GOP Republicans’ Future – Democracy or Autocracy?

Conservative commentator David Brooks attended the recent National Conservatism Conference in the US and in the following article excerpts, parses through what he thinks is wrong with the GOP or the Republicans.

He cites from observations of participants, the paranoia and the obsession with social issues, universities, elites, culture wars, ‘cultural Marxism’ (popular with the Nazis too), while ‘their public posture is dominated by the psychology of threat and menace’ and imposition of minority Christian ‘values’.

One would suggest that it makes the GOP appear or sound Orwellian, i.e. claims of freedom or democracy, freedom of speech etc., while demanding any real or perceived public dissent, threat or difference is neutered.  

However, by claiming the GOP are victims of liberal BigTech type oligarchs etc., ignores the fact that other oligarchs e.g. in fossil fuels etc. have been supporting, via Koch Network think tanks, radical right libertarain socio-economic policies grounded in eugenics that are not good for many GOP conservatives’ nor society’s futures.  

This is not just in the US but via Atlas Network think tanks influencing the Anglosphere of the UK and Australia, plus elsewhere., while former President Bush is warning the GOP of adopting an ‘Anglo Saxon’ identity precluding and/or ignoring changing demographics?

Question would be, backgrounded by shenanigans round Trump’s defeat, ungrounded claims of voting fraud, calls for restrictions like Voter ID, gerrymandering etc.; how can the GOP gain and maintain power if they are fast becoming an electoral minority?

From The Atlantic:

The Terrifying Future of the American Right – What I saw at the National Conservatism Conference (18 Nov 2021)

By David Brooks

One of the ideas she’s absorbed is that the conservatives who came before her were insufferably naive. They thought liberals and conservatives both want what’s best for America, disagreeing only on how to get there. But that’s not true, she believes. “Woke elites—increasingly the mainstream left of this country—do not want what we want,” she told the National Conservatism Conference, which was held earlier this month in a bland hotel alongside theme parks in Orlando. “What they want is to destroy us,” she said. “Not only will they use every power at their disposal to achieve their goal,” but they’ve already been doing it for years “by dominating every cultural, intellectual, and political institution.”

The atmosphere is electric. She’s giving the best synopsis of national conservatism I’ve heard at the conference we’re attending—and with flair! Progressives pretend to be the oppressed ones, she tells the crowd, “but in reality, it’s just an old boys’ club, another frat house for entitled rich kids contrived to perpetuate their unearned privilege. It’s Skull and Bones for gender-studies majors!” She finishes to a rousing ovation. People leap to their feet.

I have the sinking sensation that the thunderous sound I’m hearing is the future of the Republican Party.

The information age is transforming the American right. Conservatives have always inveighed against the cultural elite—the media, the universities, Hollywood. But in the Information Age, the purveyors of culture are now corporate titans. In this economy, the dominant means of economic production are cultural production. Corporate behemoths are cultural behemoths. The national conservatives thus describe a world in which the corporate elite, the media elite, the political elite, and the academic elite have all coagulated into one axis of evil, dominating every institution and controlling the channels of thought.

The idea that the left controls absolutely everything—from your smartphone to the money supply to your third grader’s curriculum—explains the apocalyptic tone that was the dominating emotional register of this conference. The politicians’ speeches were like entries in the catastrophism Olympics:

“The left’s ambition is to create a world beyond belonging,” said Hawley. “Their grand ambition is to deconstruct the United States of America.”

“The left’s attack is on America. The left hates America,” said Cruz. “It is the left that is trying to use culture as a tool to destroy America.”

The first great project of the national conservatives is to man the barricades in the culture war. These people have certainly done their homework when it comes to cultural Marxism—how the left has learned to dominate culture and how the right now needs to copy their techniques. If I’d had to drink a shot every time some speaker cited Herbert Marcuse or Antonio Gramsci, I’d be dead of alcohol poisoning.

But others argued that this sort of liberalism is a luxury we cannot afford. The country is under assault from a Marxist oligarchy that wants to impose its own pseudo-religious doctrine. If you try to repulse that with pallid liberalism, with weak calls for free speech and tolerance, you’ll end up getting run over by those who possess fanatical zeal, economic power, and cultural might.

