Republicans Setting Up Alternative Government
There’s a “Republican” Born Every Minute
The American Right Wing, using tactics and business models perfected by private equity firms and leveraging policies spearheaded by Republican officials, has created a near-perfect fund-raising machine that generates exponential returns on investment.
While the massive flows of dark money into Republican coffers deservedly grab the headlines, the interesting and novel phenomenon is a church-like “outrage collection plate” business concept in which Republicans of more moderate means are encouraged to donate to the Party outright, to attend rallies and conferences whose primary purpose is fund-raising, to purchase costly trinkets of nominal value, and to buy an endless number of guns and sets of survival gear at ridiculously inflated prices. Worse, we see no logical end to this; in fact, we forecast a further rationalization of this process into a tithing-like subscription model.
It is no surprise that the nation that pioneered patent medicines, perfected freak shows, virtually invented the advertising and marketing domains, reveres Hollywood and Disneyworld, and worships billionaires – would find a way to monetize sentiment itself. It does beggar belief though, that such a high percentage of Americans would voluntarily fund a party and movement whose program impoverishes them, hence the article title.
The size of the right-wing sentiment market is difficult to quantify, but it is in the hundreds of millions annually. Trump’s Save America PAC alone has $110 million in its accounts as of March 2022, and that is a just a sliver of the total going to right wing people, causes and bank accounts. Fox News earned $12.9 billion in 2021; Sinclair Broadcasting netted $5.94 billion; the U.S. “prepper” market is over $1 billion in annual sales (admittedly, not all are Republicans, but most are). This is, as we used to say where I come from, real money. So what? While this economic activity is a vitally important piece of the right wing puzzle, we provide a glimpse into the bigger issue in the following text box:
While Democrats and left-leaning citizens also donate to political causes, the difference is that they expect political action in return for their contributions, while low to moderate income right-wing contributors are satisfied just to assuage their outrage.
The worst and most perverse impact of the right’s business model is that it increases both the amount of Republican political engagement and the propensity for violence. Taken together, or viewed from a systems perspective, the need to scratch the outrage itch, the business model, and increased political engagement create and amplify a vicious cycle that propels the authoritarian program forward -- and overwhelms the flimsy Democratic Party opposition it occasionally encounters.
How bad is this problem? David Krakauer, evolutionary biologist, and President of the Santa Fe Institute (World’s foremost entity exploring Complex Systems Science), recently reported the institute’s findings that conflict, like infectious disease, is contagious. When the Basic Reproductive Number, or R0 of a conflict reaches or exceeds 1.0, a threshold has been reached in which de-escalation efforts short of warfare are highly unlikely to succeed. David and the institute are feverishly trying to determine exactly what the current R0 is for political conflict in the United States, and they are not optimistic. What this means is that right-wing violence will increase unless or until: it achieves its masters’ objective of seizing total political power; or it meets a force it can no longer overcome.
Colleagues, it’s grim, but not hopeless. We explore countermeasures in the next article.
Fight Now, or Pay the Price Later
My wife and I recently visited the Memorial in Oradour-sur-Glane France, where on June 10, 1944, the German SS murdered 642 civilians, in retribution for either partisan activities in the area, or out of pique at the successful Allied landings at nearby Normandy four days previous.
Photo taken by the author at Oradour-sur-Glane, France, May 19, 2022
The event is notable for its depravity – the victims were innocent non-combatants and every man, woman and child in the village was methodically rounded up like animals, shot, burned, and buried. There were fewer than ten survivors. It is also notable that in this instance the victims were not in any of the Nazis’ “subhuman categories” – Jews, Slavs, Homosexuals, Gypsies, or handicapped, and were technically under German Army protection. Imagine if the U.S. had not intervened decisively and Germany had won the war.
If you think nothing like this could ever occur here, think again. The U.S. Government and settlers systematically reduced the population of Native Americans in North America by approximately 90% between the years 1500 and 1800, and we enslaved approximately 10 million people over a 245-year period. It already did happen.
If you think we’ve evolved beyond such a point, so did the 20th century Europeans. Germany was considered the most philosophically enlightened, socially advanced, and technically developed of nations prior to World War II, competing with England and France for that distinction. All three nations were thriving -- if challenged -- democracies up until Hitler seized power in Germany.
