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Civic Definitions- What is THE GOP - History

Civic Definitions- What is THE GOP - History

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FACT CHECK: MSNBC claims GOP is working to 'ban teaching history of slavery'—they aren't

A close look at these bills show that they prohibit teaching that any person is superior or inferior to any other by virtue of their race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

Dr. Jason Johnson on MSNBC claimed that the GOP is pushing legislation across the country to "ban teaching [the] history of slavery." His evidence? Lots of states are moving to prohibit schools from teaching critical race theory and the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, conceived by Nikole Hannah-Jones and published by The New York Times.

MSNBC falsely claims "GOP pushing bill to ban teaching of slavery"

— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) May 24, 2021

What are these bills that Johnson is concerned with? A close look at these bills in Idaho, Texas, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Tennessee show that they prohibit the teaching that any person is superior or inferior to any other by virtue of their race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

The New York Times also ran a headline echoing Johnson's false claim:

This is a USSR-level lie. None of the bills prohibit schools from teaching about slavery or racism they prohibit schools from compelling students to believe in race essentialism, collective guilt, and racial superiority theory.

The New York Times is utter propaganda.

— Christopher F. Rufo ?? (@realchrisrufo) May 23, 2021

The removal of Hannah-Jones from the tenure process at UNC has the leftist media in fits. Republican lawmakers across the country are looking to prevent the 1619 Project, and other elements of critical race theory, from arriving in classrooms. This has been framed by the media as some kind of ban on accurate history.

But teaching about the history and legacy of enslavement in America is not what the 1619 Project or critical race theory is about. Instead, these are an account of the nation as a failed state that may very well be irredeemable.

"Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written," writes Hannah-Jones in the 1619 Project.

Critical race theorist and educator Louiza Doran spoke about her views on the nation's founding, saying that ". you cannot cite our constitution, our constitution should be burned, because our constitution in and of itself is only written for who owned land? Men at the time, it's still written accordingly. Who was owned? Black folks." Doran said the Constitution as it stands now is full of "oppressive amendments and languaging." And she went on to say that "The constitution itself is only rooted in Enlightenment for white people, just like this country."

Hannah-Jones also speaks about the problems with the founding of the nation, and she's not far off Doran's mark. She writes that 1776 is not the date that should be remembered as our beginning. Instead: "What if, however, we were to tell you that this fact, which is taught in our schools and unanimously celebrated every Fourth of July, is wrong, and that the country's true birth date, the moment that its defining contradictions first came into the world, was in late August of 1619?"

This is the year that a ship bearing men and women who had been forced into the enslavement made landfall in Virginia, then a British colony. "Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years," Hannah-Jones writes. "This is sometimes referred to as the country's original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country's very origin."

Hannah-Jones states outright that "The goal of The 1619 Project… is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation's birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country."

Is it the education on enslavement and its legacy that is being objected to by lawmakers, parents, and even many educators across the country? Or is it the intention to "reframe," to claim a year more than a century prior to the nation's founding as its true birthdate, and to say that the Enlightenment ideals on which the formation of our nation was based on is a lie?

The first essay in the 1619 Project is by Hannah-Jones, and in it, she writes that "The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie." Her evidence for this is in the words of our Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We know, fully, that these words, and this intention, and these ideals, were not extended to men who had been enslaved, or to women whether they were enslaved or not. Hannah-Jones writes ". the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst." And about this, she is right.

"Yet," she goes on, "despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals." And she is right about this, too. This is something that should be part of our education in American history.

Failing to teach the opinion that the United States must be dismantled and rebuilt is far from the claim Johnson made on MSNBC that Republican lawmakers are trying to prevent teaching students about slavery.

Deep dive

So what does this critical race theory in education ban look like in legislative terms?

Idaho's bill specifically bans teaching "That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior," "That individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin," and "That individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin."

Texas's bill specifies that as well, and requires the teaching of "the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government, as well as the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States" including the structure of government, and the "founding documents of the United States."

It goes further, to say that teachers will not be "compelled […] to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs," and that those who choose to, ". shall, to the best of their ability, strive to explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective." The bill states that teachers will not be involuntary subject ". required to engage in training, orientation, or therapy that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex."