Another interesting debate among the NatCons is political and economic. Conservatives have lately become expert culture warriors—the whole Tucker Carlson schtick. This schtick demands that you ignore the actual suffering of the world—the transgender kid alone in some suburban high school, the anxiety of a guy who can’t afford health care for his brother, the struggle of a Black man trying to be seen and recognized as a full human being. It’s a cynical game that treats all of life as a play for ratings, a battle for clicks, and this demands constant outrage, white-identity signaling, and the kind of absurd generalizations that Rachel Bovard used to get that room so excited.

Conservatives have got the culture-war act down. Trump was a culture-war president with almost no policy arm attached. The question conservatives at the conference were asking was how to move beyond owning the libs to effecting actual change.

Christopher Rufo, the architect of this year’s school-board-meeting protests against critical race theory, argued that conservatives had erred when they tried to slowly gain power in elite cultural institutions. Conservatives were never going to make headway in the Ivy League or the corporate media. Instead, Rufo argued, they should rally the masses to get state legislatures to pass laws embracing their values. That’s essentially what’s now happening across red America.

The NatCons are wrong to think there is a unified thing called “the left” that hates America. This is just the apocalyptic menace many of them had to invent in order to justify their decision to vote for Donald Trump.

They are wrong, too, to think there is a wokeist Anschluss taking over all the institutions of American life. For people who spend so much time railing about the evils of social media, they sure seem to spend an awful lot of their lives on Twitter. Ninety percent of their discourse is about the discourse. Anecdotalism was also rampant at the conference—generalizing from three anecdotes about people who got canceled to conclude that all of American life is a woke hellscape. They need to get out more.

Furthermore, if Hazony thinks America is about to return to Christian dominance, he’s living in 1956. Evangelical Christianity has lost many millions of believers across recent decades. Secularism is surging, and white Christianity is shrinking into a rump presence in American life. America is becoming more religiously diverse every day. Christians are in no position to impose their values—regarding same-sex marriage or anything else—on the public square. Self-aware Christians know this.

Finally, there is something extremely off-putting about the NatCon public pose. In person, as I say, I find many of them charming, warm, and friendly. But their public posture is dominated by the psychology of threat and menace. If there was one expression of sympathy, kindness, or grace uttered from the podium in Orlando, I did not hear it. But I did hear callousness, invocations of combat, and whiffs of brutality.

NatCons are also probably right that conservatism is going to get a lot more statist. At the conference, Ted Cruz tried to combine culture-war conservatism with free-market economic policies—free trade and low taxes. Marco Rubio countered by, in effect, arguing that you can’t rally cultural populists if you are not also going to do something for them economically. Cultural populism leads to economic populism. Rubio’s position at least has the virtue of being coherent.’

For more blogs or article related to politics and society click through  links below:

Collective Narcissism, Ageing Electorates, Pensioner Populism, White Nativism and Autocracy

Ghosts of Galton and Eugenics Return – Society, Population and Environment in the 21st Century

Adam Smith – Classical Liberal Economics or Conservative Calvinist Christianity or White Christian Nationalism?

Anglosphere – Radical Right Libertarian Socioeconomics and Authoritarianism

Think tanks’ call for ‘freedom’ really promises authoritarianism

Radical Right Libertarain Economics or Social Populism?

Koch Industries: How to Influence Politics, Avoid Fossil Fuel Emission Control and Environmental Protections

7 thoughts on “GOP Republicans’ Future – Democracy or Autocracy?

  1. From The Guardian (3 Dec ’21) claiming Trump is still the issue, but one would argue that it’s more symptoms of radical right libertarian socioeconomics, promoted by Koch Think tanks, that requires authoritarianism and threats to prosper, plus ‘owning’ the GOP via donors.

    ‘The Republican party is embracing violence in the name of Trump

    Jonathan Freedland

    Death threats, gerrymandering and voter suppression are being normalised by America’s right to keep Trumpism alive….

    …But Trumpism endures too in the party he remade in his own image. He has left behind a Republican party no longer committed to democracy. That sounds hyperbolic but, if anything, it understates the case. Republicans are breaking from the principle that precedes the idea of democracy and is even more fundamental: the belief that arguments between citizens should be resolved by peaceful means. Today’s Republican party is normalising the notion of violence as a means of securing a political outcome….

