During a time when we can get confused by all of the particular atrocities being committed in red states these days, David Rothkopf reminded us about not missing the forest for the trees.
The core distinguishing belief of the contemporary Republican Party is that it’s extreme ideology is more important than the Constitution, the law, our national security and the well-being of the American people. It is the most dangerous movement in our history.— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) April 15, 2023
I do, however take exception with that last sentence. This is NOT the most dangerous movement in our history - at least not yet. To explain, I'd like to go back to an article written by Doug Muder nine years ago. That was back when the current MAGA folks were calling themselves the Tea Party. Muder's piece reminds us that they are really a Confederate Party.
He begins with a bold assertion (emphasis mine):
Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.
It is important to keep in mind that, in the first census after the Civil War, Blacks were a majority in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In three other southern states - Florida, Alabama, and Georgia - they were only 2-4 percentage points short of majorities.
That reality is what triggered this:
After the U.S. forces won on the battlefield in 1865 and shattered the organized Confederate military, the veterans of that shattered army formed a terrorist insurgency that carried on a campaign of fire and assassination throughout the South until President Hayes agreed to withdraw the occupying U. S. troops in 1877. Before and after 1877, the insurgents used lynchings and occasional pitched battles to terrorize those portions of the electorate still loyal to the United States. In this way they took charge of the machinery of state government, and then rewrote the state constitutions to reverse the postwar changes and restore the supremacy of the class that led the Confederate states into war in the first place...By the time it was all over, the planter aristocrats were back in control...Blacks were once again forced into hard labor for subsistence wages, denied the right to vote, and denied the equal protection of the laws. Tens of thousands of them were still physically shackled and subject to being whipped...The real Civil War — the one that stretched from 1861 to 1877 — was the first war the United States lost.
To date, that terror campaign was the most dangerous movement in our country's history and it destroyed democracy in the south for the next 60 years. Here is what was at the heart of that movement:
The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries...
The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.
Where Rothkopf and Muder converge is in recognizing that "the core distinguishing belief of the contemporary Republican Party" is that they are facing a challenge to the "established social order." Here's how DeSantis articulated that in a fundraising email.
Our country is currently facing a great threat. A new enemy has emerged from the shadows that seeks to destroy and intimidate their way to a transformed state, and country, that you and I would hardly recognize...
This enemy is the radical vigilante woke mob...A group that will, literally, tear down monuments and buildings but — perhaps in an even more sinister way — tear down the American spirit itself.
What spurred this fear of "a new enemy?" You can start here:
- Six states are majority-minority as of July 2019
- As of 2019, children are majority minority nationwide.
- The whole United States of America is projected to become majority-minority by the middle of the 21st century if current trends continue.
- 2008 - the election of Barack Obama
- 2015 - SCOTUS makes marriage equality the law of the land
- 2016 - Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote in the presidential election
- 2017 - Me Too movement explodes
- 2020 - the murder of George Floyd sparks massive protests
Much like the Confederate response to Reconstruction, right wingers are demonstrating that they are prepared to use "all forms of legal and illegal resistance" in response to this perceived threat. It worked in the 19th Century...why not try it again?