Saturday, November 10, 2018

"Good, Conservative People Who Reject Liberalism": White Southern Evangelical Attack on Social Contract & Why We Are Where We Are Now

"The voters of Alabama overwhelmingly confirmed that we remain a Christian conservative state," said Angie Stalnaker, a GOP campaign strategist based in Montgomery. "There is no 'blue wave' in Alabama. There will be no blue wave in the foreseeable future in Alabama."
She added, "What you see are some very, very strong right-leaning Republicans who were elected, more right-leaning than their predecessors. What we are seeing in Alabama is one of the most conservative governments we’ve ever had." ... 
"Alabamians are good, conservative people who reject liberalism," said Alabama State GOP chairwoman Terry Lathan. "Our message is clear – less government and strong American values. The overwhelming support of the two Amendments on displaying the Ten Commandments and support Life in our state is the signature of our people." 

New York Times, "Arkansas Election Results":

Unlike most Southern states, Arkansas has not been a bastion of absolute Republican power for more than a decade. But Election Day results could easily set it on that course.

What is wrong with white women? Why do half of them so consistently vote for Republicans, even as the Republican party morphs into a monstrously ugly organization that is increasingly indistinguishable from a hate group? The most likely answer seems to be that white women vote for Republicans for the same reason that white men do: because they are racist. Trump, with his raucous rallies and his bloviating, combative style, has offered his supporters an opportunity to savor the pleasures of being cruel. It is likely that the white women who voted for him in 2016, and who will vote for him again in 2020, find this racist sadism gratifying. It is fun for them. 
But there is something else at play, something more complicated, in white women's relationship to white patriarchy. White women's identity places them in a curious position at the intersection of two vectors of privilege and oppression: they are granted structural power by their race, but excluded from it by their sex. In a political system where racism and sexism are both so deeply ingrained, white women must choose to be loyal to either the more powerful aspect of their identity, their race, or to the less powerful, their sex. Some Republican white women might lean into racism not only for racism's sake, but also as a means of avoiding or denying the realities of how sexist oppression makes them vulnerable.

Many people trying to figure out what has soured in the American democratic experiment do not understand sufficiently the critical role that white Southerners have played in trying to abrogate the social contract on which the nation's democracy is founded. From the time the Civil Rights movement began to dismantle legal segregation, the primary response of the white South has been to claim that the social contract no longer obtains, if it means that white people have to share rights (and the nation in general) with black ones.

Shutting down public swimming pools when integration happened; yanking children out of public schools and setting up private schools; building neighborhoods and sections of cities exclusive to whites: all of these immediate reactions to the Civil Rights movement were a direct, clear abrogation of the social contract on which American democracy depends, if it's going to sustain itself.

There's a direct line from all of this to the loud, brutal, bullying claim of Trump supporters today that their facts are their facts, and "real" facts be damned. I have a right to my facts. Point me to any accurate news coverage about the horrors that constitute the current administration, and I'll up your ante by pointing you to my own set of facts — and I don't bloody care if they're true facts or not.

I don't have to respect you enough to base our interchange on reality, on truth, on fact. I have a right to my own damned facts — to do whatever I please even if my choices blow up the entire body politic and the social contract on which we all depend to keep our democracy working.

This all began (in the 20th century, echoing the previous 19th-century attempt of the same folks to dissolve the Union) with the Civil Rights movement and the response of white Southerners to it. Those white Southerners now constitute the backbone of the Republican party. They are largely white evangelical Southerners, who want to think that all that they are doing to dissolve the social contract that makes American democracy work is blessed because it's done for theocratic reasons, and because a theocratic polity is what the nation really needs in any case — not a democratic one. MY theocratic polity in which MY peculiar religion is imposed on all the rest of you….

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