Telling It Like It Is

Sometimes, a single observation accurately explains an otherwise confounding situation. Such an observation was included in a guest essay in last Wednesday’s New York Times.

The author began by citing survey results showing that Republicans are far more unhappy with their party’s lawmakers than Democrats are with theirs.

He then wrote:

The problem isn’t that Republicans don’t win legislative victories. It’s that legislative victories can’t answer the party’s underlying discontent, which is less about government policy than about American culture. Democrats worry about voting rights, gun control, climate change and abortion — enormous challenges, but ones that congressional leaders can at least try to address. What Republicans fear, above all, is social and demographic changes that leave white Christian men feeling disempowered, a complex set of forces that Republicans often lump together as “wokeness.”

When Donald Trump won the Presidency, those of us who attributed his support to racism were excoriated for oversimplification–characterizing all Trump voters as bigots was clearly unfair! Suggesting that votes for Trump and embrace of his MAGA message were evidence of White Supremacist attitudes oversimplified a complicated landscape and overlooked the impact of economic factors!

In the years since, however, numerous studies have confirmed that the single most reliable predictor of a vote for Trump was “racial resentment.” (As my youngest son has put it, only two kinds of people voted for Trump: those who agreed with his racism, and those who did not consider that racism disqualifying.)

The essay also cited to research identifying the GOP base as the population most upset by the current state of American culture.

Despite Republican power in Washington, these shifts have produced a deep gloom among the party’s base. A 2021 poll by the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life found that white evangelical Protestants — the heart and soul of the modern Republican Party — hold a bleaker view of America’s future than any other major racial or religious group. They’re more than 30 points less optimistic than Black Americans, the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting bloc. As the conservative writer David French noted in 2019, “one of the most striking aspects of modern Evangelical political thinking is its projection of inevitable decline.”

This pessimism is inextricably bound up with demographic change. A poll last year by the University of Maryland found that more than 60 percent of Republicans want to declare the United States a Christian nation. But according to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who identify as Christian has dropped to 64 percent as of 2020 from 90 percent in the 1970s. Almost 60 percent of Republicans believe that “American customs and values” will grow weaker if white people lose their demographic majority. But non-Hispanic white people now constitute only about 60 percent of the population, down from around 80 percent in 1980, and already make up a minority of Americans under the age of 16.

It is no secret that the frantic opposition to immigration–especially immigration from the country’s Southern border–is an expression of racism.But as the essay points out, even if the United States totally stopped all immigration tomorrow, legal or illegal, the White share of the population would keep declining, because White Americans are much older than the population at large.

And the Court decision in Dobbs overturning Roe v. Wade–a long-held aspiration of the hard Right–will not and can not reverse the changes in the gender norms of American society, changes that have empowered women and infuriated the MAGA base.

 A 2020 survey by the research firm PerryUndem found that Americans who oppose abortion rights are also deeply hostile to the #metoo movement and believe that “most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.” Overturning Roe won’t change the fact that most Republicans think American society discriminates against men.

Bottom line: Looming over all of the other problems faced by a self- emasculated Kevin McCarthy is the real nature of the GOP’s discontent. McCarthy can’t return America to the 1950s or even the 1980, but ultimately, that’s what the MAGA warriors want. The impossibility of that demand is why today’s GOP has no agenda, no philosophy and no platform. The (very slim) Republican House majority can only continue to engage in performative antics, throwing tantrums and acting out.

For today’s GOP, nostalgia for lost privilege is everything. Governing is entirely beside the point.


  1. Prof K closes with “Governing is entirely beside the point.”
    Yet these buffoons are in charge of the House of Representatives.
    This could go badly

  2. Basically white “christians” don’t want to share……anything. No wonder they idolize and support Israel and their treatment of Palestinians regardless of whether they are Israeli citizens or not….much the same way blacks were treated under JIm Crow after our Civil War. Ultimately won’t these white “christians” be all in for Jim Crow 2?

