Monday, April 19, 2021


I won't attempt a thorough critique of that Nate Cohn piece about sectarianism, but I'd like to comment on this passage:
Sectarianism has been so powerful among Republicans in part because they believe they’re at risk of being consigned to minority status. The party has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections, and conservatives fear that demographic changes promise to further erode their support.
Republicans do believe that they’re at risk of being consigned to minority status -- but please note one of the photos accompanying Cohn's piece:

These Trump supporters are holding signs that refer to them as "the silent majority." You and I know that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight elections -- but Trump voters don't. They don't believe their candidate lost the 2020 election. They don't believe he lost the popular vote. They regularly point to the large crowds at Trump rallies and the sparse crowds at Biden rallies, and scoff at the notion that Biden won 81 million votes. It's quite likely that they believe Trump won the popular vote in 2016 as well.

Since the Bush years, they've been told that Democrats cheat in every election. They're told that Democratic "machines" add phony votes in big cities. They're told that unions and other organizations bus Democratic voters across state lines. They're told that undocumented immigrants vote in large numbers in California and elsewhere. They're told that any vote tallied more than a few hours after the polls close is fake. And they believed all this even before 2020, when large numbers of Democrats voted by mail or drop box, which Republicans assume is a sure sign of fraudulence, even though Republicans used to vote these ways much more than Democrats.

In addition, Republicans believe that Democrats support "open borders" in order to flood America with brown-skinned people who inevitably become Democratic voters. Never mind the fact that these immigrants aren't becoming citizens, and aren't guaranteed to vote Democratic if they attain citizenship. (They might be a bit more inclined to vote GOP if Republicans would support their hopes of becoming Americans, as some used to.) GOP voters assume undocumented immigrants are voting (exclusively for Democrats) now, and more are coming.

I can't prove this, but I suspect that many Republicans don't feel outnumbered yet. They think the moment is coming -- it's always in the future, like a Democratic president seizing all the guns -- but I don't think they believe it's here yet. They think they're the real Americans. They live in bubble-like partisan enclaves where nearly everyone is like them. I don't think they believe there are more Democratic leaners than Republican leaners in America -- to them, the cities and suburbs where Democrats are in the majority are unimaginable. I think they feel Democrats have to cheat in ever newer ways to win. (Abolishing the Electoral College? Cheating. The For the People Act? Cheating.)

It's not just that they feel outnumbered. They feel outnumbered by fake ballots and illegal voters. They can't conceive of the possibility that most American voters aren't like them.

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