2022-11-07-09 Thomas Zimmer MidtermElections2022 Choice

Thomas Zimmer (@tzimmer_history): The choice in these #MidtermElections2022 could not be clearer:

Should America continue the path towards the kind of egalitarian multiracial, pluralistic democracy it has often promised, but actually never has been yet - or abandon that experiment altogether? 1/

In a functioning, stable democracy, the stakes shouldn’t be that high. Elections should be competitions between political factions who disagree with each other, but accept the legitimacy of their opponents and are committed to upholding the democratic system. 2/

In America, that’s evidently not the situation. It has become dogma on the Right to see Democrats as the “enemy within,” a fundamentally illegitimate, “Un-American” faction out to destroy the nation, an enemy that must not be allowed to govern. 3/

We like to pretend we are having policy debates over taxes, health care, or “the economy.” But right now, these debates are almost always defined by the underlying struggle over whether or not America should ever become an egalitarian multiracial, pluralistic democracy. 4/

We like to pretend that the parties ultimately agree on the end goal for America, that they only differ on the best path to get there. That’s simply not true. The political struggle is defined by two fundamentally incompatible visions of what America is and should be. 5/

This is not a new situation. How much democracy, and for whom? There has never been a consensus around that question. America: Defined by the idea of egalitarian democracy – or imagined as a land of and for white Christians, never allowing democracy to undermine that order? 6/

Democracy has always been a contested issue. The struggle over democracy has been the norm in U.S. history, as the question of who should get to actually participate – and participate as equal - in the democratic process has always been the defining fault line. 7/

But the fact that this struggle now overlaps so clearly with party lines is indeed the result of a rather recent reconfiguration of the two major parties, a process of party realignment or partisan sorting for which the 1960s civil rights breakthroughs were a major catalyst. 8/

The establishment of the civil rights order in the 1960s sped up a process by which all those opposed to egalitarian, multiracial, pluralistic democracy united in the Republican Party. Their voices have dominated the GOP since at least the 1970s. 9/

While the Democratic Party came to embrace the idea of extending the democratic promise, conservatives were willing to tolerate democracy only as long as it wouldn’t undermine established hierarchies – the traditional order of white Christian patriarchal dominance. 10/

Today, the parties are fully polarized around the issue of democracy. That is the fundamental reality of U.S. politics: Democracy itself has become a partisan issue. The fact is that as of right now, the Democratic party is the country’s sole (small-d) democratic party. 11/

The fundamental question before the American people is whether or not the Republican Party can turn so aggressively against the democratic experiment, can so openly embrace anti-democratic extremism in the pursuit of power, and remain an electorally viable option? 12/

The fundamental question is: Will the party that remains united behind the man who animated a violent mob to storm the Capitol, the man who remains the most powerful vessel for extremist conspiracy theories, have to pay a severe price - or be able to reclaim power? 13/ https://twitter.com/acyn/status/1566236890688258055

A party whose standard bearers, like Ron DeSantis, are fully on board with Trumpism as a political project and promise - on mobilizing the coercive power of the state for the purpose of imposing a white nationalist order, and on punishing those who dare to deviate… 14/

A party that is entirely fine with uniting behind candidates who simply refuse to accept that their opponent could legitimately win elections and preemptively declare any and all Democratic victories fraudulent… 15/ https://twitter.com/ddale8/status/1583897760100597761

A party that has no trouble accepting in its midst - and even elevating - people who openly declare their intention to abolish democracy and replace it with a system of authoritarian one-party rule… 16/ https://twitter.com/american_bridge/status/1587186678027935751

A party in which denying the legitimacy of the 2020 election, of the political opponent more generally, is not a fringe position, but has been fully mainstreamed and is shared by the majority of nominees across the country… 17/ https://twitter.com/tzimmer_history/status/1578403698530832386

A party that elevates far-right extremists and their openly militant form of white Christian nationalism - a party in which Marjorie Taylor Greene and militant extremists like her not only remain members in good standing, but keep rising through the ranks… 18/ https://twitter.com/accountablegop/status/1576315800079712257

A party that has fully mainstreamed inherently violent ideas and extremist conspiracies like the “Great Replacement Theory,” which has been openly embraced by the rightwing media machine as well as by Republican officials… 19/ https://twitter.com/donmoyn/status/1525914074562936833

