Though it seems premature, pundits and cultural critics have begun writing about the end of the democratic process, not just in the U.S. but abroad as well; right up there with the inevitable decline and destruction of the Republican Party.
Arguing the merits of the former thesis is compelling, but the more realistic discussion is the utter self-destruction of the GOP, the party of traditional conservatism — small government, deregulation, free markets, the rights of the individual, etc.
In the late-80s through the mid-90s, the GOP, led by Newt Gingrich, leveraged the power of talk radio and blustery middle-aged angry white guy, Rush Limbaugh, to usher in the era where being skeptical of the power of government was replaced by outright animus towards all government institutions. In 1993, the august National Review went so far as to hail Limbaugh as the “leader of the opposition.”
The baton was then handed off in 1996 to Fox News, the first ever truly, blatantly partisan “news” cable channel. Soon, the Internet blossomed and the likes of Drudge Report and Breitbart followed, creating an echo chamber of Right Wing talking points—some of often dubious origin—but in the grand tradition of the great propagandists, whereupon the lie is repeated so often it becomes the truth.
When Stephen Colbert coined the idea of “truthiness,” he pretty much nailed it.
The economic apocalypse of 2008 ushered in the Tea Party, the reactionary wing of the GOP that took its most Libertarian ideas to the extreme, and opened the door to the most intolerant and bigoted segment of the Republican Party’s most aggrieved constituency: the angry, middle-aged white male.
So, roughly 25 years after the GOP decided that debate and compromise within Congress was antithetical to the nation’s basic democratic principles, the party of Lincoln offered up a demagogue, Donald Trump, as its candidate; truly the apotheosis of GOP’s ideology of divisiveness, isolationism, bigotry and government disdain.
If it wasn’t so frightening, it would be amusing, but it’s become clear that after a quarter century of attempting to destroy the Democrats and liberal thought, the Republicans just ended up destroying themselves.
I suppose that’s progress.