While we were all being mesmerized by the Clown Circus version of an insurrection, and years before that as we stood rigidly by, hypnotized by the seemingly talentless and ignorant man as he bullied and intimidated his way into controlling the fate of nearly every member of the Republican Party—while we were distracted by all that, we may have overlooked the slipping away of our democracy.
We now have—officially—one party that believes in (or at least attempts to abide by) the Constitution, the rule of law, and all the responsibilities that go with it. We have another party, formerly made up of conservatives and the wealthy and now composed of conspiracy-dealing whack jobs (and the wealthy), that has no use for the rule of law, or the Constitution, or even for truth itself.
These people see the writing on the wall, that under a true democracy, with arguments and policy constrained by what we are now forced to refer to as “objective reality” (i.e., the opposite of “alternative facts”), there is no cogent way to argue for white minority rule among a pluralist society of informed voters. Especially given how it has been so-far pursued by the party of white supremacy: voter suppression, voter intimidation, gerrymandering, throwing out ballots from counties they don’t like, lawsuits when they can’t do that, and more voter suppression.
They understand the ‘theoretical’ votes are not there for white rule via apartheid-like policies, thus the ‘actual’ vote must be managed into a different result. It was made abundantly clear in 2008 and again in 2012. Only the electoral college’s “slavery days” quirks, the bored cynicism of coddled white voters, and the fierce misogyny of those same coddled white voters saved Republicans in 2016. And even for their one bedraggled ‘victory’, look at the price they have paid.
2020 restored the pattern despite every effort Republicans could make to undermine and sully the results of the best-managed election in modern history. But try as they might they could not erase the 7,000,000 voters who put Joe Biden in the White House. That’s a problem.
Democracy threatens to solidify this trend away from Republican presidents winning the popular vote—and even the electoral college vote! So now the Trump party has rejected democracy. It really is as simple as that.
To replace it, they have the Golden Calf himself, Donald Trump, the would-be Putin, the king of lies. Yes, when they paraded that gold-plated Donald Trump idol through the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting this year—a commission I have no doubt was financed by the Trump campaign—you could feel the reverence, the deeply religious and fact-free belief system that underlies the widespread worship of the former TV reality show huckster and all-around swindler.
His fears are their fears. His deep-seated insecurity and the hatred it breeds for those who can actually do things, create things or manage things successfully—it’s their insecurity too. You can feel the animosity for “elites” in every word they speak, where “elite”is a catch-all term like “vermin” or “subhuman” or “mongrel”. We might think “liberal” is the word they want, that reliable pejorative, but recall these are not Republicans, nor conservatives. These are the people who bragged, at the first CPAC gathering after Trump’s unlikely electoral college victory, that “we killed Ronald Reagan.” In fact it seems these would-be revolutionaries care less for their party’s former leadership and luminaries than they do for just about anyone else. Karl Rove? Loser. G.W. Bush? Loser. His dad? Loser.
It makes sense. If you want to reform a major political party in your idol’s image, the first thing you have to do is take down the old idols. Or at least those you perceive (in your mercenary, transaction-based world) as idols, since you cannot perceive of a public servant who just wants to do a good job for the people. That last notion, to a Trump party member, can only be believed by an ignorant fool. You don’t compromise, you don’t cooperate, and who’s gonna tell you you didn’t do a good job? Some elitist loser with a $400 haircut?
Most interesting to me are those in that other branch, the one that used to wield at least some power over the presidency. They could, as lawmakers at least in name, reserve some power to themselves. But Trump party members in Congress are more than happy to toss whatever may count as their dignity overboard (some would be “air bailing” their dignity, but still, I’m sure they believe they have some). They want to be sycophants, they want to be toadies, they want to place their fate in the hands of someone just as likely to ruin their lives as grant them access to the “inner sanctum” (i.e., the front 9 at Trump’s Doral).
It really does puzzle me, and the only explanation I can manage is that they were never leaders in the first place. They are, by definition, followers. They were voted in on a racist Tea Party wave and its aftermath for “saying the things” white supremacists were waiting to hear. Then it got easier, with loudmouth Trump up there from 2015 on, always out front saying all the nasty, racist things they would have shied away from saying (not because they didn’t believe it). They are exactly like the snot-nose kids who stand behind the playground bully and savor his amoral cruelty vicariously, too timid and frightened to say and do the same things. And sure, the bully may turn his hateful gaze on a toadie one day—but for now standing behind him is the safest place to be. And maybe a place to get noticed.
It’s just hard to come to terms with the fact that people like Lyndsay Graham are so spineless and lacking in basic dignity, because until recently many of us regular people would have at least respected “the office” of Republican members of the Senate. We respected their office simply because of the fact that they were among the few who are honored with such an office, and were entrusted by the people to work in their best interest. They were “leaders.” You had to give them a shot.
No longer. The pact is now much less nuanced than party politics or party goals ever were. We see, with a new Senator who (for example) doesn’t understand the three branches of government, and with local party officials “censuring” those few remaining Republican members of Congress and the Senate who “defied” Trump (i.e., voted for the truth about his Elmer Fudd style insurrection). We see clearly that for some regions—some voters—the only qualification for office is to be all-in with Trump. How hard is that?
And when this ongoing purge is complete, when there is not a single person in the Republican Party who does not support every single thing that Donald Trump does or says, it will be even easier.
They got rid of the Republican Party platform for 2020, saying the party was basically behind Trump and everything Trump might do. The name change will come shortly. When he runs in 2024, it will be under the Trump Party banner. The name will say it all—unless you want to say something different and throw away your future. Or maybe get punched in the mouth.
Will there be a party for conservatives in 2024? Will there be an election—or will it just be a more properly planned coup? It remains to be seen, which itself says a lot about how much has changed while we slept. I can safely predict, however, that once again it won’t be any fun for the regular folks. Just another pointless headache to endure as we try to live our basic little lives, where there’s really no time or desire to play at dice for the raiments of old would-be saviors.