by Shelt Garner
My first indication that something was off in American politics was when my Traditionalist relative pined me down one Thanksgiving during the second Obama Administration and was enraged. He went on at great length about how much he hated everything about the Obama Era. It was almost as if he felt a personal affront from the social changes that were happening in the United States at the time.
Since then, things have only gotten worse. My Traditionalist relatives no longer even believe that the United States is a democracy in the first place. And they give me some obviously well-thought out Republican echo chamber talking points about why this is the case. They are so blinded by the fascist ideology of the modern day Republican Party that they simply do not care what the ultimate consequences of establishing an autocratic white minority ethno state might be for the nation as a whole.
Of course, they don’t articulate it that way. They don’t come out and say that they want white autocratic minority rule. But that is, in effect, what we would get if they got what they wanted. And, given that I’m a loudmouth — often drunk — crank, the idea of us transitioning from the anocracy that we are now into a full fledged autocracy gives me serious cause for concern.
My Traditionalist relatives see everything in the abstract. They want abortion to be totally outlawed in all 50 states, because that’s just want they’ve always wanted and they honestly don’t care about what that would mean for millions of women. They believe “every life is precious” unless, of course, you’re an old person who might die from COVID, then you’re shit out of luck.
But, let’s go back to what may be warping American politics. What, specific thing, is making white conservatives men specifically flip the fuck out to the point that they want an obvious autocrat like Ron DeSantis to be president so bad that they would “vote for him three times” if they could.
I don’t think there is any one thing. I think it’s a combination of macro forces that are all coming to a head at the same time — around late 2024 – early 2025. Some of it how dramatic the shift in social expectations that took place in the second Obama Administration. Some of it is technology, social media and podcast have done a lot to radicalize the Republican base. And there is the old standby of Fox News, but I take that as a given — it’s a success because people are willful in their refusal to accept any fact that doesn’t fit their already formed partisan worldview.
The warping of the American political system — specifically conservative thought — is thus intractable and impossible in any practical way to fix. We are well beyond the event horizon for a massive clusterfuck in 2024 – 2025. And, at the moment, I think we’re just going to shrug and become an autocracy. Though, if Trump is the 2024 Republican nominee the possibility of civil war increases dramatically.
Having said all that, there is a key exception to all the fascist bullshit that my Traditionalist relatives believe in — the personal. And it’s the personal — specifically me refusing to shut the fuck up — that is going to cause a huge amount of problems down the road regardless if we have a civil war or turn into an autocracy.
Once we’re no longer a democracy and President DeSantis begins to strangle the last vestiges of traditional American life — including freedom of speech — that is when I will have the moral high ground. They’re going to come to me in secret and demand I change my loudmouth crank ways “for the sake of the family” and I’m just going to tell them no — they had their chance to make common cause against tyranny and they gave it up because they were afraid the woke cancel culture mob was going to cancel them personally and ruined their lives.
It’s not exactly a situation that’s going to make me feel good, even though I was proven to be right, but it’s bound to happen. But we work with what we’re given, not what we need.