When The Washington Post runs its "Democrats Win Control of the Senate" piece on page 6, as it did today, you know something big must be going on.
As indeed it is. The conversion of the base and a good deal of the superstructure of the Republican Party to a neo-Confederate rabble that stormed the Capitol yesterday to prevent the certification of a presidential election isn’t merely news. As an uncharacteristically eloquent Chuck Schumer noted yesterday, it enters history as yet another Day of Infamy.
By now it’s clear that the Trumpified Republican Party can trace its roots to the Night Riders and Southern Filibusterers who blighted our history for centuries. Josh Hawley’s Missouri heritage runs straight back to Quantrill’s Raiders and the James gang, who, like Hawley yesterday, wreaked deadly havoc in the cause of white supremacy.
The pivotal year in the creation of the modern Republican Party is 1964, when Lyndon Johnson’s lobbying for and signature on the Civil Rights Bill cast the formerly Democratic Dixiecrats adrift, and when Barry Goldwater, one of just six Republicans who voted against the bill, won the Republican presidential nomination. With that, the 65-year devolution of the Republican Party into a neo-Confederate, white supremacist party of lumpen bigots and the lumpen rich began. While Donald Trump has taken this transformation to greater depths with his complete indifference to the concepts of equality before the law, democracy, and majority rule, we must remember that this transformation has been ongoing for more than half a century.
During that time, voter suppression, once the Jim Crow property of the South, spread north as Republicans placed obstacles to minority voting everywhere they could. The union-busting "right to work" laws of Southern states—reincarnating the antebellum practice of Southern slavery as a kinder, gentler disregard for worker rights—came to the industrial heartland when Republicans with Dixiecrat values won control there in the early 2000s. That Trump entered our current political landscape by insisting that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya and is leaving it by inciting a Confederate flag–waving mob to disrupt the ratification of the pro–civil rights Joe Biden is, of course, heinous, but it’s also just the latest developmental stage of the transformation of the GOP into a dangerous thugocracy divorced from reality.
Today, a number of prominent Republicans are looking in the mirror and suddenly beholding what they’ve become. It’s been clear to a lot of us for a very long time.
~ HAROLD MEYERSON, the American Prospect
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