A Time For Choosing

For the Republican party, it is now a time for choosing. So many of its congressional members, who have long played footsie with fascism, have been able to avoid this inevitable day with complicit silence or empty words of “concern”. But now the time has come to declare whether they are on the side of fascism or democracy. How can the Mitt Romneys and Adam Kinzingers stay in a party where the majority of the GOP Congressional caucus actively supports a coup, even after an attempted armed putsch instigated by the putative leader of their party? 65% of the GOP House caucus and up to seven GOP Senators supported a challenge to the electors late Wednesday night. In a flash poll yesterday, a plurality of Republicans, 45%, supported the armed insurrectionists that stormed the Capitol, with a majority describing them as simply protestors. Today, RNC members cheered Trump when he called in to their meeting. Are the “establishment” Republicans who finally chose democracy last night still willing to be members in what has now become a clearly fascist party?

The Never Trumpers and establishment Republicans must realize now that they are targets in their own party, traitors to the Trump cause, and will never be able to lead this party unless they are prepared to ride the tiger of white nationalism like Hawley and Cruz. As Samuel Goldman put it over four years ago, “I think the great message of Trump is that there really are not that many movement conservatives. There is an infrastructure of journalists, intellectuals who are vested in a conventional combination of limited government, a relatively hawkish foreign policy, and a sort of religiously inflected public morality. There are a few hundred such people, and they all know each other. But it turned out that there aren’t that many voters who actually care about these things — or at least cared about them in quite that combination…The answer has to do with the adoption of a fairly exclusive vision of American nationalism — which sees America not only as a predominantly white country but also as a white Christian country and also as a white Christian provincial country”. Are those establishment figures still willing to turn a blind eye to white nationalist fascism in return for tax cuts, judges, and regulatory rollbacks?

It’s possible that the passing of Trump may moderate the white nationalist ambitions of a portion of the party faithful, but I’m skeptical. My guess is that sooner rather than later, the answer to the white nationalist question for more than a few current Republicans will be no, and the GOP will split into the dominant Trump party and the minority Rump party. The Trump party will carry on the radical white nationalist agenda of the current Republican party. The Rump party will represent what would be called “traditional” movement conservative values and that party may still be able to win some congressional elections, especially in the Senate where they can still probably peel off enough suburban fiscally conservative voters. And the Rump party, despite being in the minority, may be a powerful political force by becoming important swing votes in what would amount to a loyal Rump opposition to moderate Democratic governance. A small core of Rump Senators could provide a near veto proof majority to a Democratic Senate with 52 or 53 seats, allowing it to greatly influence legislation.

It is also a time for choosing for the Republican party’s corporate donors. Judd Legum has documented the amount of money that America’s top corporations have donated to Republicans that supported the coup. Even the K Street lobbyists are now worried about the potential blowback for these companies and, via Steve Schmidt, the Lincoln Project has committed to holding those companies’ feet to the fire if they continue to support the GOP seditionists.

Finally, it is also a time of choosing for Democrats. Democrats have long refused to confront the growing anti-democratic nature of the Republican party for fear of alienating supposed swing voters that they believe they need to win elections. They have consistently refused to prosecute the criminal activity that occurred during their predecessors’ administrations, especially the torturers and the Wall Street thieves of the Bush administration, preferring instead to look forward, not back. Speaker Pelosi continued that approach during Trump’s term, continually thwarting attempts to hold the administration accountable until absolutely forced to act. In retrospect, and for many at the time, that strategy was actually a strategy of appeasement and in its own small way contributed to the insurrection we saw on Wednesday. If the Democrats, both in Congress and in Biden’s DOJ, do not pursue accountability now, the blood of the victims of the next Oklahoma City bombing or the next violent coup attempt will also be, at least in some small part, on their hands.

Originally published at https://thesoundings.com on January 8, 2021.

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