They Will Not Lose Gracefully

And that’s an understatement. Watching how most Republicans are reacting to the ongoing counts and recounts taking place around the U.S., it’s pretty obvious if Trump is knocked out, they’re not going to concede gracefully–or at all. Which brings us to this depressing, if likely accurate prediction by David Watkins (boldface mine):

Perhaps the most concerning element of all this is that this violence born of bigotry and misogyny and fueled by an endless barrage of conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric blared by Republican-aligned media organs, is occurring at a time when conservative white men should be feeling ascendant in institutional power. The most openly far-right defender of the privileges of white men since the early 20th century sits in the Oval Office; conservatives just cemented a majority lock on the Supreme Court through the confirmation of a hot-tempered hardcore conservative credibly accused of sexual assault; and a Republican party farther to the right than it has been in decades is in total control of the federal government and dominates a clear majority of governor’s offices and state legislature.

they know this ascendancy is short-lived. Donald Trump was not expected to win the presidency, and in fact lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Republicans maintain control of Congress largely through the anti-majoritarian nature of the Senate and through voter suppression and gerrymandering in the House and many state legislatures. With each passing year the nation’s electorate is increasingly urban, better educated, more liberal, more secular and more diverse. Despite its temporary political dominance, social conservatism is ever more broadly mocked and disrespected in larger society, and conservative economic orthodoxy has long since lost credibility even among Trump’s voting base. The #MeToo movement is, at long last, holding abusive men to account for their predation on women since the courts have proven incapable of doing so. Every day the country looks, thinks and behaves far more like California than like Idaho, regardless of the reactionary temperament of its elected officials.

But all of this raises a terrifying question: if this horrific wave of right-wing terror is rising when these deplorable men are at the height of their political power, what happens when even that power is wrested from their control?

…What happens when these hateful men discover that even politically, the country is finally irrevocably lost to them? What kind of asymmetric violence and terrorist insurgencies will we see from them when they don’t just feel disempowered despite all their power and privilege, but actually do find themselves truly out of power?

And what will we be prepared to do about it as a society to hold to account those who radicalize these extremists?

It’s that last sentence which is critical. Republicans–and at this point, distinguishing between Republicans and Trump is a mug’s game–have faced few consequences for radicalizing conservative white men. Yes, they lost the House (which is a good thing), but they likely kept the Senate. Fox News isn’t seeing their ratings decline, and the bugshitcrazytarians on the Internet, by and large, seem to be doing alright (with some notable exceptions). To date, I see no reason why Il Trumpe, were he to lose in 2020, would not attempt to call the validity of the election into question. In his personal case, that’s as much narcissism as anything else, but for his followers and for Republican apparatchiks, they are deeply invested in him, and will not go quietly, unless there is a cost to that bad behavior. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what that cost could be to discourage this.

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3 Responses to They Will Not Lose Gracefully

  1. Min says:

    Atkins makes the mistake of generalizing to all White men. The White male politicians may hold power, and White male power may pervade corporate boardrooms, but lower class, poorly educated White men have felt their personal power declining for decades. Atkins states: “conservative white men should be feeling ascendant in institutional power.” That may be true for the likes of Mitch McConnell, but not the conservative White man in the street. Trump gave many of them hope, and they are seeing those hopes dashed. Trump and others are egging them on to violence, but it is not power they are losing, it is hope.

  2. jonolan says:

    Ah, the projection is strong in this one. 😉 After all, it’s the Dems in those elections who refuse to lose gracefully…to the point of committing any act of election fraud that they can to either usurp the disputed offices or “delegitimize” their betters who won.

  3. Art says:

    The gripe I have about the article is that it seems to assume the white men lose power.

    I reference apartheid South Africa as to the potential for the minority to hang on if all the levers are used. Their fight has only begun because, until recently, the white males were clearly in the majority. So far they haven’t resorted to shock troops, ‘homelands for ethnics’, extreme use of majority secret police recruited to oppress their own, or any but the occasional use of informers. Yes, there are presently shades of all of those but South Africa took it all as far as they could before failing. The right has just begun to play with the idea of an apartheid nation.

    It could be another century before they fall from power.

    I don’t really see it going that long but, in theory, it could. Still falling from power in the near term cannot be assumed inevitable.

    On the other side my impression of the white males who are heavily armed is that he guns are, for the most part, fetishes and primarily symbolic. This is why we see people concentrating on collections of guns. Multiples of guns held by one man are expensive and redundant symbols of potency.

    They simply don’t understand the horror and randomness of actual combat and will quickly fold when exposed to it. Even the majority of ex-military don’t understand an army as a political machine and how individual heroism is, outside the opportunity to use it as propaganda, a distraction.

    Despite the nod to guerilla tactics they fair to appreciate the decisive nature of logistics. That the biggest obstacle to their holding out if confronted comes down to food, water, and medical supplies. Guns are almost superfluous.

    They also overlook the biggest obstacle to their power is simple economics. The Ruby Ridge confrontation was all about a guy who thought a defensible remote site and guns were vital while overlooking the simple fact that he needed money to buy food. It was the desperate and ill conceived attempt to sell a couple of guns for money to fill his larder that brought the Feds down on him. In the end the guns served no useful purpose.

    Likewise the biggest threat to most of these lightweight armed white supremacists is an economic failure. Loss of a job, sudden medical expense, foreclosure, etcetera. In the end most of those scary collections of guns will be sold off at a substantial discount for cash to cover expenses.

    The majority of hard core white supremacists will succumb to the depredations of old age, isolation, or issues as previously mentioned. Expect, failing the establishment of a genuine apartheid regime, a messy and destructive but localized and short flash in the pan type reaction to loss of power.

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