And the key point here, each of these countries experienced much higher voter turnout prior to the war than the U.S. does now -- yet such rates did not ultimately matter in the events that unfolded. “Voting Harder,” the current mantra of the Democratic Party, mainstream press, and many progressive U.S. organizations, is not the answer, in fact, is a dangerous distraction from the work that is really required to sustain our democracy. We should consider voting as we do breathing – a necessary but far from sufficient condition of good health.
The British, French and Germans all made the same mistake we are making now, putting too much stock in voting and institutions, while history has made clear (American Revolution, French Revolution, British democratic evolution, Abolition, Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights, LGBTQI rights, Same Sex Marriage) that only through a comprehensive and integrated program of strategizing, organizing, mobilizing, and confronting opponents with force at the decisive times and places will enable victory. We are both “past” and “beyond” a situation where voting will materially impact meaningful, macro political trends in the United States, and it is high time to put away childish fantasies such as the Republican Party coming to its senses and hoping for the cavalry to arrive.
Here are the outlines of our program to preserve democracy:
1. Movement – All successful efforts to secure meaningful rights for citizens, whether collectively or for affinity groups, were vectored by cohesive movements that had distinct centers of gravity and operated from thoughtful strategies. The current efforts to preserve democracy in the United States lack such cohesion, thus we are losing and can’t hope to win until such a movement coalesces. We have written extensively about this idea in previous newsletters, and you can read our ideas here: Just Nation Movement
2. Continuous Engagement – One of the advantages of a movement is its ability to plan for and execute engagement with adversaries on a continuous basis, thereby controlling the pace of events and generating an asymmetric advantage. In fact, this is precisely with the right is doing now, and our bewilderment and astonishment at their actions and violence is evidence of their strategic success.
3. Participative Democracy – The U.S. practices Representative Democracy, in which the desires of the citizens are meditated by their elected representatives. This has always been a flawed, if politically necessary, mode of governance, but it is no longer effective and, in the U.S., at least, has become hopelessly corrupted. Participative Democracy is a big part of this answer, and you can become acquainted with its principles here: Participative Democracy
4. Objectives Worth Fighting For – The Democratic Party has allowed itself to shrink its vision, objectives, and dreams to simply fighting off the worst impulses of the right. Gone is the lofty rhetoric of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy, replaced almost totally by self-serving millionaires preaching a political pragmatism that is in reality just cover for their desire to not upset the apple cart from which they feed. This is why they were so afraid of Bernie Sanders that they cheated in the 2016 primaries just to ultimately lose to Trump, and why they so fear The Squad. The movement to preserve democracy, and the emergent mechanisms of participative democracy, must posit short- and long-term objectives that people can get behind and that will sustain them through the long fight ahead.
5. New Constitution – Many of our readers have said they think our proposals to re-write the Constitution are too dangerous. The reality is far different – the right is already re-writing the Constitution daily while using it to pin the left against principles that never worked exceedingly well in the first place. David Krakauer, the President of the Santa Fe Institute we mentioned earlier, just completed a meta-analysis of national constitutions (1787 to today), and his major finding is that meaningful and measurable change in polities and societies was only generated in cases in which new constitutions differed radically from the adopting nation’s current constitution. In fact, he entitled this finding: “Revolution, Not Evolution.” Thus, if we require meaningful change to our current and projected situations, we must adopt a substantially different constitution, if we deliberately choose not to do so out of fear, we will bring about that which we fear more rapidly.
And now the really bad news: final victory on this front is least 75 years, or three generations, off. That’s a long time in this hyper-accelerated era of instant gratification. Perhaps people sense this, and it dampens their ardor for engagement? Even if so, what’s the alternative? Our research and models suggest that our own Oradour-sur-Glane-type massacre is the alternative.
A politically constrained Trump I wanted to shoot Black Lives Matter protestors. Do you think Trump II or Ron DeSantis would hesitate to do so, and worse, in 2025? We’ve been studying these guys (the authors live in Florida, FYI) for years, and they are more like Hitler and Stalin psychologically and temperamentally than they are Lincoln or Roosevelt – and the funny thing is, they don’t even hide it – we just pretend not to see it like, just the French and British did.