Louisiana's: HB 564 would ". impose sanctions against those who teach, among other things, any of the following: That either the United States of America or the state of Louisiana is fundamentally, institutionally, or systemically racist or sexist. That an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently or systemically racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, or has negative or positive characteristics that inhere in the individual's DNA. That an individual should be discriminated against, favored, or receive differential treatment solely or partly because of the individual's race or sex.

"That an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility or is to be held accountable for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. That any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual's race or sex. That the concept of meritocracy or traits such as a strong work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race or sex to oppress another race or sex.

"That the concepts of capitalism, free markets, or working for a private party in exchange for wages are racist and sexist or oppress a given race or sex. That the concepts of racial equity and gender equity, meaning the unequal treatment of individuals because of their race, sex, or national origin, should be given preference in education and advocacy over the concepts of racial equality and gender equality, meaning the equal treatment of individuals regardless of their race, sex, or national origin."

New Hampshire's bill would ban state funding for institutions that include certain defined "divisive" modules in their education or training. These divisive concepts include that "One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex" that "The state of New Hampshire or the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist" that "An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously" that "An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex" that "Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex that "An individual's moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex" that "An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex" that "Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex or" that "Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race. The term "divisive concepts" includes any other form of race or sex stereotyping or any other form of race or sex scapegoating."

Tennessee's bill states that teachers and other employees in the public education system are prohibited from including or promoting the following: "One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex" "An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously" "An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual's race or sex" "An individual's moral character is determined by the individual's race or sex" "An individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex" "An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex" "A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex" "This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist" "Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government" "Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people or" "Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual's race or sex."

Nationalism Explained

How does nationalism work? Nationalists demand to be independent of other countries. They don't join global organizations or collaborate with other countries on joint efforts. If the people are part of another nation, then they will want freedom and their own state.

Because they believe in the superiority of their shared attribute, nationalists often stereotype different ethnic, religious, or cultural groups. The resultant prejudice keeps their nation unified.

Intolerance can lead to a desire to rid the country of those deemed as "different." In an extreme form, it can lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide.


Nationalists work toward a self-governing state. Their government controls aspects of the economy to promote the nation’s self-interest.

Nationalism sets policies that strengthen the domestic entities that own the four factors of production. These four factors are:

Nationalists also don’t care whether the government or private businesses own the factors, as long as they make the nation stronger.

Nationalist trade policy is based on protectionism. It subsidizes domestic industries that are deemed of national interest. It also includes tariffs and quotas on foreign imports. If it escalates to a trade war, it reduces international trade for all parties.

For example, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 reduced global trade by 65% and worsened the Great Depression.


Affirmative Consent is a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.

In order to give consent, one must be of legal age (17 years or older). Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if the individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.

When consent is withdrawn or can longer be given, sexual activity must stop.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect your ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature on or off campus. Examples: Sexual comments, teasing, Catcalls, Inquiries or discussions about sexual activities, Recording images (e.g. video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness without that person’s consent Disseminating images (e.g. video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness.

What is Gender-based harassment?

Gender-based harassment is unwelcome conduct of a nonsexual nature based on actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect your ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program. Example: Intentionally using the wrong pronoun to identify a transgender individual.

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes sexual assault as well as dating, domestic and intimate partner violence and certain forms of stalking. Sexual assault is a crime. Sexual assault is any form of sexual contact that occurs without consentand/or through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion. Sexual assault can be committed when someone has not given or is unable to give consent, for example, because of intoxication. Sexual assault can be a form of sexual harassment. Examples: Any unconsented or unwantedsexual touching or other physical contact may constitute sexual violence. Including: any form of sexual activity, Touching, Grabbing/Groping, Kissing, Caressing, Brushing against another’s body, Patting, Pinching.

What is Dating/Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence?

Dating/IP/Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse. It can consist of actions or threats of actions that intimidate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, coerce, threaten, blame or hurt someone. It can also consist of a single incident of sexual assault. Rape or any sexual offense, whether on a date or not, or by someone you know or do not know, is the same criminal offense. On college campuses, alcohol is often involved in date rape.

What is Stalking?

Stalking is a crime. It is intentionally engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person with whom the perpetrator currently has, previously has had, or desires to have, some form of sexual or romantic relationship, that:

Republicans have a dream: The end of democracy and the return of Jim Crow

By Chauncey DeVega
Published April 2, 2021 5:50AM (EDT)

Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Brian Kemp and Doug Ducey (Getty Images/Salon)


In Georgia and 46 other states across the country, the Republican Party is trying to keep Black and brown people and other members of the Democratic Party's base from voting. The goal is to keep the Republican Party in power indefinitely through a pseudo-democratic system political scientists call "competitive authoritarianism."

