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How Republicans manage to be both anarchists and authoritarians

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Republicans are confused about their views and confusing to outsiders. Hypocrisy and incoherence, opportunism and irrationality are the hallmarks of the Trumplican Party. It is hard to find a consistent through-line beyond “owning the libs,” i.e., doing and saying whatever is most likely to outrage progressive opinion.

Trying to make sense of the GOP’s shifting positions, I argued last month that the party had fallen prey to nihilism. As evidence, I cited Republican attacks on the police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, on the FBI, on the military, on big business, on the media, on the scientific establishment and on virtually every major institution in America. Republicans even oppose mask and vaccine mandates while covid-19 is ravaging red states.

Thomas Zimmer, a historian at Georgetown University, posted an interesting Twitter thread in response. He argued that Republicans are not motivated “by nihilism, but by conviction — by the idea that America must be a white Christian nation, a place where a white Christian male elite gets to rule.”

There is plenty of support for his view, too. Look, first and foremost, at the Republican-controlled Texas legislature banning abortion after about six weeks and empowering vigilantes to enforce its provisions via lawsuits. Five Supreme Court justices — all appointed by Republican presidents — refused to stop........

© Washington Post

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