A horrible thing indeed.

But it’s worth being specific: The forces that have come to dominate the GOP haven’t changed their mind about anything. Their acceptance of democracy was always conditional: “As long as it keeps people like us in power, fine; otherwise, it has to go.”
The distinction matters greatly. At the core of modern conservatism is a vision that is steadfastly opposed to multiracial, pluralistic democracy and committed to the order that was the historical norm in this country until quite recently: Democracy for white Christian men only.
Too many observers and pundits tend to base their analysis of the current situation on the assumption that the country used to be a functioning liberal democracy, with an electorate of (small-d) democratic voters, and that this has somehow changed just very recently.
But it’s just not plausible to assume that those Americans who favor Trumpist authoritarian rule were on board with the idea of multiracial, pluralistic democracy until recently, when they were somehow, suddenly turned off by… what, exactly?
If your answer is “It was Obama!” then that’s exactly my point: If the election of a moderately liberal politician whose sole “radicalism” consisted of being Black led to you favoring rightwing authoritarianism, you were never on board with multiracial democracy to begin with.
Yes, conservatives are radicalizing against democracy – but rather than going from "pro-democratic" to "anti-democratic," what we're seeing is a shift from "on board with a restricted/reactionary version of democracy" to "determined to prevent multiracial, pluralistic democracy."
For decades, the GOP has been defined by the project of upholding a white Christian men’s democracy and staving off multiracial pluralism. But it has become more difficult to preserve white Christian patriarchal dominance within that traditionally restricted form of democracy.
That’s due to demographic, cultural, and political changes that have made the country less white, less Christian, less conservative. And so the proponents of a white Christian patriarchal order have decided that a more open, more aggressive form of authoritarianism is needed.
But none of this is entirely new, all of it well in line with the anti-democratic tendencies and impulses that have defined modern conservatism since at least the 1950s, and have steered the Republican Party since at least the 1980s. Trump is the result, not the cause.
To go back to the initial tweet: It is not wrong to say the Republican Party “no longer” believes in democracy, as it has certainly radicalized against democracy and is now willing to embrace a much more open, more blatant, more aggressive form of authoritarianism.
But while I am grateful for every Republican who decided to break with the GOP’s open authoritarianism, we also need to have an honest conversation about why they were willing to accommodate or even embrace the anti-democratic tendencies and forces on the Right for so long.

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More from @tzimmer_history

29 Dec
“Parents,” “working class,” “Christians” - in the American political discourse, whenever such categories are used without any qualifier, they basically just mean “white.” Because “white” is still widely seen as normal, as the norm: as what really counts and defines the nation.
People are not necessarily doing it deliberately. When called out, Todd immediately concedes the point. But that only reinforces how pervasive this idea of “normal” America as *white America* still is in the collective imaginary: It just comes naturally to Chuck Todd.
This is important because it fundamentally structures the conversation. Just like @nhannahjones says, Todd’s framing privileges the interests and sensibilities of *white* parents by elevating them to the status of “regular” (read: justified, legitimate) parental concerns.
Read 13 tweets
28 Dec
Considered “alarmist” or, at the very least, highly unlikely by most observers even just a year ago.

America’s descent into authoritarianism has progressed at a much more rapid pace than almost anyone anticipated. We need to adjust our expectations accordingly. It is happening.
We need to grapple honestly with the fact that the Republican Party’s radicalization has outpaced what even most critical observers imagined, and we need to acknowledge that the reactionary counter-mobilization against democracy has actually accelerated in 2021.
Every time someone says “Nah, that’s not gonna happen - easy with the alarmism!” remind them of the many things that were deemed “alarmist” over the past few years, only to become reality soon thereafter - starting, of course, with the fact that Donald Trump did become president.
Read 6 tweets
26 Dec
This is utter nonsense, of course, if you read it as an empirical claim about America’s past or present.

But as an ideological statement of Christian nationalism and white supremacy, it is perfect. And absolutely terrifying.
Just ignoring this won’t work, because it’s not coming from some rightwing troll, but a Republican elected official - and it’s impossible to adequately understand American politics without grappling in earnest with why her radicalism is widely seen as justified on the Right.
No use making fun of it either. This should be read as a statement of intent: “America belongs to us white Christians, we have a right to dominate this country, and we are determined to keep it that way by whatever means necessary.” Nothing funny about that.
Read 10 tweets
25 Dec
Completely agree - but due to the pervasive pathologies of journalistic and political culture, when they do take a look in the mirror, they’re likely to tell themselves “You are doing a great job by not giving in to ‘partisanship,’ and by staying ‘neutral’ and above the fray!”
…and considering the existing incentive structures in journalism and politics, they’re also likely looking at someone who - strictly in terms of advancing their own careers - is doing everything right. That needs to change.
The “neutrality” dogma demands this kind of coverage: As defined by too many journalists and political observers, it means keeping equidistance from #BothSides. But with the GOP rapidly radicalizing, the “neutral” position provides cover for extremism and leads to distortions.
Read 7 tweets
24 Dec
Calling Crenshaw a “stalwart conservative” is actually fine - because the type of disdain for democracy Crenshaw has displayed is well in line with the long-standing anti-democratic impulses and tendencies that have always defined modern U.S. conservatism.
This Politico piece is, of course, not at all interested in informing the audience about these anti-democratic traditions, and how Trump fits right in, and why Crenshaw doesn’t have to be a “Trump loyalist” to be on board with the authoritarian onslaught on democracy.
It does the exact opposite: Politico wants to cling to the myth of “respectable” conservatism so bad that they are happy to legitimize the sort of anti-democratic tendencies Crenshaw embodies. This kind of constant normalization in centrist media is a massive problem.
Read 5 tweets
22 Dec
As 2021 comes to an end, what is the state of American democracy?

The reactionary counter-mobilization against democracy has accelerated. It’s happening on so many fronts simultaneously that it’s easy to lose sight of how things are connected. Thoughts on the big picture: 1/
So many things are happening at the federal, state, and local levels all around the country that are directly tied to the broader struggle over whether or not America should finally realize the promise of multiracial, pluralistic democracy. That’s the defining conflict. 2/
In Washington, Republicans have adopted a position of total obstruction (what else is new?), very much including the obstruction of any attempt to investigate a violent attack on the Capitol. But it’s the state level where the reactionary project has accelerated most. 3/
Read 22 tweets

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