The Republican party is abandoning democracy. There can be no ‘politics as usual’

Republicans could not be clearer about their cynicism, yet some establishment Democrats act as if politics as usual is still an option

Beyond institutional tradition and personal familiarity, this inability to grapple in earnest with the post-Obama reality in which Democratic politicians are almost universally considered members of an “Un-American” faction by most Republicans has deeper ideological roots. Their perspective on the prospect of a white reactionary regime is influenced by the fact that, consciously or not, they understand that their elite status wouldn’t necessarily be affected all that much. The Republican dogma – that the world works best if it’s run by prosperous white folks – has a certain appeal to wealthy white elites, regardless of party.

The constant attempts to normalize a radicalizing Republican Party also have a lot to do with two foundational myths that shape the collective imaginary: the myth of American exceptionalism and the myth of white innocence. We may be decades removed from the heyday of the so-called “liberal consensus” of the postwar era, but much of the country’s Democratic elite still subscribes to an exceptionalist understanding that America is fundamentally good and the US inexorably on its way to overcoming whatever vestigial problems there might still be. This often goes hand in hand with a mythical tale of America’s past, describing democracy as being exceptionally stable. Never mind that genuine multiracial democracy has actually existed for less than 60 years in this country. What could possibly threaten America’s supposedly “old, consolidated” democracy? Acknowledging what the Republican party has become goes against the pillars of that worldview.

“I actually like Mitch McConnell,” Biden said during a press conference a few weeks ago, providing a window into what he sees in Republicans: No matter what they do, underneath they’re good guys, they’ll snap out of it. Promise. It’s the manifestation of a specific worldview that makes it nearly impossible to acknowledge the depths of Republican radicalization – a perspective that severely hampers the fight for the survival of American democracy.