Ah yes, be careful what you wish for.
A smattering of history to set the stage
Democratic president Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and (later) sexual orientation and gender identity.
He did it because it was both a goal of assassinated president John Kennedy, whom he followed in office and was the right thing to do. As he signed the legislation, he commented that “there goes the south for Democrats forever.”
Which, on balance, wasn’t all that bad an idea
Probably seemed like it at the time to Lyndon, but let’s look at the result. 1) Racism exists across America, but its lifeblood flows through the veins of southerners. 2) As we close in on the end of the white majority in America, sometime around 2044, white-supremacy organizations are on the move, mostly in the South. 3) Nearly the entirety of the January 6th attackers of the Congress, as well as the election-deniers arrived in Washington from the South.
So that’s the trap into which Republicans have fallen, a base coalition of white-supremacists, evangelical hard-liners, die-hard Trump supporters and the wealthy 10% who are fed intravenously on tax cuts.
All in all, that’s a pretty unforgiving coalition
And so it has proven: 147 Republicans in Congress who supported an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, knowing that denial was baseless, but lashed to the mast of a sinking ship. A party so terrified of Trump that it cast all remnants of coalition politics aside to avoid the wrath of their base.
Think about that, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell—each of you lost every trace of human dignity, political independence and honest bipartisan governance in abject fear of your base.
That was the spoils of the Republican southern strategy following the Civil Rights Act:
(Wikipedia) In American politics, the Southern strategy was a Republican Party electoral strategy to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans.
Plain language and a bold plan to divide America
And it’s worked brilliantly over the past four decades across both Republican and Democratic administrations, although throwing red-meat to the Republican base comes at an increasing cost to independence. When do those inciting a mob to action become its victims?
Good question. We may be on the cusp of finding out.
But this is not a Super-Bowl
And its not your or my personal feelings for talented old-timer Tom Brady against brilliant new-comer Patrick Mahomes that count. This is a contest that will decide the fate of our republic against an elected party’s attack from the inside.
And there’s hope. As the old guard totters off into retirement and dribbles their morning coffee on the tablecloth, the young voter is becoming energized.
Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
Photo Credit: CNN