NB: All statistics in this essay are from Pew Research unless otherwise noted.
Republicans face an existential crisis, but they have a plan.
First, young people don’t share their ideologies (racism, ultranationalism, laissez-faire Capitalism, fundamentalist Christianity). Consider Millennials. Only 12 percent describe themselves as “Mostly conservative” or “Consistently conservative.” Only 29 percent say that “belief in God is necessary to be moral.” 67 percent (two-thirds) support government health care coverage for all. 77 percent think that the way to achieve peace is through “good diplomacy.” 68 percent say that the country should make changes to achieve racial equality. 79 percent say that immigrants strengthen the country. 73 percent support gay marriage. 62 percent say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. 81 percent say that there is solid evidence of global warming. 70 percent say that they would vote for a Socialist. Only 32 percent say that they are “Republican” or “Lean Republican.” Only 27 percent approved of Trump’s job performance. In recent midterms, only 29 percent supported Republican candidates.
Second, the demographics of the country are changing in ways that do not favor Republicans. Even though Trump has often claimed, in his racist way, that “The Blacks love Trump,” only 19 percent of Black men and 9 percent of Black women voted for Trump. Overall, according to Roper, 87 percent of Blacks voted for Biden, 65 percent of Hispanics, 61 percent of Asian Americans, and 55 percent of people of other nonwhite racial groups.
And, of course, these two sets of facts are related. Younger cohorts are more racially and ethnically diverse. The percentage of whites in the U.S. is declining. According to the Brookings Institution, the decline in percentage of the white population was just shy, by a fraction of a percentage point, of 20 percent since 1980. 79 percent of Silent Generation Americans were white, 72 percent of the Boomers, 61 percent of Gen X, and 56 of Millennials.
Furthermore, with quite minor exceptions, these gains for progressives and losses for Conservatives have held consistent, as trends, in every case, over DECADES.
Now, you might be thinking that, well, of course young people are progressives, but as they grow older, they become more conservative. That’s the conventional wisdom. But as is often the case with received ideas, that’s wrong. Political scientists have done many studies of this question. Political leanings tend to persist over the lifespan. (You might be surprised to find that for most of the Vietnam War, most young people in the U.S. approved of it, and most older people opposed it. So, the emergence of Reaganism wasn’t that surprising after all.)
But, back to the current situation. The complex of idiocy and reaction that is Repugnicanism is dying. So, what’s a fire-breathing Repugnican to do? How does the GOP, the Greying Old Party, keep from going the way of the Know-Nothings?
Well, the do-or-die moment is coming. Thanks to gerrymandering, laws to restrict access to voting, voter apathy (the tendency of people not to vote in Midterms, for example), Republicans have an opportunity, in 2022, to retake complete control of the Senate and the House. If (when?) that happens, the Republicans won’t need Manchin and Sinema to render the Biden administration ineffectual and sway people against it. Then, if (when?) they take the Presidency in 2024 because the Democratic Party has once again chosen a “moderate” who will inspire no one, the Repugnicans will control it all. And they can even, with a simple majority vote, expand the already conservative Supreme Court into an ultra-right-wing nationalist Extreme Court, pass a version of the German Enabling Act to be rubber stamped by that court, and dramatically restrict voting rights.
And that’s how a minority party regains and retains power. By becoming a Fascist party and engineering a Fascist state. The Fascists love iconography. Perhaps they should chuck the elephant and adopt a Phoenix symbol for this, The Party, rising from THE ASHES OF DEMOCRACY.
All this seems quite possible. In fact, right now, it’s looking highly probable, that we are Germany in 1932. There’s a flaw at the heart of democracy that Fascists can exploit: Just once, you have to get enough people to vote against themselves. The founders of the United States could not envision the fatal combination of near universal suffrage with mass consumer culture idiocy.
The fall of American democracy will happen while people are busy watching Spiderman: No Way Home on their TVs and eating chips from a bag that was 3/4ths empty when they opened it. That mostly empty bag is deeply symbolic.
Not with a bang but a whimper. A pfoooot of the kind that comes when opening that bag of potato chips.
BUT, the Repugnicans have no notion how impossible it will be for them to establish an autocratic, ultra-nationalist, fundamentalist Christian, fascist state here. Why? Most people are light years beyond them, already in another galaxy far, far, away.
Don’t be too quick to stand on the aircraft carrier, in 2025, and announce, “Mission Accomplished,” Pugs. Be careful what you wish for.
Copyright 2022. Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved. This essay may be reprinted or shared IF it is done so in its entirety and if authorship credit is given. I want to make sure that my name comes up in the show trials. LOL.