    …. coddling the advocates of violence, punishing those who denounce it – prove the truth of the declaration that Taylor Greene made this week: “We are not the fringe. We are the base of the party.”

    She’s right. She and Gosar are in lockstep with a Republican party whose face can be seen in the death threats now routinely meted out not only to nationally famous politicians such as AOC, but to the officials and volunteers who serve in public health, local government or on school boards across the country…

    …The espousal of, or acquiescence in, political violence is the sharpest expression of Republicans’ steady march away from democracy, but it is not the only one. At the milder end is the unabashed gerrymandering under way in many of the states where Republicans are in control, redrawing boundaries to give themselves permanent and insurmountable majorities.

    More troubling still are the hundreds of voter suppression measures advanced by Republican state legislatures, nakedly designed to make voting harder for groups that tend to vote Democratic, especially low-income Americans and those from ethnic minorities….

    ….Studies have long shown a potent authoritarian impulse on the American right – drawn to the notion of a strong leader imposing order and guarding the nation against outsiders – one greater than in comparable countries. As always with the US, race plays a central role. Enough white Americans fear a future in which they are no longer the dominant majority and are ready to do what it takes to stay in charge: to avert demography, they’ll sacrifice democracy.

    This represents a mortal threat to the American republic. But the US remains the world’s most powerful nation. As of now, only one of its two governing parties is committed to democracy – and that poses a danger to us all.’

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/03/republican-party-democracy-political-violence-trumpism

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  6. Really interesting stuff thinking back over the Nat Con event at this moment in American civic life. Are you still as confident about the Christians being in no position to impose their extremist values on the majority?

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  7. Depends upon the strategy and nation e.g. UK very secular, as is EU and Australia, but US ‘Christians’, especially Evangelicals, have been inextricably linked and essential (for generations & now) to develop nativist &/or conservative voter cohorts to do the work of the radical right.

    The radical right libertarians reflected in e.g. Heritage Foundation etc. whose economic policies are often unpalatable, hence, using socio cultural wedge issues on ageing electors (they knew the demographics); not to forget the deeply Christian influencers in classical liberal economics including Calvin, Malthus, Smith et al., and the social Darwinism of Galton that matches many libertarians.

    For example, SPLC cites many ‘usual suspects’: ‘The Council for National Policy, a highly secretive group, is a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix… A Who’s Who of the Right. The CNP directory is a remarkable roster of significant figures on the political and religious right.

    ..The directory includes officials from 14 different conservative media outlets, including
    the opinion editor for The Washington Times; the publisher of the Daily Caller website (Koch funded supporting Tucker Carlson); the editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com; and Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher of American Thinker, which published a fawning profile of Jared Taylor a leading white nationalist intellectual.’ (was also a close friend of John Tanton, ‘the racist architect of the modern anti-immigration movement’).

    https://www.desmog.com/council-national-policy/

    From 1992 Berlet & Quigley in Political Research Associates: ‘Theocracy and White Supremacy:
    Behind the Culture War to Restore Traditional Values’….. The resurgent right contains several strands woven together around common themes and goals. There is the electoral activism of the religious fundamentalist movements; the militant anti-government populism of the armed militia movement; and the murderous terrorism of the neonazi underground–from which those suspected of bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City appear to have crept.’

    https://www.politicalresearch.org/1992/12/01/theocracy-and-white-supremacy-behind-the-culture-war-to-restore-traditional-values

    Finally, some see links between many US Christian groups (supporting Trump?) and Putin’s Russia where e.g. there is a crossover on ‘traditionalism’ of Dugin, also spruiked by former UK PM advisor Cummings and Trump GOP strategist Steve Bannon. Further, UK’s Trade Envoy former Australian PM Abbott has had members of his former cabinet liaise with the WCF World Congress of Families with whom he not only shares values, have attended related events in Budapest, there are links with Putin’s Russia too….. ‘WCF has nothing but praise for the Putin regime.’ (2015); white Christian nationalist autocracy?

    Click to access WorldCongressOfFamilies.pdf

    In the future, US will be seeing a decline in Christian worship including Evangelicals and increasing diversity of citizens, aka ‘the great replacement’; the Nativist Christian or Anglo-Saxon strategy should have ‘use by date’ unless autocracy is planned…… so many ‘wheel within wheels’ to allow them to fly under the daily news radar and analysis.

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