“Whether the Republican establishment likes it or not – and more and more are actually perfectly happy with it – the Grand Old Party is now Trump’s Party. Their fate is intertwined with his. The old conservative Republican party is dead, for now. In the coming two years they will campaign as a radical right party, led by an omnipresent leader, who will define the Republican party for a whole generation of Americans.”
That’s from The Guardian, and it isn’t meant to take away from the many gains made on Tuesday night, which includes Republicans losing the House (providing at least some form of check to Trump’s power), and it also includes historical wins that break ground for greater diversity in representation, beyond the choke hold on power by aging straight white males.
However, Trump isn’t going away. The Tuesday election solidified that this is the party of Trump, with many explicitely pro-Trump politicians winning on the Trump platform. Trump didn’t lose, on Tuesday, which means that Nativism and Nationalism and verbal attacks on racial minorities and women and are all the new norm. In 2016 Trump brought the monsters out of the swamp, and they have found a home among the electorate that compose today’s Republican Party.
“The old conservative Republican party is dead.” Very true.
This provides opportunities, of course, as the article mentions:
“Trump’s party will face a Democratic party whose diversity is both its strength and its weakness. It allows them to tap into a much broader electorate than the Republican party, but it also might prevent them from presenting a clear and coherent program. At the same time, most of the power is set to remain in the hands of the old white party elites, some of whom will also play a major role in the party primaries.”
For those who stand in resistance to The Party of Trump, the question has to do with the extent to which we can unify, while still retaining our diversity of perspective and opinion. Out of the many, one?
As a writer, this question has always intrigued me, perhaps more than any other in politics, because it’s a question of narrative. The MAGA narrative unites the Trump Right around a simple message: America has always been great, except when liberals interfere or when immigrants bring crime and disease or when American minority groups get upitty. MAGA is simply code for retaining traditional American privileges and prejudices, but it works to bring folk together, in a tribal way, to fight a common enemy.
MAGA is a story, and stories are powerful. Stories bring us together under a common narrative, allowing millions of strangers to cooperate and work toward common goals and objectives.
There is no such story for the anti-MAGA resistance. Whether this is good or bad, I suppose, is a matter of debate. Many people cringe at the idea of a simplified MAGA message: such seems to be the road to mindless forms of totalitarianism. That’s fair, but for my money I believe in the power of stories, whether simple or complex.
Nothing moves us like stories, and we live in an era where the stakes are high. We have to cooperate or suffer the consequences. The major problems that face humanity — ecological issues like climate change or geopolitical issues like nuclear war and immigration and resource distribution — all demand cooperation, of some sort.
How do we find the ability for this kind of mass cooperation? How can we cooperate without a common enemy, without having to evoke a scary “Other”?