Paul studied the Philosophy of Politics and Science at university and is passionate about current affairs. UK born, he now lives in Florida.
The Republican Party has radically changed in recent years, moving away from the values, politics and ideals of Ronald Reagan, which have largely dominated its ideology since the beginning of the 1980s, and instead embraced the more populist policies advocated and exemplified by Donald Trump.
This article lists and looks at ten ways in which the GOP is growing more authoritarian in its outlook, increasingly rejecting the ideas that the United States was founded upon.
10 Reasons to Believe That the Republican Party is Becoming More Despotic
Here are 10 issues of concern.
- Voting Restrictions
- Intolerance of Dissent
- Lies and Conspiracies
- Violent Rhetoric and Insurrection
- Minority Groups Scapegoated
- Experts and Educators Targeted
- Narrow Nationalism
- Cronyism and Corruption
- Not All Americans are "True" Americans
I will explore each sign in more detail below.
1. Voting Restrictions
At the time of writing, fourteen red states have already introduced legislation aimed to restrict voting, and more are either planning or considering doing so. The reasons given for doing so echo the allegations of election fraud made by Donald Trump, following his presidential election defeat.
On top of that, there are actions such as recounts in Arizona, and efforts in many red states to make it easier to overturn or block the confirmation of election results. Election officials seen as independently minded are gradually being replaced with party loyalists, who are more likely to reject or overturn results that go against the GOP.
2. Intolerance of Dissent
Across the board and at all levels, the GOP has become increasingly intolerant of views that differ from party orthodoxy, which is generally set by Donald Trump and the right wing media.
In the House of Representatives, figures like Liz Cheney have become isolated and scathed for questioning the wisdom and morality of Trumpism. The same is true for politicians like Mitt Romney in the Senate.
In many red states, draconian restrictions have been introduced. In Florida, for example, legislation has been introduced to limit what educators can teach in relation to the history and politics of race, and efforts have been made to reduce the rights of demonstrators.
3. Lies and Conspiracies
The GOP seems to be becoming increasingly detached from reality, egged on by Donald Trump, fringe groups on social media, and an increasingly unhinged right wing media.
Untruths abound, including the Big Lie that Trump never really lost the 2020 election and is still the rightful president. The denial of science is also concerning, whether it's the realities of man-made climate change, or the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, which once would have been considered off the scale of sanity are now embedded in the party and growing.
4. Violent Rhetoric and Insurrection
Words matter, and the rhetoric has become more aggressive, threatening, and violent as time has passed.
The problems are not just rhetorical, however. The January 6th insurrection in early 2021 showed that many right-wingers are prepared to use violence to achieve their ends, with apparent support from prominent figures in the GOP, including the former president and de facto leader, Donald.
Groups which advocate and use violence, such as the Proud Boys, are now openly encouraged.
From the moment that Trump descended the Mexico of sending “rapists” to the US after declaring his candidacy for president in 2015, everything changed. The party which had once been welcoming to immigrants under Reagan, and had considered an amnesty for illegals under George W Bush became an angry and increasingly xenophobic movement.
The anti-immigrant approach has resulted in cruel and brutal practices at the US southern border, and the so-called Muslim ban, which resulted in bans on nationals from certain countries.
6. Minority Groups Scapegoated
Dog whistle politics have increasingly been abandoned in recent years and replaced with openly racist approaches.
Peaceful protests in favor of racial justice, such as taking the knee at NFL games, has been treated with scorn. While groups associated with white supremacy have been either ignored or embraced.
The rights of women, gay and trans people have also been neglected or trampled upon. Just the makeup of the recent Trump government, older, white, male, Christian, and heterosexual tells you the state of the modern GOP and its lack of engagement with wider America.
Hysterical campaigns against ideas such as critical race theory also suggest an increasing intolerance of rival narratives.
7. Experts and Educators Targeted
Experts of any type, including scientists and medical specialists have been increasingly attacked by the GOP.
Despite overwhelming evidence that climate change is man-made, many Republicans went into denial mode, rejecting the consensus of the experts and instead trying to promote fossil fuels, such as coal and oil production and use.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought out the ugliness of the party, with attacks on medical specialists like Tony Fauci. Conspiracy theories abound and anti-vaxxer views have become increasingly commonplace.
Educators too are being targeted too for supposedly being too "woke" and allegedly promoting social ideas such as Critical Race Theory.
Of course, the more power is taken away from the experts, the more it is concentrated in the hands of the GOP leadership.
8. Narrow Nationalism
The "Make America Great Again" slogan embodies an attitude that says: America comes first and no longer needs to work with other countries to pursue its goals. The denigration of traditional allies, such as Canada and Western European countries, while befriending old enemies like Russia is one element of this. Attacking organizations like NATO and the World Health Organization is another.
Some of this new Nationalism is based on old-fashioned isolationism, but there's also a strong streak of jingoistic bullying not far beneath the surface.
9. Cronyism and Corruption
Cronyism and corruption don't just seem to be openly accepted by the GOP nowadays, in many cases they are actively encouraged. Increasingly, people are chosen or appointed according to their loyalty to the party's de facto leader, Donald Trump, and not according to their talents, honesty, or love of country.
The political system is gradually being undermined at a national, state, and local level. States controlled by the GOP engage in gerrymandering, for instance, where the cynical use of redistricting in red states is used to ensure that GOP candidates are elected without the need to increase their vote share.
Under the Trump government, we saw the Department of Justice become corrupted, particularly under the leadership of Bill Barr, when over two centuries of effective separation between the operations of the justice department and political power sources were effectively undermined.
10. Not All Americans are "True" Americans
This is perhaps the most dangerous signal of all, and while it's always been around in one form or another throughout American history, it is now reaching dangerous levels.
Fascism is based on the notion that there are authentic people, who belong to the group, these are the chosen ones. The country effectively belongs to this group. All others are essentially outsiders and pose a threat.
If you don't subscribe to the GOP's newfound values and attitudes on race, immigration, the military, pandemic, gay and trans people, and a whole host of other Culture Wars stances, then you are not a true American and this is not your country.
Not being a true American implies that you shouldn't have a say in who governs and makes all the decisions, leaving space for authoritarianism to step in.
© 2021 Paul Goodman