before the 2020 election my essay series about the alarming events here in the US kept me sane. I felt like I was part of the solution –writing for democracy. I shared, hoping Trumpist family members might heed my warnings. Here it is, 2023, and another essay is brimming. And I find modern language inadequate. Ultra-Maga, for instance, is a weak term. It does not convey the threat, hypocrisy, or insanity within. It’s like saying Very Right Wing, or Quite Whackadoodle. Republican House members are passing laws that outlaw abortion nationwide, they are interfering in the prosecution of Trump, and some are wearing AR 15 pins on their lapels. Red state legislators and Trumpist Governors –signing away the rights of women, children, and non-heterosexuals –these are not just unprincipled politicians on the right. No. These people are despots and villains. Finally, the entire collection of cowards, liars, and ignorant souls that make up the Trumpist party –they aren’t conservatives. This dire threat to democracy can’t just be called the Republican Party. As I update you, I will offer more colorful language from the Tudor era and the American south in hopes that it will entertain and motivate you.

Let’s begin with the House of Representatives, where Marge Muck-Spout is chief. Marjorie Taylor, I mean. Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House, lives to do her bidding. He’s Fapdoodle. Stupid. Fapdoodle stands for nothing. His goal was to grasp the Speaker’s gavel, and for the power of that gavel he sold out to Muck-Spout and company. He needs a harness and she a leash. They’d be a hit at an S&M party. I digress. From her field trips to the DC jail to visit January 6 defendants to her calls to arrest NY DA Alvin Bragg (who, yesterday, brought the first Trump indictment) –Muck-Spout is thoroughly despicable. She called for the separation of red and blue states. She heckled Biden during his State of the Union speech, even called him a liar. She harassed a school shooting survivor -turned- gun safety advocate on the street in DC. Here she explains gender: “I’ll tell you what a woman is. We come from Adam’s rib. We’re our husbands wives. We’re the weaker sex.” And the following is paraphrased: “I think all Republicans should call themselves Christian Nationalists and be proud. Because that’s what we are.” Muck-Spout opens her mouth and shallow pronouncements overflow. Yet she is representative of the caliber of people in the House chambers right now. She’s not alone. The House of Representatives does not pose the biggest danger, though, because the extremists don’t control all three branches of government (thank you, voters). While awful, their antics are mostly theater.

The real danger lies in the red state legislatures. The new laws pile on cruelty. Trumpism gave permission to the worst people on the right, and now they venture forth with renewed energy in the pursuit of some version of Gilead. I’ll start in Arkansas, since I’m a resident. Sarah Huckabee, an admitted liar for Trump, now casts a shadow in the natural state like Sauron in the east. I’ll call her Snollygoster, a dark-side politician. In the same week she OK’d a statue to commemorate dead fetuses, and rolled back child labor laws. So much for protecting kids. Another new law states you can only use the bathroom of the sex on your birth certificate. Abortion was banned here as soon as Roe fell. Now the Arkansas legislature is considering a bill to criminalize women who seek abortions. Snollygoster’s visage reflects the lack of compassion within. Like the laws she affixes her signature to –she’s ugly.

Over twenty lawmakers in South Carolina signed on to a bill that could bring the death penalty to women seeking abortions. OB GYN doctors are leaving red states because they can’t provide care with the threat of fines and prison over their heads. Women are dying in ERs from unresolved miscarriages because doctors are on the phone with lawyers. It’s a human rights crisis. The anti-choice laws make me angry in a way that’s hard to articulate. The utter disregard for women –their right to self-determination, privacy, their right not to be pregnant –the disregard is heartbreaking. How dare they. We can thank Trumpist supreme court picks –Christian fundamentalist zealots.

Tennessee passed an anti-drag bill. Other red states will follow. Drag shows are forbidden in public, where kids might see them. This does nothing but put a chill on gay pride parades and drag performers. One famous drag queen from Memphis wondered whether they could be arrested between their parked car and the venue. This is not about protecting kids. Guns are the #1 killer of children in the US today. The red states are silent about gun safety laws. Again, protecting kids is the excuse, not the real reason for the new laws.

Ruthless Tyrant is my Tudor name for Governor DeSantis, dictator of Florida. He fired a prosecutor because the prosecutor said he would not go after abortion cases. “Woke ideas come to die in Florida,” says the Tyrant. History books are being revised. A parent complained about Michelangelo’s David in an art class, calling it porn; the principal of the school was fired. Courses about black history or gender are being eliminated from college curriculums. If you are a kid in school, you can’t share what your family did last weekend if you have two moms or two dads. We call it the Don’t Say Gay bill. Republican extremists are taking over school boards, banning books. You can do five years in jail for showcasing a banned book in schools. Bloggers have to register with the state and pay $50 if they want to write about Ruthless Tyrant. Recently the Tyrant hired a speech writer. This young writer is white nationalist-friendly; he once admired comments Nick Fuentes made about how women are too goofy to have authority over men.* Nick Fuentes also believes women should wear veils to church, and should be beaten and burned alive for disobedience. The Ruthless Tyrant has found his footing as an enthusiastic leader of the authoritarian and extremist right.

