This Week In Bad Faith

This Week In Bad Faith

I’ve wanted to write a wrap-up sort of column for a while now. I consume a lot of news – grinding my molars listening to NPR on the way to the kids’ school and reading the New York Times and Washington Post until I become one with my existential terror – that generates a lot of ideas for Bad Faith Times columns. 

I can’t write them all, as you might imagine, considering I have a full-time job and upwards of seven side podcasts, including the Dad Szn Show, which you really must check out. 

And since bad faith politics is the defining politics of our time, there’s a lot to touch on, a lot to dissect and better understand so we might find this nonsensical cultural and political landscape slightly less mind-breaking. 

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MLK On Steroids

North Carolina’s Republican gubernatorial candidate was carved from the Trumpist mold. Radically anti-LGBTQ rights and anti-abortion rights and anti-women’s rights and vehemently antisemitic and anti-civil rights and anything else that might expand liberty and freedom in the United States, Mark Robinson was dubbed this week by Donald Trump as “MLK on steroids.” 

Besides making me picture Martin Luther King, Jr. with massive biceps and rippling eight-pack abs and a chinstrap beard that is favored by meatheads the world over, this demonstrates the extent to which MLK’s legacy has been whitewashed and tainted by the American right. It’s not exactly a new development, and it's certainly not by accident. Conservatives way back in the 90s informed me all the time that King had been a registered Republican for a little while and that he would have happily supported Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and I suppose, the thinking goes, Donald Trump.

That King was a registered Republican because congressional Democrats from the South were the ones standing against any and all advancements for black Americans – while relatively liberal Republicans in the northeast pushed back – doesn’t matter to them. It would be good if Americans read one (1) book in their lives. It would help the discourse.

There is next-to-no understanding of MLK’s politics in the United States. Very few Americans, for instance, seem to know King had become more than a little socialism-curious in the final years of his life. I was brought up to believe King stood for everyone, that he would defend white folks as readily as he would defend black folks because all people faced the same cultural and political conditions in the US. Never mind that whites in America did not and do not require defending. I never learned a single thing about the horrors of segregation outside of the following: It was a long time ago and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. 

That a far-right MAGA Republican, the definition of “political craziness,” can successfully claim the mantle of MLK in 2024 should be utterly horrifying to anyone who believes in King’s legacy of justice and his rejection of a “negative peace” that defined the Jim Crow era. It’s another example of our fractured time, when anyone can create any reality that fits their preconceived narrative. 

Robinson’s goals are explicitly counter to King’s. He is the anti-MLK. That shouldn’t even need to be said. 

As we descend into pure Idiocracy – ruled by internet addicts who, again, have never read a single book and have no knowledge or understanding of history – we have to reject the right’s adoption of Martin Luther King as one of their own, ripped abs and all. 

Judge Declares Racism is Over

A federal judge in Texas, apparently guided by the ethos of “it’s OK to be white,” ruled this week that the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency “discriminates against white people and must offer its services to people of all races and ethnic groups.” Because, you see, in the overactive right-wing imagination, white Americans are besieged by a torrent of racism that has made them second-class citizens in the Age of Woke. 

It’s the purest kind of bad faith: Pretending that a government program designed to uplift people of color by its very nature discriminates against white people, and it goes hand in hand with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts announcing all racial disparities had been addressed when SCOTUS conservatives gutted the Voting Rights Act a decade ago. Probably this comes as breaking news to people of color residing in the US. The bad faith that might kill the Minority Business Development Agency can also be found in the bleeding heart of the SCOTUS decision to end race-conscious college admissions – a naked attack on white folks, according to Clarence Thomas and his fellow Court activists. 

The judge, a fine and not-morally-bankrupt fella named Mark T. Pittman, followed the well-worn right-wing playbook of using the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law to destroy government efforts to support and uplift communities of color. Weaponizing the all-important 14th Amendment has been key in the right’s mission to dismantle every single progressive gain of the 20th century, and our political system – including the courts – is not designed to handle the rotten faith driving this vile effort. Right-wing activists like this Texas judge – a Trump appointee, in case you needed a 700th reason to vote this fall – say with feigned sincerity that Congress passed the 14th Amendment not to (finally) give some semblance of rights to formerly enslaved people, but to protect white small business owners in the Florida suburbs in the 21st century. 

The attorney representing the plaintiffs in this case pointed out that black and brown Americans can’t be considered disadvantaged because Oprah Winfrey is rich. I wish to god almighty I were joking, but the man really said that. He also said this: “We hope this is a precedent to eliminate all of that,” referring to all race-conscious programs in the federal government. 

The great Thurgood Marshall saw all this fucking bullshit coming

Welfare is Good, Actually

Every time I pull into the grocery store parking lot, I’m greeted by a big green-and-purple sign with various Marylanders declaring themselves “WIC babies.” The Women, Infants, and Children program has been robust and wildly successful in Maryland for generations, providing food for low-income families (even if the program has restrictions on so-called junk food, which is paternalistic and deeply insulting to poor folks). 

Maryland apparently has a campaign trumpeting the successes of WIC, with people who have benefited from the program proudly calling themselves “WIC babies.” These ads include current photos alongside childhood photos of the folks who didn’t go hungry because the state stepped in and said no, hungry kids are morally unacceptable. Obviously this is not a universal stance since many Republican-majority state legislatures have taken every chance to decimate funding for efforts to stop children from starving. It’s all part of the right’s War on Kids, which is very real and ramping up all the time. 

Portraying a welfare program as good and worthy is, I think, a nice example of no-faith politics. The ad itself isn’t a direct refutation of those who would say government assistance was hatched in the hottest depths of hell, but an overtly positive statement that people you may know grew up healthy and became functional adults largely because they had food in their bellies as children. The “WIC baby” ads scattered around the Maryland suburb have the added bonus of not relying on wonky stats and data about childhood hunger and the societal benefit of programs that provide a standard-of-living floor.

We must remember at all times that data and facts do not matter at all in modern politics, if they ever did. Look no further than economic data showing what might be the best economy of the 21st century, a trend that doesn't seem to matter to huge swaths of Americans who believe we are on the precipice of a Depression. While the numbers show crime is nearing an all-time low, tens of millions of voters view major American cities as "no-go zones" where dozens of people are murdered every hour or every day. Show these folks a chart or graph and watch them laugh in your face. Objective reality has no place in politics.

Humans are emotional creatures who are much more easily swayed by a tug at the heartstrings than a glance at a spreadsheet. As a spreadsheet warrior, I take no pleasure in reporting this. 

The American left has stopped shrinking from the right’s attacks on government assistance programs. But more can be done. An affirmative ad campaign about how the government has helped families will change the minds of political normies who have been taught that all government intervention is bad. 

Follow Denny Carter on BlueSky at and on Threads and X at @CDCarter13.