12 June 2020

Disruptive Stress Tests

Senate Bill 20-217, a comprehensive police misconduct prevention bill that passed the Colorado General Assembly today with bipartisan majorities, and will almost certainly be passed by Democratic Governor Jared Polis in a few days, leaves me more hopeful than I have been at any time in the last three months.

Our society has faced some major stress tests in the last few years. It has faced the far right, openly racist agenda of Donald Trump's Presidency. It has faced COVID-19 which has killed 116,825 people in the United States so far as I write this post, and has shut down the economy in an uncoordinated response of mixed effectiveness, and will almost surely have killed twice as many people before the year ends. It has raced national and global mass protests and riots over police brutality on a scale not seen in my lifetime.

Seeing protests produce lasting policy changes, a sea change in public opinion and another big wave of eliminating Confederate symbols from the U.S. landscape is gratifying. 

It is looking increasingly likely that Biden will defeat Trump in November and that Republicans will lose control of the U.S. Senate, while Democrats hold onto control of the U.S. House. Republicans may suffer down ticket losses in state and local races as well.

The impact of COVID-19 will be multifaceted and complex. But, I have little doubt that the end result will be a society that is more resilient, more environmentally sound, better able to cope with future epidemics, and will have a better safety net.

The armed far right rallies for the right to get haircuts and not use face masks, which resulted in many protesters getting sick and changing their tune, paled in comparison to the protests on the left that followed a few weeks later against police brutality, which accomplished far more.

The right is well aware that it is crumbling. Trump was yet another Republican President to win the electoral college while losing the popular vote, and he won the electoral college by the thinnest of margins in a handful of swing states. Most Americans, I believe, and an even larger share of American elites, understand that the American people made the wrong choice when they elected Trump, who has done unfathomable damage to our nation. 

The right has recognized that it can stay in power only with gerrymandering, voter suppression, threats of violence, and other illegitimate means of maintaining power, and that it will not be able to do so forever. Little by little, the left has chipped away at these unsustainable dirty tricks.

Trump's victory has irrevocably forfeited for the Republican Party the support of Generation X, Millennials, women, and everyone else who isn't a white conservative Christian, for all time by large margins.

He has used the bully pulpit to legitimatize a far right made up of white nationalists, neo-Confederates, and neo-Nazis, swelling their ranks dramatically and encouraging open acts of hate. He has won over straight white Christians who are older, uneducated, rural, and Southern, but that is a shrinking demographic. With every election, a disproportionate share of voters who have died since the last election are Republicans, and young people are not becoming more conservative with the passage of time as they age. 

Trump has done so at the cost of alienating business elites, mainline Christians and other more moderate conservatives. Businesses historically aligned with the GOP have moved quickly to shut down overt racism and violent rhetoric by employees within their ranks. The international standing of the United States has plummeted by almost every measure.

Their culture, like their side in the Civil War, is a lost cause. Trump's movement is a rag tag collection of losers who are out of touch with reality, whose leader is the most flawed man ever to occupy the White House, a deeply corrupt, mean spirited, idiot and pathological liar.

When Disney is touting a new series appropriate for gay pride month, and a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, it is too late to turn back the clock on gay rights.

Throwing shade at President Obama, the most popular American political leader in a generation whose personal character was unblemished, is not an effective political tactic with anyone but hard core converts to Trumpism.

Trump's victory was a major battle won by the cultural right in the culture wars that have been raging since before the American Revolution, but they are losing the war and Trump has discredited their movement and party with too many of the people whose support they need to win elections going forward.

The 2020 election is also the last hurrah of a generation of politicians who will soon have no choice but to pass the torch to the next generations.

1 comment:

Dave Barnes said...

Very optimistic.