The noose and the gallows.
The revivalists of the Confederate army.
The gestures of the hand of white power.
The new lost cause
One way to understand January 6 is through the prism of American mythology.
A similar speech unfolded in the months following January 6, as people on the political right – from lawmakers to shocking sportsmen – seek to portray as the “real” Americans those who, at Trump’s urging , stormed the seat of the US government. in an effort to nullify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Hakeem Jefferson, an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University whose research focuses on the role identity plays in shaping political behavior, echoed some of Darby’s sentiments. He pointed out that January 6 was a racial calculation – vs the multiracial coalition that installed Biden in the White House, and vs the alleged strength of black voters.
“When we think of January 6, we can’t disconnect it from claims by Trump and other Republican elites that there was voter fraud in predominantly black cities,” Jefferson said. “January 6 was an attempt by a declining white majority to maintain political power, whatever the means.”
Part of a larger attack on democracy
Indeed, it would be a mistake to regard January 6 as a singular event, or as separate from the rest of the political maneuvers defining the current political season.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have failed to pass legislation that could protect franchise access.
What the country saw on January 6 was “a battle for the place of whites and what appears to be a shifting racial hierarchy,” Jefferson said. “It was the fear of this change in status that formed the basis for January 6. But it is also the basis for other less aggressive attacks on democracy that come from attempts by the Republican legislatures to subvert the will of the people.”
Darby put it in equally blunt terms.
“January 6 is something that people can think of as a lost cause and that they can talk about symbolically,” she said. “But it’s also part of a larger war. Thinking about it that way, for me, is really the only way to get a complete picture of where we are at and where we’re headed.”
Where does the United States go from here?
Is it possible to contain these darker forces – the rage and resentment of the whites who fueled January 6 and who, certainly now, are supporting the Republican Party? It’s hard to say.
On the one hand, in many state elections, the GOP does not require membership of multiracial coalitions, so it may bow to the preferences of more conservative white voters.
“This is one of the unfortunate aspects of American politics,” Jefferson explained. “Because the Republican Party does not see itself as a party in need of the support of blacks or the support of other racial and ethnic minorities at a serious level, it can organize a political and rhetorical program that is truly in line with the interests of the ultraconservatives. , racist voters. “
Jefferson continued, “My fear, not as a supporter but as someone who cares deeply about this country, is that the Republican Party is going to continue, for the foreseeable future, to bet on this kind of resentful politics and white grievances. “
Eliminating Senate filibustering, curbing partisan gerrymanders, prohibiting state officials from corrupting the vote counting process: these are some of the ways to tackle the current crisis. Other: break with the two-party system.
What the United States needs, added Drutman, “is transformative electoral reform: proportional representation that will open the door to new parties and ensure that an illiberal minority cannot gain majority power.” .
Reform of this degree may seem unlikely, given America’s fierce political divisions, but it may well be one of the country’s few hopes for charting the way forward.