In essence, today's Republicans want to turn back history's clock to the Jim Crow era.

But the smokescreen is transparent.

On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp admitted the truth about the Republican plot against democracy, telling WABE radio, "A lot of this bill is dealing with the mechanics of the election. It has nothing to do with potential fraud or not."

Kemp's statement echoes other public admissions by prominent Republicans and members of the white right: They that know they cannot win competitive elections in a real democracy because their policies and proposals are broadly unpopular with the American people. This is especially true given the country's changing racial demographics, and the fact that the Republican Party's core appeal is almost exclusively based on white identity politics, racism, and white supremacy. Donald Trump's neofascist presidency only accelerated that dynamic.

Former labor secretary and political columnist Robert Reich recently wrote that while "Trump isn't single-handedly responsible" for the Republican turn toward overt racism, "he demonstrated to the GOP the political potency of bigotry, and the GOP has taken him up on it. This transformation in one of America's two eminent political parties has shocking implications, not just for the future of American democracy but for the future of democracy everywhere."

There has been much excellent writing on the legal, legislative and procedural details of the Republican Party's war on Black and brown voters and American democracy.

These anti-democracy laws also literally allow Republicans to rig the outcome of elections in their favor by expanding their control of local voting boards.

In total, these are de jure examples — written in the law — of how Republicans and the white right are trying to overturn America's multiracial democracy with the goal of creating a new American apartheid state across the South and elsewhere.

But much less has been written about how these Jim Crow Republican attacks are also a de facto assault on the day-to-day lives, dignity, freedom, safety and humanity of Black and brown Americans. The long arc of the Black freedom struggle is one where the de jure realities of institutional racism and white supremacy cannot be properly separated from quotidian social inequality and injustice. These new attempts by Republicans and the white right to undermine America's multiracial democracy are an open declaration that American democracy is to be first and foremost a White democracy. The Jim Crow Republicans' plot against the rights of Black and brown people is also an attempt to make civic life and representative politics a "whites only" space. Because the Republicans and their allies are literally rewriting the rules of democracy in their favor they stand a good chance of succeeding, at least for now.

White supremacy, on a fundamental and basic level, is a declaration that white people can act however they wish toward nonwhite people, up to and including maximal cruelty and violence, without consequences. Why? Because whiteness constructs white people as dominant over other groups by definition. This is the logic of Trumpism and other forms of racial authoritarianism that the post-civil rights era Republican Party has so enthusiastically embraced.

The Jim Crow Republicans have enshrined this principle into law: The Georgia anti-democracy bill makes it illegal to give people waiting in line to vote food or water. President Biden has described such laws as "un-American" and an "atrocity," and other prominent voices have condemned it as well. But these critics are dancing around a more basic and fundamental truth about what is being communicated by the Jim Crow Republicans and their allies.

The real truth and connotative meaning of the Jim Crow Republicans' ban on giving food and water to voters who are waiting in line is that Black and brown people are not quite human — the Other, not worthy of the same respect and decency as "real Americans," understood to be white by default. If the Republicans and other members of the white right who write these anti-democracy bills were being fully honest, they would simply state, "Do not feed the animals."

To properly understand the breadth of the Republican Party and its forces' attack on multiracial democracy one must locate such efforts as part of a larger right-wing campaign to dehumanize Black people and other nonwhites. By implication, votes by such dehumanized people are deemed to be illegitimate and therefore not allowed.

So we reach a teachable moment: What is white privilege? It is understanding that one's basic humanity — as a member of a group of people deemed to be "white" in America — will not be challenged. As we see with the Republican Party's war on multiracial democracy that freedom is by definition denied to Black and brown people in the United States.

In his sweeping and essential book "Trouble in Mind" the historian Leon Litwack described the informal rules and resulting dehumanization of black people during the earlier Jim Crow regime this way:

The indignities visited on black youths were meant to impress on a new generation the solidity of racial lines and the unchallengeable authority and superiority of the dominant race. … Young blacks underwent the rites of racial passage in a variety of ways. But the specter and threat of physical violence — "the white death" — loomed over nearly every encounter. If they themselves were not the victims, the violence fell on members of the family, friends, and neighbors, almost always with the same intent — to remind black men and women of their "place," to impose severe restraints on their ambitions, and to punish any perceived signs of "impudence," "impertinence," or independence."

