Over the weekend we found out that state-level Republican Parties are censuring those who voted to convict. They already censured those who voted to impeach, and there was a battle for the soul of the Republican Party in the House. They tried to remove Liz Cheney from leadership. Partly there is pressure from their right, and the likely formation of a Patriot Party, which believes Republicans are not radical enough.
That is the party level. Then there is the letter that Adam Kinzinger’s family wrote to him. Those concern me a lot more as a historian because we have seen this movie before. The best-known example is Nazi Germany.
This is crossing a bridge that is extremely dangerous. Indeed, it tells us that the nation is sharply divided, and while 30 percent of Republicans may be radicals, this is now openly reaching families. This is the other reason, I suspect, that many republicans are leaving the party. According to the New York Times:
An analysis of January voting records by The New York Times found that nearly 140,000 Republicans had quit the party in 25 states that had readily available data (19 states do not have registration by party). Voting experts said the data indicated a stronger-than-usual flight from a political party after a presidential election, as well as the potential start of a damaging period for G.O.P. registrations as voters recoil from the Capitol violence and its fallout.
This is a party that is becoming even more radicalized as people that are far more moderate leave it. It is also a party that is willing to put pressure on their own to not make waves. Anybody who is willing to think on their own is to be punished.
What we are seeing with the representatives family, is far more concerning. This is a pattern that we see in authoritarian states or parties. The family knows that their reputation within the party is tied to their family member who is willing to be an independent thinker.
The words, that he is a disappointment to them and god, and that he is willing to join the devil's army are not just pure QAnon, but the kind of pressure we saw in Germany. This is critical, according to Richard J Evans, quoting another historian:
>”’The silent and not so silent majority’ says Gellately, “backed the regime.’”
We are hardly at the point where a majority of Americans support the Republican Party. Or at least this white supremacist, nationalist party. They are a minority, and perhaps a minority within a minority. But the letter the family sent to Representative Kinzinger, is a classic of the kind of social pressure applied to reluctant people early on.
We are at the early stage of this phenomenon. We are at the point where social pressure, informal as it mostly is, forces people to stay silent. It is a matter of keeping a job. Or for that matter, keeping in good terms to preserve social capital. It is about access to things like goods and services.
We are, however, at an early point where MAGA ideology is getting established. Yes, there are parallels to the early years of the Nazi Party, which unlike our modern MAGA movement, was expansionist. What both share is white supremacy, for Hitler in the form of Aryan supremacy.
This is why we are seeing images of Donald Trump, MAGA, and 88, which in White Supremacy ideology stands for Heil Hitler. Whether these were authorized by Donald Trump or not is immaterial. He refused to denounce this white supremacy while in office, which has given permission to this movement.
Kinzinger is not Alone
If it was just his family, fine. We all have relatives who are crazy and have fallen down the QAnon spell. State parties are increasingly choosing this radical road. Whether it is because more moderate elements are leaving, Or they are because they are pushing more moderate elements is immaterial. The result is the same.
This is why Marjorie Taylor Greene is the future of the party. She is where the GOP is, in the conspiracy and in the hate of the other party. When I say that Republicans see Democrats as the enemy within, I am not being hysterical. This has been the case since Newt Gingrich was Speaker. It’s grown by leaps and bounds, and now Greene is where the party is. Or to be specific, at least most of the party in the House.
It is not that they are more conservative, as many members of the commentariat claim. They are more radical, and we must be precise with this language.
This is also why Mitch McConnell did what he did. It’s irritating as can be, but he is trying to keep control of the party. He took the technical way out while slamming the former president. He wants to avoid more people joining the Trump train. He knows that the former president will try to have a role in the 2022 elections. This is exactly what Senator Lindsey Graham also said because he believes the future is this radical party.
We are at a point when social pressure may become so large, that more moderate members of the party will stay quiet. Silence is consent, and this is exactly how authoritarian parties behave. It is not a big tent party, where multiple views are allowed. It is a narrow party, where decisions come from top-down but are enforced by members and allies of the party.
In Germany, by the time the Nazis got to power, they were popular. They were not victims’ and the force of the state was used with those who disagreed. But well before the state got involved, mostly going after well-known resisters, families, and social groups did exactly what the representative’s family did.
Party censure resolutions are also about maintaining this authoritarian white supremacy MAGA ideology. We are in a dangerous place, and no, it’s not over because Joe Biden was elected and sworn in.