The Republican Party is radicalizing against democracy. This is the central political fact of our moment. Instead of organizing its coalition around shared policy goals, the GOP has chosen to emphasize hatred and fear of its political opponents, who—they warn—will destroy their supporters and the country. Those Manichaean stakes are used to justify every effort to retain power, and make keeping power the GOP’s highest purpose. We are living with a deadly example of just how far those efforts can go, and things are likely to get worse.
At the same time, the Republican Party is moderating on policy. On a host of issues, the left is winning. It’s not a rout—and ideological battles continue—but public opinion is trending left. Yesterday’s progressive heresy has become today’s unremarkable consensus. On top of that, Democrats have established a narrow but surprisingly durable electoral majority, holding control of the House, winning back the Senate, and taking the presidency by 7 million votes.
And so the Biden era of American politics is shaping up as a contest between the growing ideological hegemony of liberalism, and the intensifying opposition of a political minority that has proved willing to engage in violence in order to hold on to power. This fight isn’t ultimately about policy, where the gaps are narrowing. It’s about whether the United States will live up to the promise of democracy—and on that crucial question, we’ve rarely been so divided. [Continue reading…]