Jim Crow was a form of terrorism, so widespread that millions of Black people (who could accurately be described as internal refugees) fled the South during two great migrations. Jim Crow involved informal rules: Black people could not make eye contact with white people, as that was "disrespectful." Black people were expected to step off the sidewalk and into the street to let white people pass. Black people could not protest or otherwise resist if they were not paid for work they had completed on their jobs. Black and brown adults were to be treated like children and addressed as "boy" or "girl", "auntie" or "uncle". Black adults were also expected to be deferential to white children. Regardless of their income, Black people should not have nicer clothes, cars, homes or personal property than white people. At four-way intersections, a black driver was expected to let white drivers go first.

These social rules were enforced by violence — and all too often by death.

The informal codes and rules of Jim Crow life were in many ways defeated by the Black freedom struggle in the 20th century. But as documented repeatedly by social scientists and other experts, the logic and expectation of Black people's deference to white people and white authority still remains. These are the expectations that fueled the Tea Party, the rise of Trump and other recent manifestations of fake right-wing populism in the United States. This is the expectation that drives the Republican Party's ongoing attacks on multiracial democracy in Georgia and across the country. These expectations of white power were also at the heart of Donald Trump's attempted coup, the Capitol attack and the broader right-wing terrorist movement.

Will America move forward as a prosperous and free multiracial democracy or will it instead jettison that project and be pushed backward into a white supremacist pseudo-democracy. These are the stakes. We face a battle for the soul of America.

Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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12d. "Republican Motherhood"

Gate at Mt. Holyoke College, Massachusetts, founded by Mary Lyon. Lyon, Zilpah Grant, Judith Sargent Murray, and others educated in the years following the Revolution, opened the gates to further education for women.

Women's role in society was altered by the American Revolution. Women who ran households in the absence of men became more assertive. Abigail Adams , wife of John, became an early advocate of women's rights when she prompted her husband to " Remember the Ladies " when drawing up a new government.

Pre-Revolutionary ministers, particularly in Puritan Massachusetts, preached the moral superiority of men. Enlightened thinkers rejected this and knew that a republic could only succeed if its citizens were virtuous and educated. Who were the primary caretakers of American children? American women. If the republic were to succeed, women must be schooled in virtue so they could teach their children. The first American female academies were founded in the 1790s. This idea of an educated woman became known as " republican motherhood ."

As in the case of the abolition of slavery, changes for women would not come overnight. But the American Revolution ignited these changes. Education and respect would lead to the emergence of a powerful, outspoken middle class of women. By the mid nineteenth century, the Seneca Falls Declaration on the rights of women slightly alters Thomas Jefferson's words by saying: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal. "

What is the definition of article?

A distinct portion of an instrument, discourse, literary work, or any other writing, consisting of two or more particulars, or treating of various topics as, an article in the Constitution. Hence: A clause in a contract, system of regulations, treaty, or the like a term, condition, or stipulation in a contract a concise statement as, articles of agreement., A literary composition, forming an independent portion of a magazine, newspaper, or cyclopedia., Subject matter concern distinct., A distinct part., A particular one of various things as, an article of merchandise salt is a necessary article., Precise point of time moment., One of the three words, a, an, the, used before nouns to limit or define their application. A (or an) is called the indefinite article, the the definite article., One of the segments of an articulated appendage., To formulate in articles to set forth in distinct particulars., To accuse or charge by an exhibition of articles., To bind by articles of covenant or stipulation as, to article an apprentice to a mechanic., To agree by articles to stipulate to bargain to covenant.

Republicans, Democrats, and Definitions

Anyone who cannot stand the phrase, “Actually, America is a republic,” had best stop reading now. This post is not for you. Except ye be converted, and become as little children, delighted with hearing things again and again, you had better move along and let me preach to the choir. I’m not actually going to repeat the phrase, but it is the essence of the thing.

Teacher’s pets across the nation got mad online at Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) last Thursday, when in a tweet he observed of the American experiment: “Democracy isn’t the objective liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic] are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” It is not a perfect tweet, by any means. There’s the typo, to start, which suggests with its out-of-place f an old-fashioned block printer’s lisp, a “long s” replacing an r. And “the human condition” is a bit ambiguous, but more on that later. The tweet is not “ fascism ,” though.

