The events of the past few weeks are not only mesmerizing, they are historic. In the middle of a country already tasked by a pandemic and unemployment, the casual murders of black people kept mounting up at a rapid pace, as an unarmed jogger in Georgia was killed by vigilantes, then nine bullets were pumped into a young medical worker, in her home, when cops executed a no-knock warrant. And the straw that broke the camel’s back was the summary execution of a mild mannered security guard, George Floyd, on a street in Minneapolis, for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. That wasn’t the crime he was executed for. He was executed for having been born black in a racist country. Even Mitch McConnell tied the incident to the “original sin” of slavery. If McConnell’s social conscience is awakened, you know something of seismic magnitude has taken place.
And seismic magnitude is precisely what this is. This is what GOP pollster Frank Luntz says.
In my 35 years of polling, I’ve never seen opinion shift this fast or deeply. We are a different country today than just 30 days ago.
The consequences politically, economically, and socially are too great to fit into a tweet.
This is big.
This is ‘Beatles on Ed Sullivan’ big. https://t.co/Zn5j8byaxW
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) June 8, 2020
This is quite a change and my God, it’s not like enough people didn’t die already to make it happen. While the rest of us breathe a sigh of relief and hope that this sea change will manifest as a change not only in the White House, which is a must-have, but also a change in the Senate, so that we can get our country healing from the double toxins of racism and Trump, the Republicans are going out of their minds. This is their worst nightmare, America saying enough is enough to racism, make no mistake. Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast:
And what do Donald Trump and the Republicans think of it? They hate it. Don’t kid yourself. Some of them pay lip service to embracing this change. I applaud Mitt Romney for joining the marchers last week. He’s behaving quite admirably these days, even though, as the 2012 presidential candidate, he kowtowed to the very forces that gave us Trump four years later (indeed, he kowtowed to Trump himself).
As individuals with consciences and hearts (a category that may not necessarily include their leader), most of these Republicans, I’m sure, were shocked at George Floyd’s murder. But what’s in their consciences or hearts isn’t what matters. What matters is how they behave as elected officials.
And how they’ve behaved as elected officials ever since, say, the rise of Newt Gingrich—until Trump, the most poisonous public figure of the last 50 years—is clear to anyone with eyes and ears. Cheat black people of their proper political representation. Curtail their civil rights. Slash programs that help minority businesses and poor people. Invent phrases like “race-neutral” to hang a veil over rank discrimination. Reintroduce school segregation, now rampant in this country thanks to their phalanx of reactionary judges. Move heaven and earth to make it as hard as possible, and in many cases outright impossible, for American citizens to vote. And at election time, dog whistle dog whistle dog whistle, so that you can be sure the white voters get the message while you turn to the media and say, “Who, me? How dare you!”
What’s happening now terrifies them because they all know one simple thing, which they’ll never admit: If the white middle class rejects en masse racially discriminatory behavior and racially coded messages, they’re cooked. Mind you, as heartening as these last few weeks have been, that’s still a big “if.” Let’s not declare victory here. But we are seeing historic breakthroughs. Polls suggest a good two-thirds of the country will not buy that GOP hoodoo juice anymore.
The Republican party has been a corrupt and rotting husk for some years. They didn’t sink to the level of putting a tabloid headliner, reality TV scam artist at the top of their ticket overnight. It took a while. But make no mistake, the road was paved for Trump by legions of GOPers past. Trump is the inheritor of the racist throne that the GOP has perched upon lo these many years. And he’s not handling it with the finesse that other Republicans before him have handled it. He’s downright clumsy. And the idiocy that comes out of the White House, “MAGA loves black people,” and teargassing citizens was “beautiful” is cringe worthy — and the Republicans are cringing. And well they should. America has had enough and if even their own pollsters are confirming that we now live in a different world, then the GOP had better do some serious soul searching, after the house cleaning that the electorate will do in November.