a third party

Sculpture José Resende / Vancouver, Canada / photo: Goran Basaric


The Monolith Cracked and the Republican Party Is Splitting

Wednesday's raid on our “temple of democracy” constituted an “insurrection” only in the dark comedy sense. What was essentially a biker gang draped in flags wielding sticks has invaded America's ultimate country club, chased senators into the catacombs of the Capitol, occupied Mike Pence's throne, trashed Nancy Pelosi's office, and taken countless selfies to send to partners. from home in the country of the whites. Other than that, they had no idea about anything, and when the serious cops finally arrived, they left holding the souvenirs to show Papa Trump. Monty Python with four corpses.

Meanwhile, several hundred evacuated lawmakers were sweating together in their hiding place. Some of the Republicans, staunchly loyal to their cult of death, refused the masks offered by the police. An outraged Democrat described it as a "super-spread event". Hours later, Representative Jake La Turner, a Trump fanatic from Kansas, promptly tested positive for the virus.

Predictably, liberal pundits are now telling us that the far right has committed suicide, the Trump era is over, and the Democrats are free to build their glittering city on the hill.

Indeed, the riot was a god ex machina who took the Trump curse off the careers of conservative war hawks and right-wing young lions whose loftiest ambitions were chained by the presidential cult.

By the standards of the White House Führerprinzip, Trump's former Praetorian Guard – Senators Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee, Ben Sasse, Marco Rubio and Jim Lankford – are now traitors beyond measure. Ironically, this frees them up to become presidential candidates in a far-right but post-Trump party. Furthermore, his path was made easier by Ted Cruz's stupid and self-defeating decision to pose as leader of the president's angry mob.

The joint session that resumed on Wednesday night and Thursday morning was the “up to you, Brutus?” moment, in which radical former Trumpites, including half of the “stolen election” team, imitated Biden’s call. for “a return to decency” and denounced the actions of the zombified plains folk they had applauded hours earlier as patriots.

Let's be clear about what happened: the monolith has cracked and the GOP is splitting. Preparations for this have been underway since the election, with various conservative elites vaguely but also energetically conspiring to take power back from the Trump family. Big business, especially, has been burning its bridges to the White House in the aftermath of the Covid-19 disaster and Trump's chaotic war against constitutional government.

The most sensational defection involves that fundamental republican institution, the National Association of Manufacturers. While the riot was underway, they asked Pence to use the 25th amendment to depose Trump. Sure, they were happy enough during the first three years of his rule to enjoy colossal tax cuts, sweeping rollbacks of environmental and labor regulations, and trade sanctions on China, but the past year has brought the inevitable recognition that the White House has been utterly incapable of managing major national crises or ensuring basic economic and political stability.

The aim is to realign power within the party more closely with traditional capitalist power centers such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, as well as the Koch family, long uncomfortable with Trump. However, there should be no illusion that “moderate Republicans” have suddenly been raised from the grave; the emerging bill will preserve the core alliance between evangelical Christians and economic conservatives, and presumably uphold most of the Trump-era legislation.

Institutionally, Senate Republicans, with a strong roster of talented young predators, will rule the post-Trump field, a generational succession likely to be achieved before their fellow Democrats finally shake off their own octogenarian oligarchy. Internal competition will be fierce, another “monster's ball”[I], but centrist Democrats should be cautious about issuing death sentences. Freed from Trump's electronic fatwas, some of the youngest Republican senators could prove formidable competitors for the vote of the college-educated white suburbanites that has been the Holy Grail for the Democratic establishment.

This is one side of the divide. The other is more dramatic: the real Trumpists have become a de facto third party, in their bunkers in state legislatures and the House of Representatives. As Trump embalms himself in bitter revenge fantasies, reconciliation between the two camps is unlikely.

A poll on Tuesday found that 45% of Republican voters supported taking the Capitol. These true believers will allow Trump to terrorize the 2022 Republican primary and ensure the preservation of a large contingent in the House as well as in red state legislatures. (Senate Republicans, with access to huge corporate endowments, are much less vulnerable to these challenges.)

Democrats may rejoice in the prospect of open civil war between Republicans, but their own divisions have been hurt by Biden's refusal to share power with progressives. The best hope for the left will involve radical electoral reforms that ease restrictions on Republican voters and accelerate the racial and generational turn of the electorate. But Mitch McConnell's main legacy, a far-right supreme court, may be an insurmountable obstacle.

In any case, the only future we can reliably predict – a continuation of extreme socioeconomic turmoil – renders political crystal balls next to useless. The cold civil war in America is far from over.

*Mike Davis is a teacher at University of California, Riverside. Author, among other books, of dead cities (Record).

Translation: Diogo Fagundes.

Originally published in the newspaper The Guardian.

[I] Translator's note: “monster's ball” is an Old English term for doomed man's last night on earth.

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