Reactions to the statement were only saved by being insincere political jabs, because insofar as any responses represented real reflection and applied thought they suggested a collective wattage so low you couldn’t decorate a Christmas tree with all those bulbs, let alone shed any light on an issue. One trusts many of them were playing dumb on purpose, for the benefit of a public they think very lowly of. Accusing Michael Shumway Lee of being a fascist is a bit like trying to magnetize zinc: you should know better, and the charge won’t stick.

The claims implicit or explicit in the condemnation of the senator’s tweet were threefold: one, that democracy is the objective two, that liberty, peace, and prosperity aren’t and, three, that “rank democracy” can’t thwart anything good. This is to say, to put the smartest most charitable spin on it, those who were accusing Lee of fascism or trending toward tyranny believe the maintenance of a regime they call “democracy” is the end of politics, for, presumably, it allows “the human condition to flourish.”

Being an American opposed to what Lee had to say is a bit troublesome, though, since the gist of it is straight out of the Declaration of Independence. A refresher:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Let’s translate Sen. Lee’s tweet into the language of the Declaration.

Lee wrote, “Democracy isn’t the objective,” and Jefferson wrote, “To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” Rights are the objective, apparently, and forms of government, such as democracy, are the means to this end.

What are these rights, that appear to be the objective of political life? Lee: “liberty, peace, and prospefity.” Jefferson: “among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The relationship here is not difficult.

Now Lee says that “We want the human condition to flourish.” This is not exactly clear language, but it seems the Declaration can provide some insight, for this most-famous paragraph begins with an account of the fundamental status of human beings: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Finally, Lee wrote that “Rank democracy can thwart” this flourishing of human persons. These are fighting words, for democracy is good, right? But Jefferson, too, acknowledges that the goodness of any political arrangement depends on its relationship to the real objectives of political life, when he wrote, “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Lee and Jefferson appear to be in agreement. But there is one line from the Declaration that does not have a corresponding phrase in Lee’s tweet, and it is this absence from which the main controversy stems. The Declaration of Independence says that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. ” For a Republican, and republican, like Lee, the consent of the governed is implicit in the liberty guaranteed by a good form of government the consent of the governed is consent to be governed—the endorsement of any particular arrangement as being conducive to the protection of unalienable rights and thus to flourishing. Democrats, however, advocate an enthusiastic consent of participation. “Consent of the governed” is, to them, democracy in action, so that democracy has become the hinge on which all the rest of it hangs.

All political action—and speech is political action, the preponderant one in our civilization—is guided by thought of better and worse. That is, it is directed toward the good, especially the good life or the good society, guided by prudence. What we have here is a fight over the purpose of government and so a fight over opinions about the purpose of human beings. The senator presumably has some idea of what the “human condition”—an infelicitous wording, since that’s usually a negative reference to sinful fallenness or existential thrownness—looks like when it’s flourishing. So, too, do the dim bulbs condemning him.

But their fixation on the terms “democracy” and “fascism,” so prevalent to our public “debates,” does not mean they are working with fixed definitions. What we have is misology, the destruction of moral discourse. Instead of deliberation over the good itself, or justice itself, we play a power game with terms redefined at will by political elites: “democracy is what I like, fascism what I dislike.” To invoke and monopolize “democracy” as equivalent to the “consent of the governed” is in a sense to cheat it has had incalculable effects on our civic life, outlawing most of our country’s past and attempting to outlaw many in the present.

Micah Meadowcroft is the managing editor of The American Conservative. His essays and criticism have appeared in publications such as The New Atlantis, Wall Street Journal, and American Affairs.

The Third Time of Trial

In conclusion it may be worthwhile to relate the civil religion to the most serious situation that we as Americans now face, what I call the third time of trial. The first time of trial had to do with the question of independence, whether we should or could run our own affairs in our own way. The second time of trial was over the issue of slavery, which in turn was only the most salient aspect of the more general problem of the full institutionalization of democracy within our country. This second problem we are still far from solving though we have some notable successes to our credit. But we have been overtaken by a third great problem that has led to a third great crisis, in the midst of which we stand. This is the problem of responsible action in a revolutionary world, a world seeking to attain many of the things, material and spiritual, that we have already attained. Americans have, from the beginning, been aware of the responsibility and the significance our republican experiment has for the whole world. The first internal political polarization in the new nation had to do with our attitude toward the French Revolution. But we were small and weak then, and "foreign entanglements" seemed to threaten our very survival. During the last century, our relevance for the world was not forgotten, but our role was seen as purely exemplary. Our democratic republic rebuked tyranny by merely existing. Just after World War I we were on the brink of taking a different role in the world, but once again we turned our backs.

