Once you’ve attempted to destroy democracy, overthrow the government, and seize power, it’s a little difficult to say, “Just kidding.”
Yes, I’m sure that in future years, many Republican leaders will insist they never intended to break the country wide open. They were just indulging in “political theater.”
However, even political theater is usually principled or symbolic. It is not, in general, a dangerous and delusional maneuver that breaks through “the last level of neo-fascism.”
Now, we have heard apologists explain that the recent actions of Republicans don’t prove that they are actively hostile to democracy. Supposedly, all these conservative leaders are just appeasing Trump.
But two rejoinders come to mind:
First, haven’t they done enough appeasing for several lifetimes? And to what end? The guy lost and may end up killing off their political party. And still they’re scared of him?
Second, the idea that the GOP is just trying to keep Trump happy is the equivalent of saying, “I punched my kid in the face only because my husband insisted, and I didn’t want to make him angry.” It’s not an excuse.
The truth is that much of the right wing is all for tearing down America, and they need very little provocation to abandon any coherent political philosophy.
You see, the political party that hates judicial activism wanted judges to be active as hell and overrule voters. The party of states’ rights didn’t want states to run themselves, but instead be subservient to bigger states (like, for example, Texas). The party for freedom and against tyranny wanted to nullify an election and install its own president.
And this is not just a few rogue Republicans. It is vast swaths of the GOP and a majority of conservative voters. In fact, “about 64% of the entire House Republican conference supported Trump’s attempts to invalidate Biden’s win, using baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud as their reasoning.”
Even today, “three-quarters of Trump voters said congressional Republicans should try to keep Trump in power.” Furthermore, over 80 percent of Trump voters believe that Biden stole the election by committing fraud so egregious and obvious that you would have to be a moron to miss it. At the same time, the fraud is so subtle and devious that no one can find a single shred of evidence.
That is one tricky balancing act. Damn those sinister liberals!
In any case, many people thought Trump supporters would snap out of it and come to accept reality.
But they will not.
Hardcore Trumpists have turned on conservatives who question their god’s perfection. They have called for violence and martial law. They have made it clear that they will always follow this sniveling old man who “awakened an authoritarian impulse among the citizenry that was far larger and more rabid, and more easily triggered, than most of us ever imagined.”
The specifics and the level of danger may be unique to our time, but “there is a long history of building community cohesion by encouraging members to ignore the facts of the world around them.” After all, the people who believe the Earth is round don’t need to build a community. Reality handles that for them. But when faith and belief clash with logic, reason, and facts, a massive disconnect occurs. And sometimes, “the disconnect between belief and reality is precisely the point,” because when this gap “gets really large and the community becomes more insulated, cults arise.
And that is where we are today, with a cult masquerading as a political party, and truth up for grabs. And when reality itself is debatable, the world spins into chaos and cacophony.
In other words, it’s all very 2020.
Featured image: Chris Dorney/Stock.Adobe.com