    Here are several YouTube videos of the author, Peter Beinart, explaining his view of Israel. No friend of AIPAC. I’m guessing, but it appears he sees Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as the model for white christians in the US in much the same way Hitler admired Jim Crow in the American South. Hence this article in the NYT.


  3. “The (very slim) Republican House majority can only continue to engage in performative antics, throwing tantrums and acting out.”

    “For today’s GOP, nostalgia for lost privilege is everything. Governing is entirely beside the point.”

    A quote from an Op Ed yesterday (as best as I can remember); “McCarthy is Speaker but Trump holds the gavel.” Governing was entirely beside the point in Trump’s entire administration as it is in any Dictatorship; that (very slim) Republican House majority will be coupled with their slim minority in McConnell’s Senate and will become the ruling majority in government. Their reasons, if they espouse any, are entirely beside the point and almost without fail are lies. Their “means” will lead them to their desired “ends” because those Republicans who do not agree with them or Trump are held prisoner by their own fears of losing their elected positions which, like Curious George (who is indeed a curious politician), are necessary numbers they allow to remain.

    As I commented a few days ago; my generation will soon die out and younger generations will have no memory of the government we could trust to work for us. Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope” was based in his hope that once again both parting would sit at the bargaining table and work together to resolve our problems. Concessions must be made to reawaken any hope of that happening; McCarthy conceded his entire foundation to become Speaker of the House and now he and the House will be ruled by his own party’s frightening Freedom Caucus. Personally; I am now questioning the reasoning of our AG Merrick Garland who hesitated appointing a Special Counsel to investigate Trump’s admitted deliberate removal of boxes of government documents to his private home and offices but immediately jumped on appointing a former Trump appointee to investigate documents found in locked offices and closets of President Biden.

    “The author began by citing survey results showing that Republicans are far more unhappy with their party’s lawmakers than Democrats are with theirs.” But their end will justify their means by maintaining numbers in the current government lottery.

  4. Mea culpa; please excuse my poor editing, in the paragraph regarding my generation. It should of course read “once again both PARTIES”, not parting.

  5. Melinda all I can say is Amen! Plus these are some of the major reasons I moved to a more stable democratic country.

  6. JoAnn I also believe you are right on target. The US is fast becoming reigned by one party (R) that will rule without any sort of morality, even though they will claim to do so. The demise of democracy is upon us and I’d really like to know what historians will say in 100 years.

  7. Terry pointed out that Hitler admired Jim Crow in the South. Even worse, I saw an article that said that the Nazis thought that the Jim Crow policies were more stringent than they felt were appropriate. That, from the ones who sent Jews and Gypsies to the gas chambers.

  8. Squirrel! Republicans should acknowledge the squirrel as their new symbol. They don’t need much more than their limitations to the “wrong” people voting, so distraction is a perfect fit for a party with no shame.

  9. I have seen all of the aforementioned in my community while campaigning last fall for Town Council.
    Send them to Goshen!
    They want to live with their own kind.
    Baby killers!
    We like the good old days!”

    Meanwhile small communities like ours are looking past the opportunities to keep young ppl coming back.
    They refuse to better their communication with the town only to frustrate and infuriate voters.
    They live in their churched-club bubbles with blinders on to what they need to do to attract new blood.
    When the old regime dies off what will be left?
    Change is inevitable.
    Sadly, the anti-woke crowd needs to do just that- wake up before the young taxpayers are gone.

  10. It seems among authors of posts this morning are knowledgeable of complex issues unfolding now in Israel as if a canary in the mine shaft of a depleted democracy. The Israeli far right is emerging from under a shroud of nullifying imperatives as a country without a constitution in conflict with a people who have a constitution without a country. Making the association between our dilemma and that of Israel is a bit far fetched. There is no scenario I have read where Kevin McCarthy has any hope of marshaling legislation currently in headlines past any joint resolution with the Senate much less support from the President. We are a country with a constitution.

