I’ve been reading Reaganland, the latest volume in Rick Perlstein’s incredible series of books (Nixonland, The Invisible Bridge) that serve as not only a history of conservatism in the 1970s, but also as a pre-history of the modern conservative political movement.
If you’ve ever wondered how we got to a place where the Republican Party has effectively signed off on the destruction of democracy and apparently cast its lot with apartheid-style minority one-party rule, these three volumes will explain it for you in incredibly clear detail.
Of course, especially after a group of seditious Congresspersons attempted to violently overthrow the government just three weeks ago, it’s a difficult read right now because the seeds that were planted with Nixon and the various shadowy right-wing groups that backed him and subsequently every right-wing president from Reagan to both Bushes to Trump blossomed in right-wing terrorists trying to overtake the literal symbol of our democracy under the protection of Congresspersons who took an oath to protect the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
The books show clearly the advance of the moral rot in the Republican Party to the point where the GOP literally no longer has a platform, replacing it in 2020 with almost quite literally “whatever Dear Leader (Donald Trump) says”.
It was different in 1976 of course. Republicans used to stand for some things. But even those have been perverted by the extremists in the party to the hysterical.
To be a Republican in 1976 was to be for lower taxes and to advocate for larger military budgets to counter the threat of Soviet-era communism. In 2016, that means lowering taxes on the super-rich to the tune of $1.5 trillion, money effectively taken from the pockets of the poor and middle-class who today find themselves having to feed their families through charitable organizations in the middle of a pandemic.
Despite having no global enemies and communism dying a slow, laborious death the only constant among the intellectually bankrupt rubes that populate key positions of power in the GOP is to blithely call every policy position proposed by the Democrats as “communism” or “socialism” without any regard to what those political philosophies actually represent.
Those same politicians have no problem paying American farmers tens of billions of years to NOT farm their land or to compensate them for ill-conceived tariffs by their Dear Leader, acts which are quite literally socialism.
The scariest part and the reason I’m writing this is that in reading Reaganland you can see the parallels between the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, Barack Obama in 2008 and Joe Biden in 2020, all “hired” by the American people to clean up messes made by their Republican predecessors and in each case met with nothing by intransigence in blocking any kind of legislation to improve the lives of ordinary Americans and a huge leap to the right by conservatives in response to each.
The problem now is there is no further right to go. The Republican Party has no platform, no principles, only the bloodthirsty lust for power. Mitch McConnell is the perfect avatar for this, blocking hearing and a vote on a Supreme Court nominee after the death of a Justice in 2016 and then reversing himself when a Republican held the White House and a Justice died in 2020.
No, the pursuit is power and democracy only gets in the way of that power, so even a seditious uprising to violently overthrow the American government isn’t enough to chasten the Republican Party. It is now solely a white supremacist terrorist organization whose sole goal is to remove Democrats from power at each and every level of government it can to re-make the United States into a one-party state where Blacks, LGBTQ and other minorities will live an apartheid reality and all laws will be geared towards the advancement of white people.
You might think I’m being hysterical. So be it. But watch what the Republicans, especially in the Senate do over the next four years. You’re already seeing an example with only five GOP Senators wanting to go through a trial for Donald Trump for inciting a violent mob to kill Congressmen and overturn a free and fair election. To them, this is no longer a nation of laws, it’s a grab for power because they know it’s the last chance they’re going to get if laws strengthening our democracy like enhanced voter registration, laws to eliminate legalized voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of the people of Washington, DC and Puerto Rico continue.
No, if they succeed in hampering Joe Biden’s presidency through any dirty trick in the book, from the Jim Crow filibuster to blocking the ability for Biden to choose his Cabinet to the laws already being proposed in states like Georgia and Arizona to further the restrict the ability of people of color to vote and someone who is more capable of treason or sedition like Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley is elected president in 2024, then that’s the ballgame. By its 250th birthday, the United States will no longer be a democracy and government by the people and for the people will have indeed perished.
That blueprint is the blueprint already used in countries like Turkey, Poland, Hungary and others and it will spread throughout the world with other right-wing governments emboldened by the death of American democracy. Our allies in Europe are already facing an overwhelming tide of anti-democratic, right-wing nationalism in places like France, Germany and the UK.
It’s not too far-fetched a scenario to think that a decade from now there could only be a handful of major democracies in the world, probably only in Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea and a few others scattered here and there.
That’s the reality of a future where the Republican Party refuses to disavow sedition and is allowed to spread lies and misinformation through media outlets like Fox News.
This is happening. I don’t know how to fix it. I truly don’t. I wish I did. If you want to know why we’re living in Mexico, this is it right here. I didn’t foresee a violent mob trying to overthrow the government on 1/6, but I knew bad things were going to happen.
It happened, just like the GOP is trying to sweep that under the rug after having five years of histrionics and 33 hearings about the deaths of four Americans caused by a violent mob in Libya, their attitude to a violent mob that killed five people in the United States Fucking Capitol building is “we need to move on”.
This is not a political party, it’s a cult and a terrorist organization and it needs to be treated as such by the American people. Until it is, the future is bleak indeed, my friends. Stay safe.