Since World War II the old pattern has become impossible. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has been groping toward a new pattern of action in the world, one that would be consonant with our power and our responsibilities. For Truman and for the period dominated by John Foster Dulles that pattern was seen to be the great Manichean confrontation of East and West, the confrontation of democracy and "the false philosophy of Communism" that provided the structure of Truman's inaugural address. But with the last years of Eisenhower and with the successive two presidents, the pattern began to shift. The great problems came to be seen as caused not solely by the evil intent of any one group of men. For Kennedy it was not so much a struggle against particular men as against "the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself."

But in the midst of this trend toward a less primitive conception of ourselves and our world, we have somehow, without anyone really intending it, stumbled into a military confrontation where we have come to feel that our honor is at stake. We have in a moment of uncertainty been tempted to rely on our overwhelming physical power rather than on our intelligence, and we have, in part, succumbed to this temptation. Bewildered and unnerved when our terrible power fails to bring immediate success, we are at the edge of a chasm the depth of which no man knows.

I cannot help but think of Robinson Jeffers, whose poetry seems more apt now than when it was written, when he said:

Unhappy country, what wings you have! .

Weep (it is frequent in human affairs), weep for

the terrible magnificence of the means,

The ridiculous incompetence of the reasons, the

But as so often before in similar times, we have a man of prophetic stature, without the bitterness or misanthropy of Jeffers, who, as Lincoln before him, calls this nation to its judgment:

When a nation is very powerful but lacking in self-confidence, it is likely to behave in a manner that is dangerous both to itself and to others.

Gradually but unmistakably, America is succumbing to that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened and in some cases destroyed great nations in the past.

If the war goes on and expands, if that fatal process continues to accelerate until America becomes what it is not now and never has been, a seeker after unlimited power and empire, then Vietnam will have had a mighty and tragic fallout indeed.

I do not believe that will happen. I am very apprehensive but I still remain hopeful, and even confident, that America, with its humane and democratic traditions, will find the wisdom to match its power. [xix]

Without an awareness that our nation stands under higher judgment, the tradition of the civil religion would be dangerous indeed. Fortunately, the prophetic voices have never been lacking. Our present situation brings to mind the Mexican-American war that Lincoln, among so many others, opposed. The spirit of civil disobedience that is alive today in the civil rights movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War was already clearly outlined by Henry David Thoreau when he wrote, "If the law is of such a nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Thoreau's words, "I would remind my countrymen that they are men first, and Americans at a late and convenient hour," [xx] provide an essential standard for any adequate thought and action in our third time of trial. As Americans, we have been well favored in the world, but it is as men that we will be judged.

Out of the first and second times of trial have come, as we have seen, the major symbols of the American civil religion. There seems little doubt that a successful negotiation of this third time of trial-the attainment of some kind of viable and coherent world order-would precipitate a major new set of symbolic forms. So far the flickering flame of the United Nations burns too low to be the focus of a cult, but the emergence of a genuine transnational sovereignty would certainly change this. It would necessitate the incorporation of vital international symbolism into our civil religion, or, perhaps a better way of putting it, it would result in American civil religion becoming simply one part of a new civil religion of the world. It is useless to speculate on the form such a civil religion might take, though it obviously would draw on religious traditions beyond the sphere of biblical religion alone. Fortunately, since the American civil religion is not the worship of the American nation but an understanding of the American experience in the light of ultimate and universal reality, the reorganization entailed by such a new situation need not disrupt the American civil religion's continuity. A world civil religion could be accepted as a fulfillment and not as a denial of American civil religion. Indeed, such an outcome has been the eschatological hope of American civil religion from the beginning. To deny such an outcome would be to deny the meaning of America itself.

Behind the civil religion at every point lie biblical archetypes: Exodus, Chosen People, Promised Land, New Jerusalem, and Sacrificial Death and Rebirth. But it is also genuinely American and genuinely new. It has its own prophets and its own martyrs, its own sacred events and sacred places, its own solemn rituals and symbols. It is concerned that America be a society as perfectly in accord with the will of God as men can make it, and a light to all nations.

