The Rise of America's Authoritarian Right
This ought to be a bit chilling. Almost half of Republicans would willingly ditch democracy.
So finds CBS News-YouGov polling conducted in mid-May. The survey asked Republicans a series of questions about the required level of fealty to former president Donald Trump, their views of the 2020 election and priorities for the party going forward.
The results were bleak.
Two-thirds said it was “important” for Republicans to be “loyal to Donald Trump now.” The same share said they did not believe President Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. (They apparently missed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) recent assertion that “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.”)
But the most troubling results came from a question about the party’s best strategy for winning in 2022 and 2024. If you were consulting for the party, respondents were asked, would you focus on developing a message and “popular policies and ideas” to win over more voters? Or would you prioritize changes to the voting rules in states and districts?
A whopping 47 percent chose the latter option. In other words, nearly half of those who still identify as Republicans appear to have given up on a key premise of democracy: that you earn the right to govern by proposing ideas that appeal to a majority of the public. They’d prefer to short-circuit that process and, instead, make it harder for their opponents to vote.
...It’s easy to believe that cynical politicians — regardless of political persuasion — might do anything to hold onto power, including disenfranchising opponents. And presumably it feels freeing for politicians to pledge nothing more to their followers than to remain in power, as opposed to having to deliver on policies that might improve people’s lives.
But what is more perplexing, and disturbing, is that so many constituents apparently demand nothing more either. Half of Republicans apparently ask only that the people wearing their same jersey salute the boss and stay in office, by whatever anti-democratic means necessary.
At the end of the day these "democracy optional" Republicans will probably get what they prefer. The United States has drifted far off the path of functioning democracy. It's a racket that serves narrow private interests ahead of the broad public interest thanks to a bought and paid for Congress, a stacked deck Supreme Court its course pre-ordained, and a major party that has grown bored with democracy, searching for more direct levers of power.