Americans are going to the polls – at a mid-term – in record numbers. That includes a lot more of the youth vote than has ever voted before. It also includes a lot more women. They registered to vote – many for the first time – because the Supreme Court took away their rights! And, why did the SCOTUS do that? Because that was the goal of the Republican Tribe. People who still insist they’re “Republican” aren’t making a political choice. Not any more. Putting that “R” next to their name means they have no use for democracy. That is, their tribe has no use for it because a rapidly diversifying America has no use for their tribe and won’t vote for them. But, that’s because the Republican tribe decided it had no use for the rest of America. Republicans are what happens when tribalism goes nuclear.
How GOP Tribalism Went Nuclear
The Right Wing money went nuclear first. The Kochs (there were two of them back then) see the world through a heavily distorted libertarian lens. Having money allows rich people to impose their distortions on the rest of us. Witness Elon Musk and Twitter. For the record, there should not be any “billionaires”. No one personally does anything to be that rich. The billions in a billionaire’s pocket belongs to countless other people.
But, rich people get rich by having other peoples’ money in their pocket. And they like being rich. That’s why they do everything they can with their money to keep their money. That’s how corruption starts. And, it’s how money corrupted and keeps corrupting our democracy. The Republican Tribe see themselves as “the founders’ tribe”. They’re the same way about God. They’re God’s spokesmen, don’tcha know! Wanna know what God is thinking at any moment of the day? Ask them. Apparently, they know.
America has always assumed that rich people earned their wealth legitimately. That wealth and God are somehow connected. Wealthy people are wealthy because God wants them to be. That’s the worst kind of tribalism! It’s also the worst kind of horse shit.
The Birth Of “Originalism”
As the Reagan revolution waned (and the Clinton years began), the Right Wing money looked ahead and saw catastrophe. America was diversifying far more rapidly than they’d anticipated. In theory, a diversifying America presented the GOP with opportunities. But the GOP wasn’t really looking to diversify at that point. The GOP was already circling its wagons. It invented “originalism” as an excuse to wrench America backward in time – away from its diversifying future and toward an economic structure very similar to slavery.
America is a great poorly executed.
Our founders weren’t flawless. Clearly. They cut a deal with slavery while creating a democratic republic. That deal didn’t improve the republic. They cut it because money always speaks loudest. At its core, slavery is stolen labor. It’s the whole point. If I enslave you, what I really want is your work product for free. Now, I will need to feed you and clothe you and house you. But, those are just the costs of doing business. Assuming the value of your work exceeds what it costs to keep you, as a slaver, I’ll come out ahead.
Imagine for a second if slavery had never been an option in America. The reason America “needed” slaves was because its three chief agricultural products – sugar cane, tobacco and cotton – were all labor intensive. Without slavery, the plantations raising those crops would have had to pay a fair market rate for labor. The Confederacy would never have risen as a slave state. Hell, it might have become the world’s first “Worker’s Paradise”.
Slavery Ends But Goes Nuclear
Slavery won the argument. It’s still winning it. The US Senate and the Electoral College are evidence that slavery won. They’re the mechanism that keeps America chained to its past. To slavery. While, on the surface, slavery ended, the urge to enslave people never did.
Republicans resisted the creation of a minimum wage. They’ve resisted every rise to it. That’s because they want to get labor for as close to zero as they can. For them, there’s an added bonus. Now, the wannabe-slavers don’t have to pay the costs of keeping their slaves. The government now does that via the social safety net.
The right wing wants to destroy that safety net! Then, everyone would, more or less, become their slave or their potential slave.
That’s originalism’s goal – to force America to see the world and be exactly as it was when America’s founders founded America. While the founders built change into the architecture, originalists want to deny change. That’s not for reasons of authenticity. It’s for reasons of bullshit. If originalists really wanted to see the world the way America’s founders saw it, no one (not in the military) would be walking around armed to the teeth.
The Second Amendment Ruse
The Second Amendment – as written – does not contain the word “own”. Neither “keep” nor “bear” equals “own” in contract law. And, the Constitution is the basis for all American contract law. Go ask any rental car company if “keeping” and “bearing” one of their cars equals “owning” it. It does not. THAT would be “originalism”.
To their credit, the Right Wing money approached their problem pragmatically. They invested in local politics and in hijacking the judiciary. They’ve succeeded at both. But hijacking the politics and the court doesn’t mean you’re representing anything other than yourself. The Republican Culture War on America focused on killing Roe v Wade dead.
Enter Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich saw a way to catalyze the process. He declared a literal culture war on the rest of us. The Republican Party – the tribe declaring the culture war – wasn’t even remotely diverse. And it wasn’t really interested in diversifying. Diversification was, in fact, its enemy. Remember: Newt and his party declared this war. The rest of us had no idea what that even meant.
Oh, but now we do…
If the GOP succeeds in its stated goal of eliminating most Americans’ rights to privacy and bodily autonomy – and their right to vote – America will cease to be any sort of democracy. That is the entire point of the Republican Party’s exercise here. It was the point when Newt anointed himself head crusader.
Democrats want to prosecute Republicans for violating the rule of law. Republicans want to prosecute Democrats for being Democrats. See the difference?
Yeah, sure. Both sides “do it”. Both sides have gone tribal. Except the Republican tribe’s tribalism has gone nuclear.