It has often been used and is being used today as a cloak for petty interests and ugly passions. It is in need-as any living faith-of continual reformation, of being measured by universal standards. But it is not evident that it is incapable of growth and new insight.

It does not make any decisions for us. It does not remove us from moral ambiguity, from being, in Lincoln's fine phrase, an "almost chosen people." But it is a heritage of moral and religious experience from which we still have much to learn as we formulate the decisions that lie ahead.

What Does the Future Hold for the GOP?

The hope held by Democrats that their opponent will fall by the wayside lacks nuance and historical understanding.

Jelani Cobb has a piece in the current New Yorker that neatly encapsulates the magazine’s stock in trade when it comes to political analysis—tightly rendered arguments displaying elements of erudition but ultimately undermined by blinding ideology. In the piece, Cobb poses a question that is distilled in the headline: “How Parties Die: Will the G.O.P. go the way of the Whigs?”

It’s a pertinent question in the wake of the party’s presidential defeat last year and as the nation seeks to sort out the complexities and lingering political realities of the Donald Trump phenomenon. And Cobb provides a worthy sketch of the Whig demise as part of his thumbnail history of political parties in America, from the short-lived Federalists to our own era of partisan wrangling and positioning. But the repugnance he obviously feels toward the Trump rise, and his view that it represents a kind of political depravity, deprives him of any apparent ability to step back and consider in a probing and nuanced way a fundamental question of our time: How do we account for that guy blasting past all the political obstacles of 2016 to become the president of the United States?

To Cobb, a journalism professor at Columbia and New Yorker staff writer, it’s quite simple: The Republican Party has become a party of white, racist radicals.

It all began, in Cobb’s version, with Barry Goldwater in 1964. New York’s Republican governor Nelson Rockefeller warned the party that year that the Arizona conservative represented the politics of “racism and sectionalism,” and others warned that his nomination would lead to a party takeover by “the Ku Kluxers, the John Birchers and other extreme rightwing reactionaries.” Cobb notes that even Richard Nixon attacked John Birch Society zealots as “kooks” (an action that campaign chronicler Theodore White called “courageous”), while Goldwater refused to repudiate the organization.

And when Goldwater captured the nomination anyway, writes Cobb, “shock at his extremism…began to morph into compliance,” as moderate Republicans sought “to protect their own political prospects.” In other words, when the bad guys gained party dominance, erstwhile good guys joined up out of political expediency.

Cobb sees the same thing today in, for example, the political behavior of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell—“despising Donald Trump but knuckling under to the reality of his immense popularity among Republican voters.” And just about everything that happened in America from Goldwater to Trump is viewed through the same prism. It is a story of white Americans flocking to an increasingly extremist Republican Party as a refuge against the forces of history.

“[T]he Party’s predicament,” writes Cobb, “might fairly be called the revenge of ‘the kooks.’” And what drove this rise of a kook-dominated GOP? Not surprisingly, Cobb turns to the hoary notion of “a sensationalist right-wing media” stoking kookish sentiment across the land. But he adds “the emergence of kook-adjacent figures in the so-called Gingrich Revolution, of 1994.” Plus he throws in the “Tea Party” movement, founded in February 2009 as a protest against promiscuous fiscal policies of deficits and debt. All these factors, Cobb tells us, “have redefined the Party’s temper and its ideological boundaries.”

The analytical flaw here stems from the fact that Cobb makes no effort to identify, parse, or understand the complex and dynamic political sensibilities harbored by those Americans he writes about with such carefree censure. The analysis is both binary and static. Binary in that Cobb sees just two fundamental points of view competing in the political marketplace—the commitment to social and racial justice, on the one hand, and rejection of it, on the other. And it is static in that this binary struggle has defined American politics, and the Republican Party’s role in it, from Goldwater to Trump with hardly a zig or zag in the story.

Thus does Cobb conflate Goldwater Republicanism with the John Birch Society, Newt Gingrich with Nixon’s “kooks,” and the great mass of Trump voters with QAnon. That makes for stark polemics (and probably quite effective argumentation with most New Yorker readers). But it’s ultimately superficial political history and transparently tendentious. American politics is far more complex than that: an interaction of competing sentiments, attitudes, interests, hopes, and fears, all swirling through the polity in varying degrees of force and intensity. This wonderful process of democratic politics is never static, always multifarious. Grand victories often contain the seeds of their own reversals abject defeats sometimes presage party rebounds (as the Goldwater debacle led to the Ronald Reagan presidency just 16 years later).

