Since we are talking the 2024 Republican primaries anyhow, let's take a look at a new CNN poll, conducted earlier this month, that has some distressing results. It found that 70% of Republicans think that America's best days are in the past. That is a grim view of the future, although it varies by geography, with 78% of rural Republicans taking that position vs. 69% of suburban Republicans and 63% of urban Republicans. It could be that part of this is that 78% of Republicans think that society's views on sexual orientation and gender identity are changing for the worse. On the other hand, 61% of Republicans admit that the country's increasing diversity is enriching America. Only 38% consider those changes a threat, though 4 years ago it was just 19% who felt that way..
These views are deeply held and have consequences. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (which are kind of the same thing) 59% want a candidate who agrees with their views over one who can beat Joe Biden. We saw how well this worked out in 2022 during the campaigns of Sens. Blake Masters, Herschel Walker, and Mehmet Oz. If this sentiment continues into 2024, Republican voters may pick unelectable candidates up and down the ballot again.
Meanwhile, Republican wannabe presidents, including Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, read polls. It is entirely predictable that they will lean into these sentiments, and will run incredibly dark campaigns. And actually, we don't have to guess, because it's already happening. Trump is talking about how only he can rescue America from the darkness. DeSantis has grown fond of describing the United States as a "dystopia." Nikki Haley accuses the Democrats of destroying the country from the inside out.
This is the way it goes whenever a political party veers in an extreme direction. Much of the alleged bad stuff that such parties run against, be it immigrants, or crime, or government conspiracies, or "attacks on traditional values," is either exaggerated grossly or invented out of whole cloth. And, in any event, it's almost entirely stuff that those politicians won't be able to change. And when they fail to change much of anything, then the only real option is to double down, and double down again.
This kind of hyper-negativity isn't generally very popular with the electorate, and it doesn't generally lead to success at the ballot box. What it does sometimes do, however, is cause the True Believers to conclude that the system is hopelessly broken and that there is no downside, and plenty of upside, to rising up in violent rebellion. It already happened in 2020 and, unfortunately, the pieces are falling into place for it to happen again. The good news is that, this time, the authorities know what could be coming, and will presumably be more prepared. (V & Z)