Were I still a child I would go trick-or-treating as a Republican, because there is simply nothing scarier in America today. When I say Republican I mean “MAGA Republican.” Very soon it won’t be necessary to make that distinction, just as “cell phone” is becoming replaced with “phone.” Right now not all Republicans are MAGA Republicans. That will soon change. Soon they will all be MAGA. MAGA is defined as any Republican whose policies and behaviours won’t hurt Donald Trump’s feelings.
It isn’t only that Republicans have fallen from a mighty height, it’s that they have become something altogether different from what they once were. At one time the Republican Party stood for certain principles that were recognisably sane and good. For example, President Eisenhower believed that the corrupting influence of greed, particularly in the form of the military industrial complex, was something very much to be avoided. President Reagan said that “Church and state are, and must remain, separate.” The Environmental Protection Agency was inaugurated not by JFK or Jimmy Carter but by Richard Nixon.
It’s possible to resurrect many such memorable quotes and actions like that from the past, instances where Republicans actually sounded and behaved like Democrats do today. But no more. When Republicans talk like that nowadays they get labelled “RINOs” and are summarily ejected from the MAGA Republican Party.
America’s first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, was arguably also the greatest President America ever had. He was brilliant, just, capable, subtle and honest. He was not and never could have been a MAGA Republican, no matter how desperately they try to co-opt him into their hypocrisy. That just isn’t possible. The days of Lincoln-like Republicans are gone forever. If America should ever have another Republican president it will be an unqualified disaster. It will be the end of America as we know it.
Today Republicans weakly cover their shameful hypocrisies with explanations and justifications so thin a child could see through them, knowing that Fox News and the flagrant gullibility of their cretinous base will do all the heavy lifting for them. Soon they will stop justifying themselves. If we let them regain power they won’t need to.
The apparatus for this alarming metamorphosis is being constructed right before our very eyes. State legislatures could one day, if we let them, decide presidential elections. Gerrymandering is now the order of the day in red and purple states. The Big Lie is becoming baked-in policy, to the point where no election will be considered legitimate unless it’s won by a MAGA Republican. The recent attack on Paul Pelosi is the natural and expected outcome of the normalisation and acceptance of violence by MAGA leadership. One day, in the not too distant future, elections will become obsolete and this awful MAGA insurrection will abscond with the great American experiment.
The Big Lie takes the form of everything from expressions of “concern” over 2020 election security to flagrant, outright proclamations that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. Republicans are using the Big Lie to justify extra “election security.” These new laws make it harder for people of colour to vote and have been enacted in the name of baseless claims to stop nonexistent voter fraud. The apparatus is almost finished. We are watching our own scaffolding being erected right before our eyes.
We can’t only just win the 2022 election. We have to win them all from now on. We cannot have any more failures. Not one. Republicans only need to succeed once. The next time they have control of the Executive, the House and the Senate will be the last time America can call itself a democracy. It is really that simple. We are that close to the brink of destruction.
This isn’t just a fight for American democracy, it’s a fight for the planet. Because if America should ever go MAGA, you can forget about global warming protections. As America goes, so will go the rest of the world. I hate putting it in apocalyptic terms, but I see no other eventuality. We can’t survive a MAGA America. Let’s make sure we don’t have to. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.