This swirl of civic energy can be seen in the high-voltage issue of immigration. Cobb doesn’t explore it in detail, but in heralding the Democrats’ emergence as “a multiracial coalition emphasizing civil, women’s, and immigrants’ rights,” he places the issue within the framework of his binary analysis—social justice vs. those who oppose social justice.

But the issue is far more multidimensional than that. Back in 1964, during the Goldwater controversy, the proportion of foreign-born people in America was about 5 percent—a number that generated little popular pushback based on economic or cultural concerns or anxiety about the challenge of assimilation. Today that number is at least three times higher, matching the percentage at the turn of the last century, when immigration stirred the kind of political energy we see today. It isn’t as simple as immigration-good, anti-immigration-bad fluctuating realities often generate legitimate political concerns that deserve respectful acknowledgement in the messy process of political adjudication.

In an unguarded moment, Cobb quotes historian Ira Katznelson as saying Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act, a major black mark against him at the time in the minds of liberals, largely for libertarian reasons. That suggests there were other factors, not involving race, that influenced the debate. And yet Cobb can’t seem to get beyond race to explore such considerations with any seriousness. Similarly, he castigates Republican senators who voted against Trump’s conviction in his impeachment trial after January 6 without noting legitimate constitutional questions involving the propriety of the Senate convicting a private citizen. In his effort to portray those Republicans as craven Trumpists, Cobb conveniently glosses over that aspect of the story.

Of course, it should be noted that Trump has consistently opened the way for attacks like Cobb’s with his often odious behavior and jarring rhetoric. He certainly committed an impeachable offense on January 6 by inciting angry supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol and thwart the certification of the Electoral College outcome. But Trump’s great political achievement was seeing in 2016 what almost no one else seemed capable of perceiving—that vast numbers of heartland Americans felt marginalized and put upon by the country’s ruling class. Trump leveraged that potent political reality in often crude ways, but those agitated Americans weren’t going to stay quiescent forever, and they’re not going away.

Cobb’s effort to draw a direct line between what he sees as Goldwater’s extremism and Trump’s excesses meets a powerful counternarrative in Christopher Caldwell’s latest book, The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties. The reforms of that decade, writes Caldwell,

came with costs that proved staggeringly high—in money, freedom, rights, and social stability. Those costs were spread most unevenly among social classes and generations. Many Americans were left worse-off by the changes. Economic inequality reached levels not seen since the age of the 19th-century monopolists. The scope for action conferred on society’s leaders allowed elite power to multiply steadily and, we now see, dangerously, sweeping aside not just obstacles but also dissent.

Caldwell packs more enlightenment in that single paragraph than Cobb musters in his nearly 6,000-word essay. The Democratic Party has become the party of American oligarchy, and that is going to generate powerful political counterforces well into the future. The Republican Party likely will supply the dialectical coherence and political energy to those counterforces.

Which brings us to Cobb’s suggestion that the GOP may be going the way of the Whig Party, which succumbed to the crushing force of the slavery debate after the 1856 presidential election. He writes that the Federalists died out because they failed to expand their demographic appeal, while the Whigs faded because of internal incoherence over what they stood for at a time of powerful political passions. “Among the more striking dynamics of the Trump-era G.O.P.,” he writes, “is the extent to which it is afflicted by both of these failings.” He marshals plenty of vote statistics and demographic data to bolster his case, following generally the work of political analyst Ron Brownstein of Atlantic Media and his exploration of what he calls the “coalition of the ascendant.”

Perhaps Cobb and Brownstein are correct in predicting the looming GOP demise. But huge political battles are raging in America these days: nationalism vs. liberalism immigration curtailment vs. open borders foreign-policy restraint vs. American hegemony governmental retrenchment vs. governmental expansion Black Lives Matter vs. law and order identity politics vs. the color-blind society and the fiery passions incited by the question of political correctness. It’s difficult to visualize the death of the Republican Party so long as these issues are roiling America.

Robert W. Merry, former Wall Street Journal Washington correspondent and Congressional Quarterly CEO, is the author of five books on American history and foreign policy, including, most recently, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century (Simon & Schuster).