Governors employ the “MAGA Rule” on immigrants, a perversion of a golden standard…


There’s a word for it- grotesque. The Republican Party has decided to renounce the one rule that has been inscribed in almost every culture since the dawn of time. “Do unto others…” is one of many manifestations of what has come to be known as The Golden Rule. For those among us who fancy themselves Christians, the rule was a guiding principle taught in the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew (7:12),

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good giftsto those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” and later,

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied:”’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37–40)

The lesson that day was not lost on those who were questioning Jesus. They were trying to trap him into uttering heresy. His answer was a recognition of the ethical responsibilities recognized throughout antiquity, from Jewish scholars, Confucius’ Analects, Plato, Aristotle, and the Roman philosopher Seneca, among others. We have been introduced to latter-day reinterpretations of the standard rule with Dr. Tony Allessandra’s Platinum Rule “ treat others as the way they want to be treated” and similar reworkings of the ancient wisdom that suggests that we all inherit shared humanity.

It is nearly universal in its appearance in the thinking of civil societies- except when it is abandoned by the grotesques among us. Republicans have long disabused themselves of the need to follow the teachings of the rest of civil society. The perverse stunts pulled by the Republican governors of Florida and Texas this week in which they kidnapped immigrants and sent them to far-off locations in order to “own the libs” is grotesque. It follows policies that separated immigrant families at the border by the Trump Administration and the hateful embrace by Republicans of white supremacy and racism that became a norm among their base. These acts mirror the acceptance of slavery as a national policy and, later, the national disgrace of more than a century of institutionalized racism under Jim Crow.

The two Republican governors have weaponized politics with an understanding that cruelty and hate are the standards, now, of the perverted wing of their party. They have demonized the meaning of “others” and have called into question the nature of the evil they have visited on immigrants. We have seen this before, this evil disguised as political exigency. The process begins with the inference of a threat from outsiders that allows the dehumanization of them. The Jews caught up in the Nazi holocaust are a recent example of the extremes to which men are willing to go when cruelty is the point. The current Republican Party has adopted in principle what many had thought separated America from other nations. Our reputation as a nation of immigrants is undermined by their shameless and cruel antics which are predicated on the perversion of what it means to “do unto others…” That rule has been at odds with the rule of despots and barbarians across the ages. Time has shown that in attempting to dehumanize others, they only succeed in demeaning themselves.

And so, there is a valid question to be asked; will the next election be the last safe and fair election of our era? Are we inured by tin-pot despots like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott? Nothing less than our democracy is on the ballot- and perhaps more importantly, our decency and honor as people. We as a nation are at a crossroads that reechoes the reckoning with the existential question of our founding- who are we? Will we be judged by history by how well we treated ourselves or how poorly we treated others?

Sound dramatic? A bit overblown? These are the questions that will begin to be answered this fall. These midterm elections either begin the repudiation of the MAGA wing of the former Republican Party (now Trump’s party) or they empower it. There is little room for a middle ground here.

The upcoming election should be a referendum not only on the MAGA movement but also on the party that is infected by it. The candidates that survived the Republican primaries, by and large, represent the most extreme choices whose victories depended upon their allegiance to one man. He demanded of them in return for his endorsement that they abandon civility and decency as a condition of their fealty to him- common good abandoned for a private good that offers benefits derived from the suffering of others. MAGA is a zero-sum world in which sharing power and wealth is anathema:

Given the demography of the movement, we suspect “making America great again” has something to do with returning to the racist, sexist, nativist times in the past, prior to the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the Hart-Celler If this is true, we should see this reflected in the data, and we do. We begin with the topic of racism, using questions that capture what is commonly referred to as racial resentment. We employ five items, using an agree/disagree format. When asked whether or not “slavery and discrimination makes it difficult for Blacks to work their way up,” better than 90 percent of movement supporters Immigration Act of 1965. disagree. Likewise, when queried on whether or not Blacks have received less than they deserve, roughly 90 percent, again, disagree. However, when asked whether or not “Blacks would be as well off as Whites if they tried,” if “Most Blacks on welfare could get a job if they tried,” and whether “Blacks should work their way up like other minorities,” no fewer than roughly 75 percent of movement supporters agree. (Again, comparable data from 2020 is not yet available…

Does such antipathy extend to immigrants and women? Yes, it does. Beginning with immigrants, nativism runs fairly strong within the movement. Roughly 85 percent of respondents believe that “Immigration is changing the culture for the worse,” and believe that “Immigrants refuse to abide by our laws.”

-- Panel Study Of The MAGA Movement, Rachel Blum, University of Oklahoma and Christopher Sebatian Parker, University of Wahington, 2022

Beyond Donald Trump, MAGA politics is infected with a narcissism that negates the humanity and dignity of others. Their view is the only one that matters, their success the only one allowed. It is a simple world inhabited by simpler folk who long ago replaced The Golden Rule for its inhumane perversion- call it the MAGA rule. Our response should be “enough” even as we refrain from applying their rule on them, that we refrain from doing unto them as they do to others.

Originally published at on September 16, 2022.



Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.

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Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.