Arthur Goldwag, author of The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right (NY: Pantheon, 2012), on how and why the backlash politics of the religious right have become more pronounced in the 2012 election cycle--and what this portends for the future:
No matter how this election turns out, the endgame has already begun: America is becoming more multicultural, more gay-friendly and more feminist every day. But as every hunter knows, a wounded or cornered quarry is the most dangerous. Even as the white, patriarchal, Christian hegemony declines, its backlash politics become more vicious. They may succeed in turning back the clock for some time.
I think Goldwag is right on all scores, though I'm less sanguine about what might happen if the religious right gains decisive control in the 2012 elections. "For some time" can turn into a very long time when you seize total control of the Supreme Court. And of state legislative bodies through the down-ticket influence of Romney-Ryan, even if the latter two don't prevail in the presidential election: in places like Arkansas, the religious right-tea party fusion is already wreaking havoc at the state legislative level, and it will wreak even more havoc if it gains more strength in the coming elections, as it's expected to do.
A dwindling, embattled minority can exercise long, hard control even as a minority, if it succeeds in inscribing its influence where it counts, in bodies like the Supreme Court and in state legislatures. The real goal of the GOP has been for some time now to assure its continued dominance in the political life of the nation as a minority party even as its base dwindles to a bastion of angry white men in the states of the old Confederacy and the American West.
And minorities can succeed in creating a lot of hell for a lot of people for a long time, given sufficient power. Ask Germans who witnessed the rise of the tiny Nazi party to power in the 1930s about this.