09 November 2018

Inexorable evolution

During the time of Trump, some have wondered why the conservative white mostly-religious males who make up the Republican base seemed so angry and resentful so much of the time.  Their party, after all, controlled the whole federal government -- shouldn't they have been happy at having so much power backing up their views?  They often behaved as if they felt powerless and persecuted.  Why?

I believe it's because their main grievances have always been cultural, not political.  They don't like gay visibility and the growing respect for gay rights and gay marriage.  They don't like women's independence and the acceptance of abortion.  They don't like the self-assertiveness of black Americans and the growing presence of Hispanic culture and the Spanish language.  They don't like visible sexuality, especially unconventional sexuality.  They don't like secular culture and outright mockery of religion.  They don't like the way the health-care crisis is fostering support for a major government role in protecting people (even as it dawns on them that the old system is intolerably cruel even to themselves).  They particularly don't like it when they themselves, and their beliefs and prejudices, are the target of scorn.  They feel that they should be the dominant group, or at least those who set the tone and character of society, and they resent being more and more a marginal fringe.  American culture is inexorably evolving away from what they think it should be, and it alarms them.

The Republican party, and especially Trump, have played expertly on these feelings, but even with political power, there's little they can do about such trends.  Politics, it is said, is "downstream" from culture -- culture eventually shapes politics, but there is very little politics can do to affect culture.  Republicans can change laws to torment and hurt groups they don't like, but this doesn't make the cultural mainstream share their dislike of those groups -- if anything, it breeds sympathy for them, and ultimately a backlash.

Even with all federal power in the hands of a right-wing party led by a character as ruthless as Trump, cultural evolution is simply continuing, almost as if politics didn't exist.  The growth of the non-religious percentage of the population continues.  Mass culture -- movies, music, and so on -- still reflects the views and values of the educated, pluralistic, outward-looking coastal cities.  Religion and traditional values are still widely treated as faintly ridiculous.  Trump called neo-Nazis in Charlottesville "very fine people", but being identified among the marchers there still got people fired and ostracized, and being filmed venting a racist rant has the same effect.

Hence the frustration of the knuckle-draggers -- politically they'd won everything, but in terms of the stuff that was really bothering them, it didn't seem to matter.

Expect even more anger and resentment after this week's election as the reality of it sinks in.  Politics is still downstream from culture.  Trump's 2016 win was a freak event -- trendlines are never perfectly smooth, and anomalies and setbacks do happen.  But what happened on Tuesday was normality beginning to reassert itself.  The country is still inexorably changing, still evolving away from the old pattern the Trumpanzees long to restore.

This manifested itself politically this week, not only in our victories, but even in many of the defeats.  Republicans won a lot of stuff by narrow margins that they "should" have won overwhelmingly.

When a Democrat in Texas gets within three percentage points of beating an incumbent Republican Senator -- the country is changing.

When Republicans defeat a black woman for Governor of Georgia by only a tiny margin (so tiny, in fact, that it's not yet certain that they defeated her at all), and manage to do it only by using the most flagrant, brazen vote-suppression schemes since the Jim Crow era -- the country is changing.

When states as red as Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska pass ballot propositions to expand Medicaid, and Republicans who spent years trying to repeal the ACA have to flat-out lie and masquerade as the defenders of its provisions -- the country is changing.

When an out lesbian gets elected to Congress from Kansas -- the country is changing.

At worst, a wingnutized Supreme Court might reverse Obergefell, but that wouldn't affect the growing public acceptance of gay marriage, and most states other than the most benighted fundie hellholes would reinstate it on their own.  Or the Court might reverse Roe, but if substantial numbers of women who wanted abortions were actually blocked from having them, the backlash would sweep away the forced-birth fetishists in most state legislatures along with the laws they passed.  Either ruling would, within a decade, be seen as another Dred Scott -- a horribly embarrassing mistake in dire need of correction -- and deep down even the wingnuts know it.  Indeed, I strongly suspect that John Roberts, conscious as he is of the Court's reputation, would not allow such errors.

And don't even get me started on what would happen if the Republicans managed to make Christianity the country's official religion.  You just know that whatever concrete form this took would be as trite, cringe-worthy, and phony as any money-grubbing TV evangelist, and would immediately become the butt of joke after joke.  Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live would have a field day.

