Does GOP Nihilism On The Right Mean The Sure Decline Of Our Democracy?

By Donald A. Collins | 16 January 2023
Church and State


NY Times opinion columnist David Brooks on the Friday January 6th WETA News Hour describes the nihilistic behavior of the current GOP right wing House members. That subject is a long time Brooks concern and raises serious questions about the viability of our democracy as so many problems are massing which require urgent attention, not political grandstanding.

But young people are waking up to the loss of rights precipitated by the killing of Roe with Dobbs on June 24, 2022 and their increasing feelings that the GOP is not governing or interested in their rights.

Their increasing numbers makes demography deadly for the GOP as the results of the midterms showed.

Point noted by John Brabender, a GOP consultant who said “We’re going to lose a heck of a lot of elections if we wait until these people (the millennials and Gen-Z voters) become Republicans.”

Why? Because by 2024 these two generations combined could be as much as 40% of the younger public.

Of course the existence of clearly unqualified, unacceptable to most voters are GOP members such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos or Matt Goetz which doubtlessly brings great unease to Americans of all political views. Then there are increasingly odious pols such as the disgraced Trump and his supporters like Ted Cruz and new US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as we recall advisors like John Eastman, Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani!

And then of course everyone wonders if or when Merrick Garland will indict the supreme felon in our current political malaise Donald Trump.

Failing to make that indictment decision will have profound effects on our democracy since the nihilists who Brooks so clearly excoriated will have won the future right to lie, to ignore our Constitution and to not govern for the people who elected them, like George Santos.

Remember the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers are still out there even if their leaders are convicted.

There was a defeated party known as the Know Nothings which was put down by the new GOP in the late prewar 1860s. Their leaders were of a distinctly higher quality than those GOP people I have named but the Know Nothings became irrelevant as you can read here.

It became very powerful in the 1850’s eerily echoing the chief tenets of today’s GOP. As you can read here,

Members, when asked about their nativist organizations, were supposed to reply that they knew nothing, hence the name. As its membership and importance grew in the 1850s, the group slowly shed its clandestine character and took the official name American Party. As a national political entity, it called for restrictions on immigration, the exclusion of the foreign-born from voting or holding public office in the United States, and for a 21-year residency requirement for citizenship.

The Civil War finished the Know Nothing party, again I quote here:

Caught in the sectional strife disrupting all national institutions, the American Party fell apart after 1856. Antislavery Know-Nothings joined the Republican Party, while Southern members flocked to the proslavery banner still held aloft by the Democratic Party. By 1859 the American Party’s strength was largely confined to the border states. In 1860 remnants of the Know-Nothings joined old-line Whigs to form the Constitutional Union Party and nominated John Bell of Tennessee for president. Bell finished fourth in popular votes in the four-man contest of that year, won by the Republican Abraham Lincoln.

Notice the Know Nothing/GOP switch from Democrat to GOP for issues!

Restoration of Choice as a national right to abortion and making sense of immigration with legislation will be defining issues for the 2024 elections.

The GOP is going to lose badly if it fails to wake up to reality. Of course, the anti-Catholic views of the Know Nothings have been supplanted by the dominant pro Catholic views of the present GOP and will continue to be dangerously well funded by Leonard Leo and his Federalist Society colleagues.

As I have written, we are again in the midst of a new Civil War, testing whether, as Abraham Lincoln opined, “any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long survive”. I continue to bet democracy can survive, but nothing is certain.

Nihilism is not absent it is just not properly defined as the GOP authoritarianism which is continuing to emerge.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?” and “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us”.

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