People with zero imagination (like most of our news media) will always look to the past as prologue — and most of the time, it absolutely is. But this is not “most of the time”. You can tell because nothing even remotely like it has ever happened to us before. Richard Nixon may have been breathtakingly corrupt, but at least he wasn’t a traitor. That is what makes Donald Trump and his presidency truly unique in our history. Never before has one of our two main political parties crawled into bed with a hostile foreign power in order to win an election. But then, never before has one of our two parties made it their purpose to bust a cap in democracy’s noggin and, in its place, install a state of permanent minority rule. That is precisely what the Republicans are doing. They’re not exactly being subtle about it. How can it possibly be that more Republicans “believe” Biden stole the presidency from Trump than believe Biden won legitimately? Of course they don’t “believe” that. Everything the GOP does is bullshit kabuki of one kind or another.
Though everything about Trump’s presidency defied convention, our news media to this day insist on seeing Trump through a “conventional” lens. What started with Trump calling Mexicans rapists ended with Trump insisting he was still POTUS. Nothing even remotely conventional happened in between. But, if you insist on viewing it all through a “normal” lens then — as happened with us — rather than stop seeing Trump as normal, our news media reconceived “normal” to include Trump. The proof that they did that? When Joe Biden finally took over — and began to govern the way we’re actually used to, our news media regarded it like IT was “strange”. As if doing the work we need done was the oddity while screaming treasonous absurdities at the top of your lungs was what we expected presidents to do.
Our news media is especially determined — since it’s what almost always happen during a new president’s first mid-term election — that the Republicans will triumph handsomely over the Democrats and re-take the House and Senate, making the rest of Joe Biden’s agenda (including SCOTUS judges) moot. Their basis for thinking that? It’s what NORMALLY happens.
Except it’s not what’s going to happen this time because nothing about this time is “normal”.
For starters, the more Republicans try to restrict voting, the more Democratic voters will do whatever they have to to vote. That’s assuming any of the Republicans’ restrictive voting laws survive till election 2022. Take this to the bank: they won’t. They violate Americans’ civil rights and the current Department of Justice has sworn to prosecute such crimes. I don’t think this is an “if they do “; it’s a whole-hearted “they’re going to and no one’s going to stop them”. That’s because of who’s doing it and what it means to them — women, women of color, men of color, Black people, brown people, Asian people, Latino people, Muslims — they all have a lot to gain from keeping the pressure on.
White hegemony is dying as we speak. Oh, it’s still flailing about wildly which means its still incredibly dangerous. But white hegemony is a minority position.
Were Donald Trump the problem, removing Trump from the equation would have solved the problem. But Trump was merely the symptom of a much larger disease. The Right Wing money — the Kochs, the Mercers, etc — saw demographic oblivion coming at them much quicker than they ever thought it would. They may be greedy but they’re not stupid. They saw clearly that a diverse, majority electorate would never elect a Republican POTUS ever again (unless the GOP could manipulate the Electoral College). They grasped that, in time, a diverse, majority electorate would undo a lot of the gerrymandering and make the house a likely Democratic stronghold; with Representatives having to face re-election every two years, holding the House is always a mercurial proposition. The right focused on two things: holding the Senate and hijacking the judiciary.
The Senate, by design, is tilted heavily toward the Republican party and conservatism. Trust me on this: there aren’t TWO Dakotas because there were too many Dakotans to fit into one. It’s the same reason there are as many western states as there are — what with their teeny-tiny populations that, really, could have been combined into several large states. The Senate therefore over-represents red, rural states and under-represents populated parts of the country. Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than do Senate Republicans. Why that’s the population of pretty much every single Republican western state combined. Plus a lot. If we were shown maps that didn’t break whole states down into red and blue (because, of course, real estate doesn’t vote; nor do the cows on it), we wouldn’t think of Republican power the same way.
Republicans, to their credit, also grasped the importance of holding local power. They understand that if you control the architecture, you can control almost the entire democracy. You can even change it to suit your needs even if you are the minority. Beyond holding the Senate (and losing Georgia was brutal for Mitch McConnell — and it was almost entirely Trump’s fault that the Republicans lost Georgia), the GOP made a point of taking over as many statehouses as they could. Often, their candidates ran either unopposed or opposed by poorly organized, poorly funded Democrats.
The big grab was the judiciary. The Kochs tasked Mitch McConnell with doing everything he could to deny Obama lifetime appointments. The Kochs knew damned well that Trump was in bed with Russia. But then, so were the Kochs and Mercers. The decision to go all in with Trump was done with the full knowledge of who Trump was and what he was guilty of. To the Kochs, controlling the courts — the SCOTUS especially — was more important than even being a loyal American. Apparently they can handle Russia running our country. They can’t handle Black or brown people having political power.
That’s what makes this so confounding. In a very large sense, the problem in front of us IS our past. We had a choice when the country was founded, to legitimize or delegitimize slavery. We chose to legitimize it. We got it into our heads that “All men are created equal” could co-exist beside slavery without anyone noticing it made “All men are created equal” look like total bullshit. Trumpism IS our past — every vile bit of it, rolled into one.