The wingnuts bark, but the caravan moves on.

o o o o o

See also observations on the election by other bloggers -- Tengrain, Shaw Kenawe, Hackwhackers, PM Carpenter, Libby Anne, Professor Chaos, Donna M, John Pavlovitz, David Futrelle, Robert Vella, El Jefe at Juanita Jean's (on Texas), Simon Alkenmayer (for the discouraged), Crazy Eddie (on Michigan referenda), Booman (on the suburban realignment), and the inimitable Shower Cap.


Blogger bluzdude said...

These crusty, no-fun-allowed, conservative types got to die off sometime...

09 November, 2018 07:13  
Blogger Tommykey said...

The impression I have had of Trumpanzees for quite some time was that Trump is their vicarious instrument for beating up the people they hate. Trump could reduce the country to a pile of rubble and they wouldn't care as long as they get to stand on top of it and shout "Take that you libtards!"

09 November, 2018 10:35  
Blogger Nan said...

Great points! We shall overcome ... eventually. :-)

09 November, 2018 10:57  
Blogger Now Am Found! said...

omg i do believe you have hit the nail on the head. it's not the economy, it's not the election, it's societal mores changing and leaving them behind, lacking respect and not even able to work their own phones let alone fb and twitter

09 November, 2018 11:14  
Blogger Now Am Found! said...

altho there is certainly some racism in the mmix

09 November, 2018 11:14  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Cute photo at top, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, {:-) Yeah, it is some kind of culture, although it is difficult for me to understand why they would target coloured folks, gayz, women or whatever, if none of those are harming their lives, because it really doesnt. Also, some of these racist folks feel their culture is being ignored or something, like they dont get the same play as MLK Day or whatever. But white culture is robust without racism, all the different white folks celebrations you have, whether it's for Irish culture of German culture festivities, no one is being deprived of their culture in other words ... so I guess their cultural celebration consists of hating other cultures or whatever? I read quite a bit of white separatists literature as well as white supremacist. The whole christian identity is confusing as well, just confusing as to what they may truly embrace. I myself would feel deprived, or lets say bored, if all I had to look at is white folks, christians (and most who claim to connect with the Jesus figure, are not christian at all, I rarely ever even meet an actual christian, who lives by the laws of the bible, so that is silly too), only can date my own colour/ race, eat tradition white foods, etc ... I mean, that would be like living in a type of Hell for a fella like me. I guess I'm kind of the same, when I talk about not liking extreme Islam or Christianity, but I certainly would want to go out and kill them. I just dont like anything that cramps my lifestyle and the diversity I like to indulge in, whether its a celebration or my sex life, or what foods I like. Whatever my next door neighbour does in their likes and lives, actually has no affect on me, even if they had shit eating rituals or whatever. I think alot of these folks dont get around too much, like they just hang in their circles of folks like themselves and feed off it, and also what I read of their literature is heavy type propaganda, that I think many do not cross check or research, they take it for face value. Like one time I asked you is Hillary was Jewish? I actually read that in their literature, no where else. Laterz ....

09 November, 2018 11:56  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Some people don't like change and will do anything to see that change doesn't happen. It's inevitable that change will happen even if some people are dragged into kicking and screaming.

09 November, 2018 12:02  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Also, I recieved alot of help and guidance over the years, especially as a kid, from folks of colour, women and gay folks, so that definitely had an affect on me ... in other words, if I grew up and spent my life in a rural christian race conscious type environment, I may have ended up like these folks I guess. Interesting movie I seen years back was called "American History X", I recommend it, if you havent seen it ... my point is, is that the kid that playz the racist kid (Edward Norton), never had mixed with any other folks of colour, and only racist folks were his only friends/ associations, it was a black inmate who became his friend in prison ... it changed his views.

09 November, 2018 12:04  
Blogger Martha said...

Beautifully written! When society wants to go in a certain direction, you can join in or stay behind and pull a tantrum. Change is inevitable.

09 November, 2018 18:06  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Bluzdude: Yes, and much of their own younger generation is much more enlightened. The problem shrinks over time.

