The Republican Party has lost all its legitimacy because, in the past few decades, it has become a white supremacist version of what Father of the Constitution James Madison called a “faction.”
Loosely, a “faction“ is a “special interest” group of people who are willing to damage the interests of other people just to gain their own benefit. And, as Madison warned us, factions destroy democracies.
Here is how it is playing out right now, as a Trump-inspired faction continues to consolidate their control over the larger Republican Party, dragging it deeper and deeper into the swamp of racism and misogyny.
Joy Reid laid out in painful detail — with clips from Republicans like Blackburn, Hawley, and McCarthy — how Dr. Martin Luther King’s hope that people would someday “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” has become a near-mantra for conservatives.
Like most moral assertions by today’s Republicans, this is another example of the hypocrisy of their party, in this case that being their enduring embrace of Nixon’s and Reagan’s appeal to White supremacy to win elections.
Nixon thought he could control the openly racist and misogynist faction he invited into the GOP with that “Southern Strategy.” Instead, that faction is destroying the Party and threatening America.
That tactic of embracing White supremacists and their rhetoric while claiming a neutral and seemingly principled high ground has been used particularly successfully by Reagan and Trump, expanding the size of what was once a relatively small but openly White supremacist and misogynist faction to the point it could take over the entire Republican Party.
Absurdly, today’s “conservatives” use King’s quote to decry affirmative action or any efforts to achieve a racial balance within schools, colleges or the workplace that simply reflects racial proportions in American society.
It is their way of saying, “We’re in charge and we like things the way they are: you need to stop bringing BIPOC people into the game.”
It was the essence of the decision John Roberts wrote in the Shelby County v Holder decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, paving the way for Red states to purge literally millions of mostly African American citizens from the voting rolls and shut down polling places in Black neighborhoods.
We had a Black president, after all, went the Supreme Court’s logic: how could racism even still exist in America? But it is not like Republicans are opposed to “affirmative action” to reach for support from a particular group of voters. Reagan promised to put a woman on the Supreme Court and followed through with Sandra Day O’Connor.
Trump did the same, telling a rally in North Carolina shortly after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death that his nominee “will be a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman. I haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list.”
But those, of course, were White women. Misogyny is up there in the hierarchy of this Republican faction’s priorities, but nowhere near the top spot occupied by race.
Just look at who they recruit. Of the 56 Black members of the House of Representatives only two are Republicans, who both took office last year for the first time; the only Black Republican senator is Tim Scott, who was first appointed by another GOP outlier, an Indian-American governor.
Tucker Carlson, for example, complained on January 26 to his elderly White audience about President Biden’s promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court:
“It is possible we’ve all marinated for so long in a casual racism of affirmative action that it seems normal now to reduce human beings to their race. … But imagine if this was happening to you. How would you feel?”
The multi-millionaire Swanson Frozen Foods-fortune heir ended his rant with the perpetual White Supremacist’s call to grievance:
“As long as we are giving up the spoils like carrot cake, where’s my slice?”
Fox “News” personality Tomi Lahren weighted in the same evening, implying that you could tell a person’s politics by the color of their skin and that Black people represent the most “radical” among us. She whined:
“We know that what Joe Biden does best is placate to the radical element and the radical progressive base of his party that he believes is the majority.”
Right. All Black women are “radical progressives.” Because of the color of their skin. Got it.
Nikki Haley, who has presidential aspirations, tweeted:
“Would be nice if President Biden chose a Supreme Court nominee who was best qualified without a race/gender litmus test,” adding, rather paternalistically, that she’d done that when she “picked Tim Scott as Senator of South Carolina.”
That would be the Tim Scott who couldn’t even muster a vote for rebuilding America or voting rights.
The reality is that race and gender have been THE litmus test for appointments to the federal bench (and pretty much everything else) for 240 years in this country.
For almost our entire history, it’s been a very simple mantra of “Blacks and women need not apply.” And that went double for Black women.
The five Black women whose names are in the news as front-runners on Biden’s list are all demonstrably more well qualified, both academically and experientially, than any of Trump’s all-White nominees.
This shouldn’t be surprising: Black people, and particularly Black women, are almost always judged by different (and higher) standards than their White counterparts, from business to politics to the law.
Particularly by White Republicans in leadership like the #2 Republican in the House of Representatives, minority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who ran as “David Duke without the baggage.”
The Republican Party, starting with Nixon but exponentially since the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, has contracted into a White supremacist variety of what James Madison called a “faction” in Federalist 10.
As Dan Sisson and I pointed out in The American Revolution of 1800, faction was something the Founders identified as representing the greatest danger of “violence” against our new Republic:
“By a faction,” Madison wrote, “I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse [harmful] to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
The entirety of Federalist 10 is a warning that should our system of government or any of our political parties become dominated by a faction, it would represent a mortal threat to our republic:
“Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people.”
Expect a virtual firehose of attacks from the racist Republican faction directed against whomever President Biden nominates.
The majority will come from the hard right, well-tinged with racist dog-whistle phrases implying “affirmative action” or “lazy” or “radical” to identify the candidate.
Welcome to the racist, misogynous, anti-democracy faction that has seized control of today’s GOP, and their media cheerleaders.
The big question for the November election will be: Can this openly violence-embracing White Supremacist faction continue to hold onto their power over the entire party?
© Thom Hartmann, used with permission. Originally published on The Hartmann Report as As the GOP Drowns Deeper in Factional Racism & Sexism, America is Sinking, too
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