The moment many realized just how far gone the Republican party had become was the insurrection of Jan. 6 when the peaceful transfer of presidential power — a cornerstone of any functioning democracy — came under threat.
In the grand scheme of things, the insurrectionists stood next to no chance of overthrowing the results of the 2020 election. However, the protracted campaign of false information that led to this is what I find most concerning.
The “Big Lie,” or the completely unfounded accusations of the election, represents a total breakdown in any sort of consensus over what constitutes reality. The most rabid of Republican voters have demonstrated that they are more than eager to believe without question whatever conspiratorial narrative they are fed, using said violence to further their goals.
It’s horrifying. Republicans are running out of time, and they must keep winning elections in order to advance their program, but this is proving to be considerably challenging.
As of today, only 27% of registered voters identified as Republicans, of those nearly 90% were white, and around 55% were over 50 (25% over 65+.) Conversely, voters under 35 and people of color vote Democrat at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates.
In light of these statistics, it may make more sense why Fox News is peddling the white supremacist “Great Replacement” theory. Aware of the ever-shrinking window of time to cling to power, Republicans have decided not to try to catch up with the times but to undermine our democracy instead.
Last year alone, 250 pieces of legislation were proposed or enacted by Republicans in at least 27 states which intended to restrict access to voting — this comes only a year after 34 voting restriction bills were passed across 19 different states.
A similar voter suppression strategy Republicans rely on is racial gerrymandering. For more than four decades, a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) required states that had a history of racially based voter suppression to receive preclearance from Congress for any changes to their voting laws or districts — but this was overturned by a coalition of conservative judges on the Supreme Court in 2013.
In 2020, lawsuits were levied at new district boundaries which packed in or broke up people of color to try and dilute their votes across the South from Texas to the Carolinas.
Not only do these measures disproportionately disenfranchise people of color, but they decrease voter turnout in general. As President Trump acknowledged, Republicans score better in elections with lower voter turnout, therefore this is done on purpose.
The fact that Republicans can already sense their impending irrelevancy is made more obvious once you notice that battleline states are where they’ve resorted to the most drastic measures.
For example in Arizona during the 2022 midterm elections, a federal judge appointed by Trump refused to prohibit armed men wearing combat gear from the organization “Clean Elections USA,” from patrolling ballot boxes across the state.
Subsequently, in 2021 Georgia crafted a 98-page bill called the “Election Integrity Act,” which severely restricted absentee ballots and prohibited food or water from being distributed to voters waiting outside polling locations.
Frightening as it is, countless Americans bought the “Big Lie.” Over the course of four years, Republicans systematically discredited any journalism critical of their agenda as “fake news”, introduced “alternative facts” to the American lexicon and platformed the conspiracy theories of online far-right extremists.
Meanwhile, Conservative media propagandized to millions day and night that a vaguely defined “woke agenda” had pervaded every one of the country’s major institutions and was plotting to take away their freedom, religion, families, masculinity and guns.
Fear is a powerful emotion. For four years, millions of Conservatives were told that lies and deceit lay behind every corner, that their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were existentially threatened, and that only their fearless leader could return their long-lost greatness.
If you sincerely believed all these things and that same strongman then said “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” what would you do?
The Republican constituency continues to shrink due to demographic shifts and the rejection of MAGA Movement ideals — but true conservative champions have still shown no qualms about democracy being collateral damage in their party’s pursuit of greatness.
If you were a power-hungry politician with hordes of brainwashed supporters willing and eager to see you institute a Christo-fascist regime, what would you do?