Republicans are Playing with Fire

Image for post
Image for post

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not unexpected. The type of cancer she had this time is one that kills and does it fast. If you are of a religious persuasion, her passing on the eve of the Jewish New Year means that she is considered righteous among the nations. This may give people a higher spiritual sense some peace since there is a lot of pain in the nation. Her death, and it was not sudden, is opening the way for the hard right to press their advantage and impose their will on the majority of the nation.

However, for those of us who deal in the temporal space, the very now it is about her replacement. While she said that she wanted this to happen after Inauguration, regardless of who became president, the reality is that the Republican party will not wait. They have the advantage and they will not waste it. The only way this could slow down is for four Senators to find some ethics, in my view. They also need to realize that what happened four years ago is the kind of precedent that a more moderate Congress would respect.

The cruel reality is that the current iteration of the Republican party is a minority party. There are far more liberals and progressives than conservative Republicans, let alone far-right radical Republicans. The only reason why they hold the power they do is the electoral college, and a Constitutional system that require two senators per state. This is the way the Founders decided they could protect the minority from the rule of the majority. I suspect they did not expect a radical ideological minority to impose its will on the majority in the way Republicans are currently doing.

The majority is getting tired of this abuse. When Antonin Scalia died, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the court. The election was months away, not a month a half. Unlike in 2016, Americans have also started voting. Mitch McConnell refused to bring that nomination even to the judiciary committee because that would have replaced a staunchly conservative with what looks like a moderate center-right judge. Garland was nevrer going to be good enough, and people are realizing why the GOP supports Donald Trump. It’s not about his morality. He has none, and they share that. It is all about the judiciary.

The argument they made at the time was that the American people should decide on who would be the next Associate Justice of the United States. Why they kept a seat open for clsoe to a year. At the time they said It was up to the voters to decide on the presidency and by extenjsion the Suipreme Court. When Donald Trump won the presidency through the mechanism of the Electoral College, they proceeded to fill that seat. This meant that for the third time in American history, a Republican won the office without the majority of the nation behind him. What is more, how the Founders conceived of the Electoral College is not how it’s functioned for decades. Now that the courts have decided that we cannot have faithless electors, the college is a ceremonial step, and a tool for the minority to maintain power over the majority.

Incidentally, this is precisely how the president is running for re-election. He could care less about the majority. His goal is another electoral college victory. This is a problem since this is disenfranchising large majorities and opening the way for an autocracy. This rule by the minority works partially because the system has failed to moderate a radical white supremacy party that knows they are quickly losing a demographic future.

An Abuse of Power

What Republicans did with Merrick Garland was abuse of power. They are once again doing it. Why? For all the screams from Democrats, they have gotten away with this for years, perhaps over a decade or more. Why? Partly it is the fault of Democrats. For many years Democrats have kept a fiction going. We need to compromise because the system requires this of us. It’s true, compromise is at the heart of the American political system. By design, there are protections for the minority. This is the theory of American governance. For most of the 20th century, this worked. Both parties agreed that whether in the majority or minority, both parties compromised for the sake of the nation. They saw each other as Americans first, and Democrats or Republicans second.

At this point, radical Republicans do not see Democrats as true Americans. There is a myriad of reasons for this. One of them is the makeup of the Democratic Party. While Republicans are a mostly white, Christian party, Democrats are a big tent party. I can hear you, what about Ted Cruz? He shares the world view of the Republicans, and he is an authoritarian. There are a few others who are technically minority members, but they do not see others in their minority as Americans either.

Both Cruz and Marco Rubio are the children of refugees, but like abused wives, they think they keep comming for more. In reality they will face persecution as well. They are part of the hated non-white minorities the party wanst to keep under some control. The same goes for people like Stephen Miller and Alan Dershowitz. They will face the same kind of hate and exclusion they are in the process of designing.

Democrats keep acting as if their colleagues on the other side of the aisle are rational actors. These are people we can work with. Give a little, and they will as well. Except that they have not since at least the Bill Clinton administration. Why? For Republicans, there is no legitimate reason for Democrats to hold any political power, at any level of government. There is no reason for them to exist. This is why Speaker Newt Gingrich stopped any socializing off the floor between members of Congress in the 1990s. We like to think that McConnell is radical. He learned this back then, and with talk radio, this became the only pursuit for Republicans: The pursuit of naked power.

Political Fire

This is not just about the two parties and politics in Washington. This is about the American people. Most of us (political reporters are an exception, as well as opinion writers) do not care about DC internal games. Who’s on what committee, or even who represents us is hardly relevant for everyday life. However, people are waking up to this abuse of power. While Evangelical Christians are tickled pink…the rest of the nation is realizing that they will not stop there. They intend to transform the cluntry into a religious autocracy.

The media has understood this for some time. However, major media outlets continue to normalize the behavior from Republicans. The both sides do it is a common argument. So is there most be two sides to a story.

The American people are understanding this. Merrick Garland was a political act. This angered Democrats, but after the death of Supreme Court justice Ginsburg this is dawming on the rest of the country. This is a naked grab for total power. In the current highly divided environment this will lead to violence. Moreover, the president, and others, are further weaponizing all this and asking their base to practice violence.

We know that this is not a stretch and that the FBI has told us the far right is an internal threat. If they feel they cannot get their goals fulfilled, they already showed they are willing to pick up weapons. Whether they will go to war is a good question. But we are already witnessing armed militias in the streets. For the most part, these are not left-wing groups. Even if the right is warning that the left is preparing to go to war. An increasing number of Americans are noticing these things, which will not be good in the long run. Why? Americans are mostly fair people, and as these abuses continue to occur, the Republican Party will continue to lose purchase outside certain pockets.

Conceivably we are watching the end of one of the two dominant American parties. Or, if Republicans lose big time, as they reconstitute themselves., they will banish their far-right from the party. This is possible. The Jonn Birch society was confined to the edges of American society. But in order to do this, we also need to rebuild the media and bring back something like the Fairness Doctrine, and this will have to include the internet. Why? We have sites where people are getting radicalized in real-time, such as Red State, Gab, and 8Kun. This is not sustainable, since it could lead to a very real shooting civil war.

We also need to rebuild civil society and move the Overton window, meaning what we can discuss, that allowed the rise of a far-right movement but closed the discussion on things like universal health care, or college for all. In other wrodgs, open racism needs to banished from civil society. The wndow for all this is very shot. We are on the edge of a total state where freedom of thought will be a thing of the past.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store