America isn’t divided. It’s broken.
A new poll shows that while Democrats see Republicans as “the political opposition,” Republicans see Democrats as “the enemy.” How do you unify that?
Donald Trump didn’t create Trumpism. He simply peeled the onion, and tapped into the barely-concealed heart of the Republican Party. It’s a heart filled with anger, resentment, and paranoia. And one that’s all-too gullible for a well-spun lie.
From “shithole countries” to “very fine people,” Trump dared go there on issue after issue, with Fox News cheering along the way. GOP voters lapped it up because, at their core, many Republicans have an authoritarian bent, and yearn for a strongman who will validate their animus against n’importe quoi.
That’s what makes defeating Trumpism, and returning to a more normal system of governance — Joe Biden would call it “unity” — so difficult. Many Republican voters aren’t winnable in the short- to medium- term because they’ve been lied to, and their inner demons catered to, for so long that they’re now akin to cultists who won’t believe any truth unless it comes from the mouth of the Liar.
And even then, the lies can’t be undone so easily. Fox News lost viewers to their fringier cousins at OANN and Newsmax because Murdoch’s news division rightly called Arizona for Biden, and, more generally, his news anchors, unlike his prime time fluffers, weren’t amenable enough to Trump’s crackpot theories — “dead Hugo Chavez conspired with the CIA and George Soros to steal the election,” comes to mind.
The decades of GOP lies, raised to an art form by Trump himself, has left Republican voters devastatingly ill-informed. In 2015, more than half of Republicans, including half of those who watch Fox News, still believed that US troops found weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — they did not. Fox viewers also think the Coronavirus threat was exaggerated. Seventy-five percent of Republicans still don’t think Joe Biden won the election legitimately.
But most disturbing: A new CBS/YouGov poll shows that while Democrats see Republicans as “the political opposition,” Republicans see Democrats as “the enemy.”
America isn’t divided. It’s broken. Half the country has been lied to for so long that no facts can convince them otherwise.
What does that mean going forward? To some degree, we have to keep our focus on the middle of the electorate. In most polls, independents tend to align more with Democrats than Republicans. But the danger remains that some day the GOP will be back in power, and then God help us. I’m reminded of the Tea Party invasion ten years, ago and how many on the left hoped these extremists would destroy the Republican party. I was less giddy, worrying that the Republicans would be back, and we’d be saddled with far-right crazies running the Congress and the White House.
And even with Democrats currently in power, Trump’s legacy lives on, as GOP members of Congress remain either beholden to him or in fear of his wrath. We can’t hold Trump accountable, and reinforce the rule of law or the norms of the presidency (or our democracy), if Republicans remain unwilling partners who have a vested interested in negating the truth and protecting the guilty.
At some point, we don't just need an impeachment — we need an intervention.