I take conservatives at their word. Well, at their name: conservatives want to conserve. Fair enough. The obvious question is “what”. WHAT do conservatives want to conserve? Just to narrow it down – we know it can’t be the future, it doesn’t exist yet. There’s nothing to conserve. That limits conservable things to the present and past – or as much of the past that’s still contained in the present (like an insect trapped in amber). Originalists, to their credit, are bracingly honest about this. Oringalism’s whole premise is that America today must be exactly like the America the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote America’s founding documents lived in. If women had no rights then, they should have no rights now. If Black people were three fifths of a white person then, they’re three fifths of a white person today.
America’s founders were all white, land-owning, Christian men. That is, the men who wrote our founding documents were all of a tribe. Though they wrote out “All men are created equal”, they didn’t mean it. Only men could participate and by “men” they meant only men who looked exactly like them. Americans love their mythology though and we mythologized the hell out of our founders and their intentions.
When right wing blowhard and authoritarian idealogue Newt Gingrich declared culture war on the rest of us in the early 1990’s, he wasn’t speaking on behalf of any particular political idea other than greed for greed’s sake (the basic Republican mantra). The “moral high ground” Newt claimed was pure swampland permeated by the stink of bullshit. Every single moral value Newt crowed about was pure kabuki. Cynics have no values to speak other than cold hard cash. The GOP Newt insisted must lead America back to its “true self” was already corrupt beyond our wildest imaginations. What Newt and conservatives saw wasn’t America in moral decline, it was America becoming less white and more diverse.
THAT was the “culture” Newt and the conservative movement needed to blot out – the one where America’s increasingly diverse, increasingly dynamic population becomes 1) the majority of Americans and 2) a majority of Americans the shrinking Republican Party can no longer control or count on to ever vote for them. If Republicans thought they could get enough people to vote for them if they were flat out honest, they’d do it. But that’s never been the case for Republicans.
The whole point of gerrymandering is to let politicians pick their voters. The whole point of voter suppression is to stop undesirable voters from casting their allots; but, if they do vote, the vote gets heavily discounted if not thrown out entirely. The whole point of hitching the GOP’s wagon to Trump and Russia was to benefit the Republican Party the way Trump was being benefited by Putin.
As the Reagan years ended, the GOP saw the handwriting on the wall: America was becoming more diverse, less beholden to white politicians and their whiteness. Diversity brings a flood of new thinking into any discussion. New thinking produces innovation and innovation produces change – the last thing on earth any conservative wants.
If they could, the Republican leadership would force America back into the way it was circa 1850 when everyone apparently “knew their place”. They’re terrified at the thought of America traveling into the future because they refuse to. Instead, like Newt did, they plot against the rest of us.
White supremacy, don’t forget, lives at the intersection of ignorance and racism. My advice to anyone trying to work with it: be careful!