I assume that all of you, at least here in the United States, have spent a good deal of time watching the televised reports of the attack on the US Congress. Fairly quickly a number of the more notable participants have been identified, charged, and taken into custody. In my bighearted generous way, I hope that each of them will be found guilty of multiple offenses and required to serve the maximum penalty for each offense consecutively, not concurrently.
Two things have struck me about all of this, one of which I think I have already commented on. The first is that it is now part of the received wisdom of the mainstream media that the treatment of the insurrectionists was gentle because they are white and would have been brutal had they been black. This is not exactly news but it is nice to have it repeated endlessly and without question on CNN and MSNBC.
The second is that the participants in this failed insurrection were clearly not, by and large, working-class Americans suffering hard times and attracted to Trump because they thought he would champion the needs and interests of the working class against those of the privileged. I would be willing to bet, on the basis of what I saw these past few days, that the average household income of the participants is above the national average. I rather like the fact that one of the more striking figures identified and charged is a retired U.S. Army Lieut. Col., not exactly somebody suffering from hard times.
The situation is changing so rapidly that it would be foolhardy to make a series of predictions that might well be contradicted by the facts before I could get them up on my blog but nonetheless, let me sketch out as a possibility something that it seems to me is developing in the Republican Party.
As everybody has observed, there is a struggle underway for control of the Republican Party and for what I will call, for want of a better term, its soul. Most of the congressional Republicans in the House and Senate at this point are sticking with Trump out of fear that they will lose the votes of his supporters, but a small number of Senators and Representatives are distancing themselves from him. This is the perfect moment for Biden to do what he desperately wants to do and is probably best able to do, namely reach “across the aisle” and forge what old line communists used to call a United Front. One could even imagine Lisa Murkowski and perhaps one or two other senators transferring their allegiance to the Democratic Party or at least declaring themselves Independents while voting with the Democrats. This would have the effect of moving Biden’s agenda somewhat to the right while simultaneously making it much more likely that the agenda would become law.
Such a marginal realignment, combined with the steady shift in the composition of the electorate, could make the Republican Party more or less permanently a regional minority party.
I wish I could stick around long enough to see how this will all play out over the next 20 years.