As I write this essay, the news of Trump’s first indictment is unfolding. The Tyrant issued a statement using the term “Soros backed” to describe NY DA Alvin Bragg. When white nationalists hear “Soros backed” they transcribe it to “Jewish funded.” We don’t know the charges against Trump yet. Even so, the Tyrant declared he would not sign off on an extradition of Trump. He’s talking directly to the Trump base, the people who sacked the Capitol. The Ruthless Tyrant is discouraging the rule of law. His refusal to extradite is not only moot, since Trump plans to turn himself in, it’s unconstitutional.

All this leads to the actual danger facing us. White nationalism. The Republicans chose a cruel path. Control over women’s bodies, suppressing LGBTQ people, banning books, elevating mindless muck-spouts, the revision of history, and encouraging lawlessness. Why? To cause fear, chaos, the deaths of women, to create civil unrest –then what? Swoop in with a dictator to restore white male rule. The Trumpist party is now trying to re-write the January 6 insurrection. On March 25, 2023, Trump gave his first 2024 presidential rally in Waco, Texas –on the anniversary of the fatal stand-off between the Branch Davidian cultists and the feds. Trump put his hand on his heart and pledged allegiance, along with a few thousand followers, to the January 6th defendants. Muck-Spout calls them political prisoners. In the background a video showed the Capitol that day. Loud speakers piped in a song about justice –sung by a January 6 choir in prison. During his speech Trump promised death and destruction if he is indicted. Ted Nugent presented the foreign policy platform, saying he did not want to give money to that “homosexual weirdo” Zelensky, the Ukranian president. A woman in the audience wore a gaudy hat and bragged about being a January 6 defendant, a badge of honor.

It’s times like this modern language fails me. For a few days I reached back to the dark ages, searching for words to describe the Waco event and its people. Then it hit me. We have a perfectly suitable phrase here in the American south: white trash. Hardcore Trumpists are white trash. Not necessarily poor, mind you. Marge Muck-Spout is a millionaire, after all. Donald himself is rich, and white trash. Willfully obtuse, complaining, grievance-ridden, conspiracy-believing, misinformed, ignorant, Fox-consuming, (often) fundamentalist Christian, (mostly) white people. Republicans represent white male rule, which is coming to an end. They don’t have the numbers. So they reach for power via autocracy. Repressive laws, misinformation from Fox and the like, loud dummies like Muck-Spout, corrupt Snollygosters like Huckabee, Ruthless Tyrants and Fapdoodles –these are the foundations of autocratic rule. And always out front –grifter Trump, making money from his throngs of insurrectionist-loving foot soldiers with their Trump trucks, Trump flags, and tacky hats. The party of white trash.

Gadzooks. What a heap of landfill garbage. I don’t even remember the party that once believed that character matters.

Here’s the thing. What the authoritarian right is counting on is that we don’t name it. So call them out. They are extemists. They are not normal. Speak truth kindly and without fear. They want us to be fearful of the white trash bullies. Don’t be. Stand up to them when it’s safe to do so. Right now all of us –conservative and liberal- who are pro-democracy should find a way to help get our country back on track. It’s a beautiful experiment worth saving. Do you have a friend who doesn’t believe in voting? Now is a good time to talk to them about what’s at stake. Most of us have Trumpist family members who have no idea Tucker Carlson is lying to them. Refer them to a news outlet, tell then about the Dominian law suit against Fox. If you are a true Christian, speak out against Christian nationalism and fundamentalism. Drive women to border states for reproductive care. Buy banned books. Tell children true history. Vote.

The good news is this: they won’t win. We won’t let them. Yesterday, March 30th, Trump was indicted by a NY grand jury. More indictments will fall –because they must. If rule of law is to continue, it must apply to all. The white nationalists will lose the general election just as they lost the midterms. Fox will lose the defamation case. The Republican Party will collapse and build back up as a rational conservative party. Women will be restored to first class citizenship. Children will be protected from assault rifles. One day Fapdoodle will go incognito in public out of shame. And someone like Chris Jones will someday be governor of Arkansas. It may take time, and it may be painful. But I have to keep thinking the best, not the worst, will happen.

The other reason to fight the extremist right is the Earth herself. Authoritarians don’t care about climate change. The only thing that matters to them is the acquisition of power and money. The earth, its plants and animals –and its denizens– are in danger in the face of the creeping authoritarian movement across the world. My brother believes Gen Z will save us as more of them hit voting age. He said it’s just a matter of what comes first, climate disaster or Gen Z coming of age. There may be truth there. Meanwhile, we can all shoulder some of the load. Let’s vanquish the party of Muck-Spouts, Fapdoodles, Snollygosters, Ruthless Tyrants, and white trash. Once and for all.

Laurel Owen, March 2023

*”DeSantis Finds His Voice: A Natcon Culture Warrior Who Praised a Prominent White Nationalist,” by Tim Miller.