As the old saying goes, “It isn’t paranoia if they’re really out to get you.” And they are.
When Liz Cheney, a staunch Conservative intractable in her right wing views, was booted from her leadership position in the House of Representatives, the Trumpublican Party made it clear it is fully committed to the rump of the Trump and the lie he continues to burble, that he won the presidency and the election was stolen from him.
President Biden took office four months ago, but a recently released CNN poll found that 70 percent of Republicans believe the false allegation that Biden did not legitimately defeat former President Trump; just 23 percent said Biden legitimately won. The well-regarded Ipsos poll reported that 55 percent of Republicans believe the outcome of the 2020 election was the result of illegal voting or election rigging, and 60 percent agree with the statement that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.” Furthermore, 63 percent don’t agree that Trump was even partly to blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The disturbing conclusion: the Republican Party is now fully committed to a lie and a liar. They have left no room for anyone who does not offer obeisance to their leader, Donald Trump. It is the precursor of authoritarianism and creates a threat to democracy of a different order of magnitude; literally, the survival of the nation is at stake.
Do you think I am overstating the possibility of another civil war?
Trump’s lies are now the only truth for the Republican Party. And they are using his Big Lie to change the laws in dozens of states, pushing through voter suppression measures and bills that would allow Republican dominated local boards to refuse to certify election results.
The Republican electorate, believing that Democratic victories are illegitimate, ignores its own self-interest and demands that their representatives do everything possible to subvert the the Biden agenda. Safe in their gerrymandered districts, the Congressmen refuse to work with Democrats on any policy, and care little about the damage they do to our democracy in the process.
Paul Gosar, the Congressman from Arizona’s rural 4th congressional district, called the individuals who violently broke into the Capitol “peaceful patriots” and claimed that the Department of Justice is “harassing“ them. Gosar described Joe Biden as an “illegitimate usurper,” claimed that “outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters.”
More toxic babble spewed from the mouth of Andrew Clyde, Georgia’s 9th congressional district, who speechified to Congress, “If you didn’t know that TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,”
Racism and classism is not the whole story behind right wing populism. Many socially conservative Christians, the bulk of the White middle-class, are feeling the brunt of the long process of deindustrialization, decline in manufacturing employment, erosion of wages by foreign competition and the fading influence of trade unionism. They blame their erosion of privilege on emerging constituencies seeking rights and benefits previously reserved for white men: presumptuous African-Americans, aggressive women’s rights activists and leftist proponents of ethnic diversity and individualism. Their feelings of being shouldered aside have morphed into becoming the shock troops of the Trumpian Party.
Be understanding, have empathy, my good side cries out!
We have much in common, don’t we? Just as we do, they watch the sitcoms and reality shows, hugging their kids as they put them on the school bus, sharing beers and yakking about sports, putting their recyclables out for pickup every Monday morning. They live on tree-lined streets similar to ours and on the surface, we live in harmony accepting each other for who we are.
On the surface is the key phrase because the resentment that boils under the skin is one of the most powerful forces in human life. When it is unleashed, it can undermine political regimes and long-lived personal relationships.
Remember Sarajevo, hosts of the 1984 Winter Olympics? Before the decade was over it drowned in a bloodbath civil war between Croats wanting to leave Yugoslavia and ethnic Serbs opting for a common state with Serbia.
Relive the headlines from the slaughter in Rwanda, where Hutus and Tutsi lived side by side for decades until 1990 when more than 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in a campaign of ethnic cleansing and 100,000 Hutus were killed by revenge killings.
Am I paranoid? Maybe. But we cannot dismiss the continuing dissemination of the big lie by Donald Trump and his supporters. We must rally together and repudiate it at every turn. An undermined election in 2022 and 2024 would collapse a pillar of democracy, and soon after, the institution itself.