January 4, 2021 - 2:00 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Palm Springs, California (www.richweissman.com)
This explains a lot … A recent and serious Vanderbilt University study (Political Science Professor Larry Bartels’ “Ethnic Antagonism Erodes Republicans’ Commitment to Democracy”) revealed something critical. The 2020 study compared people who are Republicans vs. Democrats in a national sample (n = 1,151) on a series of value statements. It found that Republicans are likely to believe that the most significant threat to the nation is that white people are diminishing in power, and POC and non-white immigrants are gaining in power. And, the study revealed that Republicans are prepared to engage in activities that that are counter to democracy and law so as to maintain white dominance, including the use of force. The study revealed that they do not view democracy as a critical value to uphold, and view anti-democratic actions as acceptable mechanisms for maintaining white control, even violence. Democrats, on the other hand, are very different and typically reject white supremacy, and they believe that democracy and law are of the highest value. This gap is real. For the majority of Republicans, it’s not economic, it’s not political ideology, it’s not positions on issues; no, it’s pure unbridled racism (and bundled into that is hatred of those who are not Christian and do not follow the white model of supremacy). And that is why Republicans have and continue to allow Trumpism to thrive, and there are no facts nor counter arguments to which they care to hear. This is America.
We have to face this serious divide. It’s ugly and pernicious. So let’s be clear, as a group, Republicans of all types today are more concerned about maintaining white supremacy than in upholding the Constitution and its democratic values and laws. This is alarming, and I believe the most serious threat to our democracy. The notion that we can all come together as a nation and heal seems insurmountable. Even in the midst of a national crisis like COVID, which should have brought us together for common cause, it only divided us further along these lines. Republican voters don’t care that Trump and his cohorts engage in illegal and unconstitutional activities, including attempting to upend the election. They don’t dismiss the insane conspiracies. Instead, they embrace these as rationales for promoting white dominance. They don’t follow what we expect as “normal” behavior from the electorate. And none of the outrageous activities and statements they see their leaders say or do evoke outrage from them. They don’t care, as first and foremost they are supremacists, and any path to maintain supremacy they view as justifiable.
I don’t know the solution, and I hope minds smarter than mine can find a path that takes us away from this divide. But to do that, we all need to begin to understand the basis of the chasm: the willingness of Republicans to dismiss democracy and law in the name of white supremacy. This is not a “difference of opinion.” There is no collective reasoning that can coalesce based on a shared belief of democratic values. And without common ground, it becomes impossible to govern. We are in an untenable bind, and all we can do at this point is to call it out for what it is and hold Republicans, from our families, friends and communities to elected Republican officials at every level, accountable for the culture of supremacy and anti-democratic values they have engendered. This study touches at the core of our national angst and it does not bode well for the future. Frightening.