A party that nominates far-right extremists with ties to fascistic militants as candidates for political offices with enormous power and influence – a party that increasingly accepts these fascistic militants as its paramilitary arm… 20/ https://twitter.com/duty2warn/status/1583788822848208896

A party that has embraced a permission structure of always legitimizing every conceivable extremism – very much including an attempt to torture and/or assassinate the Speaker of the House - as a reaction to “the radical Left,” a logic of permanent escalation… 21/ https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1586180745822982145

A party that embraces the gun cult and has made the gun-toting militancy a key element of its political identity, a party full of lawmakers and candidates who are constantly reveling in the imagery of using guns to fight off those insidious “Others” and “Un-American” foes… 22/ https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/1586038638860795906

A party that engages in escalating forms of voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, voter intimidation, and election subversion; a party that is criminalizing protests, by defining them as “riots,” and by legally sanctioning physical attacks on “rioters”… 23/

A party that doesn’t care about democratic legitimacy and is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to put its reactionary, anti-pluralistic vision into practice – a party that is committed to what it knows is a minoritarian project… 24/

A party that acts as the political arm of a multi-level reactionary counter-mobilization, committed to rolling back basic rights and fundamental liberties, intending to eviscerate the civil rights order that has been established since the 1960s… 25/ https://twitter.com/gdnusopinion/status/1527240032758599680

A party in which the authoritarian, conspiratorial right is defining the center and has either marginalized or entirely purged from its ranks all those who insist on some limits in the quest to impose a reactionary vision against the will of the majority… 26/

A party in which elites have been fanning the flames of far-right populism for decades, always hoping to harness these extremist energies, always failing to control them – but never once stopping to consider the escalation machine they have built. 27/

It’s difficult to see how democracy can be sustained in a country in which that party remains viable electorally, in which not the majority, but disastrously close to half the people who vote either fully embrace anti-democratic extremism or don’t consider it a dealbreaker. 28/

There is no more plausible deniability to be had, no more layer of “respectability”: A vote for the Republican Party is, in effect, a vote to subvert democracy in America. And yet, the GOP is in a good position to win elections all over the country. That’s where we are. 29/

There is a large cadre of pundits out there entirely devoted to fighting back against what they deride as liberal/leftwing “alarmism.” It is all hyperbole, they say, because the Republican Party isn’t that bad, or because maybe it is, but the mythical guardrails are working. 30/

It should be clear by now that these self-proclaimed arbiters of reason will not change their tune, regardless of how straightforward the evidence in front of them, no matter how many times Republicans yell “We really don’t like democracy! We want to get rid of it!” 31/

The latest trick in this silly game of make believe is to declare democracy safe by defining it down to a formalistic minimum and then say: Relax, Libs, this is the only part of democracy that matters anyway (even though Republicans aren’t even on board with that either!) 32/ https://twitter.com/tzimmer_history/status/1589628191869919232/photo/1

This “democratic minimalism” talk is not some ingeniously new idea to return America to normalcy – it is the same old song traditional elites have been singing across the “West” since at least 1945: A little democracy, yes, but not too much, and not for thee, be quiet. 33/

No, we must not give in to cynicism and fatalism; yes, we need to channel our concern – that feeling of being alarmed – in productive ways. But the defense of democracy has to start from an unflinching diagnosis of where we are and how acute the threat is – or it will fail. 34/

For the foreseeable future, the fate of democracy hangs in the balance - and is on the ballot! - in every single election. And the problem is that those who seek to subvert and demolish democracy might only have to win once to get what they want. 35/

No, it’s not fair that those who want to impose their reactionary vision on the country don’t need 50 percent of the vote to bring democracy down, that a radicalizing minority is consistently being enabled to hold on to power. 36/

No, it’s not fair that Republicans constantly drive up the price for voting, for actively participating in the democratic process, for all groups who are unlikely to support them and for traditionally marginalized groups in particular. 37/

No, it’s not fair that Democrats are competing in a media and information environment that heavily privileges the shamelessness of the Right, that they can’t rely on anything even remotely equivalent to the powerful rightwing propaganda machine. 38/

And no, it’s not fair to expect young people and minority groups to save democracy again and again and again, by voting for a Democratic Party that all too often fails to make good on its promises to precisely those groups. But that’s where we are. 39/

America’s slide into authoritarianism is accelerating. We are running out of time to stop it. If the country is to ever realize its promise of egalitarian multiracial pluralism, we need to defend democracy - even though its currently deeply flawed - right here, right now. /end