Tipping Points

Alan Zendell, April 5, 2023

History teaches that most things about our society are cyclic. Politically, things swing left or right every generation, the economy goes up and down, fashions and fads appear and disappear. Those in power continually seek ways to increase and perpetuate their influence, which invariably leads to trying to enact more and more radical laws and policies that enrich themselves and their benefactors, which eventually backfires. Both major parties fall prey to that, but since Ronald Reagan was elected, the Republicans have been on a relentless mission to alter our political landscape permanently, even at the cost of trashing our Constitution.

Our political swings are driven by a number of things that echo our less than proud past. The most important are wealth and racism, both of which are inextricably tied to immigration. The majority of people seeking to enter the United States, either as immigrants or refugees are nonwhite, something Donald Trump was quite vocal about during his presidency. He loudly proclaimed that we need to stop accepting “losers from shithole countries” and increase the number of immigrants coming from Europe – as long as they look like white Americans.

We reached a tipping point when the Statue of Liberty’s promise that America was a haven for the oppressed caused the pendulum to swing so far toward black, brown, and yellow people, that voting majorities in many states and the nation as a whole were flipping from white to nonwhite. Republicans, who had evolved to become a party of wealthy individuals and powerful corporations, and had either been supporting racist and misogynistic policies overtly, or looking the other way when others did, realized that if women and minorities held critical majorities, they would never hold power again unless they changed their policies.

But the Republican Party, which is firmly in the grip of people whose values are alien to those most Americans share, instead of evolving toward the center became more extreme. Their greed and lust for power, and the defacto power of racism that still pervades our institutions made changing their philosophy a nonstarter. For forty years, they have repeatedly doubled down on policies and attitudes that look more fascist than democratic. Everything the radical Republicans who have steadily gained influence over their party policy have done over that time has benefitted the wealthy, removed restrictions on corporate activities, worked against the interest of women and minorities, and attempted to make it harder for them to vote. Worse, they have undermined many Americans’ faith in science and adopted a blatant policy of drowning out facts and truth with lies and hyperbole.

This kind of overreach only has two possible outcomes. Either it will succeed in destroying our democracy, or it will infuriate voters enough to pull them away from their social media accounts and football games to fight back. Another tipping point, just in time, before the same people who attempted to undermine our Constitution and overturn the 2020 presidential election can fine tune their act for 2024. The pendulum is now further to the right than it has been since the Civil War, and still, the far-right radicals want more. They won’t stop until their wealthy sponsors and white supremacist backers are in complete, unassailable control.

Are there more tipping points? When Donald Trump called his white supremacist supporters to arms to protest his arrest and indictment in New York, most of the small crowd who showed up cheered his arrest. His right-wing militias saw nearly a thousand of their own convicted and imprisoned after January 6th, and many realize how the MAGA movement has ripped them off. Last year’s midterm elections presaged a change when the red wave that was supposed to give Republicans a huge majority in the House and control of the Senate failed to materialize. And it led to an embarrassing spectacle when one of their number, George Santos, was revealed to have been elected based on an entirely fraudulent resume. But the Republican majority is so thin and devoid of ethics, an obedient chimpanzee would be permitted to keep his seat.

The Tennessee legislature appears to be out of control, as the latest murder of school children by a lunatic with an assault weapon has awakened the gun-loving state to the reality that some regulation is needed. In response, its Republican legislature chose to expel its members who advocate gun control, but a lot of average Tennesseans aren’t buying it. Another tipping point. And perhaps the most optimistic sign of change is that not one of the forty-nine Republicans in the Senate openly supports the extremist agenda being put forth in the House.

2023 will be a critical year. The right-wing radicals know their best chance to win in 2024 is through chaos and misinformation. It’s up to us to prevent that.

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1 Response to Tipping Points

  1. William Kiehl says:

    The billionaires control the Republican Party, and their goal is to pay zero taxes. Not just cut taxes for the rich, but to eliminate them. They have cleverly distracted the white working class with culture war issues. They have demonized gays, immigrants and Muslims to whip up fear among the so called Republican Base. We need to stop them.

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