  11. But according to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who identify as Christian has dropped to 64 percent as of 2020 from 90 percent in the 1970s.” That IS a huge drop! It has to trigger increased anxiety in the, already anxious, diminishing majority.
    And, the “Freedom Caucus,” which is just the new name for the Tea party, saw its emergence in the early 2000’s, when this change was not so apparent, I’ll guess. The Paul Ryan and Jim Jordan types probably did not have any such statistics in mind, I’ll guess again, only the lust for power.
    Melinda has it right, as does Joanne.

  12. While the Republicans have little or no official policy, I will say that when Trump was in the white house it seemed like his number one policy goal was to make sure Wall Street and the stock market did well.

    Now that Republicans are in control of the house, and Trump is no longer in the White House, I think we are going to see out and out attempts to sabotage the economy, mainly through refusal to raise the debt limit. Under Trump the Republicans were damaging, but without Trump I think it’s going to be worse for everyone, and not just for non-males, non-whites, and non-christians.

  13. Democracy was dead on arrival. Every time the people progress against the oligarchy, the oligarchs increase their funding to get what they want. Proposed bills get washed down as hundreds of lobbyists show up with “required changes” accompanied by checks.

    Citizens United was the final nail in the coffin of “US democracy.” Scalia tipped his hat he sold out the people for checks.

    Reading Ted Cruz’s tweets about “abolishing the IRS” is his execution of a goal for his dark money donors (mainly Charles Koch).

    If the political parties were serving the interests of the people, they would be working hard, in a bipartisan manner, to “abolish payroll taxes.” Why do we get charged a tax on our productivity when corporations, and their owners, are the ones benefitting?

    Neither party will do so because they are owned by the oligarchy, which wants to control workers. The oligarchy also doesn’t want Universal Health Care because they want workers to depend on them.

    Instead, watch SSI and Medicare closely, as both parties work behind closed doors for their donors who want to privatize. Why?

    Because Wall Street owns the Democratic and Republican parties, WS wants the fees and to increase the retirement age. Instead of forcing executives to pay more of their salaries and benefits into the fund for workers, the parties are paid to keep it low and to work behind doors to privatize for fee collection.

    I could go on and on with examples of our oligarchy controlling the show with both parties doing their bidding. This is why SCOTUS has been stacked with oligarchic tools for decades. Let’s see how they rule on student loan forgiveness. 😉

  14. “The author began by citing survey results showing that Republicans are far more unhappy with their party’s lawmakers than Democrats are with theirs.”

    Someone actually commissioned a survey on this subject? Isn’t this pretty much common knowledge? It’s like taking a survey to find out people think water is wet.

  15. By the way, oligarchs aren’t the only ones calling the shots in this country. We do have NGOs like the Trilateral Commission formed in the 70s pulling the strings:

    It now has 400 members between Western Europe, Japan, and the US – “It was founded in July 1973 principally by American banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, an internationalist who sought to address the challenges posed by the growing economic and political interdependence between the U.S. and its allies in North America, Western Europe, and Japan.”

    There are others with “exclusive membership” that many would define as the “Deep State.” Think, Council of Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg. These NGOs tell our intelligentsia what to do.

  16. We all understand and accept the role of journalism in sharing the unadorned facts of the events going on worldwide so that we can reflect an enlightened perspective in our thoughts. We don’t prefer them pontificating over our individual right to opinions interpreting the meaning behind the facts. Still, they also have another legitimate role and that is to open our eyes to how to ascribe meaning to the sum total of all relevant points. They can teach us to move beyond where we are to the next level of understanding. Legitimate sources expand our thinking, not limit it.

    So they are. Eyes are being opened and enlightenment spread.

    That’s why hope springs eternal.

  17. An old country doctor once told me that the best medicine he had was tincture of time. Change will not stop. Some issues (environment, healthcare cost, diversity) will not be denied. With persistent pressure, it is going to be OK. Different, changed…but OK.

  18. Lester: “I’ll have what she’s having,” spoken by actor Estelle Reiner in the movie, Rob Reiner’s mother…Carl Reiner’s wife. Great line, great movie!

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