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THE REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR

 

THE REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR

Courtesy of Teri Kanefield

 

 

Interesting question:


Time to get philosophical. The place to start, I think is how political psychologists define conservatism.

True conservatives, according to NYU Professor Jonathan Haidtconservatives form a kind of yin-yang balance with liberals:

Liberals embrace forward-looking change. Conservatives value order. The conservative insight is that order is precious, hard to achieve, and easy to lose. (From prof. Haidt)

Reactionaries, on the other hand seek rapid change—backwards to a bygone era.

Political psychologists Capelos and Katsanidou define reactionism as “a forceful desire to return to the past.” Underlying reactionism is “anger, fear, nostalgic hope, betrayal, and perceived injustice.” The word “again” in “Make America Great Again” signals reactionist politics.

If reactionaries want to go back to the past, and conservatives want to maintain the status quo, it seems to me that the nation’s history and politics change the nature of conservatism and reactionism.

Reactionary politics as embraced in the United States is extremely destructive because to get back to a bygone era when white men could do as they pleased, you have to dismantle almost the entire federal government, which will cause widespread suffering.

Look what happened with Covid under the leadership of a party that doesn’t want a functioning federal government. When people say “conservatives” they often mean reactionaries because the current GOP is not conservative. It’s reactionary.

So it’s certainly destructive. Whether it is self-destructive remains to be seen. The most interesting thing happening in politics right now is that the GOP appears to be on a collision course with time.

By collision course with time, I mean that in a two party system, it will become impossible for a white-nationalist reactionary party to win national elections. The demographics willing to embrace such a party are shrinking.


In my most recent NBC Op Ed, I argued that if the GOP doesn’t change course, American politics is likely to shift from left v. right to pro-democracy v. anti-democracy.

Question from my email:

Teri: I so appreciates your thoughtful analysis regarding the splintering of the Republican party.
So I see today, Jan 21, McConnell (or at least McConnell is the mouthpiece) is trying to issue edicts and threats to Schumer about the filibuster power – seemingly wanting to continue the Trump party.
Does this mean the GOP have already picked which scenario you laid out?

Not at all. McConnell will be McConnell. If he can bully everyone to get his way, he will.

What will be interesting will be to see whether or not the GOP Senators vote to convict Trump. Voting to convict Trump will be a sign that they are trying to purge Trump from the party. Many Republicans want to return to the GOP as it was in 2015, before Trump made the subtext text. In other words, they want to continue pretending to be a Conservative party to draw in moderates and hide what they are: Dangerous reactionaries.

Today, came the rumor that McConnell and others want Trump convicted because he’s dragging the party down.

Garry Kasparov, writing in the Wall Street Journal, agrees:

On the other hand, Joe Walsh, former Republican presidential candidate, gives a warning:

The dilemma: If they don’t convict, the GOP will harden into radicalized white nationalist party, and thereby shrink in size because the demographics for such a party are limited and it will lose blocs of traditionally reliable GOP voters.

If they do convict, a large section of their base will walk away and will never vote Republican again.

As they say on Twitter, pass the popcorn.


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