Musical Chairs With Racists
I’d be a fool to predict, but I can prognosticate.
Prognostication is like prediction, only with a hedge bet built in.
There are any number of things that can happen politically over the next decade (and probably sooner but see, I’m already cutting myself some wiggle room). There are two similar-but-different things I think are more likely to happen, along with two possible offshoots of each.
The two big ones are “A New Conservative Party Arises” and “The Democrats Absorb The Sane GOP And Turn Conservative”.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
The country has been playing musical chairs with racists since before the Civil War.
Simply put, for all the noble sentiments and ideals written into our fundamental documents by our founding fathers, they really couldn’t imagine them applying to anyone except free white Anglo/European males who owned property.
Whether by accident or design, the ability to expand those ideals was also written into our Constitution, and over the centuries has been applied -- sometimes sporadically, sometimes quite deliberately -- to guarantee “liberty and justice for all.”
It doesn’t matter if slaves get freed in order to benefit the slaves, or to punish the masters, or to reward the liberators: Slaves get freed.
In the process, however, racists have constantly fought to maintain white supremacy at the expense of non-whites, male supremacy (a.k.a. the patriarchy) at the expense of non-heterosexual males (which includes females), Christian supremacy (preferably Protestantism) at the expense of other faiths and non-believers.
Before plunging ahead, let’s define our terms; we’ll focus on racism but these standards apply to the others as well.
Racism is systemic discrimination against others for the benefit of the dominant ethnic group. One can be a racist without being a hate monger so long as one believes the racist system one benefits from should be preserved.
Bigotry is an active hateful prejudice against others outside one’s group. While racism always flows downhill (i.e., from the powerful against the less powerful), bigotry can lash out in all directions. Anyone, even an oppressed minority, can be a bigot.
White supremacy is the particular strain of racism found in the United States. One can be a white supremacist and co-exist peacefully -- even intermarry -- with non-whites so long as non-whites acknowledge whites rank above them.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, white supremacists identify and define themselves by whom they exclude.
While America has been run by and for white supremacists for most of its history, for the most part they were relatively benign / unthinking sorts.
No real hatred or animosity…
…just supreme indifference to the fates of non-whites.
There was, and always has been, a virulent core of genuine hate mongers, people whose identity is so wrapped up in their sense of entitlement at being white that it clouds their judgment on all other matters.
They existed in all political parties from as far back as the founding of this country (and even earlier when one delves into colonial politics).
The Democratic Party, however, has had a structural design that lends to its long term survival.
It is, by and large, decentralized.
This is not to say there are no dominant wings / cliques / political machines within the Democratic Party but rather there is no single group that has driven out all contrarian voices in the party.
This is vitally important.
While white supremacists certainly dominated the Democratic Party before and after the Civil War, the truth was they needed the support of groups that didn’t subscribe to white supremacy to maintain power.
This was a broad coalition scattered across the nation, not merely congregated in the South and Midwest.
Out of necessity, the white supremacists’ most extreme policies had to be tempered.
This is how politics is supposed to work, “the art of the possible” carving out deals between and among groups with conflicting goals and values.
Nobody gets everything they want, but everybody gets something.
The Republicans, on the other hand, were always a much more centralized party.
For much of the country’s history, that wasn’t a problem; despite their lean towards authoritarianism, there was still room for a liberal and a conservative wing in the otherwise moderate GOP.
But as white supremacists began chafing at the loss of their supremacy (through desegregation and integration and civil rights laws), the GOP (in the form of the infamous Nixon-Atwater “Southern strategy”) lured them into their tent (with a couple of side trips to the Dixiecrats and the American Independence Party along the way).
And while hard right conservatives mock the “Marxist dialectics” of the constantly bickering Democratic Party, St. Ronnie’s dictum of “Thou shalt never criticize a fellow Republican” has played them false.
For one thing, it has allowed far too many frauds and poltroons access to the public stage.
For another, it has drowned out all internal dissent among the GOP.
But the worst part is that it has created a winner-take-all mindset among the leadership of the party, with an inability to accept compromise with anyone one or anything outside the party core.
And “party core” means the white supremacists.
Reagan, for all his sins and shortcomings, was a savvy enough politician to recognize if he could get 60% of what he wanted, it was smart to let the other side have the remaining 40%.
That way they became invested in the deal, more willing to go along with it.
The one non-negotiable among white supremacists is the surrender of white supremacy.
They will not go along with anything that makes them equal -- no better, no worse -- than non-whites.
But as noted, by excluding their own children and grandchildren from mixed marriages, they have been drastically reducing their own numbers.