Tommykey: I think that's exactly it. I saw several get-out-the-vote motivational posts on right-wing blogs that used "make the libtards cry" as the best reason to vote Republican. I hardly ever saw the equivalent on our side.

Nan: Thanks! In the long run even the bad guys know who's going to win this.

Now Am Found: It's a common feeling among monoculturalists. The eruption of violent Islamist groups in the Middle East is also a reaction against liberalizing and secular tendencies in the culture there.

Ranch: Yes, behold the Master Race. Very impressive. Maybe it's not surprising that these people have been brainwashed to direct their rage against minorities, because the people who are really causing their problems -- the upper 1% -- have spent a lot of money turning their attention that way as a distraction.

Mary: True, and Trump is the perfect guy to be the human embodiment of that kicking and screaming.

Martha: Thanks! It's too bad so many Americans have voted for the tantrum option. Tantrums very rarely actually accomplish anything, though.

10 November, 2018 03:06  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Trump rallies are not celebrations of tax cuts and deregulation. It's all about their resentment, anger and hate.

White Nationalism is in a frenzied panic. Europe is dealing with their rising white nationalism as well. They want political power as their means to social and cultural dominance. It will fail in that goal, but their damage to truth, democracy, and decency will still take decades to reverse.

Then there is the possibility that war can erupt at any time with nationalists in power.

The fact that corporate power is allied with white nationalism will make it all the harder to uproot. Global warming tells us time may not be on our side.

I'm not convinced the planet and civilization can emerge intact from the consequences of this plague of white nationalism.

But I am convinced that not resisting will only let them get away with their rampage. So resist we must. This is our unending struggle for truth, democracy and decency.

10 November, 2018 07:34  
Blogger Professor Chaos said...

This is spot-on, but I do have one quibble. In many Red states, while abortion is still technically legal, it is nearly impossible to access for many women due to TRAP laws and other legal hurdles Republicans have put between women and their doctors, but theocratic conservatives seem to ave no trouble getting re-elected in those states.

10 November, 2018 07:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Dave: That's certainly true, including about the increased risk of war. I would say that religion is a very big part of it, not just race, though race is certainly an issue. The similar phenomenon of militant reactionary Islam in the Middle East doesn't include any local equivalent of white nationalism, but it's certainly very energetic.

Professor: That's true, but those are largely the states where "they" are in the majority -- mostly the thicket of low-population rectangles covering the interior of the country, by which they dominate the Senate and the Electoral College. So yes, locally they can do that stuff and still get re-elected (though this week's results in Kansas, Georgia, and Texas suggest a hell of a lot of voters in those places aren't happy with it). But they know that nationally they're a backwater, not the mainstream culture.

Anon: Your comment was off-topic. I certainly get a lot more exposure to opposing ideas than the average Trumpanzee does.

10 November, 2018 10:48  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Absolutely, religion is usually woven into the fabric of extremism.

These guys understood how it works:

On October 10, 1936 Heinrich Himmler created the Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion, or Special Office (II S), a sub-department of Executive Department II of the Gestapo.

The inspiration?

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." - Adolph Hitler "My New World Order" - Proclamation to the German Nation, Berlin, February 1, 1933

We recall the Wehrmacht's belt buckles were stamped with "Gott Mitt Uns".

The reactionary intolerance and bigotry of violent Jihadism and White Nationalism are cut of the same cloth. They even share targeting of Jews. Fusing politics and religion is always destructive to life, truth, and democracy.

Godwin's Law has been revised by Godwin himself: "First, let me get this Donald Trump issue out of the way: If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician."

The Trump cult is proving to be the spawn of nationalism and fundamentalism. A match made in hell, if I dare say.

10 November, 2018 11:25  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Dave: Excellent points. There's even the Christian Identity movement which is an explicit fusion of Christianity and Anglo-Saxon supremacism.

the Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion

That sounds like about where the Republicans will be in another year or so, or would be if we hadn't clawed back control of the House.

10 November, 2018 13:04  
Blogger Paul said...

Gratz on having this listed on the Jon Swift memorial for 2018. A cogent, must-read essay!

27 December, 2018 16:13  

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