Monday, November 16, 2020

The Quiet Part Out Loud

What changed? There’s a good case to be made that race was at the center of this shift. White Americans, and especially white Republicans, increasingly identify themselves as belonging to a particular racial group, and many see that white identity as being under threat. Barack Obama’s presidency, as he suggests in his recent memoir, magnified that threat in many conservative voters’ minds. The Democratic Party’s candidates weren’t just offering a different idea for governance; they were threatening the place of whites in the social order. Suddenly, the old rules of political engagement — which were fine for debating taxes and spending — weren’t good enough. When whites are told they are no longer the top racial group, it becomes a no-holds-barred competition, and good governance and democratic values get cast to the side.

We saw some of this in the rise of the tea party, which didn’t necessarily disagree with other Republicans on many policy issues but pushed for more confrontational tactics. We saw it in the government shutdown of 2013 and the threat to the government’s credit rating. And prior to Trump’s election, we saw it most distinctly in McConnell’s refusal to even hold hearings, much less a vote, for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, along with his refusal to confirm many of Obama’s federal court appointments.

Trump is, of course, the embodiment of this new Republican Party and its illiberal orientation. He demonizes his opponents and, as he has been signaling since 2016, he does not acknowledge the legitimacy of any election he doesn’t win.

Some may wonder why the prominent Republicans who did endorse Biden and do recognize Biden’s victory seem to have so little influence on the party’s direction. The answer is simple. Those in the new GOP no longer see the Reagan-Bush Republicans as members of the same party.

 As long as you don't call 'em "deplorables," amirite?


  1. In so many ways the Republicans are becoming the party of social Darwinism.

    1. It occurred to me this describes the "identity politics" which Republicans are supposed to despise. As ever, the beam in your eye is reflected as the splinter in your brother's eye....