Current demographics continuing, by 2048 non-Hispanic whites will make up only 49% of the country.
White supremacy will finally fall.
White people know this -- hell, everybody knows this -- and many white people are going nuts over it.
In this national game of musical chairs, there’s only one seat left for the white supremacists to land on and that one is the Republican Party.
Trump is just the festering boil coming to a head; we still face the lancing and then draining stage.
Which leads us (finally!) to what’s going to happen to the political parties in this country.
Option 1: A New Conservative Party Arises
The GOP has already been purging the old line conservatives.
The grown ups of the party have either already left or been marginalized by hacks and demagogues.
The old line conservatives are people with appreciable talents and skills and more than a little insight.
Old line conservatism actually serves a very vital function for this nation, a dialectic (for lack of a better term) counterpoint that constantly asks “Is this really necessary?” and “How are we going to pay for it?”
Conservatives force progressives to think through their proposals in order to make them workable.
The core of the existing GOP is a white supremacist / conservative Christian base being led by the 2%, a short sighted oligarchy of billionaires who seek to shed every societal obligation while maintaining their maximum benefits from same.
They have convinced the white supremacists / conservative Christians -- and, lordie, that wasn’t much of a challenge -- that the only way to maintain white supremacy is by acquiescing to the 2%.
It’s a lie, the progressives know it’s a lie, the 2% knows it’s a lie and the bill will eventually come due, but for right now enough members of the ever shrinking white majority can be tricked into giving away the store in return for keeping the “whites only” sign over the water fountain.
The smarter conservatives know this will end badly for the GOP. Option 1 sees them forming a new political party the same way disgruntled former Whigs created the GOP in the first place.
The new conservative party, freed of the shackles of white supremacy, can sincerely reach out to conservatives among the African-American, Latino, Asian-American, LGBT, and -- most importantly -- female voters.
They can also appeal to conservative Democrats (and there are some, they just don’t get as much press as the progressives) and split some off, giving this new party a few congressional seats and political offices from the very beginning.
Option 1.5: Snowflakes Become Scapegoats
What we see already among the Trump supporters will get amped up all the way to eleven as the fragile little white boys lose their collective minds.
Unable to inflict genuine harm on the country, the white supremacist base will go through a meltdown of historic -- not to say histrionic -- proportions.
Oh, there will be a lot of violence: Assassinations, bombings, various acts of terrorism and protest.
But no longer a sustained political and cultural force that steers the fate of the nation.
The violence and histrionics will do something unfortunate.
Human societies have a bad habit of looking for scapegoats, the “other” they can demonize and discriminate against (see the entire fnckin’ history of this country for example).
By losing their minds (and their self-control) the fragile little white boys are going to end up volunteering for scapegoat status.
Among non-racist whites, there will be a conscious effort to disassociate themselves from these scapegoats (full disclosure: I have long identified as “Italian-American” and not “white” because I don’t want to be lumped among white supremacists; call it hair splitting but it’s a distinction that may prove crucial in the future).
The wheel will turn, the first shall be last, and the 2% that led them astray will abandon them for more lucrative pickings.
Payback, as Yogi and Smokey would say, is a bear.
Option 2: The Democrats Absorb The Sane GOP And Turn Conservative
If the GOP doesn’t implode quickly enough, old line conservatives may find a haven among the Democrats.
For decades polling has indicated the coming generations will lean far more Democratic than previous ones.
This is because coming generations will be mostly outside the white supremacist camp.
If the Democratic party as a brand identity is going to be the dominant force for the next 30-40 years, conservatives who want to influence the course of the country will need to have a (D) behind their names on the ballot.
The Democrats, wanting to secure their generational base, will cut deals and alter policies to give the old line conservatives a home.
Upside: The Democratic Party keeps the African-American, Latino, Asian-American, LGBT, and female voters.
Downside: They lose the progressives.
Option 2.5: Pedal To The Metal
Now at first this may seem to be a similar fate to the white racists in the GOP but it’s not.
Once free from mainline Democrats, the progressives will become far more politically radical.
And if conservatives fulfill a function by putting the brakes on wild ideas, progressives and radicals provide an equally important function by slamming that accelerator down hard!
We have not really had a liberal, much less leftist party in this country since the demise of the Kennedy Democrats.
By and large the Democratic platform is not that different from those of Eisenhower Republicans.
With a non-racist shift towards conservative political and cultural values, a radicalized left will be able to raise issues and fight for them in a manner they’re currently blocked from pursuing due to political alliances.
It will be a startling and energizing time to be alive.
© Buzz Dixon