The United States has been falling into an authoritarian twilight for years now, decades, since Nixon and Kevin Phillips created the Southern Strategy to appeal to white racist southern voters. The election of Trump is not the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning of the rise of something terrible and cruel in North America.
I’ve said since the night of the 2016 presidential election that the US died that night, and what we’ve been watching since is the maggots feeding on the corpse. But maggots can only go so far.
Soon, something truly evil will arise in place of what once was the United States. It will carry the same name, but it will look and behave nothing like the America into which I was born.
With the elevation of the highly partisan and screaming-shouting-crying man-baby, Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court, the right wing now sits poised to gut the Voting Rights Act completely, to uphold voter suppression laws, and to ultimately attack the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This became apparent clear back in 2015 when a GOP pastor, when pressed about an equal rights ordinance in Texas to which she objected because it protected transgender people, also admitted that she believes she has the right to discriminate against Jews, Blacks, anyone, so long as it is “religiously motivated”.
Here is the video of that. She has to be pressed but finally admits that, yes, discriminating against Jews should be allowed for “sincerely held religious beliefs”. If that doesn’t terrify you, then you’re not thinking clearly or you’re one of those who want to persecute minorities. This is the end game of the “religious freedom” lie – where they carve out “sincerely held religious belief” exemptions to federal laws across the board.
So this is a long running right wing agenda. They tried to vilify gays and failed. But now they have vilified trans people, all trans people, to create a fear based wedge issue to drive ignorant voters to the polls, to give them the power they seek. Their first step will not to be attack protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Instead, they will attack trans people as the “wedge” issue. Once they win against trans people (and they will win with Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh), that becomes precedent about “religious freedom”.
Next, they will circle back to gays, because gays are not covered either. That will give them the precedent reinforced by a second case. After that, they’ll start coming after protected classes named in law. My bet is the first class will be religion, but they’ll hide that as an attack against Muslims, again, because of “sincerely held religious beliefs”. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will be the most likely authors of the majority opinion then. They will make spurious claims about America being a “Christian” nation, about the founders “not intending” to protect religions other than Christianity. They will do whatever pretzel logic they need to get that critical break into the 1964 Civil Rights Act wall of protection. That’s why I believe Muslims will be targeted first, because of the fear that right wingers can generate about Muslims.
Once they reach that point, they’ve now created precedent that allows exemptions to the 1964 Civil Rights Act for reasons of “religious freedom”. Further exemptions, against blacks, women, etc. Remember the “Curse of Ham” biblical teachings that were used by white Christian southerners to justify treating people of color as sub-human? That will be dragged out of the cesspool once again and become a “sincerely held religious belief” because the bible says so, right? Likewise with subordinating women, firing women, refusing them access to birth control of any kind, and taking their other rights away as well.
People point to winning the mid-terms as how to stop this. I ask them “How does that work?” They mumble asinine things about “impeachment”. The House can impeach but if the Senate fails to vote to remove, the impeachment has no effect. Removal from office requires 67 Senate votes. Even if Democrats win every single Senate race in 2018, we still only end up with 53 or so senators. Do any of you seriously believe that 14 Republicans will vote to remove Donald Trump? So Trump is staying, at least to 2020, and probably beyond since Republicans will have two years of the Kavanaugh/Gorsuch court to seal the deal on even more voter suppression laws.
But let’s say Democrats get the mother of all wins in 2020. They get the Senate, the House, the Presidency. What then? Every liberal law they pass will immediately get challenged to the right wing Supreme Court. That court will stand on its head, if need be, to void liberal laws. So Democrats won’t be able to do anything effective. And then when Republicans eventually get power back, and they will, they will continue taking us down the path to the nation of Gilead, as described in The Handmaid’s Tale.
You think I jest? Conservatives at CPAC, one of the largest and most important conservative political conferences, now even have white males argues in favor of slavery again. Men argue women should have never been given the right to vote and those are conservative men making that argument. They belittle sexual assault survivors. Here’s conservative darling, William Bennett, telling women who are sexual assault survivors to “be quiet” and “have you no shame?” as he taunts them.
The religious right wing in America has publicly and clearly stated their agenda, many times. Separation of the races, oppression of women because “the bible says so”, the complete recriminalization of anything about being LGBT, and driving LGBT out of visible sight in society. Todd Kincannon, former executive director of the South Carolina GOP, said “There are people who respect transgender rights. And there are people who think you should all be put in a camp. That’s me.” NOTE: Kincannon’s Twitter account was suspended over this so you can’t find the original tweets anymore, although they’ve been capture in screenshots and articles. But guess what? Not one single other Republican called this hateful message out! Not one. Not one single Republican. None of them would say that such a thing was hateful and wrong. You know that many of them are thinking the same thing when none of them have the courage to say that’s terrible and wrong.
So here we are. Twilight has been coming over America for about 50 years now. With each successive Republican administration, more vile and evil things come to pass. The authoritarian Patriot Act? Republicans overwhelmingly support that every time it comes up. Some Democrats do as well but the majority have not. That should give you a sense of who the real authoritarians are. And now we have Trump, thanks to privileged voters who refused to stand against Trump and who get angry when you call them out for their culpability in this ongoing national disaster. Kids in cages, thousands of lies from Trump, sometimes more than a dozen daily, factually wrong, easily refuted lies. LGBT people’s rights are under assault. Women’s rights to control their own bodies are under assault. Voting rights of minority voters are under assault. The environment is under assault. Middle class wages continue to fall as the ultra rich pocket more and more of the nation’s wealth. And all of that is precisely as Republicans intend it to be.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but even if we win in 2018, all we’ve bought is a small bit of time, nothing more. Twilight is almost done. And someday soon, you will wake up and instead of the twilight, you will have to face the thousand year night.